Letter from Marshal Suchet
to Prince Berthier, Major General.
From the Headquarters at Valencia,
17th January 1812
I have the satisfaction of informing Your Serene Highness that the
Emperor's troops entered Valencia on the 14th, four days after the surrender
of this place, and that, due to the dispositions that I had ordered,
the greatest discipline was observed: the Spanish army had already exited,
and I had set in motion a general disarmament; the number of muskets
collected has risen to nearly twenty thousand.
I have had all the monks taken in; one hundred forty-eight who were
found to be too old to travel are going to be collected at a convent
ten leagues from Valencia. About five hundred are already in route for
France, and five of the most culpable, those who paraded the Banner
of the Faith in the streets and who preached in public places to incite
the inhabitants once again at the time of the capitulation, were shot.
(22) I will
continue to have investigations made with a view toward arresting a
Of the three thousand armed civilians in the environs of Valencia who
I have disarmed, I have had four hundred eighty arrested, as suspects,
they leave headed for France.(23)
Among them are a rather large number guerrillas chiefs; several were
shot or will be. In his fury, the Marquis de Palacio had managed to
organize ten thousand inhabitants as a militia, and men of seventy to
eighty years had posts assigned in the defense of the city.(24)
I had them all assembled together today, all the city trembled to see
the heads of households taken in. General Robert had difficulty in finding
the officers who they made known as the most guilty; I hope nonetheless
to end up discovering them; three of the most furious are at the castle
and will be shot. Three hundred and fifty students serving as auxiliaries
with the artillery and all well regarded, were taken in and will be
conducted to France.(25)
I ordered the dissolution of all these organizations, which I propose
to replace with a civic guard that is smaller in number and formed particularly
of men chosen among the fathers of families and property owners. All
the assassins of the French will be sought out and punished;(26)
already more than six hundred were executed by the firmness of the Spanish
whom I hope to see soon.(27)
There are more than twelve hundred invalids in the countryside between
Saint-Philippe and Valencia; I aim to give them half-pay as long as
they will behave well.(28)
I had sent to ask after the archbishop of Valencia, who was in Gandia;
he has come eagerly. He is an old man of seventy-eight years who appears
imbued with a good spirit.
Within a few days, I will have the honor to address to Your Highness
the plan for the forts intended to serve as refuges for the garrison
and to control the city.
The small city of Peniscola having hesitated to surrender, I have had
it blockaded by land, already the elements of artillery necessary to
reduce the city are ready at B�nicarlo. I believe, as I have already
had the honor to note for Your Highness, that they will not be brought
to reason except by bombardment.(29)
I just been informed that Generals Lascy, d'Eroles and Sarsfield are united at Reus and menace Tarragona.
They are supported by two English ships-of-the-line, two frigates and
twenty-three gunboats which unloaded cannon, food and shells at the
port of Salao. I ordered at once that General Lafosse, commandant at Tortose, move with his garrison
upon Reus; I will have him supported by General Musnier with two thousand
five hundred men. I hope that these troops will arrive in time to repulse
the enemy. I would not have any element of concern, if the regiments
which the Emperor had ordered to be left in lower Catalonia had remained
there; but their absence forces the governor of Tarragona to run through
a provisioning that I had made complete for seven months for twelve
hundred men, and for which I had demanded, under penalty of death, that
no person touch, thus, by unintended means, one compromises the fate
of the places which cost so such grief to take.
I finally have just received news of General Darmagnac, who I had not
heard from after 24 December, and who sent a battalion of the Seventy-Fifth
to Requena; I engaged him to set up a relay station at this site to
tie in with those which I already established in the rear up to Valencia,
so that communications with Madrid become easy.
I am forced to employ sixteen battalions for the escort of the prisoners;
these troops will spend twelve days to get to Saragossa, and I presume
with regret that they will be forced to go to Pau, which will deprive
me of them for forty days.
I forward to Your Serene Highness the report addressed to me by General
Caffarelli on the disheartening occurrence at Huesca. The dispositions
which had been undertaken for the security of this post were so good,
that I had formed an expectation of an entirely different result. I
urge General Caffarelli to seek out the cause of this occurrence, which
has permitted Mina to seize the garrison and to carry them away without
the least care, which would appear inconceivable to any man who, like
me, knew the location. This false move [and] this slowness in operations
continue to deprive us of our communications with France. The last letters
which I received are from 14 December, and I do not doubt but that the
Emperor develops concern, yet I did everything to prevent this, having
sent to Your Highness frequent reports, and having sent three of my
I am with respect, etc.
Marshal of the Empire,
Signed: Count Suchet.(31)
toward us seemed to the Spaniards to be a legitimate revenge. They were
even so authorized by their religion."(Raymond-Emery-Philippe-Joseph
de Montesquiou, Duke of F�zensac) "... that they [the monks] do not
forget any more that their first duty is to preach of peace to the people,
and of love and respect for their sovereign." (Proclamation of Suchet,
19 June 1809)
From whence can be seen his rigor and his severity towards these monks.
group of our prisoners were poor country folk who had been armed and
had on their backs an English uniform. They were the most miserable
soldiers you could ever see, and the least redoutable on a battlefield,
but extremely suitable for the assassination of French troops moving
in isolation on the main roads. Quite soon they were only employed in
this trade; and, in this manner, they gave us more trouble than the
Spanish armies did in pitched battles." Memoirs of the General of Saint
(24) These militias
were financed by the English Consul Tupper who, according to the instructions
of London, also spread false news and propaganda.
(25) In this era,
the laws of war showed no mercy to civilians taken with arms in hand.
sought the persons responsible for the massacre of 300 French businessmen
in Valencia, at the beginning of the Revolution.
was not unaware of that Suchet took care to insure accurate payment
of the salaries of judges; thus, perhaps, the judge's zeal.
(28) This compares
to the late payment of the salaries for university professors at Padua,
in Italy. Attention and firmness, thus summarize the tactics of Suchet.
(29) Here Suchet
is mistaken. In spite of the pressure exerted by the English to have
him resist, Brigadier Garcia-Navarro will accept the offer of an honorable
capitulation suggested by Suchet. On 2 February 1812, Suchet wrote to
Garcia-Navarro "..... I see with pleasure that you and the military
junta preserve the principles of every good Spaniard. Equally, I promise
to treat you in the same manner to prove to you the case I have made
: that the Spanish military is justifiably the enemy of the English
Garcia-Navarro answered on 3 February, "I followed with zeal, I may
even say with fury, the party which I believed to be just; but today,
I recognize the necessity for us to unite with our King, to make our
nation less unhappy; I offer to you to serve him with same enthusiasm."
(30) One may
be a bit surprised at the "servile" style sometimes used by Suchet.
But Suchet had much to be forgiven for, having refused to follow Bonaparte
(31) The Emperor
will have good cause to be satisfied with Marshal Suchet. With a great
firmness which can appear exaggerated to us today, but also by his military
skill and his humanity, Suchet managed to pacify Aragon. He will be
made Duke of Albufera on 29 January 1812.
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