The second chain is much more important, and more strongly[p. 78] marked: it divides Old from New Castile, the valley of the Douro from that of the Tagus. In its central and western parts it is really a double range, with two narrow valleys between its chief ridges. These valleys are drained by the Zezere and Alagon, two tributaries of the Tagus which flow parallel for many scores of miles to the broad river which they feed. If we call this great system of mountains the chain of New Castile it is only for convenience’ sake: the Spaniards and Portuguese have no common name for them. In the east they are styled the Sierra de Ayllon; above Madrid they are known as the Guadarrama—a name sometimes extended to the whole chain. When they become double, west of Madrid, the northern chain is the Sierra de Gata, the southern the Sierra de Gredos. Finally in Portugal the extension of the Sierra de Gata is called the Sierra da Estrella, the southern parallel ridge the Sierra do Moradal. The whole system forms a very broad, desolate, and lofty belt of hills between the Tagus and Douro, through which the practicable passes are few and difficult. Those requiring notice are (1) the Somosierra Pass, through which runs the great northern road from Burgos to Madrid: its name is well remembered owing to the extraordinary way in which Napoleon succeeded in forcing it (against all the ordinary rules of war) in the winter of 1808. (2) There is a group of three passes, all within twelve miles of each other, across the Guadarrama, through which there debouch on to Madrid the main roads from North-western Spain—those from (a) Valladolid and Segovia, (b) from Astorga, Tordesillas, and Arevalo, (c) from Salamanca by Avila. After this group of passes there is a long space of impracticable hills, till we come to the chief road from north to south, parallel to the Portuguese frontier: it comes down the valley of the Alagon from Salamanca, by Ba?os and Plasencia, on to the great Roman bridge of Alcantara, the main passage over the Middle Tagus. This is a bad road through a desolate country, but the exigencies of war caused it to be used continually by the French and English armies, whenever they had to transfer themselves from the valley of the Douro to that of the Tagus. Occasionally they employed a still worse route, a little further west, from Ciudad Rodrigo by Perales to Alcantara. When we get within the Portuguese frontier, we find a road parallel to the last, from Almeida by Guarda to Abrantes, also a difficult route, but like it in perpetual use: usually, when the French marched from Salamanca[p. 79] to Alcantara, Wellington moved in a corresponding way from near Almeida to Abrantes. This road runs along the basin of the Zezere, though not down in the trough of the river, but high up the hillsides above it. Spanish and Portuguese roads, as we shall see, generally avoid the river banks and run along the slopes far above them.
The next great chain across the Peninsula is that which separates the barren and sandy valley of the Upper Tagus from the still more desolate and melancholy plateau of La Mancha, the basin of the Guadiana. Of all the regions of Central Spain, this is the most thinly peopled and uninviting. In the whole valley there are only two towns of any size, Ciudad Real, the capital of La Mancha, and Badajoz, the frontier fortress against Portugal. The mountains north of the Guadiana are called first the Sierra de Toledo, then the Sierra de Guadalupe, lastly on the Portuguese frontier the Sierra de San Mamed. Their peculiarity, as opposed to the other cross-ranges of the Peninsula, is that at their eastern end they do not unite directly with the mountains of Valencia, but leave a broad gap of upland, through which the roads from Madrid to Murcia and Madrid to Valencia take their way. When the Sierra de Toledo once begins roads are very few. There are practically only three—(1) Toledo by San Vincente to Merida, a most break-neck route winding among summits for forty miles; (2) Almaraz by Truxillo to Merida, the main path from Tagus to Guadiana, and the most used, though it is difficult and steep; (3) Alcantara by Albuquerque to Badajoz, a bad military road parallel to the Portuguese frontier, continuing the similar route from Salamanca to Alcantara.
Leaving the barren basin of the Guadiana to proceed southward, we find across our path a range of first-rate importance, the southern boundary of the central plateaux of Spain: dropping down from its crest we are no longer among high uplands, but in the broad low-lying semi-tropical plain of Andalusia, the richest region of Spain. The chain between the fertile valley of the Guadalquivir and the barren plateau of La Mancha is known for the greater part of its course as the Sierra Morena, but in its western section it takes the name of Sierra de Constantino. The passes across it require special notice: the most eastern and the most important is that of Despe?a Perros, through which passes the high road from Madrid to Cordova, Seville, and Cadiz. At its southern exit was fought the fight of Baylen, in which the armies[p. 80] of Napoleon received their first great check by the surrender of Dupont and his 20,000 men on July 23, 1808. Higher up the defile lies another historic spot, on which Christian and Moor fought the decisive battle for the mastery of Spain in the early years of the thirteenth century, the well-known fight of Las Navas de Tolosa. The Despe?a Perros has two side-passes close to its left and right: the former is that of San Estevan del Puerto: the latter is known as the ‘King’s Gate’ (Puerto del Rey). All these three defiles present tremendous difficulties to an assailant from the north, yet all were carried in a single rush by the armies of Soult and Sebastiani in 1810. The central pass of the Sierra Morena lies ninety miles to the left, and is of much less importance, as it starts from the most arid corner of La Mancha, and does not connect itself with any of the great roads from the north. It leads down on to Cordova from Hinojosa. Again sixty miles to the west three more passes come down on to Seville, the one by Llerena, the second by Monasterio, the third by Fregenal: they lead to Badajoz and Merida. These are easier routes through a less rugged country: they were habitually used by Soult in 1811 and 1812, when, from his Andalusian base at Seville, he used to go north to besiege or to relieve the all-important fortress of Badajoz.
Last of all the great Spanish chains is that which lies close along the Mediterranean Sea, forming the southern edge of the fertile Andalusian plain. It is the Sierra Nevada, which, though neither the longest nor the broadest of the ranges of the south, contains the loftiest peaks in Spain, Mulha?en and La Veleta. This chain runs from behind Gibraltar along the shore, till it joins the mountains of Murcia, leaving only a very narrow coast-strip between its foot and the southern sea. Three roads cut it in its western half, which, starting from Granada, Ronda, and Antequera all come down to the shore at, or in the neighbourhood of, the great port of Malaga. The parts of the coast-line that are far from that city are only accessible by following difficult roads that run close to the water’s edge.
We have still to deal with two corners of the Iberian Peninsula, which do not fall into any of the great valleys that we have described—Galicia and Northern Portugal in the north-west, and Catalonia in the north-east. The geographical conditions of the former region depend on the Cantabrian 杭州按摩油压哪里好 Mountains, the western continuation of the Pyrenees. This chain, after running for many[p. 81] miles as a single ridge, forks in the neighbourhood of the town of Leon. One branch keeps on in its original direction, and runs by the coast till it reaches the Atlantic at Cape Finisterre. The other turns south-west and divides Spain from Portugal as far as the sea. The angle between these forking ranges is drained by a considerable river, the Minho. The basins of this stream and its tributary the Sil, form the greater part of the province of Galicia. Their valleys are lofty, much cut up by cross-spurs, and generally barren. The access to them from Central Spain is by two openings. The main one is the high road from Madrid to Corunna by Astorga; it does not follow the course of either the Sil or the Minho, but charges cross-ridge after 杭州水疗spa养生 cross-ridge of the spurs of the Galician hills, till at last it comes down to the water, and forks into two routes leading the one to Corunna, the other to the still more important arsenal of Ferrol. The other gate of Galicia is a little to the south of Astorga, where a pass above the town of Puebla de Sanabria gives access to a steep and winding road parallel to the Portuguese frontier, which finally gets into the valley of the Minho, and turns down to reach the port of Vigo. It will be remembered that Sir John Moore, in his famous retreat, hesitated for some time at Astorga between the Vigo and Corunna roads, and finally chose the latter. His judgement was undoubtedly correct, but the best alternative was bad, for in winter even the Madrid-Corunna road, the main artery of this part of Spain, is distressing enough to an army. It does not follow any well-marked valley, 0571杭州夜网 but cuts across four separate ranges, every one of which in January was a nursery of torrents in its lower slopes, and an abode of snow in its upper levels. Besides the roads with which we have already dealt there is a third important line of communication in Galicia, that by the narrow coast-plain of the Atlantic, from Corunna by Santiago to Vigo, and thence into Portugal as far as Oporto. This would be a good road but for the innumerable river-mouths, small and great, which it has to cross: the road passes each stream just where it ceases to be tidal, and at each is fronted at right angles by a defensible position, which, if held by a competent enemy, is difficult to force from the front, and still more difficult to turn by a detour up-stream. Nevertheless it was by this route that Soult successfully invaded Northern Portugal in the spring of 1809. It must be remembered 杭州足浴特殊服务 that he was only opposed by bands of peasants not even organized into the loosest form of militia.
The geography of Catalonia, the last Iberian region with which we have to deal, is more simple than that of Galicia. The land is formed by a broad mountain belt running out from the eastern end of the Pyrenees, parallel to the Mediterranean. From this chain the slopes run down and form on the eastern side a coast-plain, generally rather narrow, on the western a series of parallel valleys drained by tributaries of the Segre, the most important affluent of the Ebro. They all unite near Lerida, an important town and a great centre of roads. But two considerable rivers, the Ter and the Llobregat, have small basins of their own in the heart of the central mountain mass, which open down into the coast-plain by defiles, the one blocked by the peak of Montserrat, the other by the town of Gerona. During the greater part of the 杭州洗浴中心全套价格 Peninsular War the French held the larger share of the shoreland, dominating it from the great fortress of Barcelona, which they had seized by treachery ere hostilities began. In 1811 they captured Tarragona also, the second capital of the sea coast. But they never succeeded in holding down all the small upland plains, and the minor passes that lead from one to the other. Hunted out of one the Spanish army took refuge in the next, and, though it dwindled down ultimately to a mass of guerilla bands, was never caught en masse and exterminated. There were too many bolt-holes among the network of hills, and the invaders never succeeded in stopping them all, so that down to the end of the war the patriots always maintained a precarious existence inland, descending occasionally to the shore to get ammunition and stores from the English squadrons which haunted the coast. They were supplied and reinforced from the Balearic Isles, which Napoleon could never hope to touch, for his power (like that of the witches of old) vanished 杭州按摩减肥需要多少钱 when it came to running water. The survival of the Catalan resistance after the French had drawn a complete cordon around the hill-country, holding the whole coast-plain on the one hand, and Lerida and the Segre valley on the other, is one of the incidents of the war most creditable to Spanish constancy.
Having dealt with the physical geography of Spain, it is necessary for us to point 杭州夜生活网站 out the way in which the natural difficulties of the country had influenced its main lines of communication. Roads always take the ‘line of least resistance’ in early days, and seek for easy passes, not for short cuts. The idea that ‘time is money,’ and that instead of going round two sides of a triangle it may be worth[p. 83] while to cut a new path across its base, in spite of all engineering difficulties, was one very unfamiliar to the Spaniard. Nothing shows more clearly the state of mediaeval isolation in which the kingdom still lay in 1808 than the condition of its roads. Wherever the country presented any serious obstacles, little or no attempt had been made to grapple with them since the days of the Romans. The energetic Charles III, alone among the kings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had done something to improve the system of intercommunication. He had, for example, superseded the old break-neck road from the plains of Leon into Galicia, by building the fine new chaussée from Astorga to Villafranca by Manzanal; but among the line of Hapsburg and Bourbon sovereigns Charles was a rare exception. Under the imbecile rule of his son (or rather of Godoy) improvements ceased, and internal communications were as much neglected as any other branch of state management. What roads there were, when the war of 1808 broke out, were in a state of dreadful neglect. The Spaniard was still too prone to go round an intolerable distance rather than attempt a serious piece of engineering work. Let us take, for example, the northern coast of Spain: the Cantabrian range is no doubt a most serious obstacle to intercourse between Castile and Leon, on the one side, and the maritime provinces of Asturias and Biscay on the other. But who would have conceived it possible that in a length of 300 miles of mountain, there should be no more than five roads practicable for wheeled traffic and artillery? Yet this was so: to get down from the central plateau to the coast there are only available these five routes—one from Leon to Oviedo, one from Burgos to Santander, one from Burgos to Bilbao, one from Vittoria to Bilbao, and one from Vittoria to San Sebastian and Irun. There were many other points at which a division travelling in light order without guns or baggage could cross the watershed—as was shown in Blake’s flight from Reynosa and Ney’s invasion of the Asturias. But for an army travelling with all its impedimenta such bypaths were impracticable.
Let us take another part of the Peninsula—its eastern side. The ancient separation between Aragon and Castile is fully reflected by the utter isolation of the two for intercommunication. To get from Madrid to the east coast there are only three roads suitable for wheeled traffic: one goes by the main gap in the hills by Chinchilla to Murcia, another by Reque?a to Valencia. The[p. 84] third passes by Calatayud to Saragossa and ultimately to Barcelona. Between it and the Valencia road there is a gap of no less than 120 miles unpierced by any good practicable line of communication. This being so, we begin to understand how it was that the operations on the eastern side of Spain, during the whole of the struggle, were a sort of independent episode that never exercised any great influence on the main theatre of the war, or, on the other hand, was much affected by the progress of the strife in Castile or Portugal. Soult’s conquest of Andalusia did not help Suchet to conquer Valencia. On the other hand, when the latter did, in January, 1812, succeed in his attempt to subdue the eastern coast-line, it did not much affect him that Wellington was storming Ciudad Rodrigo and pressing back the French in the west. He was able to hold on to Valencia till the allies, in 1813, got possession of the upper valley of the Ebro and the great road from Madrid to Saragossa and Lerida, after the battle of Vittoria. It was only then that his flank was really turned, and that he was compelled to retreat and to abandon his southern conquests.
Summing up the general characteristics of the road-system of Spain, we note first that the main routes are rather at right angles to the great rivers than parallel to them. The sole exception is to be found in the valley of the Ebro, where the only good cross-road of Northern Spain does follow the river-bank from Logro?o and Tudela on to Saragossa and Lerida.
Just because the roads do not cling to the valleys, but strike across them at right angles, they are always crossing watersheds by means of difficult passes. And so there is hardly a route in the whole Peninsula where it is possible to find fifty miles without a good defensive position drawn across the path. Moreover, the continual passes make the question of supplies very difficult: in crossing a plain an army can live, more or less, on the supplies of the country-side; but among mountains and defiles there is no population, and therefore no food to be had. Hence an army on the move must take with it all that it consumes, by means of a heavy wagon train, or an enormous convoy of pack-mules. But only the best roads are suitable for wheeled traffic, and so the lines practicable for a large host are very restricted in number. The student is often tempted to consider the movements of the rival generals very slow. The explanation is simply that to transfer an[p. 85] army from one river-basin to another was a serious matter. It was necessary to spend weeks in collecting at the base food and transport sufficient to support the whole force till it reached its goal. In 1811 or 1812 the French and English were continually moving up and down the Portuguese frontier parallel to each other, the one from Salamanca to Badajoz, the other from Almeida or Guarda to Elvas. But to prepare for one of these flittings was such a serious matter that by the time that the army was able to move, the enemy had usually got wind of the plan, and was able to follow the movement on his own side of the frontier. There were months of preparation required before a few weeks of active operations, and when the concentration was over and the forces massed, they could only keep together as long as the food held out, and then had to disperse again in order to live. This was what was meant by the old epigram, that ‘in Spain large armies starve, and small armies get beaten.’
Half the strategy of the campaigns of 1811-12-13 consisted in one of the combatants secretly collecting stores, concentrating his whole army, and then dashing at some important part of his adversary’s line, before the other could mass his forces in a corresponding way. If prompt, the assailant might gain a fortnight, in which he might either try to demolish the enemy in detail before he could concentrate, or else to take from him some important position or town. In 1811 Marmont and Dorsenne played this trick on Wellington, during the short campaign of El Bodon and Aldea da Ponte. They relieved Ciudad Rodrigo, and nearly caught some divisions of the English army before the rest could join. But missing the instant blow, and allowing Wellington time to draw in his outlying troops, they failed and went home. In 1812, on the other hand, the British general successfully played off this device on the French. He first concentrated in the north, and captured Ciudad Rodrigo in eleven days, before Marmont could mass his scattered divisions; then going hastily south he took Badajoz in exactly the same way, storming it after only nineteen days of siege. Soult drew his army together at the news of Wellington’s move, but had to bring troops from such distances, and to collect so much food, that he arrived within three marches of Badajoz only to hear that the place had just fallen.
In dealing with the main geographical facts of the war it is fair to recollect that an invasion of Spain from France is one of the[p. 86] most difficult of undertakings, because the whole river and mountain system of the Peninsula lies across the main line of advance from Bayonne to Cadiz, which the invader must adopt. While the French conquest must be pushed from north to south, both the streams and the Sierras of Spain all run at right angles to this direction, i.e. from east to west. In advancing from the Pyrenees to Madrid, and again from Madrid to Seville and Cadiz, the invader has to cross every main river—Ebro, Douro, Tagus, Guadiana, and Guadalquivir—and to force the passes of every main range. Moreover, as he advances southward, he has to keep his flanks safe against disturbance from the two mountainous regions, Catalonia and Portugal, which lie along the eastern and western coasts of the Peninsula. Unless the whole breadth of Spain, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, be occupied step
by step as the invader moves on towards the Straits of Gibraltar, he can always be molested and have his lines of communication with France threatened. In the end it may be said that Napoleon’s whole scheme of conquest was shipwrecked upon the blunder of attacking Andalusia and Cadiz while Portugal was still unsubdued. Wellington’s constant sallies out of that country upon the French flank, in Leon and Estremadura, detained such large forces to protect the valleys of the Central Douro and Tagus that enough men were never found to finish the conquest of the south and east. And finally one crushing victory at Salamanca, in the plains of Leon, so threatened the invader’s line of touch with France, that he had to abandon the whole south of Spain in order to concentrate an army large enough to force Wellington back from Burgos and the great northern road.
On the other hand, one tremendous advantage possessed by the French in the central years of the war must be remembered. It is manifest that Madrid is the only really important road-centre in Spain, and that its undisturbed possession by the French in 1809-11 gave them the advantage of being able to operate from a single point, against enemies who lay in a vast semicircle around, with no good cross-roads to join them and enable them to work together. The small ‘Army of the Centre,’ which was always kept in and around Madrid, could be used as a reserve for any other of the French armies, and transferred to join it in a few marches, while it was infinitely more difficult to unite the various forces lying on an outer circle at Astorga, Almeida, Abrantes, and Cadiz,[p. 87] which the Spaniards and the British kept in the field. In short, in estimating the difficulties of the two parties, the advantage of the central position must be weighed against the disadvantage of long and exposed lines of communication.
One of the cardinal blunders of Napoleon’s whole scheme for the conquest of the Peninsula was that he persisted in treating it as if it were German or Italian soil, capable of supporting an army on the march. His troops were accustomed to live on the country-side while crossing Central Europe, and therefore made no proper preparations for supplying themselves by other means than plunder. But in Spain there are only a few districts where this can be done: it may be possible to get forward without an enormous train of convoys in Andalusia, the coast plain of Valencia, and certain parts of the rather fertile plateau of Leon, the wheat-bearing Tierra de Campos. But over four-fifths of the Peninsula, an army that tries to feed on the country-side will find itself at the point of starvation in a few days, and be forced to disperse in order to live.
Till he had seen Spain with his own eyes Napoleon might perhaps have been excused for ignoring the fact that his ordinary method of ‘making war support itself’ was not in this case possible. But even after he had marched from Bayonne to Madrid, and then from Madrid to Astorga, in 1808, he persisted in refusing to see facts as they were. We find him on his way back to Paris from the campaign uttering the extraordinary statement that ‘Spain is a much better country than he had ever supposed, and that he had no idea what a magnificent present he had made to his brother Joseph till he had seen it.’ Of his utter failure to grasp the difficulties of the country we may get a fair conception from his orders, given at the same time, to Marshal Soult, who was at that moment occupied in pushing Sir John Moore towards Corunna. He told the Duke of Dalmatia that if he reached Lugo on January 9, and the English got away safely by sea, he was to march on Oporto, where he ought to arrive on the first of February; after seizing that city he was to go on to Lisbon, which he might reach on or about February 10. As a matter of fact Soult saw the English depart, and occupied Corunna on January 19, but his army was so utterly worn out, and his stores so entirely exhausted, that with the best will in the world he could not move again till February 20, only took Oporto on March 29, and had not yet started for Lisbon[p. 88] when Wellesley suddenly fell on him and drove him out of the country on May 12, 1809. The Emperor, in short, had given Soult orders executable perhaps, according to the distance, in Lombardy or Bavaria, but utterly absurd when applied to a country where roads are few and bad, with a defile or a river crossing the path at every few miles, and where food has to be carefully collected before a move, and taken on with the army by means of enormous convoys. Moreover the month was January, when every brook had become a raging mountain stream, and every highland was covered with snow! With such conceptions of the task before him, it is not wonderful that Napoleon was continually issuing wholly impracticable orders. The one that we have just quoted was sent out from Valladolid: how much worse would the case be when the Emperor persisted in directing affairs from Paris or Vienna, the last news that had reached him from the front being now several weeks old! With all his genius he never thoroughly succeeded in grasping the state of affairs, and to the very last continued to send directions that would have been wise enough in Central Europe, but happened to be inapplicable in the Iberian Peninsula.
It is only fair to Napoleon to add that his Spanish enemies, who ought at least to have known the limitations of their own road-system, and the disabilities of their half-starved armies, used habitually to produce plans of operations far more fantastically impossible than any that he ever drafted. They would arrange far-reaching schemes, for the co-operation of forces based on the most remote corners of the Peninsula, without attempting to work out the ‘logistics’ of the movement. The invariable result was that such enterprises either ended in disaster, or at the best came to a stop after the first few marches, because some vital point of the calculation had already been proved to have been made on erroneous data.
SECTION II: CHAPTER II
THE SPANISH ARMY IN 1808
When the English student begins to investigate the Peninsular War in detail, he finds that, as regards the Spanish armies and their behaviour, he starts with a strong hostile prejudice. The Duke of Wellington in his dispatches, and still more in his private letters and his table-talk, was always enlarging on the folly and arrogance of the Spanish generals with whom he had to co-operate, and on the untrustworthiness of their troops. Napier, the one military classic whom most Englishmen have read, is still more emphatic and far more impressive, since he writes in a very judicial style, and with the most elaborate apparatus of references and authorities. When the reader begins to work through the infinite number of Peninsular diaries of British officers and men (for there are a very considerable number of writers from among the rank and file) the impression left upon him is much the same. It must be confessed that for the most part they had a very poor opinion of our allies.
Before allowing ourselves to be carried away by the almost unanimous verdict of our own countrymen, it is only fair to examine the state and character of the Spanish army when the war broke out. Only when we know its difficulties can we judge with fairness of its conduct, or decide upon its merits and shortcomings.
The armed force which served under the banners of Charles IV in the spring of 1808 consisted of 131,000 men, of whom 101,000 were regulars and 30,000 embodied militia. The latter had been under arms since 1804, and composed the greater part of the garrisons of the seaports of Spain, all of which had to be protected against possible descents of English expeditions.
Of the 101,000 men of the regular army, however, not all were available for the defence of the country. While the war with Russia was still in progress, Bonaparte had requested the Spanish government to furnish him with a strong division for use in the North [March, 1807], and in consequence the Marquis of La Romana[p. 90] had been sent to the Baltic with 15,000 men, the picked regiments of the army. There remained therefore only 86,000 regulars within the kingdom. A very cursory glance down the Spanish army-list of 1808 is sufficient to show that this force was far from being in a satisfactory condition for either offensive or defensive operations.
It is well worth while to look at the details of its composition. The infantry consisted of three sorts of troops—the Royal Guard, the line regiments, and the foreign corps in Spanish pay. For Spain, more than any other European state, had kept up the old seventeenth-century fashion of hiring foreign mercenaries on a large scale. Even in the Royal Guard half the infantry were composed of ‘Walloon Guards,’ a survival from the day when the Netherlands had been part of the broad dominions of the Hapsburg kings. The men of these three battalions were no longer mainly Walloons, for Belgium had been a group of French departments for the last thirteen years. There were Germans and other foreigners of all sorts in the ranks, as well as a large number of native Spaniards. There were also six regiments of Swiss mercenaries—over 10,000 bayonets—and in these the men in the ranks did really come from Switzerland and Germany, though there was a sprinkling among them of strangers from all lands who had ‘left their country for their country’s good.’ There were also one Neapolitan and three Irish regiments. These latter were survivals from the days of the ‘Penal Laws,’ when young Irishmen left their homes by thousands every year to take service with France or Spain, in the hope of getting some day a shot at the hated redcoats. The regiments bore the names of Hibernia, Irlanda, and Ultonia (i.e. Ulster). They were very much under their proper establishment, for of late years Irish recruits had begun to run short, even after the ’98: they now took service in France and not in Spain. The three Irish corps in 1808 had only 1,900 men under arms, instead of the 5,000 which they should have produced; and of those the large majority were not real Irish, but waifs of all nationalities. Of late native Spaniards had been drafted in, to keep the regiments from dying out. On the other hand we shall find that not only the foreign regiments but the whole Spanish army was still full of officers of Irish name and blood, the sons and grandsons of the original emigrants of two generations back. An astounding proportion of the officers who rose to some note during the war bore Irish names, and were hereditary soldiers of fortune, who[p. 91] justified their existence by the unwavering courage which they always showed, in a time when obstinate perseverance was the main military virtue. We need only mention Blake, the two O’Donnells, Lacy, Sarsfield, O’Neill, O’Daly, Mahony, O’Donahue. If none of them showed much strategical skill, yet their constant readiness to fight, which no series of defeats could tame, contrasts very well with the spiritless behaviour of a good many of the Spanish generals. No officer of Irish blood was ever found among the cowards, and hardly one among the traitors.
The ten foreign corps furnished altogether about 13,000 men to the Spanish regular army. The rest of the infantry was composed of thirty-five regiments of troops of the line, of three battalions each, and twelve single-battalion regiments of light infantry. They were theoretically territorial, like our own infantry of to-day, and mostly bore local names derived from the provinces—Asturias, Toledo, Estremadura, and so forth. All the light infantry corps belonged to the old kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre, which were therefore scantily represented in the nomenclature of the ordinary line regiments. There were altogether 147 battalions of Spanish infantry, excluding the foreign troops, and if all of these had been up to the proper establishment of 840 men, the total would have amounted to 98,000 bayonets. But the state of disorganization was such that as a matter of fact there were only 58,000 under arms. The regiments which Napoleon had requisitioned for service in the North had been more or less brought up to a war-footing, and each showed on an average 2,000 men in the ranks. But many of the corps in the interior of Spain displayed the most lamentable figures: e.g. the three battalions of the regiment of Estremadura had only 770 men between them, Cordova 793, and Navarre 822—showing 250 men to the battalion instead of the proper 840. Theoretically there should have been no difficulty in keeping them up to their proper strength, as machinery for recruiting them had been duly provided. Voluntary enlistment was the first resource: but when that did not suffice to keep the ranks full, there was a kind of limited conscription called the Quinta to fall back upon. This consisted in balloting for men in the regimental district, under certain rules which allowed an enormous number of exemptions—e.g. all skilled artisans and all[p. 92] middle-class townsfolk were free from the burden—so that the agricultural labourers had to supply practically the whole contingent. Substitutes were allowed, if by any means the conscript could afford to pay for them. The conscription therefore should have kept the regiments up to their proper strength, and if many of them had only a third of their complement under arms, it was merely due to the general demoralization of the times. Under Godoy’s administration money was always wanting, more especially since Napoleon had begun to levy his monthly tribute of 6,000,000 francs from the Spanish monarchy, and the gaps in the ranks probably represented enforced economy as well as corrupt administration.