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THE SIEGE OF BARCELONA.
Johnson, with the same feeling of respect for Peterborough's brilliant qualities, was: curious in the later years of his life to learn more about him, saying, “ He is a favourite of mine, and is not enough known.”
It is remarkable that the most trustworthy, as well as the most interesting, account of Peterborough's actions in Spain was for some time thought to be a fictitious narrative. “The Military Memoirs of Captain George Carleton" have been unhesitatingly ascribed to Defoe-chiefly because “ we are reminded of him by the plain matter-of-fact, and off-handed manner of telling a story,'' -and because the events, which are “matters of bistory, are related with all the minuteness and personality of an eye-witness, and an actor upon the spot.” * The very existence of Captain George Carleton has been questioned. Lord Stanhope (Mahon] has settled this doubt; † and he believes, as Dr. Johnson believed, in the perfect authenticity of this, “ the most valuable, perhaps, because the most undoubtedly faithful and impartial, of all our materials for this war.” | We may safely follow this guide, in tracing the actions of a man who,“ by a course of conduct and fortune almost miraculous, had nearly put us into the possession of the kingdom of Spain; was left wholly unsapported; exposed to the envy of his rivals ; disappointed by the caprices of a young inexperienced prince, under the guidance of a rapacious German ministry; and at last called home in discontent." S
When Peterborough, with his troops, arrived at Lisbon, he was reinforced by two regiments of dragoons—men without horses, which the earl, who never made difficulties, had to provide. He here took on board the archduke Charles, and a numerous suite. At Gibraltar he received two veteran battalions, in exchange for the same number of recruits which he had brought from England. The prince of Darmstadt also here joined Peterborough. That prince had one dominant idea,-a siege of Barcelona. Peterborough opposed the plan. The archduke upheld his countryman, in the scheme of attempting, with seven thousand men, the reduction of a place which was far better prepared for defence than when the expedition of the previous summer had resulted in a complete fail. ure, and which required thirty thousand men for a regular siege. With the squadron under sir Cloudesley Shovel, the fleet sailed
Wilson's Defoe, vol. iii. p. 590.
+ " Carleton states in his Memoirs, that he was taken prisoner, with the garrison, at the petty siege of Denia, in 1708. After some search, I found in a large heap of military accounts and returns for that year, a list of the officers taken at Denia, and amongst them, Captain Carleton,'"
t"War of Succession in Spain," p. 133. $Swift, "Conduct of the Allies.”
from Gibraltar. Making Altea Bay, a landing was effected near Valencia ; and here the people were found favourable to the cause of the Austrian prince, who was proclaimed, upon the surrender of the castle of Denia, as Charles III., king of Spain and the Indies. Peterborough, encouraged by this reception, conceived an enterprise, “ which would, in all probability, have brought that war to a much more specdy conclusion, and at the same time have obviated all those difficulties, which were but too apparent, in the siege of Barcelona.'' * King Philip was at Madrid with few troops. AI the Spanish forces were on the frontiers of Portugal, or in Catalonia. It was only a march of fifty leagues from Valencia to Madrid, and the centre of Spain was undefended. Such an exploit had every chance of success, if Peterborough could have dashed upon the capital, without being fettered by the hesitation of Charles or the preconceptions of Darmstadt. He was overruled. The Valencians were left to shout - Viva Carlos” in vain. The expedition went on, under the pressure of weak and timid, but truly rash counsels, to attack “one of the largest and most populous cities in all Spain, fortified by bastions, one side secured by the sea, and the other by a strong fortification called Montjouich." + A council of war had decided against Peterborough’s plan of a march to Madrid ; but when the expedition arrived before Barcelona, another council thought the undertaking of a siege too formidable. Charles, however, pressed the enterprise with a tenacity that could not be resister, and to which Peterborough at length yielded. The troops were landed on the 27th of August.
In three weeks there was nothing but dissensions amongst the great men of this expedition. Peterborough had received new instructions from home to respect the opinions of the princes and of councils of war. They were all differing in opinion. The prince of Darmstadt and the earl had come to an open rupture. The Dutch officers said their troops should not join in an enterprise so manifestly impossible of success for a small force. It was considered by them an act of madness to attack the town from the eastern plain where the troops were encamped - a position which involved the necessity of making regular approaches, under the fire of heavy batteries. Peterborough conceived a plan of at tack totally opposed to all the routine modes of warfare. The citadel of Montjouich, built on the summit of ridge of hills skirting the sea, commanded the town. Peterborough went out secretly from the camp; viewed the ground; and determined upon attempt ing a surprise of a garrison that considered themselves safe in an Carleton.
PETEREOROUGH SURPRISES MONTJOUICH.
impregnable place. He gave notice that he should raise the siege; sent his heavy artillery on board the ships ; and made every preparation for embarking the troops. With twelve hundred foot sol. diers and two hundred horse, he marched out of the camp on the evening of the 13th of September; and passing by the quarters of the prince of Darmstadt, told him that if he chose to come with him, he might see what troops could do that had been subjected to his reproaches. The prince took him at his word. They marched all night by the side of the mountains; and before day break were under the hill of Montjouich, and close to the outer works. Peterborough's officers thought that their general would make the attack in the dark. He showed them that when they were discovered at daylight, the enemy would descend into the outer ditch to repel them, and that then was the time to receive their fire, leap in upon t'iem, drive them into the outer works, and gain the fortress by following them close. The scheme succeeded, and the English were soon masters of the bastion. A similar attack on the opposite side of the fortress was also successful. But the governor of the fort, having obtained some reinforcements from Barcelona, the men were welcomed with shouts by their comrades, which the prince of Darmstadt mistaking for a signal of surrender, he incautiously advanced, lost two hundred of his party as prisoners, and was himself killed at the moment when Peterborough came to his rescue. Intelligence then arrived that three thousand men were marching from Barcelona. Peterborough rode out to reconnoitre. As he returned, he was told by Carleton that the men were flying out of their posts, in one general panic, with lord Charlemont at their head. “Immediately upon this notice from me," says Carleton, “ the earl galloped up the hill, and alighting when he came to lord Charlemont, he took his half-pike out of his hand; and, turning to the officers and soldiers, told them, if they would not face about and follow him, they should have the scandal and eternal infamy upon them of having deserted their posts, and abandoned their general.” All the posts were regained; and the three thousand Spaniards returned alarmed to Barcelona. The citadel held out for several days, but was finally reduced by a bombardment from the hills, the cannon having been relanded from the ships. The reduction of Montjouich by this extraordinary act of daring was very soon followed by the surrender of Barcelona. Success gave spirit to those who had before been hopeless. The sailors dragged heavy guns up the hills, and joined the land-troops in forming intrenchments. The town was so fiercely bombarded that a breach was soon effected; and the besiegers were preparing to
storm, when the governor beat a parley, and agreed to surrender, with all honours of law. His soldiers had mutinied ; the people of the city were in a state of riot; and the governor, who was unpopular, was in danger of his life. Peterborough with the same indomitable courage that he had shown in the assault of Montjouich, being apprised of the tumult, demanded admittance at one of the gates. Carleton, who accompanied him, describes a scene very characteristic of this modern Amadis. He met a lady of extraordinary beauty flying from the fury of the Miquelets—the armed peasants of the province--who implored his protection. Peterborough took the lady by the hand—she proved to be the duchess of Popoli-and conveyed her through the wicket by which he entered, to a place of safety without the town. “ I believe it was much the longest part of an hour," says Carleton, “before lie returned.” When he did return, he saved the governor; got him on board one of the ships; and by that extraordinary ascendancy which a determined will and the total absence of fear have over the passions of a multitude, “wherever he appeared the popular fury was in a moment allayed.”
The possession of Barcelona, in which king Charles III. was proclaimed with great solemnity, was followed by the adhesion to his cause of the chief towns of Catalonia. Peterborough was for following up his wonderful success by other daring operations. The German ministers and the Dutch officers opposed all his projects, At length a pressing request came to Charles to send assistance to San Mateo, which was besieged by the count of Las Torres. There were twelve hundred troops at Tortosa, to which Peterborough sent orders to cross the Ebro. He was with them as soon as his messenger, expecting to find a large army of peasantry ready to join him, as he had been informed. The army was a mere illusion. But there was a small force only, he was told, before San Mateo. He found seven thousand; and yet, by a series of daring effects, he raised the seige, and entered the town in triumph. But for him there was no repose.
He determined to fol. low Las Torres. “ His foot were marching on the stony mountains, and in a winter season, without clothes or shoes, and his few dragoons were upon horses that could hardly go on.” He received an express, commanding him to send his troops back to Barcelona, for the safety of the king's person. He sent back his infantry, and followed the retreating army of Las Torres with only two hundred cavalry. What would have been mere desperation in another man, was, in his conduct of such a warfare, the most per:
* Friend's Account, Quoted by Lord Mahon, p. 163.
PETERBOROUGH'S RAPID SUCCESSES IN VALENCIA.
fect strategy. By his rapid marches; his confident tone ; his disguise of his real strength, he kept up the terror of the thousands who were flying before his two hundred, and towns opened their gates to him without a blow. But a more important service await ed Peterborough. The magistrates of Valencia, which city had thrown off its allegiance to king Philip, sent messengers to implore the aid of Peterborough ; for a body of ten thousand men was approaching to invest their city. He managed to recall the infantry which he had sent back to Barcelona, and obtained some other re. inforcements. On the 1st of February, 1706, Peterborough had about three thousand men under his command. The duke of Arcos, the Spanish general, was encamped upon a wide plain, over which Peterborough must pass on his way to Valencia. Between him and the plain was a formidable pass under the walls of Mur. viedro, built under the hill upon which Carleton saw " the ruins of the once famous Saguntum ; famous sure to eternity, if letters shall last so long, for an invincible fidelity to a negligent confederate, against an implacable enemy.” The classic mind of Peterborough might have thought of Hannibal's eight months' siege of Saguntum; but he was not to be stopped by any such tedious process. The commander at Murviedro, Mahoni, was of Irish extraction, and was not unknown to Peterborough, having been related to his first wife. By a stratagem of no very worthy character,-more resembling some of his old political manæuvres than the frank honesty of a soldier,—he succeeded in throwing Mahoni off his guard, and then in inspiring the duke of Arcos with suspi. cion of his faithful officer at Murviedro. Peterborough requested a conference with Mahoni; endeavoured in vain to induce him to join the cause of king Charles: drew from him an admission of the advice which he meant to give to Arcos, which was to remain in the plain; and then contrived to send the duke an intimation, through two of his men, who pretended to be deserters, that Mahoni had undertaken to betray lis post, and to advise the duke to remain in his position, that he might there be sacrificed. When the frank Irishman's letter of advice was delivered to Arcos, he determined to move precisely in an opposite direction to that which was advised. He thus left the way open to Peterborough to march to Valencia; for Mahoni was arrested, and as Arcos was gone, the pass of Murviedro was undefended.* Peterborough had not long rested in this pleasant city when he sallied forth to attack a body
* Carleton's Memoirs relate this strange story in considerable detail. The captain does not appear to think that his general was doing anything beyond his duty in carrying out this complicated deception. It is satisfactory to know that honesi Mahoni, though sant a prisoner to Madrid, was acquitted and promoted.