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bloody struggle before him. If he threw
down the crown and abandoned the enterprise,
Jt was surrendering Spain to England, to be
forced inevitably into the coalition against
France. Thus the existence of the new re-
gime in France seemed to depend upon the
result of the struggle in Spain. Joseph could
not abandon the enterprise without being ap-
parently false to his brother, to his own coun-
try, and to the principle of equal rights for all
throughout Europe.


Wellington in Spain.


IN July of 1809 oseph was in Madrid, with
an army of about forty thousand men.
The rest of the French army was widely dis-
persed. The Duke of Wellington thought this
a favorable opportunity to make a rapid march
and seize the Spanish capital. Collecting a
force of eighty-five thousand troops, he pressed
rapidly forward to Talavera, within two days'
march of Madrid. Joseph, being informed of
the approach of this formidable allied army,
and that they were expecting still very con-
siderable re-enforcements, resolved to advance
and attack them before those new troops
should arrive. By great exertions he collect-
ed about forty-five thousand veterans, and on
the 27th of July found himself facing his vast-
ly-outnumbering foes, very formidably posted
among the groves and hills of Talavera. For
two days the battle raged. It was fearfully
destructive. The allied army lost between six


Buttle of Talavera. Retreat of Wellington.

and seven thousand men. The French be-
tween eight and nine thousand. The tall grass
took fire, and, sweeping along like a prairie
conflagration, fearfully burned many of the
wounded. The Spaniards and Portuguese
were easily dispersed. They seemed to care
but little for the conflict, regarding themselves
as the paid soldiers of England, fighting the bat-
tles of England. But the British troops fought
with the determination and bravery which has
ever characterized the men of that race.

At the close of the second day's fight the
French troops drew off in good order, and en-
camped about three miles in the rear. Though
unable to disperse the army of Wellington,
Joseph had accomplished his purpose in so
crippling the enemy as to arrest his farther
advance, and thus to save Madrid. Joseph
waited in his encampment for the arrival of
Soult, Ney, and Mortier, who were hastening
to his aid. Wellington, finding that he could
place but very little reliance upon his Portu-
guese and Spanish allies, decided to retreat,
abandoning his wounded to the protection of
some Spanish troops whom he left as a rear-
guard, who in turn abandoned the sufferers
entirely and returned to Portugal.


Complaints of the English.

The British complained bitterly of the luke-
waramess and even treachery of their Spanish
allies. Alison gives utterance to these com-
plaints in saying:

" From the moment the English troops en-
tered Spain, they had experienced the wide
difference between the promises and the per-
formance of the Spanish authorities. We have
the authority of Wellington for the assertion
that if the Junta of Truxillo had kept their
contract for furnishing two hundred and forty
thousand rations, the Allies would, on the night
of the 27th of July, have slept in Madrid.
But for the month which followed the bat-
lie of Talavera their distresses in this respect
had indeed been excessive, and had reached
a height which was altogether insupportable.
Notwithstanding the most energetic remon-
strances from Wellington, he had got hardly
any supplies from the Spanish generals or au
thorities from the time of his entering Spain.
Cuesta had refused to lend him ninety mules
to draw his artillery, though at the time he had
several hundred in his army doing nothing.
The troops of all arras were literally starving.
During the month which followed the junction
of the two armies, on the 22d of July, they


Remarks of Alison.

had not received ten days' bread. On many
days they got only a little meat without salt,
on others nothing at all. The cavalry and ar-
tillery horses had not received, in the same
time, three deliveries of forage, and in conse-
quence a thousand had died, and seven hun-
dred were on the sick list.

"These privations were the more exasper-
ating that, during the greater part of the time,
the Spanish troops received their rations regu-
larly, both for men and horsea The composi-
tion of the Spanish troops, and their conduct at
Talavera and upon other occasions, was not
such as to inspire the least confidence in their
capability of resisting the attack of the French
armies. The men, badly disciplined and with-
out uniform, dispersed the moment they expe-
rienced any reverse, and permitted the whole
weight of the contest to fall on the English
soldiers, who had no similar means of escape.
These causes had gradually produced an es-
trangement, and at length a positive animosity
between the privates and officers of the two ar-
mies. An angry correspondence took place be-
tween their respective generals, which widened
the breach."

A few skirmishes ensued between the con-


. Battle of the 3d of November. Triumph of Joseph.

tending parties until the 3d of November, when
Joseph, with thirty thousand men, encounter-
ed fifty-five thousand Spaniards. The odds
in favor of the Spaniards was so great that
they rushed vigorously upon the French. A
battle of four hours ensued. The Spanish army
was broken to pieces, dispersed, trampled under
foot. Twenty thousand prisoners, fifty-five
pieces of cannon, and the whole ammunition
of the army were captured by the French.

" Wearied with collecting prisoners," says
Alison, " the French at length merely took the
arms from the fugitives, desiring them to go
home, telling them that war was a trade which
they were not fit for."

From this conflict Joseph returned in tri-
umph to his capital. It seemed for a time that
no more resistance could be offered, and that
his government was firmly established. Wel-
lington was driven back into Portugal, and
loudly proclaimed that he could place no reli-
ance upon the promises or the arms of the
Spaniards or the Portuguese.

Napoleon had returned from the triumph-
ant campaign of Wagram. Again he had shat-
tered the coalition in the north, and was upon
the pinnacle of his greatness. The total failure


of Wellington's campaign had greatly disap-
pointed the British people. The Common
Council of London petitioned Parliament for
an inquiry into the circumstances connected
with this failure.

" Admitting the valor of Lord Wellington,"
they said in their address, " the petitioners can
see no reason why any recompense should be
bestowed on him for his military conduct.
After a useless display of British valor, and a
frightful carnage, that army, like the preceding
one, was compelled to seek safety in a precip-
itous flight before an enemy who we were told
had been conquered, abandoning many thou-
sands of our wounded countrymen into the
hands of the French. That calamity, like the
others, has passed without any inquiry, and, as
if their long-experienced impunity had put the
servants of the Crown above the reach of jus-
tice, ministers have actually gone the length of
advising your majesty to confer honorable dis-
tinctions on a general who has thus exhibited,
with equal rashness and ostentation, nothing
but a useless valor."

Still, after an angry debate, in which there
was very strong opposition presented against
carrying on the war in Spain, it was finally


Penbtent Hostility of the British Government.

decided to prosecute hostilities against Napole-
on in the Peninsula with renewed vigor. The
advocates of the measure urged that there was
no other point in Europe where they could
gain a foothold to attack Napoleon, and that
by protracting the war there, and drawing
down the French armies, they might afford an
opportunity for the Northern powers again to
rise in a coalition against the new regime.
These views were very strenuously urged in the
House of Lords by Lord Wellesley, Lord Cas-
tlereagh, and Lord Liverpool. The vote stood
sixty-five for the war, thirty-three against it.
It was resolved to concentrate the whole force
of England for a new campaign in the Penin-
sula. One hundred millions of dollars were
voted to the navy, one hundred and five mil-
lions to the army, and twenty-five millions for
the ordnance. The British navy engaged in the
enterprise consisted of a thousand and nineteen
vessels of war. In addition to these forces, the
English were to raise all the troops they could
from Spain and Portugal, offering them the most
liberal pay, and encouraging them to all those
acts of guerrilla warfare for which they were
remarkably adapted, and which might prove
most annoying to the French communications.


The Conflict renewed. Causes of the Strife.

Napoleon, to meet the emergency, had in
the Peninsula an armj of two hundred and
eighty thousand men ready for service. Slow-
ly the months of the year 1810 rolled away over
that wretched land. There were battles on
the plains and among the hills, sieges, bom-
bardments, conflicts hand to hand in the blood-
stained streets, outrages innumerable, pesti-
lence, famine, conflagration, misery, death. The
causes of the conflict were clearly defined and
distinctly understood by the leading men on
each side. Never was there a more moment-
ous question to be decided by the fate of ar-
mies. England was fighting to perpetuate in
England and on the Continent the old regime
of aristocratic privilege. France was fighting to
defend and maintain in France and among the
other regenerated nations of Europe, the new
regime of equal rights for all men. The intelli-
gent community everywhere distinctly compre-
hended the nature of the conflict, and chose
their sides. The unintelligent masses, often
blinded by ignorance, deluded by fanaticism,
or controlled by power, were bewildered, and
swayed to and fro, as controlled by circum-

The year 1811 opened sadly upon this war-


Conscientiousness of the Antagonists.

deluged land. It would only lacerate the heart
of the reader to give an honest recital of the
miseries which were endured. No one can
read with pleasure the account of these scenes
of blood, misery, and death. Equal bravery
and equal determination were displayed by the
French and by the English, and, alas for man,
there was probably much conscientiousness
on both sides. There were religious men in
each army, men who went from their knees in
prayer into the battle. There were men who
honestly believed that the interests of humani-
ty required that the government of the nations
should be in the hands of the rich and the no-
ble. There were others who as truly believed
that the old feudal system was a curse to the
nations, and that a new era of reform was de-
manded, at whatever expense of treasure and
blood. And thus these children of a common
father, during the twelve long months of anoth-
er year, contended with each other in the death-
struggle upon more battle-fields than history
can record.

Joseph, in view of this slaughter and this
misery, was at times extremely wretched. He
knew not what to do. Nothing can exceed the
sadness of some of his letters to his brother.


Painful Position of Joseph.

To abandon the conflict seemed like cowardice,
and might prove the destruction of the popu-
lar cause all over Europe. To persevere was
to perpetuate blood and misery. Seldom has
any man been placed in a position of greater
difficulty, but the integrity, the conscientious-
ness, and the humanity of the man were mani-
fest in every word he uttered, in every deed he

"My first duties," said Joseph, "are for
Spain. I love France as my family, Spain as
my religion. I am attached to the one by the
affections of my heart, and to the other by my

Napoleon, wearied with these incessant wars,
which were draining the treasure and the
blood of France, thought that if he could con-
nect himself by marriage with one of the an-
cient dynasties, he could thus bring himself
into the acknowledged family of kings, and se-
cure such an alliance as would prevent these
incessant coalitions of all dynastic Europe
against France. In March, 1810, the Emperor,
having committed the greatest mistake of his
life in the divorce of Josephine a sin against
God's law, though with him, at the time, a sin
of ignorance and of good intentions a mistake



Birth of tha King of Koine.

which he afterward bitterly deplored as the ul-
timate cause of his ruin married Maria Louisa,
the daughter of the Emperor of Austria. This
union seemed to unite Austria with France in
a permanent alliance, and for a time gave
promise of securing the great blessing which
Napoleon hoped to attain by it. On the 20th
of March, 1811, Napoleon wrote to Joseph:

" MONSIEUR MON FRERE, I hasten to an-
nounce to your Majesty that the Empress, my
dear wife, has just been safely delivered of a
prince, who at his birth received the title of
the King of Rome. Your Majesty's constant
affection towards me convinces me that you
will share in the satisfaction which I feel at
an event of such importance to my family and
to the welfare of my subjects.

" This conviction is very agreeable to me.
Your Majesty is aware of my attachment, and
can not doubt the pleasure with which I seize
this opportunity of repeating the assurance of
the sincere esteem and tender friendship with
which I am," etc.

On the same day, a few hours later, he
wrote again to his brother giving a minute ac-
count of the accouchement, which was very
severe. He closed this letter by saying:


Despatch from Napoleon.

" The babe is perfectly well. The Empress
is as comfortable as could be expected. This
evening, at eight o'clock, the infant will be
privately baptized. As I do not intend the
public christening to take place for the next
six weeks, I shall intrust General Defrance,
my equerry, who will be the bearer of this
letter, with, another in which I shall ask you
to stand godfather to your nephew."

In May, Joseph, accompanied by a small
retinue, visited Paris, to have a personal confer-
ence with his brother upon the affairs of Spain.
He was much dissatisfied that the French mar-
shals there were so independent of him in the
conduct of their military operations. The re-
sult of the conversations which he held with
his brother was, that he returned to Spain ap-
parently satisfied. He entered Madrid on the
15th of July, in the midst of an immense con-
course of people. The principal inhabitants
of the city, in a long train of carriages, came
out to meet him, a triumphal arch was con-
structed across the road, and joy seemed to
beam from every countenance. He immedi-
ately consecrated himself with new ardor to
the administration of the internal affairs of his


The Emperor's Address.

There was very strong opposition manifested
by the people of England against the Spanish
war. There were many indications that the
British Government might be forced, by the
voice of the people, to relinquish the conflict.
Animated by these hopes, Joseph announced
his intention of calling a Spanish congress, in
which the people should be fully represented,
to confer upon the national interests. Wel-
lington was thoroughly disheartened. His dis-
patches were full of bitter complaints against
the incapacity of the British Government. Na-
poleon, in his address to the legislative body
on the 18th of June, 1811, in the following
terms alluded to the war in Spain :

"Since 1809 the greater part of the strong
places in Spain have been taken, after memo-
rable sieges, and the insurgents have been beat-
en in a great number of pitched battles. Eng-
land has felt that the war is approaching a
termination, and that intrigues and gold are
no longer sufficient to nourish it. She has
found herself, therefore, obliged to alter the
nature of her assistance, and from an auxiliary
she has become a principal. All her troops of
the line have been sent to the Peninsula.

"English blood has, at length, flowed in


Grandeur of Napoleon.

torrents in several actions glorious to the
French arms. This conflict with Carthage,
which seemed as if it would be decided on
fields of battle on the ocean or beyond the
seas, will henceforth be decided on the plains
of Spain. When England shall be exhausted,
when she shall at last have felt the evils which
for twenty years she has with so much cruelty
poured upon the Continent, when half her
families shall be in mourning, then shall a peal
of thunder put an end to the affairs of the
Peninsula, the destinies of her armies, and
avenge Europe and Asia by finishing this sec-
ond Punic War." 1

At the close of the year 1811 Napoleon
stood upon the highest pinnacle of his power.
Coalition after coalition had been shattered by
his armies, and now he had not an avowed foe
upon the Continent. The Emperor of Russia
was allied to him by the ties of friendship ; the
Emperor of Austria by the ties of relationship.
Other hostile nations had been too thoroughly
vanquished to attempt to arise against him, or,
by political regeneration, had been brought
into sympathy with the new regime in France.

The English, aided by their resistless fleet,
1 Moniteur, Jan. 11, 1811.


The Constitution of 1812.

still held important positions in Portugal.
They however had no foothold in Spain ex-
cepting at Cadiz, situated upon the island of
Leon, upon the extreme southern point of the
Peninsula. The usual population of the city
of Cadiz was one hundred and fifty thousand.
But this number had been increased by a
hundred thousand strangers, who had thrown
themselves into the place. About fifty thou-
sand troops under Marmont were besieging the
city. The garrison defending Cadiz consisted
of about twenty thousand men, five thousand
of whom were English soldiers. The British
fleet was also in its harbor, with encouragement
and supplies. Here and there predatory bands
occasionally appeared, but this was nearly all
the serious'opposition which was then present-
ed to the reign of Joseph. The French lines
encompassing the city were thirty miles in
length, extending from sea to sea.

To the great chagrin of England, the Span-
ish leaders in Cadiz convened a Congress, which
formed a constitution, called the Constitution
of 1812, far more radically democratic than
even Napoleon could advocate for Spain.
Wellington was exceedingly vexed, and com-
plained bitterly of this conduct on the part of


Letter from Joseph to Napoleon.

the men whose battle he assumed to be fight-
ing. "The British Government were well
aware," says Alison, " while democratic frenzy
was thus reigning triumphant at Cadiz, from
the dispatches of their ambassador there, the
Honorable H. Wellesley, as well as from Wel-
lington's information of the dangerous nature
of the spirit which had been thus evolved,
that they had a task of no ordinary difficulty
to encounter in any attempt to moderate its
transports." 1

Joseph grew more and more disheartened.
All his plans for the pacification of the country
.were baffled. On the 23d of March, 1812, he
wrote to bis brother from Madrid as follows:

" SIRE, When a year ago I sought the ad-
vice of your Majesty before coming back to
Spain, you urged me to return. It is there-
fore that I am here. You had the kindness to
say to me that I should always have the privi-
lege of leaving the country if the hopes we
had conceived should not be realized. In that
case your Majesty assured me of an asylum in
the south of the Empire, between which and
Mortfontaine I could divide my residence.

"Events have disappointed my hopes. I
1 Alison, vol. iii. p. 407.


Spanish Antipathy to the Duke of Wellington.

have done no good, and I have no longer any
hopes of doing any. I entreat, then, your
Majesty to permit me to resign to his hands
the crown of Spain, which he condescended to
transmit to me four years ago. In accepting
the crown of this country, I never had any
other object in view than the happiness of this
vast monarchy. It has not been in my power
to accomplish it. I pray your Majesty to re-
ceive me as one of his subjects, and to be-
lieve that he will never have a more faithful
servant than the friend whom nature has given

The resignation was not then accepted, and
circumstances soon became such that Joseph
felt that he could not with honor withdraw
from the post he occupied.

The Spaniards looked with great distrust
upon the Duke of Wellington, who was the em
bodiment of the principles of aristocracy, the
more to be feared in consequence of his inflexi-
ble will. The English deemed the re-enthrone-
ment of Ferdinand VII. and his despotic sway
essential to the success of their cause. The
uncrowned King and his brother Don Carlos
were living very sumptuously and contentedly,
chasing foxes and hares at Valengay, and cut*


Embarrassments of the British Government

ting down the park to build bonfires in cele-
bration of Napoleon's victories.

The British Government, alarmed in view
of the democratic spirit unexpectedly developed
by a portion of the Spanish allies, sent a secret
agent, Baron Rolli, a man of great sagacity,
address, and intrepidity, to persuade Ferdinand
to violate his pledge of honor, to escape from
Valen<jay, and place himself at the head of the
Spaniards who were in opposition to Joseph.
It was hoped that this would awaken new en-
thusiasm on the part of the Church and the ad-
vocates of the old regime, and that it would
check the spirit of ultra democracy which was-
threatening to sweep every thing before it.

The nearest approach to an honorable deed
to which Ferdinand ever came, was in the
very questionable act of revealing the plot to-
the French Government. Rolli was arrested
and sent to Vincennes. The democratic lead-
ers in Cadiz were so incensed against what
Alison calls " the orderly spirit of aristocratic
rule in England," that, burying their animosity
against the French invasion, they almost wel-
comed those foreign armies, who bore every-
where upon their banners "Equal Rights for
all Men." They opened secret negotiations


The Campaign to Moscow.

with Joseph, offering to surrender Cadiz to the
French troops, and to secure the entire sub-
mission of the whole peninsula to the govern-
ment of Joseph if he would accept the radi-
cal Constitution of 1812 in place of the more
moderate Republicanism of the Constitution of
Bajonne. The hostility of the Spanish gen-
erals and soldiers to Wellington and the Eng-
lish troops was bitter and undisguised. 1

But more bloody scenes soon ensued. Na-
poleon, deeming the war in Spain virtually end-
ed, had been induced to withdraw large num-
bers of his troops, and to embark in his fatal
campaign to Moscow. Thus Russia became al-
]:ed to England, and a new opportunity, under
more favorable auspices, was afforded to renew
the war in Spain. England concentrated her
mightiest energies upon the Peninsula against
the remnants of the French army which Napo-
leon had left there. The Emperor, with all his
chosen troops, composing an army of over five
hundred thousand men, was on the march thou-
sands of miles toward the north. On the 9th
of May, 1812, the Emperor left Paris, to place
himself at the head of his troops in Dresden.
The war in Spain was now urged by the Brit-
Napier, v. 406, 407.


Miseries of the Conflict.

ish Government with renovated fury. The
mind is wearied and the heart is sickened, in
reading the recital of sieges, and battles, and
outrages which make a humane man to exclaim,
in anguish of spirit, " O Lord, how long! how
long!" Equal ferocity was upon both sides.
French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese sol-
diers, maddened by passion and inflamed with
intoxicating drinks, perpetrated deeds which

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottJoseph Bonaparte → online text (page 13 of 19)