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of the most memorable events in the annals of
war. A very determined leader, Parafox, with
about thirty thousand men, threw himself into
that city. A proclamation was issued, declar-
ing that no mercy would be shown to those
who manifested any sympathy for the reign
of Joseph. Suspicion was sufficient to doom
one to mob violence and a cruel death.

" Terror," says Alison, " was summoned to
the aid of loyalty. And the fearful engines of
popular power, the scaffold and the gallows,
were erected on the public square, where some
unhappy wretches, suspected of a leaning to
the enemy, were indignantly executed.

" The passions of the people were roused to
the very highest pitch by the dread of treason,
or any accommodation with the enemy. And
popular vehemence, overwhelming all restraints
of law or order, sacrificed almost every night
persons to the blind suspicions of the multitude,
who were found hanging in the morning on the
gallows erected in the Corso and market-place."


The Siege of Saragoeea.

The priests summoned the peasants from
all the region around, so that soon there were
fifty thousand armed men within the walls, in-
spired by as determined a spirit of resistance
as ever possessed the human heart. The siege
was commenced about the middle of December
with thirty-five thousand men, according to the
statement of Napier. It is generally under-
stood in warfare that one man, acting upon the
defensive within a fortress, is equal to at least
five men making the assault from the outside.
But in the memorable siege of Saragossa, the
besieged had a third more men than the be-
siegers. Alison thinks Napier incorrect, and
makes the besieging force forty-three thousand.
This gives the besieged a superiority of seven
thousand men. It surely speaks volumes for
the courage and skill of the French army, that
under such circumstances the siege could have
been conducted to a successful issue, especially
when the determination and bravery of the
people of Saragossa are represented as almost
without a parallel.

The scenes of woe which ensued within the
walls of Saragossa no pen can describe, no im-
agination can conceive. In addition to the
garrison of fifty thousand men, the city was


Savagery of Armies.

crowded with women and children, the aged
and the infirm. For fifty days the storm of
war raged, with scarcely a moment's intermis-
sion. Thirty-three thousand cannon shots and
sixteen thousand bombs were thrown into the
thronged streets. Fifty-four thousand human
beings perished in the city during these fifty
days more than a thousand a day. Many
perished of famine and of pestilence. When
the French marched into the town, there were
six thousand dead still unburied. There were
sixteen thousand helplessly sick, and many of
them dying. Only twelve thousand of the gar-
rison remained, pale, emaciate, skeleton men,
who, as captives of war, were conveyed to
France. When we reflect that all this hero-
ism and bravery were displayed, and all these
unspeakable woes endured, to re-introduce the
reign of as despicable a monarch as ever sat
upon a throne, and to rivet the chains of des-
potism upon an ignorant, debased, and enslaved
people, one can not but mourn over the sad
lot of humanity.

The rank and file of armies is never com-
posed of men of affectionate, humane, and an-
gelic natures. It is the tiger in the man which
makes the reckless soldier. Familiarity with


Discouragement of the Spaniard*.

crime, outrage, misery, renders the soul cal-
lous. There is no rigor of army discipline
which can prevent atrocities that should cause
even fiends to blush. The story of the sweep
of armies never can be truly told.

As all the physical strength of the region
for leagues around Saragossa had been gather-
ed in that city, its fall secured the submission
of the surrounding country. Lannes was call-
ed to join the grand army in Germany. Junot,
who was left in command of the troops at Sar-
agossa, prepared for an expedition against Va-
lencia. City after city passed, with scarcely
any resistance, into the hands of the French.
The campaign in Germany rendered it neces-
sary for Napoleon to withdraw all his best
troops, leaving Joseph to maintain his position
in Spain, with a motley group of Italians,
Swiss, and Germans, who were by no means
inspired either with the political intelligence
or the martial enthusiasm of the French.

The Spanish peasants, depressed by failure,
and inspired, not by intelligent conviction,
but by momentary religious fanaticism, threw
down their arms and returned to their homes.
There was but little integrity or sense of honor
to be found in Spain, long demoralized by a


Victory of General St. Cyr.

wretched government ; and the immense sup-
plies which England furnished were embez-
zled or misapplied. The Spaniards are not
cowards. The feeU* resistance thej often
made proved that tney took but little interest
in the issues of the war. Ferdinand had done
nothing to win their regard. But he was a
Spanish prince, in the regular line of descent
from their ancient kings. Joseph Bonaparte
was a stranger, a foreigner, about to be im-
posed upon them by the aid of foreign arms.
It was easy, under these circumstances, to rouse
a transient impulse for Ferdinand, but not an
abiding devotion.

General Duhesme was in Barcelona with a
few thousand troops, cut off from communica-
tion with his friends by the English fleet, and
a large army of Spanish peasants which was
collected to secure his capture. General St.
Cyr, with about sixteen thousand infantry and
cavalry, marched to his relief. In a narrow
defile, amidst rocks and forests, he encountered
a Spanish force forty thousand strong, drawn
up in a most favorable position to arrest his
progress. St Cyr formed his troops in one
solid mass, and charging headlong, without fir-
Ing a shot, in half an hour dispersed the foe,


French Victories.

killing five hundred, wounding two thousand,
and capturing all their artillery and ammuni-
tion. The next day St. Cyr entered Barcelona.
The Spaniards were so utterly dispersed that
not ten thousand men could be re-assembled
two days after the battle.

But the English fleet was upon the coast,
with encouragement and abundant supplies.
After a little while, another Spanish army,
twenty thousand strong, was rendezvoused at
Molinas del Key. St. Cyr again fell upon
these troops. They fled so precipitately that
but few were hurt. Their supplies, which the
British had furnished them, were left upon the
field. St. Cyr gathered up fifty pieces of can-
non, three million cartridges, sixty thousand
pounds of powder, and a magazine containing
thirty thousand stand of English arms. Lord
Collingwood, who commanded the British fleet,
declared that all the elements of resistance in
the province were dissolved. These events
took place just before the fall of Saragossa.

In the middle of February of this year,
1809, St. Cj 7 r had twenty-three thousand men
concentrated at Villa Franca. Forty thousand
Spaniards were collected to attack him. Al-
most contemptuously, he took eleven thousand


Desolations of War.

of his troops, surprised the Spaniards, and scat-
tered them in the wildest flight. He pursued
the fugitives, and wherever they made a stand
dispersed them with but little effort or loss
upon his own side. There was no longer any
regular resistance in Catalonia, though guer-
rilla bands still prowled about the country.

Thus the wretched, desolating warfare raged,
month after month. Nothing of importance
toward securing the abiding triumph of either
party was gained. Whenever the French army
withdrew from any section of country, British
officers entered, to re-organize, with the aid of
the Spanish priests, the peasants to renewed
opposition, and British gold was lavished in
paying the soldiers. Junot was taken sick, and
Suchet, whom Napoleon characterized at Saint
Helena as the first of his generals, was placed
in command. "We have not space to describe
the numerous battles which were fought, and
the patience of our readers would be exhausted
by the dreary narration. The siege of Gerona
by St. Cyr occupied seven months.

Joseph was still in Madrid. As we have
said, the more intelligent and opulent classes
rallied around him. Sir Archibald Alison,
ever the advocate of aristocratic privilege, while


Testimony of Alison.

admitting the fact of Joseph's apparent popu-
larity in Madrid, in the following strain of re-
mark endeavors to explain that fact :

"Addresses had been forwarded to Joseph
Bonaparte at Yalladolid from all the incorpo-
rations and influential bodies at Madrid, invit-
ing him to return to the capital and resume the
reins of government. Kegisters had been open-
ed in different parts of the city for those citizens
to inscribe their names who were favorable to
his cause. In a few days thirty thousand sig-
natures, chiefly of the more opulent classes, had
been inscribed on the lists. In obedience to
these flattering invitations, the intrusive King
had entered the capital with great pomp, amidst
the discharge of a hundred pieces of cannon,
and numerous, if not heartfelt, demonstrations
of public satisfaction; a memorable example of
the effect of the acquisition of wealth, and the
enjoyments of luxury, in enervating the minds
of their possessors, and of the difference be-
tween the patriotic energy of those classes who,
having little to lose, yield to ardent sentiments
without reflection, and those in whom the sug-
gestions of interest and the habits of indulgence
have stifled the generous emotions of nature."

The great defect in Joseph's character as an


Joseph's mistaken Views.

executive officer, under the circumstances in
which he was placed, was his apparent inabili-
ty fully to comprehend the grandeur of Napo-
leon's conceptions. Instead of looking upon
Spain as an essential part of the majestic whole,
and which, by its money and its armies, must aid
in sustaining the new principle of equal rights
for all, he forgot the general cause, and sought
only to promote the interests of his own king-
dom. Napoleon, having secured the reign of
the new regime of equality in France, in an-
tagonism to the old regime of privilege, imme-
diately found all Europe banded against him.
France could not stand alone against such an-
tagonism. Hence it became essential that alli-
ances should be formed for mutual protection.
The genius of Napoleon was of necessity the
controlling element in these alliances.

In that view, he had enlarged and strength-
ened the boundaries of France. He had crea-
ted the kingdoms of Italy and Naples. He had,
impelled by the instinct of self-preservation,
bought out the treacherous Bourbons of Spain,
and was endeavoring to lift up the Spaniards
from ages of depressing despotism, that Spain,
under an enlightened ruler, rejoicing in the in-
telligence and prosperity which existed under


The Hostility of fte Allies to Napoleon personally.

all the new governments, might contribute its
support to the system of equal rights through-
out Europe.

England, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and the
aristocratic party throughout all Europe, were
in deadly hostility to the principle of abolish-
ing privileged classes, and instituting equal
rights for all. They were ever ready to squan-
der blood and treasure, to violate treaties, to
form open or secret coalitions, in resisting these
new ideas. Regarding Napoleon as the great
champion of popular rights, and conscious that
there was no one of his marshals who, upon
Napoleon's downfall, could take his place, all
their energies were directed against him per-

Thus we have the singular spectacle, never
before witnessed in the history of the world,
never again to be witnessed, of the combined
monarchs of more than a hundred millions of
men waging warfare against one single man.
And therefore Napoleon called upon all the re-
generated nations in sympathy with his views
to rally around him. He regarded them as
wings of the great army of which France was
the centre. In combating the coalition, he was
fighting battles for them all. They stood or


Joseph's Want of Appreciation.

fell together. In the terrific struggle which
deluged all Europe in blood, Napoleon was the
commander-in-chief of the whole army of re-
form. He was such by the power of circum-
stances. He was such by innate ability. He
was such by universal recognition.

When therefore Napoleon regarded the sove-
reigns appointed over the nations whom his
genius had rescued from despotism but as the
generals of his armies, who were to co-operate
at his bidding in defense of the general system
of dynastic oppression, it was not arrogance,
it was wisdom and necessity that inspired his
conduct. Louis in Holland, Jerome in West-
phalia, Eugene in Italy, Murat in Naples, Jo-
seph in Spain, all were bound, under the lead-
ership of Napoleon, to contribute their portion
to the general defense.

Very strangely, Joseph seemed never to be
able fully to comprehend this idea. He was a
man of great intelligence, of high culture, and
a more kindly, generous heart never throbbed
in a human bosom; and yet, notwithstanding
all Napoleon's arguments, it seemed impossible
for him to comprehend why he should not be
as independent as the King of Spain, as Napo-
leon was in the sovereignty of France. Fully


Character of Joseph.

recognizing the immeasurable superiority of hig
brother to any other man, and loving him with
a devotion which has seldom if ever been ex-
ceeded, he was still disposed to regard himself
as placed in Spain only to promote the happi-
ness of the Spanish people, without regard to
the interests of the general cause. Instead of
being ready to contribute of men and money
from Spain to maintain the conflict against
coalesced Europe, he was continually writing
to his brother to send him money to carry on
his own Government, and to excuse him from
making any exactions from the people. He
was exceedingly reluctant to deal with severity,
or to quell the outrages of brigands with the
necessary punishment. His letters to the Em-
peror are often filled with complaints. He de-
plores the sad destiny which has made him a
king. He longs to return, with his wife and
children, to the quiet retreat of Mortfontaine.

Napoleon dealt tenderly with his brother.
He fully understood his virtues ; he fully com-
prehended his defects. Occasionally an ex*
pression of impatience escaped his pen, though
frequently he made no allusion, in his reply,
to Joseph's repinings.

The Duke of Wellington is reported to have


Remarks of the Duke of Wellington.

said that "a man of refined Christian sensi-
bilities has no right to enter into the profes-
sion of a soldier." A successful warrior must
often perform deeds at which humanity shud-
ders. Joseph was, by the confession of all, one
of the most calm and brave of men upon the
field of battle. Still, he was too modest a man,
and had too little confidence in himself to per-
form those hazardous and heroic deeds of arms
which war often requires. Napoleon, conscious
that his brother was not by nature a warrior, and
also wishing to save him from the unpopularity
of military acts in crushing sedition, left him
as much as possible to the administration of
civil affairs in Madrid. His statesmanship and
amiability of character could here have full

To his war-scarred veterans, Junot, Soult,
Jourdan, Suchet, the Emperor mainly intrust-
ed the military expeditions. Still, to save Jo-
seph from a sense of humiliation, the Emperor
acted as far as possible through his brother, in
giving commands to the army. But the mar-
shals, obedient as children to the commands of
Napoleon, whose superior genius not one of
them ever thought of calling in question, often
manifested reluctance in executing operations


Siege of Oporto.

directed by Joseph. At times they could not
conceal from him that they considered their
knowledge of the art of war superior to his.
Joseph was king of Spain, and was often humil-
iated by the impression forced upon him that
he was something like a tool in the hands of

During the year 1809 Joseph remained
most of the time in Madrid. There were in-
numerable conflicts during the year, from pettj
skirmishes to pretty severe battles, none of
which are worthy of record in this brief sketch.

The latter part of April the Duke of Wel-
lington landed in Portugal, with English re-en-
forcements of thirty thousand men. With
these, aided by such forces as he could raise
in Portugal and rally around him in Spain, he
was to advance against the French. Napoleon
had been compelled, to withdraw all of the Im-
perial Guard, and all of his choicest troops, to
meet the war on the plains of Germany. Mar-
shal Soult was on the march for Oporto.
With about twenty thousand troops he laid
siege to the city. The feebleness of the de-
fense of the Portuguese may be inferred from
the fact that the city was protected by two
hundred pieces of cannon, and by a force of


Awful Slaughter.

regular troops and armed peasants amounting
to about seventy thousand men. Boult, hav-
ing made- all his preparations for the assault,
and confident that the city could not resist his
attack, wrote a very earnest letter to the
magistrates, urging that by capitulation they
should save the city from the horrors of being
carried by storm. No reply was returned to
the summons except a continued fire.

The attack was made. The Portuguese
peasants had tortured, mangled, killed all the
French prisoners that had fallen into their
hands. Both parties were in a state of ex-
treme exasperation. The battle was short.
When the French troops burst through the
barriers, a general panic seized the Portuguese
troops, and they rushed in wild confusion
through the streets toward the Douro. The
French cavalry pursued the terrified fugitives,
and, with keen sabres, hewed them down till
their arms were weary with the slaughter.

A bridge crossed the river. Crowded with
the frenzied multitude, it sank under their
weight, and the stream was black with the
bodies of drowning men. Those in the rear,
by thousands, pressed those before them into
the yawning gulf. Boats pushed out from the


Oporto Taken by Storm.

banks to rescue them, but the light artillery
of the French was already upon the water's
edge, discharging volleys of grape upon the
helpless, compact mass. Before the city sur-
rendered, four thousand of these unhappy vie-
tims of war, torn with shot, and suffocated by
the waves, were swept down the stream.
Though the marshal exerted himself to the
utmost to preserve discipline, no mortal man
could restrain the passions of an army in such
an hour. The wretched city experienced all
the horrors of a to~wn taken by ,storm. The
number of the slain, according to the report of
Marshal Soult, was more than eighteen thou-
s aid, not including those who were engulfed in
the Douro. Multitudes of the wounded fled to
the woods, where they perished miserably of
exposure and starvation. But two hundred
and fifty prisoners were taken. The French
took two hundred thousand pounds of powder,
a vast amount of stores, and tents for the ac-
commodation of fifty thousand men. They
captured also in the port thirty English vessels
loaded with wine. The loss of the French in
capturing Oporto, according to the report of
the general-in-chief, was but eighty killed, and
three hundred and fifty wounded.


Continued Scenes of Carnage.

It is heart-sickening to proceed with the
recital of these horrors. Similar scenes took
place in Tarancon, where General Victor de-
stroyed the remains of the regular Spanish
army with terrible slaughter. A band of
about twelve thousand men were cut to pieces
by General Sebastiani. Again the Spaniards
met with a fearful repulse upon the plains of
Estremadura. The Spanish general, Cuesta,
with twenty thousand infantry and four thou-
sand horse, was attacked by General Victor
with fifteen thousand foot and three thousand
horse. As usual, the French cut to pieces
their despised foes, capturing all their artillery,
inflicting upon them a loss in killed, wounded,
and prisoners, of ten thousand men, while the
French lost but about one thousand.

While these scenes were transpiring, Joseph,
at Madrid, not only occupied himself with the
general direction of the war, so far as the in-
structions which he perpetually received from
Paris enabled him to do, but labored incessant-
ly, as he had done in Naples, in promoting all
needful reforms, and in forming and executing
plans for the happiness of his subjects.. He
caused a constitution, which had been formed
at Bayonne, to be published and widely circu-


Napoleon's Remarks to O'Mear*.

lated, that the Spaniards might be convinced
that it was his desire to reign over them as a
f ither rather than as a sovereign.

Napoleon, speaking of his brother Joseph to
Dr. O'Meara at Saint Helena, said:

" Joseph is a very excellent man. His vir-
tues and his talents are appropriate to private
life. Nature destined him for that. He is too
amiable to be a great man. He has no ambi-
tion. He resembles me in person, but he i.>
much better than I. He is extremely well

" I have always observed," O'Meara re-
marks, "that he spoke of his brother Joseph
with the most ardent affection."

The fickleness of the multitude was very
conspicuous during all these stormy scenes.
Joseph made a short visit to the southern
provinces. Everywhere he was received with
the greatest enthusiasm, the people crowding
around him, and greeting him with shouts of
"Vive le Roi" Deputations from the cities
and villages hastened to meet him with protes-
tations of homage and fidelity. Joseph re-
sponded, in those convincing accents which the
honesty of his heart inspired, that he wished
to forget all the past, to maintain the salutary


Joseph at Malaga.

institutions of religion, and to confer upon
Spain that constitutional liberty which would
secure its prosperity. Joseph and the friends
who accompanied him were so much impress-
ed with the apparent cordiality of their greet-
ing that they were sanguine in the hope that
the nation would rally around the new dynas-
ty. On the 4th of March the King entered
Malaga. The enthusiasm of his reception
could scarcely have been exceeded. The
streets through which he passed were strewn
with flowers, and the windows filled with the
smiling faces of ladies. He remained there for
eight days, receiving every token of regard
which affection and confidence could confer.

But in other parts of the country where Jo-
seph was not present it seemed as if the whole
population, without a dissenting voice, was ris-
ing against him. His embarrassments became
extreme. He not only had no wish to impose
himself upon a reluctant people, but no earth-
ly consideration could induce him to do so. It
was his sincere and earnest desire to lift up
Spain from its degradation, and make it great
and prosperous. The emissaries of Great
Britain were everywhere busy recruiting the
Spanish armies, lavishing gold in payment,



Embarrassments of Joseph's Position.

supplying the troops abundantly with clothing
and all the munitions of war, and giving them
English officers. Guerrilla bands were organ-
ized, with the privilege of plundering and de-
stroying all who were in favor of the new re-
gime. The friends of the new regime dared
not openly avow their attachment to the gov-
ernment of Joseph, unless protected by French
troops. It was thus extremely difficult to as-
certain the real wishes of the nation.

The Duke of Wellington was upon the fron-
tiers, with an army of seventy thousand Eng-
lish and Portuguese. If Joseph remained in
Spain, it was clear that he had a long and

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 12 of 19)