Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics



YEAR 1808.






At the end of the year 1807, a French Army under the command of General Junot crossed Spain to seize Portugal.  The House of Braganza had ceased its reign.  On another side, the policy of the cabinet of Madrid, scandalous family divisions, royal intrigues and weaknesses easily allowed Napoleon to arrange for the accession of his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, to the throne of the grandson of Louis XIV.  The old Spanish King, Charles IV, the Queen his wife, the Prince of Asturias their son and the Prince of Paix, seemed to have sworn, by conspiring one against the other, to put an end to a reign without name, dignity and power.  Also, a little later, Charles IV and the Prince of Asturias, taken prisoners in France, laid at the feet of Napoleon the crown of Philippe V, and, just as the House of Braganza, the House of Bourbon did not reign any more in Spain.

But this great political event was not achieved without a dreadful fight, a fight of extermination, at the bottom of which the anger of the English was agitated, coming to bathe the entire Peninsula in blood.  Each drop of this blood went to revive in all the Spanish hearts the love of freedom and hatred of the French name.  The fanaticism of the people showed inflexible; the reprisals were terrible, the women themselves did not fear to face the anger of the conquerors.  In such a state of affairs, Napoleon had to take command of the armies, which he had thrown in Spain.  He thus arrived at Bayonne with characteristic speed*, and, as of that moment, prepared to take the offensive in a serious way.

*November 1, 1808. 

With this news:  “the Emperor is in the camp!”  A general movement of retirement was ordered all along the enemy line.  The English army not being on the line of operation, Napoleon did not think of it yet.  It was necessary above all for him to drive back the first obstacles, and for this reason he had reserved the corps of Marshal Soult, and especially the cavalry of the Guard, commanded by Bessières.  Napoleon made his way from Bayonne to Vitoria by horse, in two stages; from there he was transported to Burgos, where the troops joined him.  It was in this city that he ordered the beginning of the siege of Saragossa, and where he advanced his infantry by the road of Aranda-del-Duoro, while his cavalry took the way by the plain by Valladolid.  He, himself, always went on horse and surrounded by his staff, followed, with all his Guard, the same road as the army, and thus arrived at Aranda.  The following day he approached the entrance to the gorge of the Somo-Sierra, at a place called Bocequillas, where he camped in the midst of his grenadiers.

The next day, at a very early hour, he was joined by the corps of Marshal Victor, who had been sent initially to support Marshal Lannes, but had been recalled before starting from Aranda, because of intelligence of the brilliant affair at Tudela.  Napoleon continued to advance by moving the corps of Victor through the valley.  It was at end of November 1808, and as this valley is bordered of very steep mountains, whose tops, so to speak, are hidden in the clouds, the Spaniards who had posted themselves awaiting us.  They had with them fifteen pieces of cannon, which, if we had been seen further off, would have made us pay dearly, until they were removed.  But the Emperor was there; he had the regiment of the Polish lancers formed into column, and thus they went up just to the point when the battery had started to fire; after this regiment had issued its first rain of grapeshot, Napoleon addressing the staff officers of the regiment, said to them:

—Let us go, quickly remove that for me, at a gallop, flat out and don’t stop.

This command, this elite of the Polish nation, without thinking of the danger, without anything to see, proceeded to tear up the earth and removed the battery before it even received a second blast from its guns.

This daring company was commanded by General Montbrun General, who, after having forced the passage, continued the gallop up to Buitrago, where the Emperor laid down the same evening.  The following day, he came to Saint-Augustin, which is the second relay station on the route to Madrid by this road.  He waited in this position for the remainder of the army, which had not been able to follow him; his brother King Joseph also joined him there. 

The march of Napoleon had been so fast, that not one of grandees of Spain who, after having given an oath of fidelity to King Joseph, had given it up with the intention of joining the insurrectionists, had time to make for their provisions.  Concern started to seize them; they did not see a means of resistance from the inside, and were looked at as lost if they did not manage to stifle the revenge that irritated them towards the winner.  They thus thought of employing their influence to make him open the gates of Madrid, whose master would not have been possible without widespread torrents of blood.  In spite of that, one obtained nothing, and each time one approached or the wall or a gate of this capital; one was received with a fusillade.  Napoleon finally was determined to breach the wall at three or four points along it, but at a rather long distance from the first houses of Madrid to be able to gather his troops.  He chose, among all, a spot outside the Garden of Retiro, whose brick walls were demolished with cannon shots.  The three main streets, which end in the city at the promenade of the Prado were defended by trenches, behind which there was a good parapet.  In the first moment, there took place a very-sharp crossfire of musketry from the houses which are at the entry of these streets, particularly at the Medina-Celi Hotel; but the fire was quickly suppressed by a quick counterattack; and, because the people in the hotel had imprudently left the large door open, our soldiers entered, killed all that they found having weapons in hand, and the hotel was plundered.  This circumstance opened the eyes of the members of the junta, who did not want to expose Madrid to an inevitable confusion once troops were spread in the streets.  They thus sent to the camp of the Emperor members of Parliament with full powers to entreat for the surrender of Madrid, which subjected itself and recognized King Joseph; but, as we had not been able to surround the city, and because of its great expanse, there was a considerable abandonment the following night.  The population, as well as the Andalusian militia, which had made up the garrison, left by the Aranjuez gate and went, by all directions, towards Valence, the English Channel and Estramadure. 

The French troops entered Madrid; but Napoleon did not establish himself there; he remained with all his guard at Chamartin, a distance from the town of approximately two miles.  King Joseph did not enter his capital either; he remained in the Prado, the château of the kings of Spain located one mile from Madrid, because, from there, he could command and organize the administration.

During this time, two fusilier-chasseurs of the Imperial Guard, culprits of plundering and an odious violence made towards inhabitants, were condemned by a council of war to the firing squad (passes par armes).  Clemency for these soldiers, put forward and supported by their prior good conduct, was refused by the Emperor.  Their execution was a sacrifice required by the need for maintaining discipline.  We cannot prevent ourselves, at the time of this act of severe justice, to raise the charge, so often laid against Napoleon, that he tolerated these disorders by a kind of tacit understanding between him and the soldiers of his Guard, who, like the undisciplined hordes of the Middle Ages, would have served their heads because of the tolerance which was granted to them.  Those who followed the corps of the Guard can judge the care that brought Napoleon to repress plundering.  If he learned that, at the rear of the army, petty thieves caused disorder, he ordered the formation of mobile columns to hunt them down, and made the commanders of the towns responsible for their offences, and those of the stations charged to protect the line of communications.  His orders-of-the-day prescribed the greatest respect for property, and disgrace for those who tolerated disorder.  Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, etc, were witness to summary judgments against soldiers belonging to the Imperial Guard as with the other army corps, who had been convicted of plundering or violence.

The Emperor remained in Chamartin until the end of December approached; the quiet English army, persuaded him that he would find it while moving on Madrid, when the General who commanded at Valladolid sent him three French made captive at Baylen from the corps of General Dupont, who misery had forced to take up service in the irregular forces that England raised.  They had deserted as soon as they found out that our troops were in Valladolid, and came to deliver intelligence that all the English army was in Salamanca, having its forward guard at Zamora, and that in no means did they think of withdrawing.  These soldiers spoke so clearly about all that they had seen, that Napoleon accepted the truth of their report.  He rewarded them; but he was disturbed to have learned these details only by the zeal of these three poor devils, while he had in the surroundings of Valladolid more than ten regiments of cavalry whose heads did not give him any news.

Napoleon made the Guard leave the very same day to cross the mountain chain, which separates the province of Madrid from that of Segovia, while moving by Guadorrama, i.e. by the road of Madrid, to the Convent of Escurial.  The Emperor left the next morning, the day before Christmas; the weather was nice while leaving; but, coming to the foot of the mountain, found the road filled with a deep column of infantry which climbed this mountain slowly, to an altitude high enough to preserve its snow until June.  There was in front of this infantry an artillery convoy, which had come down, because a blizzard, accompanied by an appalling wind, made the passage dangerous; the weather was obscure as at dusk.  The Spanish peasants prevented our troops, who they had feared would be buried under snow, as had sometimes happened.  The soldiers did not remember ever being so cold, even in Poland; however Napoleon, in a hurry to move his Guard through this pass, which accumulated little by little at the foot of the mountain, gave the order that it was following and put himself at the head of the column.  Indeed, he passed with the regiment of horse chasseurs of the Guard through the rows of the infantry; he then formed this regiment in tightened column, occupying the whole width of the path; then having dismounted with these chasseurs, he placed himself on foot behind the first group and began the march.  The chasseurs went pell-mell with their horses, whose mass nullified the blizzard for those who followed them, and at the same time they compacted the snow so as to indicate a well-marked trace for the infantry who followed.  There was only the group at the head who suffered much.  The Emperor was very tired, but there was no possibility of mounting a horse.  He had planned on going this evening to Villa-Castin, but he found everyone exhausted and the cold so excessive, that he stopped at the post house, located at the foot of the mountain.  Such was the zeal with which each one served him, that, in this humble shack, the mule, which carried the canteen, was brought; so that he had a good fire, a bed and a passable supper.  We have already said, that in these kinds of occasions, Napoleon was not egotistic; he shared his supper and his fire with all that had been able to follow him; he went as far as forcing those to eat who he believed to have need, and who often were taken care of without discretion or etiquette.  However a sad night was passed in this house.  Grenadiers even perished from cold, but finally the example that Napoleon had given himself caused everyone to proceed through the pass, which would have taken two days, if not for him.

It was in Tordesillas that Napoleon learned that the English army had started from Salamanca to follow its road towards the Kingdom of Leon.  He was impatient without similarly seeing the coming of his infantry.  The corps of Marshal Ney having arrived first, he having left himself with him and having spent a dreadful time, in Valderas, where he was informed of the arrival, in Leon, of a corps that he had moved there come from Burgos.  He stopped in Valderas to await news of all that followed him, and to send scouts in all the directions; already he started to realize that the English army approached.  The peasants answered, when questioned about these troops, that they had passed so many hours ago, and followed the way to Benavente.  The Emperor pressed as hard as he could, but the mud was terrible, and the artillery could not follow him; the other troops were obliged to wait for it; that gave some lead to the English army.  Finally bubbling with impatience he sent ahead the horse chasseurs of the Guard, to reach the rear-guard of this army.  General Lefèvre Desonouettes who commanded this regiment, eager to come to grips, dashed on without precaution, and arrived at the banks of the Esla, at the same time that the English had just broken the bridge on which they had crossed this river.  Lefèvre Desonouettes seeing the enemy cavalry on the other bank, formed the bold plan to chase and crush it.  He sought a ford in the water considerably swollen by snow and the rains; he found one, and crossed through it with four squadrons of his chasseurs, at the head of which he went after the English cavalry, which was on the other side.  He was soon attacked by large numbers, and brought back beaten to the river bank, where all would have been taken without the skill of the chasseurs who crossed over it again promptly; but Lefèvre Desnouettes having wanted, as an honest soldier that he was, to cross over again only as the last, was made prisoner with sixty chasseurs of his regiment.

Napoleon received this news at Valderas; it left him with much sorrow, because he liked the chasseurs of the Guard above all.  However he did not condemn the courageous determination of their colonel, whom he would have liked to have seen behave more carefully.

He left Valderas himself at once as the cavalry arrived there, and went with it on to Benavente, ordering the infantry to follow him.  The rains had further raised the Esla River so that the same ford where the chasseurs passed could no longer be crossed.  It was necessary to seek another for them; it was found only much later at a part of river below the bridge; all the cavalry crossed there; the Emperor crossed himself there, and the march continued on Benavente, while following the way through Astorga.  The infantry spent the following night mending the bridge of Esla with materials found in the town of Benavente.

Napoleon followed near the English, but we did not gain on them.  One found many horses of their cavalry dead along the way; each one was noticed to have missing a whole hoof.  One discovered later that the English rider, which lost his horse was obliged to bring its hoof to his captain to prove to him than he had died; otherwise he would have been suspected of selling it.

The Emperor was so impatient to catch the English, whom he left Benavente to follow along the way of Coruna; he went at a grand gallop, when an officer, leaving only one hour after him from Benavente, prevented him due to the arrival from Paris of mail.  Napoleon stopped, dismounted, and established a campfire on the way, where he remained, in a very-thick snow, until the arrival of the mail, which was announced to him.  The Prince de Neufchâtel opened the bag of the mail, and gave the letters to him that were addressed to him.  Napoleon read them, did not say a word, mounted his horse and rode up to Astorga.  There, he did not speak any more of going to Coruna.  He awaited the various corps of the Guard as they arrived there.  Then he gave the command of the army to Marshal Soult, by forestalling it by remaining there still for a day or two in Astorga, but remained further in Benavente. 

Napoleon was still in Benavente when it learned of the entry of our troops in Lugo, and, few days afterwards, he had intelligence of the arrival of transports in Coruna intended to embark the English army.  He saw that nothing would prevent this army from arriving in England, so he no longer thought of capturing Valladolid; he brought back all the foot and horse Guard to this city, and sent, from there, Marshal Lannes to command the siege of Saragossa.

It was while he was in Valladolid that Napoleon learned from the Minister of War of the arrival, in Toulon, of the Generals Dupont and Marescot, the same ones who had signed the capitulation of Baylen.  It gave severe orders in their cases.  He also knew in Valladolid that the mail from Paris, which Napoleon had read the dispatches from on main road of Benavente, were sent by the Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. de Champagny.  Moreover, the Prince of Neufchâtel had received a letter from the King of Bavaria who alerted him to say to the Emperor that he had to take steps with respect to Austria, which had armed and used all the resources of the monarchy, since it was the first time that it raised the landwehr.  He sent at the same time a copy of the dispatch to him, on which this subjects his minister in Vienna had addressed to him.

Napoleon personally gave instructions on the march of what he wanted the others to follow for the military operation military, so much in Navarre than in Aragon and to Catalonia, and taking the Guard to Burgos, where it must remain until new orders.

He had horses saddled in relay on the way from Valladolid to Burgos, with a picket of horse chasseurs of the Guard, with only three or four miles from one relay to another.  Then he started from Valladolid in early morning, with a beautiful frost, and came at a grand hunting gallop to Burgos.  He arrived there in six hours: never had a sovereign done this so quickly in such a way on horse.  It had also placed relays of attachment from Burgos to Bayonne, so that he stopped only one moment in Burgos, and was able to reach Bayonne without having to leave his carriage.  It remained in this city only one moment and departed to continue on for Paris, in order to be within marching range to go on to Germany, where the provisions of Austria became more and more menacing.

The war of Spain being able to offer to the Imperial Guard only little occasion for distinction, the Emperor therefore recalled the major part of it close of him in Paris, to send it onto Germany, where new triumphs awaited it.  As long as Napoleon and the Imperial Guard would have remained in Spain, they would certainly have overcome the Spaniards in fifty battles, if they had taken place; but they never would have subjected them.  This avenging patriotism which animated them, joined to this popular rage of which they were enervated, caused among the two people terrible reprisals; but, it should be said, these horrible excesses never stopped at the French soldier, and more particularly in the regiments of the Guard, this dash of generous pity which, in all our wars, distinguished so perfectly the character, manners and the instincts of this crack corps:  the following episode can provide, under this report, the proof of our assertion.



*communicated article.

A squadron of dragoons of the Guard, detached from the regiment had arrived recently to Spain, and for twenty-four hours had been stationed in Vitoria, in the province of Biscay, where it was to await new orders.  The following day, at nine o'clock in the evening, the French General who commanded the province called in the commander of this squadron, and there he received, with instructions, the order to leave at once with his squadron for Bilbao, where bands of Spanish insurrectionists had been seen.

The commander of the dragoons remarked to the General that his soldiers are extremely tired, and that their regular food rations had yet to be made, and that the horses had not even had fodder since the day before their arrival. 

—Monsieur, commander, answered the General in a tone of humor, as one who undoubtedly had dined well, I do not admit the need for subsistence; I give you an order, it should be carried out.

—But, allow me, my General, to reiterate, my men and their horses....

—Commander, do I have to repeat myself, stopped the General, for the nearly twenty years that I have made war, I never worried about the men, nor horses; moreover I do not like the observations.

It was necessary to obey; the squadron of dragoons thus left at ten o'clock in the evening.

The commander had spoken about subsistence, because, since he had left headquarters with his squadron, he and his dragoons had lived only on raw onions and cigarettes, which is not very nutritive, and that he would not have been annoyed to have a good supper with some mayor of the vicinity, even if it was only soup.

Guerrillas had positioned themselves to ambush around Vitoria.  Hardly had the squadron gone three quarters of a mile, than the men were abruptly awaken atop their horses by a rather sharp shooting.  From the bushes, and slits in rocks, which bordered the road, balls whistled above and beside their helmets.  At short intervals, they saw in the darkness a shining flash, then a dragoon fell:  a half-dozen of them thus remained in this way.  This terrible serenade ceased only towards the break of the day.  Overpowered by tiredness, and though dying of hunger, one of the young vélites started to fall asleep on his horse, when cries and bursts of laughter awoke him completely.

—Bravo!  Shouted a comrade, here is a splendid sight!

—the residents are entombed, their pot and lodgings can be assumed!  an old sergeant (maréchal-des-logis) repeated.  Hold, look at this, bad rider?

These last words were addressed to another vélite lying on the frame of his saddle, the feet unbalanced in the stirrups, and holding with a hand the mane hairs.  The young comrade did not answer; a Spanish ball had struck him right in the heart: he had died.

The vélites did not shout about it less:

—Eh!  the residents are entombed, their pot is empty I presume!

Then those who did not sleep had pass in front of them a black, irregular mass, similar to the burned carcass of a large fireworks:  it was Torquemada, a small pretty provincial town, crossed by the river of Cedada.

—Country of misfortune!  Noted the old sergeant; the place already was burnt once, and this makes twice.  Apparently because it was inhabited by the grand inquisitor, because that smells like a red devil.

However the dragoons approached.  Near the bridge, broken palisades and some corpses that were stripped and greenish, testified that the Spaniards had defended the crossing; but then there must have been a peace made, because calm reigned in the city.  With the squadron’s trumpets sounding “ride on”, no Spaniards came to the balconies to greet the arrival of the dragoons with shots of a fusillade; nobody in the streets:  the population had beaten a retreat.

The lieutenant of the vélites randomly entered a dwelling, which he believed deserted.  However, to judge by some charcoal inscriptions on the walls and in a tableau of the Virgin with moustache and a pipe in her mouth, it was probable that our infantrymen had already bivouacked in this house.  But while penetrating into a low room (a kitchen, because there was a chimney, the only thing, which indicates a kitchen in Spain), much to the surprise of the lieutenant he found two old men and a young boy of approximately ten or twelve years age, squatted in front of a fire!   To the noise of the saber of the officer trailing on the flagstones, the child turned around his head, made a sign of the cross, as if he had seen the Devil, and slipped behind a large wood armchair placed at the below a Madonna.  One of the two men looked at the officer proudly, and, without taking off his hat, said to him:

—French Lord, I am named myself Antonio Nuñez; here the former mayor of this city, my elder brother.  Much too old to follow our compatriots, he wanted to die in his home.  I remained to look after him; as for this little boy, he is serving us. 

—Why didn't the other inhabitants remain like you?  Asked the lieutenant.

—I don’t know; they like the mountain when the nights are beautiful.

To these words, a diabolic smile arose to animate the yellow and thin face of the old man.  At the same time, a great ruckus was heard outside.  The lieutenant left and came upon in the plaza, in the midst of a group of dragoons, a capuchin on a horse, swearing as good French and damning Spain and the Spaniards in terms very little Catholic.  Our capuchin hid an aide-de-camp of General ***.  The lieutenant led him to the commander whom they found already asleep on a bale of straw.  After some questions from the aide-de-camp:

—The devil take Spain and Portugal!  The commander exclaimed; here’s what we need: with a horse no less!  A sergeant will remain here with six dragons for the service of the estafettes (messengers).

The sergeant made a diabolic grimace: it was precisely that which he did not like about burned out cities.

—Country of misfortune!  Grumbling while rolling up his russet-red moustache; not even water for drinking!

And he showed with his finger to the lieutenant the desiccated edges of Celada “those blasted Spaniards, still claim it, it had carried water to make them slake their hunger.”

The lieutenant indicated the house of the mayor to him, and hastened to join the squadron, guided by the remote noise of shooting; the mounted went as quickly as when they had passed near the fusillades of the guerrillas.  The squadron arrived too late; the business was about finished; only, towards the left, a regiment of Spanish infantry, formed in square, still held strong.  The dragoons thought that the shock would be hard; but, with the first charge, all these black beards disbanded without a fight, and appeared to flee as fast as their legs could carry them.

In fact, however, to redeem the Spaniards a little in the eyes of our soldiers:  a young drummer who had been unable to run as quickly as the others, feeling the point of the saber of a dragoon, stopped, and, to pleaded grace for his life, waving his shako in the air, while shouting:  Viva Napoleon!  To this exclamation, an officer of his regiment which was mounted on a small wall, and so to speak out of danger, got down again on the same side, sprang on the young drummer and ran him through with his sword, while exclaiming in his turn with blazing indignation in his eyes:  Muera el traydor!  (die traitor!) and fell himself from the blows he received.  Such were these people: sometimes one of their regiments was not worth a man, and sometimes one of their men was worth a whole regiment.  But the dragoons of the Guard were soon to have another occasion to check which moral strength, which contempt for life an isolated Spaniard could show acting on his own account.

  The following day, when the squadron returned to Torquemada, the old sergeant was not there any more.  The commander believing he had left ahead of them, with his six men, went to lie down.  The lieutenant of the vélites entered the house of the mayor to whom he had spoken the day before.

—Where are our dragoons?  He asked him.

—Very far off, all together, Nuñez answered him in an emphatic tone.  And, as if avoiding new questions, he hastened to add, according to the Spanish formula: “All the house is at your disposal; but there is nothing in the house.” 

Fortunately the dragoons are endowed with a marvelous instinct to find something in these houses where it is said that nothing was there.  They had been already spread like a cloud of ants into all the corners of the city, exploring hollows and attics, discovering the most secret hiding-places.  In the kitchen where he stayed, the lieutenant saw them in the garden, ferreting and probing the ground with the rods of their rifle.  Suddenly, in an angle of this garden, where the ground freshly seemed stirred up:

—A treasure!  Shouted a dragoon; it is I who found it!

At once others came running, to line up in a half-circle and to dig using their bayonnettes.  Soon one of the workers met an obstacle; all sprang at the same time, and with happiest in his hand... a cold hand! ...then an arm comes out, then a head, then an entire dragoon, two, three, four, the complete detachment, including the sergeant.  All seven of the unit were there; the Spaniard had spoken the truth:  all, but the cut throats.  One can imagine the stunned rage of our soldiers!  The lieutenant examined the figure of his hosts.  Nuñez smoked a cigarette quietly, while looking at this scene with the indifference of a gravedigger who lunches in the cemetery.  The little boy poked the fire; and, on a stone bench, the mayor Moorish, dumb and immobile seemed an old smoked out wooden statue.

In one moment the house filled with dragoons; it resounded with curses and threats.  Without the lieutenant, the mayor, his brother and the child would be buried very much alive.  He had the sorrowful task to protect them until they could awake the commander.  Then, still in the kitchen, in the presence of these seven corpses, an impromptu courts martial began the trial of the Spaniards.

—Which of you cut the throats of my dragoons?  Asked the commander with a terrible voice.

—If I would swear that it is not I, the one known as Nuñez stated calmly, you would not believe me; then it is I. 

—Alone?... It would be impossible for you!

—Forgive me, general lord; the French found a goatskin of brandy, with which they were imbibing yesterday evening.  This sleeping child, indicating to all, here, in this room, came to prevent me: I cut the throat of all of them, and this morning he helped me to bury them; but while with this knife (and from his pocket he drew a navaja whose blade was a half foot in length), I avenged my fatherland, Perico (it was the name of the little boy) was up there near my brother.  If there is a crime, it was me alone who committed it.

—Brother!  Exclaimed severely the old mayor; you acted only on my order.  Then rising with effort:  “Kill us both, he added, and may every true Spaniard imitate us.”

—Mayor, sentenced the commander, you will be hung, you and your brother.

—I’ll attend with happiness, Nuñez said coldly.

On the other side of the village, there was a large cross surrounded by a thicket of trees, it was the place of the supplication.  In the midst of an escort of twenty dragoons, the mayor walked with high head and a strong firm step, in spite of his great age.  Nuñez supported him, and Perico, serving his masters up to the end, carried a small ladder and a package of cords.  Arriving at the foot of the cross, the mayor knelt.  While at his request, Nuñez approached the adjutant charged to govern the execution:

—He is my beloved brother, he is the mayor of this city, he said to him; with this double title, I owe him respect and honor.  I request from you, that none of your men lay a hand on Jose de Quitana: I will be in charge, me.

—Arrange it as you want, answered the adjutant; but let us get on with it, because I do not like these kinds of expeditions.

Nuñez kissed his brother, and hung him lightly.  But to hang Nuñez, was another business.  None of the dragoons, even as furious as they had been before, wanted to be used as an executor.  During the discussion, Nuñez waited atop of the ladder, and interpreting the scruples of the dragoons wrongly, he shouted to them:

—Do not be afraid!  I will not even struggle.  Then, having secured the cord around his neck himself, he called Perico who went up on the ladder, hung the cord with the nail and launched him, as one says, into eternity.

These were brave soldiers, but not torturers.  The escort recovered on the way, sad and quiet.  Perico followed it while bringing back the ladder.

  —Of what are you good and tired?  Says the adjutant it a tone of humor; leave the ladder there, one does not want to hang you. 

—Ah!  The young boy began again quietly, I believed that it was my turn; it is as God and you would have it.

He returned with the dragoons to Torquemada where he helped bury the old sergeant flanked by his six comrades, and the following day, before the dawn, Perico had escaped, carrying with him the knife of Nuñez.

The character of the Spanish people, during the occupation of the Peninsula by our troops, can be summarized entirely in the character of Nuñez and that of his brother, the mayor.


Staff and administration



Grenadiers (Old Guard)

1 regiment



Chasseurs      idem.

2 regiments



Veterans        idem.

1 company



Sailors           idem.

1 battalion



Fusilier-Grenadiers (Young Guard)

1 regiment



Fusilier-Chasseurs         idem.

1 regiment







1 regiment



Vélites grenadiers

2 squadrons




1 regiment



Vélites chasseurs

2 squadrons




1 company



Elite gendarmes

1 legion




1 regiment



Vélites dragoons

1 squadron



Polish Lancers

1 regiment





Artillery.   1 foot regt, 1 horse regt.



                          Hospital of the Guard






*as listed in St. Hilaire, numbers total 15,314 (gmg)

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2005


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