No one saw more clearly than Napoleon the need for the reduction of Gerona: as early as January he had issued orders both to St. Cyr and to Reille to prepare for the enterprise. But St. Cyr was now out of touch, and Reille was far too weak in 佛山桑拿会所上门服务 the early spring to dream of any such an adventure: he had been left no more than seven depleted battalions to maintain his hold on Northern Catalonia, when St. Cyr took the rest of the army across the hills to Barcelona. The Emperor was not slow to realize that the 7th Corps must be reinforced on a large scale. He did so by sending thither in the spring of 1809 a brigade of Berg troops (four battalions), the regiment of Würzburg (two battalions), and a division (seven battalions) of Westphalians: it will be noted that now, as always, he was most chary of drafting native French troops to Catalonia, and always fed the war in that direction with auxiliaries in whose fate he was little interested: the campaign in eastern Spain was, after all, but a side issue in the main struggle. When these reinforcements had arrived 佛山桑拿蒲友论坛 Reille began to collect material at Bascara on the Fluvia, to which siege-guns laboriously dragged across the Pyrenees were added: several companies of heavy artillery and sappers were brought up from France.
St. Cyr meanwhile, four weeks after his retreat from the plain of Tarragona, moved on to Vich upon April 18, with the divisions of Souham, Pino, Lecchi, and Chabot, leaving Duhesme with his original French division, which had held Barcelona since the outbreak of the war, in charge of his base of operations. His departure was partly designed to spare the stores of Barcelona, where the pinch of famine was beginning to be felt; for he intended to subsist his army on the upland plain of Vich, a rich corn-bearing district hitherto untouched by the war. But a few days after he had marched forth Barcelona was freed 佛山桑拿按摩休闲中心 from privation, by the lucky arrival of a squadron of victuallers from Toulon, convoyed by Admiral Cosmao, which had put to sea in a storm and eluded the British blockading squadron (April 27). The position of Vich, however, had been chosen by St. Cyr not only for reasons of supply, but because the place was happily situated for covering the projected siege of Gerona against any interruption by Blake. If the Spanish commander-in-chief brought up the wrecks of the old Catalan army from Tarragona, with his Valencian levies added, he would almost certainly take the inland road by Manresa and Vich, since the coast-road was practically barred to him by the French occupation of Barcelona. As a matter of fact the commencement of the leaguer of Gerona was not vexed by any such interruption, for Blake had his eyes fixed on Saragossa in 佛山桑拿小姐电话 May and June, and was so far from dreaming of an assault on St. Cyr, that he drew off part of the Catalan army for his unhappy invasion of Aragon, which finished with the disaster of Belchite. During the early months of this long siege the only external helpers of the garrison of Gerona were the small force of regulars under the Swiss Wimpfen, and the miqueletes of Claros and Rovira from the Ampurdam, Reille’s opponents during the spring. At Tarragona the Marquis of Coupigny, the senior officer now in Catalonia, had no more than 6,000 men left of Reding’s old army, and was helpless to interfere with St. Cyr who had some 20,000 men concentrated at Vich.
The preparations for the siege therefore went on in the end of April and the beginning of May without any hindrance, save from the normal bickerings of the French outlying 佛山夜生活luntan detachments with the local somatenes, which never ceased. Around[p. 17] Vich matters were particularly lively, for the whole population of the town and the surrounding plains had gone up into the hills, where they wandered miserably for three months, much hunted by French foraging parties, which they occasionally succeeded in destroying. St. Cyr opened up his communications with Reille by sending to him Lecchi’s Italian division, which cut its way amid constant skirmishes along the banks of the Ter to Gerona, and met the troops from the Ampurdam under its walls. Reille had moved forth from Bascara on May 4, and on the eighth expelled the Spanish outposts from all the villages round the fortress, not without some lively skirmishing. He had brought up some 10,000 infantry—including his own old division and all the newly arrived Germans—with some 1,300 artillerymen and engineers.佛山桑拿论坛 Almost at the same moment arrived dispatches from Paris, announcing that the Emperor, just before departing for the Austrian war, had superseded both St. Cyr and Reille, being discontented with their handling of affairs in Catalonia. It is unfortunate that no statement in detail of his reasons appears in the Correspondance, but it would seem that he thought that the victories of Molins de Rey and Valls should have had greater results, disapproved of St. Cyr’s retreat from in front of Tarragona, and thought that Reille had shown great weakness in dealing with the insurgents of the Ampurdam. He ignored the special difficulties of the war in Catalonia, thinking that the 30,000 men of the 7th Corps ought to have sufficed for its complete conquest. Indeed he showed his conception of the general state of affairs by recommending St. Cyr in March to undertake simultaneously the sieges of Gerona, Tarragona, and Tortosa. The leaguer of one, and that the smallest, of these places was destined to occupy the whole army of Catalonia, when largely reinforced, for eight months. If it had been cut up according to the imperial mandate, it is probable that at least one of its sections would have been destroyed. St. Cyr wrote in his memoirs that his master was jealous of him, and wished to see him fail, even at the cost of wrecking the 7th Corps. This is of course absurd; but there can be no doubt that the Emperor[p. 18] disliked his lieutenant, all the more because of the long string of complaints, and of demands for more men, money, and stores, which he was now receiving week by week from Catalonia. He loved generals who achieved the impossible, and hated grumblers and frondeurs, a class to which St. Cyr, despite all his talents, undoubtedly belonged. It is possible that Napoleon’s determination to replace him may have been fostered by intrigues on the part of the officer to whom the 7th Corps was now turned over. Marshal Augereau had served with great credit in the old republican campaign in Catalonia during 1793 and 1794, imagined himself to have a profound knowledge of the country, and was anxious to try his hand in it. It was many years since he had been trusted with an independent command; both in the wars of 1806-7 and in that of 1809 he had been lost in the ranks of the Grand Army. His nomination to supersede St. Cyr was made early in May, but on his way to the seat of war he was seized with a fit of the gout, and was detained in bed at Perpignan for many weeks. Thus his predecessor, though apprised of his disgrace, was obliged to continue in command, and to commence the operations of which the Marshal, as he well knew, would take all the credit. At the same moment Reille was displaced by Verdier, the general who had conducted the first unlucky siege of Saragossa—an experience which seems to have made him very cautious when dealing with Spaniards behind walls.
Lecchi’s division forced its way back to St. Cyr on May 18, bringing him the intelligence of his supersession, but at the same time apprising him that Augereau would not arrive as yet, and that the duty of commencing the siege of Gerona would still fall to his lot. At the same time Verdier sent letters urging that his 10,000 infantry formed too small a force to surround such a large fortress, and that he must ask for reinforcements from the covering army. If they were denied him, he should refuse to begin the siege, throwing the responsibility for this disobedience of the Emperor’s commands on his superior: he had reported the situation to Paris. St. Cyr was incensed at the tone of this dispatch, above all at the fact[p. 19] that Verdier was appealing straight to the Emperor, instead of corresponding through his hierarchical superior, according to the rules of military etiquette. But he saw that Verdier had a good case, and he had just learnt that Blake had turned off against Aragon, so that no trouble from that quarter need be feared. Accordingly he, very grudgingly, sent back Lecchi’s division to Gerona. It was the worst that he possessed, being composed of no more than four Neapolitan and three Italian battalions, with a strength of little over 3,000 bayonets. He added to it a regiment of Italian light horse, several of his own batteries, and nearly all the engineers and sappers of his corps, so that the total reinforcement sent to Verdier consisted of more than 4,000 men.
Having received these succours, which brought up his total force to 14,000 infantry and cavalry, and 2,200 artillerymen, sappers and engineers, Verdier commenced on May 24 his operations against Gerona: on that day Lecchi’s division took its post in the plain of Salt, on the west of the town, while the French and Westphalian divisions were already close to the place on its eastern and northern sides. The head quarters and the French brigades of Joba and Guillot lay by Sarria and the bridge of Pont-Mayor, where the magazines were established, while the Germans had been sent up on to the heights east of the fortress and held the plateaux of Campdura, San Medir, and Domeny. The rocky southern side of Gerona, in the direction of the gorge of the O?a, was not yet properly invested.
Something has already been said, in an earlier volume of this work, concerning the situation of Gerona, when its two earlier sieges by Duhesme were narrated. It must suffice to repeat here that the town is built on the steep down-slope of two lofty heights, with the river O?a at its foot: the stream is crossed by two bridges, but is fordable everywhere save in times of spate. Beyond it lies the suburb of the Mercadal, surrounded by fortifications which form an integral part of the defences of the[p. 20] city. The river Ter, coming from the west, joins the O?a at the north side of the Mercadal and washes the extreme north-western corner of the walls of the city proper. The two heights upon whose lower slopes Gerona is built are separated from each other by a deep ravine, called the Galligan, down which run an intermittent watercourse and a road, the only one by which approach to the city from the east is possible. The northern height is crowned by the strong fort of Monjuich, the most formidable part of the city defences, with its three outlying redoubts called San Narciso, San Luis and San Daniel. The crest of the southern height is covered in a similar fashion by the three forts of the Capuchins, Queen Anne, and the Constable, with the Calvary redoubt lower down the slope above the Galligan, facing San Daniel on the other side of the ravine. Two other small fortifications, the redoubts of the ‘Chapter’ and the ‘City,’ cover the path which leads down from the forts to Gerona. Neither the Monjuich nor the Capuchin heights are isolated hills; each is the end of a spur running down from the higher mountains. But while the southern summit rises high above the hilly reach which joins it to the mountain of Nuestra Se?ora de los Angeles, the northern summit (where lies Monjuich) is at the end of a plateau extending far to the north. The Capuchin heights, therefore, can only be attacked uphill, while Monjuich can be assailed from ground of a level little inferior to itself. But except on this point both heights are very strong, their slopes being in many places absolutely precipitous, especially towards the Galligan, and everywhere steep. Nevertheless there are winding paths leading up both, from Sarria and Pont-Mayor in the case of Monjuich, from Casa de Selva and other villages towards the east and the sea in the case of the Capuchin heights. All the ground is bare rock, with no superincumbent soil.
All the fortifications were somewhat antiquated in type, nothing having been done to modernize the defences since the war of the Spanish Succession. Ferdinand VI and Charles III had neglected Gerona in favour of the new fortress of Figueras, nearer to the frontier, on which large sums had been expended[p. 21]—for the benefit of the French who seized it by treachery in 1808, and were now using it as their base of operations. The actual wall of enceinte of the city was mediaeval—a plain rampart twenty-five feet high, too narrow for artillery and set thickly with small towers; only at its two ends, on the O?a and the Ter, two bastions (called those of La Merced and Santa Maria) had been inserted, and properly armed. This weakness of the walls went for little so long as Monjuich, the Capuchins, and the other forts held firm, since the enemy could only approach the town-enceinte at its two ends, where the bastions lay. Far more dangerous was the feebleness of the Mercadal, whose ramparts formed the southern section of the exterior defences of the place. Its circuit had five plain bastions, but no demi-lunes or other outer defences, no covered way nor counterscarp: its profile, only some eighteen or twenty feet high, was visible, across the flat ground which surrounds it, from the foot to the summit of the wall, for want of ditch or glacis. The ground leading up to it was favourable for siege approaches, since the soil was soft and easy to dig, and was seamed with hollow roads and stone walls, giving much cover to an assailant. Aware of the defects of the fortifications of the Mercadal, the Spaniards had prepared a line of defence behind it, along the further bank of the O?a. They had made the river-front of the city proper defensible to a certain extent, by building up the doors and windows of all the houses which abut upon the water, mining the two bridges, and fixing a stockade and entanglements in the bed of the O?a, along the considerable space, where it is fordable in dry weather. They had indeed repaired the whole circuit of the defences since Duhesme’s sieges of 1808, having cleared out the ditches of Monjuich and of the bastions of La Merced and
Santa Maria, walled up many posterns, and repaired with new and solid[p. 22] masonry all the parts of the walls that had been dilapidated at the moment of the first siege. They had also pulled down many isolated houses outside the walls, and demolished the nearer half of the suburban village of Pedret, which lies (most inconveniently for the defence) along the bank of the Ter between the water and the slopes of Monjuich.
All these precautions must be put to the credit of the governor, Mariano Alvarez de Castro, a man to be mentioned with all honour and respect, and probably the best soldier that Spain produced during the whole Peninsular War. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary and Portuguese wars, and had a good reputation, but no special credit for military science, down to the moment when he was put to the test. He had
been the officer in charge of the castle of Barcelona on the occasion when it was seized by Duhesme in March 1808: his spirit had been deeply wounded by that vile piece of treachery, and he had at once adhered to the national cause. Since then he had been serving in the Ampurdam against Reille, till the moment when he was appointed governor of Gerona. Alvarez is described by those who served under him as a severe, taciturn man of a puritan cast of mind. ‘I should call him,’ wrote one of his brigadiers, ‘an officer without the true military talents, but with an extreme confidence in Providence—almost, one might say, a believer in miracles. His soul was great, capable of every sacrifice, full of admirable constancy; but I must confess that his heroism always seemed to me that of a Christian martyr rather than of a professional
soldier.’ General Fournas, who wrote this somewhat depreciatory sketch of his chief, was one of those who signed the capitulation while Alvarez was moaning no quiero rendirme on his sick-bed, so that his judgement is hardly to be taken as unprejudiced; but his words point the impression which the governor left on his subordinates. The details of his defence sufficiently show that he was a skilful and resourceful as well as an obstinate general. His minute care to utilize every possible means of defence prove that he was no mere waiter on miracles. That he was a very devout practising Catholic is evident from some of his doings; at the opening of the siege a great religious ceremony was held, at which the local[p. 23] patron saint, Narcissus, was declared captain of the city and presented with a gold-hilted sword. The levy en masse of the citizens was called ‘the Crusade,’ and their badge was the red cross. The ideas of religion and patriotism were so closely intertwined that to the lay companies of this force were afterwards added two clerical companies, one composed of monks and friars, the other of secular priests: about 200 of these ecclesiastics were under arms. Even the women were organized in squads for the transport of wounded, the care of the hospitals, and the carrying of provisions to the soldiery on the walls: about 300 served, under the command of Donna Lucia Fitzgerald and Donna Maria Angela Bibern, wives of two officers of the regiment of Ultonia. Five of this ‘company of St. Barbara’ were killed and eleven wounded during the siege.
The garrison at the moment of Verdier’s first attack consisted of about 5,700 men, not including the irregulars of the Crusade. There were seven battalions of the old army, belonging to the regiments of Ultonia, Borbon, and Voluntarios de Barcelona, with three battalions of miqueletes, two local corps, 1st and 2nd of Gerona, and the 1st of Vich. Of cavalry there was a single squadron, newly levied, the ‘escuadron de San Narciso.’ Of artillery there were but 278 men, a wholly insufficient number: the officers of that arm were given 370 more to train, partly miqueletes of the 2nd Gerona battalion, partly sailors having some small experience of gunnery. It was difficult to make proper use of the great store of cannon in the fortress, when more than half the troops allotted to them had never before seen, much less served, a heavy gun of position. To the above 5,700 men of all arms must be added about 1,100 irregulars of the ‘Crusade’—seven lay and two clerical companies of fusiliers and two more of artificers. But these were[p. 24] set to guard almost unapproachable parts of the wall, or held in reserve: most of the stress fell upon the organized troops. The defence was altogether conducted on scientific principles, and had nothing in common with that of Saragossa. Here the irregulars formed only a small fraction of the garrison, and were never hurled in senseless fury against the French batteries, but used carefully and cautiously as an auxiliary force, capable of setting free some part of the trained men for service on the more important points of the enceinte.
For the first two months of the siege Alvarez received no help whatever from without: in May the central government of Catalonia had been left in a perfectly paralysed condition, when Blake went off himself and took with him the best of the regular troops, in order to engage in the campaign of Alca?iz and Maria. Coupigny, the interim commander at Tarragona, had only 6,000 organized men, and he and the Catalan provincial junta were during that month much engrossed with an enterprise which distracted them from the needs of Gerona. A wide-spread conspiracy had been formed within the walls of Barcelona, with the object of rising against the garrison in St. Cyr’s absence. A secret committee of priests, merchants, and retired officers had collected all the arms in the city, smuggled in many muskets from without, and enlisted several thousand persons in a grand design for an outbreak and a sort of ‘Sicilian Vespers’ fixed—after two postponements—for the 11th of May. They opened communication with Coupigny and with the captains of the British frigates blockading the port. The one was to bring his troops to the gates, the others to deliver an attack on[p. 25] the port, upon the appointed night. No Spaniard betrayed the plot, though 6,000 citizens are said to have been in the secret, but it was frustrated by two foreigners. Conscious that the town could not be freed if the citadel of Monjuich was retained by the French, the conspirators sounded two Italian officers named Captain Dottori, fort adjutant of Monjuich, and Captain Provana, who was known to be discontented and thought to be corruptible. They offered them an immense bribe—1,000,000 dollars, it is said—to betray the postern of Monjuich to the troops of Coupigny, who were to be ready in the ditch at midnight. But they had mistaken their men: the officers conferred with Duhesme, and consented to act as agents provocateurs: they pretended to join the conspiracy, were introduced to and had interviews with the chiefs, and informed the governor. On the morning before the appointed date many of the leaders were arrested. Duhesme placed guards in every street, and proclaimed that he knew all. The citizens remained quiet in their despair, the chiefs who had not been seized fled, and the troops on the Llobregat retired to Tarragona. Duhesme hanged his captives, two priests named Gallifa and Pou, a young merchant named Massana, Navarro an old soldier, and four others. ‘They went to the gallows,’ says Vacani, an eye-witness, ‘with pride, convinced every one of them that they had done the duty of good citizens in behalf of king, country, and religion.’
Engrossed in this plot, the official chiefs of Catalonia half forgot Gerona, and did nothing to help Alvarez till long after the siege had begun. The only assistance that he received from without was that the miqueletes and somatenes of the Ampurdam and the mountain region above Hostalrich were always skirmishing with Verdier’s outposts, and once or twice cut off his convoys of munitions on their way from Figueras to the front.
The French engineers were somewhat at variance as to the right way to deal with Gerona. There were two obvious alternatives. An attack on the weak front of the Mercadal was certain to succeed: the ground before the walls was suitable for trenches, and the fortifications were trifling. But when[p. 26] a lodgement had been made in this quarter of the town it would be necessary to work forward, among the narrow lanes and barricades, to the O?a, and then to cross that river in order to continue similar operations through the streets of Gerona. Even when the city had been subdued, the garrison might still hold out in the formidable works on the Monjuich and Capuchin heights. The reduction of the Mercadal and the city, moreover, would have to be carried out under a continuous plunging fire from the forts above, which overlooked the whole place. This danger was especially insisted upon by some of the engineer officers, who declared that it would be impossible for the troops to work their way forward over ground so exposed. As a matter of fact it was proved, after the siege was over and the forts had been examined by the captors, that this fear had been exaggerated; the angle of fire was such that large sections of the town were in no way commanded from the heights, and the streets could not have been searched in the fashion that was imagined. But this, obvious in December, could not have been known in May. The second alternative was to commence the attack on Gerona not from the easiest but from the most difficult side, by battering the lofty fort of Monjuich from the high plateau beside it. The defences here were very formidable: the ground was bare exposed rock: but if Monjuich were once captured it was calculated that the town must surrender, as it was completely overlooked by the fort, and had no further protection save its antiquated mediaeval wall. The deduction that it would be cheaper in the end to begin with the difficult task of taking Monjuich, rather than the easier operations against the Mercadal, seemed plausible: its fault was that it presupposed that Alvarez and his garrison would behave according to the accepted rules of siegecraft, and yield when their situation became hopeless. But in dealing with Spanish garrisons the rules of military logic did not always act. Alvarez essayed the impossible, and held out behind his defective defences for four months after Monjuich fell. The loss of men and time that he thereby inflicted on the French was certainly no less than that which would have been suffered if the besiegers had begun with the Mercadal, and worked upwards by incessant[p. 27] street fighting towards the forts on the height. But it is hard to say that Verdier erred: he did not know his adversary, and he did know, from his experiences at Saragossa, what street fighting meant.
It may be added that Verdier’s views were accepted by the engineer-general, Sanson, who had been specially sent from France by the Emperor, to give his opinion on the best mode of procedure. The document which Verdier, Sanson, and Taviel (the commanding artillery officer of the 7th Corps) sent to Paris, to justify their choice of the upper point of attack, lays stress mainly on the impossibility of advancing from the Mercadal under the fire of the upper forts. But there were other reasons for selecting Monjuich as the point of attack. It lay far nearer to the road to France and the central siege-dép?ts beside Sarria and the Pont Mayor. The approaches would be over highly defensible ground where, if a disaster occurred, the defeated assailant could easily recover himself and oppose a strong front to the enemy. The shortness of the front was suitable for an army of the moderate strength of 14,000 men, which had to deal with a fortress whose perimeter, allowing for outlying forts and inaccessible precipices, was some six miles. Moreover, the ground in front of the Mercadal had the serious inconvenience of being liable to inundation; summer spates on the Ter and O?a are rare, but occur from time to time; and there was the bare chance that when the trenches had been opened all might be swept away by the rivers.
Verdier’s opinion was arrived at after mature reflection: the French had appeared in front of Gerona on May 8: the outlying villages on the east had been occupied between the twelfth and eighteenth: Lecchi’s Italians had closed the western exits by occupying the plain of Salt on the twenty-fourth: the inner posts of observation of the Spaniards had been cleared off when, on May 30, the Italians seized the suburban village of Santa Eugenia, and on June 1 the Germans took possession of the mountain of Nuestra Se?ora de los Angeles. But it was only on June 6 that the besiegers broke ground, and commenced their trenches and batteries on the[p. 28] plateau of Monjuich. It was necessary to make a beginning by subduing the outer defences of the fort, the towers or redoubts of San Luis, San Narciso, and San Daniel: two batteries of 24-pounders were constructed against them, while a third battery of mortars on the ‘Green Mound’ by the Casa den Roca on the west bank of the Ter, was to play upon the north end of the town: Verdier hoped that the bombardment would break the spirit of the citizens—little knowing the obstinate people with whom he had to deal. Five thousand bombs thrown into the place in June and July produced no effect whatever. More batteries on the heights were thrown up upon the 13th and 15th of June, while on the former day, to distract the attention of the Spaniards, Lecchi’s division, in the plain below, was ordered to open a false attack upon the Mercadal. This had good effect as a diversion, since Alvarez had expected an assault in this quarter, and the long line of trenches thrown up by the Italians in front of Santa Eugenia attracted much of his attention. Three days of battering greatly damaged San Luis and San Narciso, which were no more than round towers of masonry with ditches cut in the rock, and only two or three guns apiece. The French also took possession on the night of the fourteenth and fifteenth of the remains of the half-destroyed suburb of Pedret, between Monjuich and the Ter, as if about to establish themselves in a position from which they could attack the low-lying north gate of the town and the bastion of Santa Maria.
Hitherto the defence had seemed a little passive, but at dawn on the morning of the seventeenth Alvarez delivered the first of the many furious sallies which he made against the siege lines. A battalion of Ultonia rushed suddenly down-hill out of Monjuich and drove the French, who were taken completely by surprise, out of the ruins of Pedret. Aided by a smaller detachment, including the artificers of the Crusade, who came out of the Santa Maria gate, they destroyed all the works and lodgements of the besiegers in the suburb, and held it till they were driven out by two French and one Westphalian battalion sent up from Verdier’s reserves. The Spaniards were forced back into the town, but retired in good order, contented to have undone three days of the besiegers’ labour. They had lost 155 men, the French 128, in this sharp skirmish.
Two days later the towers of San Luis and San Narciso, which had been reduced to shapeless heaps of stone, were carried by assault, with a loss to the French of only 78 men; but an attempt to carry San Daniel by the same rush was beaten off, this redoubt being still in a tenable state. Its gorge, however, was completely commanded from the ruins of San Luis, and access to or exit from it was rendered so dangerous that Alvarez withdrew its garrison on the next night. The possession of these three outworks brought the French close up to Monjuich, which they could now attack from ground which was favourable in every respect, save that it was bare rock lacking soil. It was impossible to excavate in it, and all advances had to be made by building trenches (if the word is not a misnomer in this case) of sandbags and loose stones on the surface of the ground. The men working at the end of the sap were therefore completely exposed, and the work could only proceed at a great expense of life. Nevertheless the preparations advanced rapidly, and on the night of July 2 an enormous battery of sandbags (called the Batterie Impériale) was thrown up at a distance of only four hundred yards from Monjuich. Next morning it opened on the fort with twenty 16- and 24-pounders, and soon established a superiority over the fire of the defence. Several Spanish pieces were dismounted, others had to be removed because it was too deadly to serve them. But a steady fire was returned against the besiegers from the Constable and Calvary forts, on the other side of the Galligan ravine. Nevertheless Monjuich began to crumble, and it looked as if the end of the siege were already approaching. On July 3 there was a breach thirty-five feet broad in the fort’s north-eastern bastion, and the Spanish flag which floated over it was thrown down into the ditch by a chance 佛山夜生活网 shot. A young officer named Montorro climbed down, brought it up, and nailed it to a new flagstaff under the fire of twenty guns. Meanwhile long stretches of the parapet of Monjuich were ruined, the ditch was half-filled with débris, and the garrison could only protect themselves by hasty erections of gabions and sandbags, placed where the crest of the masonry had stood.
By this time St. Cyr and the covering army had abandoned the position in the plain of Vich which they had so long[p. 30] occupied. The general had, as it seems, convinced himself at last that Blake, who was still engaged in his unlucky Aragonese campaign, was not likely to appear. He therefore moved nearer to Gerona, in order to repress the efforts of the local somatenes, who were giving much trouble to Verdier’s communications. On June 20 he established his 佛山桑拿价格2012head quarters at Caldas de Malavella, some nine miles to the south-east of Gerona. That same evening one of his Italian brigades intercepted and captured a convoy of 1,200 oxen which the Governor of Hostalrich was trying to introduce into the beleaguered city along one of the mountain-paths which lead to the Capuchin heights from the coast. St. Cyr strung out his 14,000 men in a line from San Feliu de Guixols on the sea to the upper Ter, in a semicircle which covered all the approaches to Gerona saving those from the Ampurdam. He visited Verdier’s camp, inspected the siege operations, and expressed his opinion that an attack on the Mercadal front would have been preferable to that which had been actually chosen. But he washed his hands of all responsibility, told Verdier that, since he had chosen to correspond directly with Paris, he must take all the praise or blame resulting from his choice, and refused to countermand or to alter any of his subordinate’s dispositions. On July 2 however he sent, with some lack of logic, a summons of his own to Alvarez, inviting him to surrender on account of the desperate state of his defences: this he did without informing Verdier of his move. The Governor returned an indignant negative, and Verdier wrote in great wrath to complain that if the siege was his affair, as he had just been told, it was monstrous that his commander should correspond with the garrison without his knowledge. The two generals were left on even worse terms than before. St. Cyr, however, gave real assistance to the siege operations at this time by storming, on July 5, the little fortified harbour-town of Palamos, which lies on the point of the sea-coast nearest to Gerona, and had been hitherto used by the miqueletes as a base from which they communicated by night with the fortress, and at the same time[p. 31] kept in touch with Tarragona and the English ships of the blockading squadron.
On the night of the 4th and 5th of July the defences of Monjuich appeared in such a ruinous condition that Commandant Fleury, the engineer officer in charge of the advanced parallel, took the extraordinary and unjustifiable step of assaulting them at 10 p.m. with the troops—two companies only—which lay under his orders, trusting that the whole of the guards of the trenches would follow if he made a lodgement. This presumptuous attack, made contrary to all the rules of military subordination, was beaten off with a loss of forty men. Its failure made Verdier determine to give the fort three days more of continuous bombardment, before attempting to storm it: the old batteries continued their fire, a new one was added to enfilade the north-western bastion, and cover was contrived at several points to shelter the troops which were to deliver the assault, till the actual moment of the storm arrived. But three hundred yards of exposed ground still separated the front trenches from the breach—a distance far too great according to the rules of siegecraft. The Spaniards meanwhile, finding it impossible under such a fire to block the breach, which was now broad enough for fifty men abreast, threw up two walls of gabions on each side of it, sank a ditch filled with chevaux-de-frise in front of it, and loopholed some interior buildings of the fort, which bore upon its reverse side.
Monjuich, however, looked in a miserable state when, just before sunrise on July 7, Verdier launched his columns of assault upon it. He had collected for the purpose the grenadier and voltigeur companies of each of the twenty French, German, and Italian battalions of the besieging army, about 2,500 men in all. They were divided into two columns, the larger of[p. 32] which went straight at the breach, while the smaller, which was furnished with ladders, was directed to escalade the left face of the demi-lune which covers the northern front of Monjuich. The troops passed with no great loss over the open space which divided them from the work, as its guns had all been silenced, and the fire from the more distant forts was ineffective in the dusk. But when they got within close musketry range they began to fall fast; the head of the main column, which was composed of some sapper companies and the Italian Velites of the Guard, got up on to the face of the breach, but could never break in. Every officer or man who reached the cutting and its chevaux-de-frise was shot down; the concentric fire of the defenders so swept the opening that nothing could live there. Meanwhile the rear of the column was brought to a stand, partly in, partly outside, the ditch. The Spaniards kept playing upon it with musketry and two or three small 2- and 4-pounders, which had been kept under cover and reserved for that purpose, firing canister into it at a distance of twenty or thirty yards. Flesh and blood could not bear this for long, and the whole mass broke and went to the rear. Verdier, who had come out to the Batterie Impériale to view the assault, had the men rallied and sent forward a second time: the head of the column again reached the breach, and again withered away: the supporting mass gave way at once, and fell back much more rapidly than on the first assault. Yet the General, most unwisely, insisted on a third attack, which, made feebly and without conviction, by men who knew that they were beaten, only served to increase the casualty list. Meanwhile the escalade of the demi-lune by the smaller column had been repelled with ease: the assailants barely succeeded in crossing the ditch and planting a few ladders against the scarp: no one survived who tried to mount them, and the troops drew off.
This bloody repulse cost the French 1,079 casualties, including seventy-seven officers killed or wounded—much more than a third of the troops engaged. It is clear, therefore, that it was not courage which had been lacking: nor could it be said that the enemy’s artillery fire had not been subdued, nor that the breach was insufficient, nor that the 300 yards of open ground crossed by the column had been a fatal obstacle;[p. 33] indeed, they had been passed with little loss. The mistake of Verdier had been that he attacked before the garrison was demoralized—the same error made by the English at Badajoz in 1811 and at San Sebastian in 1813. A broad breach by itself does not necessarily make a place untenable, if the spirit of the defenders is high, and if they are prepared with all the resources of the military art for resisting the stormers, as were the Geronese on July 7-8. The garrison lost, it may be remarked, only 123 men, out of a strength of 787 present in the fort that morning. The casualty list, however, was somewhat increased by the accidental explosion, apparently by a careless gunner, of the magazine of the tower of San Juan, alongside of the Galligan, which was destroyed with its little garrison of twenty-five men.
The repulse of the assault of Monjuich thoroughly demoralized the besieging army: the resistance of the Spaniards had been so fierce, the loss they had inflicted so heavy, that Verdier’s motley collection of French, German, Lombard, and Neapolitan regiments lost heart and confidence. Their low spirits were made manifest by the simultaneous outbreak of desertion and disease, the two inevitable marks of a decaying morale. All through the second half of July and August the hospitals grew gradually fuller, not only from sunstroke cases (which were frequent on the bare, hot, rocky ground of the heights), but from dysentery and malaria. The banks of the Ter always possessed a reputation for epidemics—twice in earlier centuries a French army had perished before the walls of Gerona by plagues, which the citizens piously attributed to their patron, San Narciso. It was mainly because he realized the depression of his troops that Verdier refrained from any more assaults, and went on from July 9 to August 4 battering Monjuich incessantly, while he cautiously pushed forward his trenches, till they actually reached the ditch of the demi-lune which covers the northern front of the fort. The garrison was absolutely overwhelmed by the incessant bombardment, which destroyed every piece of upstanding masonry, and prevented them from rebuilding anything that was demolished. They were forced to lurk in the casemates, and to burrow for shelter in the débris which filled the interior of the work. Three large breaches had[p. 34] been made at various points, yet Verdier would never risk another assault, till on August 4 his approaches actually crowned the lip of the ditch of the demi-lune, and his sappers had blown in its counterscarp. The ruined little outwork was then stormed with a loss of only forty men. This put the French in the possession of good cover only a few yards from the main body of the fort. Proceeding with the same caution as before, they made their advances against Monjuich by mining: on the night of the 8th-9th August no less than twenty-three mines under the glacis of the fort were exploded simultaneously. This left a gaping void in front of the original breach of July 7, and filled up the ditch with débris for many yards on either side: part of the interior of the fort was clearly visible from the besiegers’ trenches.
Only one resource for saving Monjuich remained to Alvarez—a sortie for the expulsion of the enemy from their advanced works. It was executed with great courage at midday on August 9, while at the same time separate demonstrations to distract the enemy were made at two other points. The column from Monjuich had considerable success; it stormed two advanced batteries, spiked their guns, and set fire to their gabions; the French were cleared out of many of their trenches, but made head behind one of the rear batteries, where they were joined by their reserves, who finally thrust back the sallying force into the fort. The damage done, though considerable, could be repaired in a day. Verdier gave orders for the storm of the dilapidated fort on the night of August 11, and borrowed a regiment from St. Cyr’s covering army to lead the assault, being still very doubtful of the temper of his own troops. But at six on the preceding afternoon an explosion was heard in Monjuich, and great part of its battered walls flew up into the air. The Spaniards had quietly evacuated it a few minutes before, after preparing mines for its demolition. The French, when they entered, found nothing but a shapeless mass of stones and eighteen disabled cannon. The garrison had lost, in the sixty-five days of its defence, 962 men killed and wounded; the besiegers had, first and last, suffered something like three times this loss.
While the bombardment of Monjuich was going on, the[p. 35] Spanish generals outside the fortress had at last begun to make serious efforts for its assistance. Not only had the somatenes redoubled their activity against Verdier’s convoys, and several times succeeded in destroying them or turning them back, but Coupigny had at last begun to move, for he saw that since Blake’s rout at Belchite on June 18 he, and he alone, possessed an organized body of troops on this side of Spain, small though it was. Unable to face St. Cyr in the field, he tried at least to throw succours into Gerona by the mountain paths from the south, if he could do no more. The first attempt was disastrous: three battalions started from Hostalrich under an English adventurer, Ralph Marshall, whom Alvarez had suggested for the command of this expedition. They evaded the first line of the covering army, but at Castellar, on July 10, ran into the very centre of Pino’s division, which had concentrated from all sides for their destruction. Marshall escaped into Gerona with no more than twelve men: 40 officers and 878 rank and file laid down their arms; the rest of the column, some 600 or 700 men, evaded surrender by dispersion.
Equally disastrous, though on a smaller scale, was another attempt made on August 4 by a party of 300 miqueletes to enter Gerona: they eluded St. Cyr, but on arriving at the entry of the Galligan, close under the forts, made the unfortunate mistake of entering the convent of San Daniel, which the garrison had been compelled to evacuate a few days before. It was now in the French lines, and the Catalans were all taken prisoners. It was not till August 17, six days after the fall of Monjuich, that Alvarez obtained his first feeble reinforcement: the miquelete battalion of Cervera, with a draft for that of Vich already in the garrison, altogether 800 bayonets, got into the city on the west side, by eluding Lecchi’s Italians in the plain and fording the Ter. They were much needed, for Alvarez[p. 36] was complaining to the Catalan Junta that he had now only 1,500 able-bodied men left of his original 5,000.
Verdier had written to his master, after the capture of Monjuich, to announce that Gerona must infallibly surrender within eight or ten days, now that it had nothing but an antiquated mediaeval wall to oppose to his cannon. So far, however, was he from being a true prophet that, as a matter of fact, the second and longer episode of the siege, which was to be protracted far into the winter, had only just begun.
SECTION XVII: CHAPTER III
THE FALL OF GERONA. AUGUST-DECEMBER, 1809
When Monjuich had been evacuated, the position of Gerona was undoubtedly perilous: of the two mountain summits which command the city one was now entirely in the hands of the French; for not only the great fort itself but several of the smaller works above the ravine of the Galligan—such as the fortified convent of San Daniel and the ruined tower of San Juan—had been lost. The front exposed to attack now consisted of the northern section of the old city wall, from the bastion of Santa Maria at the water’s edge, to the tower of La Gironella, which forms the north-eastern angle of the place, and lies further up the slope of the Capuchin heights than any other portion of the enceinte. The space between these two points was simply covered by a mediaeval wall set with small round towers: neither the towers nor the curtain between them had been built to hold artillery. Indeed the only spots on this front where guns had been placed were (1) the comparatively modern bastion of Santa Maria, (2) a work erected under and about the Gironella, and called the ‘Redoubt of the Germans,’ and (3, 4) two parts of the wall called the platforms of San Pedro and San Cristobal, which had been widened till they could carry a few heavy guns. On the rest of the enceinte, owing to its narrowness, nothing but wall-pieces and two-pounders could be mounted. The parts of the curtain most exposed to attack were the sections named Santa Lucia, San Pedro, San Cristobal, and Las Sarracinas, from churches or quarters which lay close behind them. With nothing but an antiquated wall, seven to nine feet thick, thirty feet high, and destitute of a ditch, it seemed that this side of Gerona was doomed to destruction within a few days.
But there were points in the position which rendered the[p. 38] attack more difficult than might have been expected. The first was that any approaches directed against this front would be exposed to a flanking fire from the forts on the Capuchin heights, especially from the Calvary and Chapter redoubts. The second was that the greater part of the weak sections of the wall were within a re-entering angle; for the tower of Santa Lucia and the ‘Redoubt of the Germans’ by the Gironella project, and the curtains between them are in a receding sweep of the enceinte. Attacks on these ill-fortified sections would be outflanked and enfiladed by the two stronger works. The only exposed part of the curtain was that called Santa Lucia, running from the tower of that name down to the bastion of Santa Maria. Lastly, the parallels which the French might construct from their base on Monjuich would have to be built on a down slope, overlooked by loftier ground, and when they reached the foot of the walls they would be in a sort of gulley or bottom, into which the defenders of the city could look down from above. The only point from which the north end of Gerona could be approached from flat ground and without disadvantages of slope, is the short front of less than 200 yards breadth between the foot of Monjuich and the bank of the Ter. Here, in the ruins of the suburb of Pedret, there was plenty of cover, a soil easy to work, and a level terrain as far as the foot of the Santa Maria bastion. The engineers of the besieging army selected three sections of wall as their objective. The first was the ‘Redoubt of the Germans’ and the tower of La Gironella, the highest and most commanding works in this part of the enceinte: once established in these, they could overlook and dominate the whole city. The other points of attack were chosen for the opposite reason—because they were intrinsically weak in themselves, not because they were important or dominating parts of the defences. The curtain of Santa Lucia in particular seemed to invite attack, as being in a salient angle, unprotected by flanking fire, and destitute of any artillery of its own.
Verdier, therefore, on the advice of his engineers, set to work to attack these points of the enceinte between La Gironella and Santa Maria. New batteries erected amid the ruins of Monjuich were levelled against them, in addition to such of the older[p. 39] batteries as could still be utilized. On the front by Pedret also, where nothing had hitherto been done, works were prepared for guns to be directed against Santa Maria and Santa Lucia. Meanwhile a perpetual bombardment with shell was kept up, against the whole quarter of the town that lay behind the selected points of attack. Mortars were always playing, not only from the Monjuich heights but from two batteries erected on the so-called ‘Green Mound’ in the plain beyond the river Ter. Their effect was terrible: almost every house in the northern quarter of Gerona was unroofed or destroyed: the population had to take refuge in cellars, where, after a few days, they began to die fast—all the more so that food was just beginning to run short as August advanced. From the 14th to the 30th of that month Verdier’s attack was developing itself: by its last day four breaches had been established: one, about forty feet broad, in the curtain of St. Lucia, two close together in the works at La Gironella, the fourth and smallest in the platform of San Cristobal. But the approaches were still far from the foot of the wall, the fire of the outlying Spanish works, especially the Calvary fort, was unsubdued, and though the guns along the attacked front had all been silenced, the French artillery had paid dearly both in lives and in material for the advantage they had gained. Moreover sickness was making dreadful ravages in the ranks of the besieging army. The malarious pestilence on which the Spaniards had relied had appeared, after a sudden and heavy rainfall had raised the Ter and O?a beyond their banks, and inundated the whole plain of Salt. By malaria, dysentery and sunstroke Verdier had lost 5,000 men, in addition to his casualties in the siege. Many of them were convalescents in the hospitals of Perpignan and Figueras, but it was hard to get them back to the front; the somatenes made the roads impassable for small detachments, and the officers on the line of communication, being very short of men, were given to detaining drafts that reached them on their way to Gerona. Hence Verdier, including[p. 40] his artillerymen and sappers, had less than 10,000 men left for the siege, and these much discouraged by its interminable length, short of officers, and sickly. This was not enough to guard a periphery of six miles, and messengers were continually slipping in or out of Gerona, between the widely scattered camps of the French.
On August 31 a new phase of the siege began. In response to the constant appeals of Alvarez to the Catalan Junta, and the consequent complaints of the Junta alike to the Captain-General Blake, and to the central government at Seville, something was at last about to be done to relieve Gerona. The supreme Central Junta, in reply to a formal representation of the Catalans dated August 16, had sent Blake 6,000,000 reals in cash, and a peremptory order to march on Gerona whatever the state of his army might be, authorizing him to call out all the somatenes of the province in his aid. The general, who had at last returned to Tarragona, obeyed, though entirely lacking confidence in his means of success; and on the thirty-first his advance guard was skirmishing with St. Cyr’s covering army on the heights to the south of the Ter.
Blake’s army, it will be remembered, had been completely routed at Belchite by Suchet on June 18. The wrecks of his Aragonese division had gradually rallied at Tortosa, those of his Valencian divisions at Morella: but even by the end of July he had only a few thousand men collected, and he had lost every gun of his artillery. For many weeks he could do nothing but press the Junta of Valencia to fill the depleted ranks of his regiments with recruits, to reconstitute his train, and to provide him with new cannon. Aragon had been lost—nothing could be drawn from thence: Catalonia, distracted by Suchet’s demonstration on its western flank, did not do as much as might have been expected in its own defence. The Junta was inclined to favour the employment of miqueletes and[p. 41] somatenes, and to undervalue the troops of the line: it forgot that the irregulars, though they did admirable work in harassing the enemy, could not be relied upon to operate in large masses or strike a decisive blow. Still, the regiments at Tarragona, Lerida, and elsewhere had been somewhat recruited before August was out.
Blake’s field army was composed of some 14,000 men: there were five Valencian regiments—those which had been least mishandled in the campaign of Aragon—with the relics of six of the battalions which Reding had brought from Granada in 1808, two of Lazan’s old Aragonese corps, and five or six of the regiments which had formed the original garrison of Catalonia. The battalions were very weak—it took twenty-four of them to make up 13,000 infantry: of cavalry there were only four squadrons, of artillery only two batteries. Those of the rank and file who were not raw recruits were the vanquished of Molins de Rey and Valls, or of Maria and Belchite. They had no great confidence in Blake, and he had still less in them. Despite the orders received from Seville, which bade him risk all for the relief of Gerona, he was determined not to fight another pitched battle. The memories of Belchite were too recent to be forgotten. Though much obloquy has been poured upon his head for this resolve, he was probably wise in his decision. St. Cyr had still some 12,000 men in his covering army, who had taken no share in the siege: their morale was intact, and they had felt little fatigue or privation. They could be, and were in fact, reinforced by 4,000 men from Verdier’s force when the stress came. Blake, therefore, was, so far as regular troops went, outnumbered by the French, especially in cavalry and artillery. He could not trust in time of battle the miqueletes, of whom some 4,000 or 5,000 from the Ampurdam and Central Catalonia came to join him. He thought that it might be possible to elude or[p. 42] outflank St. Cyr, to lure him to divide his forces into scattered bodies by threatening many points at once, or, on the other hand, to induce him to concentrate on one short front, and so to leave some of the exits of Gerona open. But a battle with the united French army he would not risk under any conditions.
St. Cyr, however, was too wary for his opponent: he wanted to fight at all costs, and he was prepared to risk a disturbance of the siege operations, if he could catch Blake in the open and bring him to action. The moment that pressure on his outposts, by regular troops coming from the south, was reported, he drew together Souham’s and Pino’s divisions on the short line between San Dalmay on the right and Casa de Selva on the left, across the high road from Barcelona. At the same time he sent stringent orders to Verdier to abandon the unimportant sections of his line of investment, and to come to reinforce the field army at the head of his French division, which still counted 4,000 bayonets. Verdier accordingly marched to join his chief, leaving Lecchi’s Italians—now little more than 2,000 strong—to watch the west side of Gerona, and handing over the charge of the works on Monjuich, the new approaches, and the park at Pont Mayor, to the Westphalians. He abandoned all the outlying posts on the heights, even the convent of San Daniel, the village of Campdura, and the peak of Nuestra Se?ora de los Angeles. Only 4,600 infantry and 2,000 gunners and sappers were left facing the garrison: but Alvarez was too weak to drive off even such a small force.
On September 1 Blake ostentatiously displayed the heads of his columns in front of St. Cyr’s position; but while the French general was eagerly awaiting his attack, and preparing his counter-stroke, the Spaniard’s game was being played out in another quarter. While Rovira and Claros with their miqueletes made noisy demonstration from the north against the Westphalians, and threatened the park and the camp at Sarria, Blake had detached one of his divisions, that of Garcia Conde, some 4,000 strong, far to the left beyond St. Cyr’s flank: this corps had with it a convoy of more than a thousand mules laden with provisions, and a herd of cattle. It completely escaped the notice of the French, and marching from Amer at break of day came down into the plain of Salt at noon, far in[p. 43] the rear of St. Cyr’s army. Garcia Conde had the depleted Italian division of the siege corps in front of him: one of the brigadiers, the Pole Milosewitz, was in command that day, Lecchi being in hospital. This small force, which vainly believed itself covered from attack by St. Cyr’s corps, had kept no look-out to the rear, being wholly intent on watching the garrison. It was surprised by the Spanish column, cut into two halves, and routed. Garcia Conde entered the Mercadal in triumph with his convoy, and St. Cyr first learnt what had occurred when he saw the broken remnants of the Italians pouring into the rear of his own line at Fornells.
That night Gerona was free of enemies on its southern and eastern sides, and Alvarez communicated freely with Rovira’s and Claros’s irregulars, who had forced in the Westphalian division and compelled it to concentrate in Monjuich and the camp by the great park near Sarria. The garrison reoccupied the ruined convent of San Daniel by the Galligan, and placed a strong party in the hermitage on the peak of Nuestra Se?ora de los Angeles. It also destroyed all the advanced trenches on the slopes of Monjuich. On the next morning, however, it began to appreciate the fact that the siege had not been raised. St. Cyr sent back Verdier’s division to rejoin the Westphalians, and with them the wrecks of Lecchi’s routed battalions. He added to the force under Verdier half Pino’s Italian division—six fresh battalions. With these reinforcements the old siege-lines could be reoccupied, and the Spaniards were forced back from the points outside the walls which they had reoccupied on the night of September 1.
By sending away such a large proportion of the 16,000 men that he had concentrated for battle on the previous day, St. Cyr left himself only some 10,000 men for a general action with Blake, if the latter should resolve to fight. But the Spanish general, being without Garcia Conde’s division, had also no more than 10,000 men in line. Not only did he refuse to advance, but when St. Cyr, determined to fight at all costs, marched against him with offensive intentions, he hastily retreated as far as Hostalrich, two marches to the rear. There he broke up his army, which had exhausted all its provisions. St. Cyr did the same and for the same reasons; his men had to[p. 44] disperse in order to live. He says in his memoirs that if Blake had shown a bold front against him, and forced him to keep the covering army concentrated for two more days, the siege would have had to be raised. For the covering army had advanced against the Spaniards on September 2 with only two days’ rations, it had exhausted its stores, and eaten up the country-side. On the fourth it would have had to retire, or to break up into small fractions, leaving the siege-corps unprotected. St. Cyr doubted whether the retreat would have ceased before Figueras was reached. But it is more probable that he would have merely fallen back to join Verdier, and to live for some days on the dép?ts of Pont Mayor and Sarria. He could have offered battle again under the walls of Gerona, with all his forces united. Blake might have got into close touch with Alvarez, and have thrown what convoys he pleased into the town; but as long as St. Cyr and Verdier with 22,000 men lay opposite him, he could not have risked any more. The situation, in short, would have been that which occurred in February 1811 under the walls of Badajoz, when Mortier faced Mendizabal, and would probably have ended in the same fashion, by the French attacking and driving off the relieving army. Blake, then, may be blamed somewhat for his excessive caution in giving way so rapidly before St. Cyr’s advance: but if we remember the quality of his troops and the inevitable result of a battle, it is hard to censure him overmuch.
Meanwhile Garcia Conde, whose movements were most happy and adroit, reinforced the garrison of Gerona up to its original strength of 5,000 bayonets, by making over to Alvarez four whole battalions and some picked companies from other corps, and prepared to leave the town with the rest of his division and the vast drove of mules, whose burden had been discharged into the magazines. If he had dedicated his whole force to strengthening the garrison, the additional troops would have eaten up in a few days all the provisions that the convoy had brought in.[p. 45] Accordingly he started off at two a.m. on September 4 with some 1,200 men, by the upland path that leads past the hermitage of Los Angeles: St. Cyr had just placed Pino’s troops from the covering army to guard the heights to the south-east of Gerona, but Garcia Conde, warned by the peasants of their exact position, slipped between the posts and got off to Hostalrich with a loss of no more than fifty men.
Before he could consider his position safe, Verdier had to complete the lines of investment: this he did on September 5 by driving off the intermediate posts which Alvarez had thrown out from the Capuchin heights, to link the town with the garrison in the hermitage of Nuestra Se?ora de los Angeles. Mazzuchelli’s brigade stormed the hermitage itself on the following day, with a loss of about eighty men, and massacred the greater part of the garrison. On that same day, however, the French suffered a small disaster in another part of the environs. General Joba, who had been sent with three battalions to clear the road to Figueras from the bands of Claros and Rovira, was beaten and slain at San Gregorio by those chiefs. But the miqueletes afterwards retired to the mountains, and the road became intermittently passable, at least for large bodies of men.