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Marshal Suchet and the Siege of Valencia

By Dominique Contant, Robert Ouvrard, and Jonathan Cooper

Deliberations of the military authorities at Valencia, relating to the planned sortie of the Spanish army.


Valencia, 26th December 1811

Desiring to have the opinion of the generals and staff officers of the combined Second and Third armies upon the changes which have occurred in the situation of the armies and of the city of Valencia, His Excellency Don Joachin Blake, Commanding General, has convened, today the 26th December 1811, at six in the evening, at the Convent of Los Remedios ; to wit : Don Carlos O'Donell, Lieutenant General, Deputy Commanding General of the Second Corps, and Governor of the city of Valencia ; Don Joseph Miranda, Commanding General of the First Division of the army's Fourth Corps ; Don Ramon Pires, Chief of Staff of the army's Second Corps ; Don Francisco Marco del Ponte, Assistant Inspector for the Infantry for the same formation ; and Don Jos� Lardizabal, Commanding General of the Advance Guard of the Fourth Corps ; Don Joaquin de Zea, Brigadier, Assistant Inspector for the Cavalry of the Second Corps ; Don Antonio Burriel, Brigadier, chief of staff for the Expeditionary Corps ; Colonel Don Juan Zapatero, Commanding Officer of the Engineers.

His Excellency the Commanding General posed the questions of whether or not Valencia could be defended, and whether or not the army should remain within its lines. After having maturely deliberated on these questions, and having been informed of the quantity of the food existing in the magazines, all the members, except for Brigadier Don Jos� Miranda, were resolved that the army should sortie from its lines and open a way through the enemy.

His Excellency the Commanding General next asked what day and time would be suitable for this operation. The generals resolved that, owing to the impossibility of acting that same night, due to the time required to distribute rations and to provide for the other needs the soldiers and in ignorance of the enemy positions, the execution was to be at the soonest possible moment .

The principle reasons which determined the votes of the members of the assembly are as follows :

1st - That General Mahy has withdrawn with his troops, and that his fate is unknown; that communications with this General are cut so that it is impossible to concert any operation with him.

2nd - That Valencia cannot be defended from its fortified encampments ; that it cannot, because its size is too great, support a regular siege ; and that the army while remaining there has no hope of being relieved.

3rd - That according to the report of the food stocks presented by the intendant of the army, there are in the city only two hundred thousand rations of bread, three hundred and ninety-eight thousand six hundred eighty-six rations of vegetables, four hundred fifty-two thousand five hundred and sixty of whitefish and sardines, thirty-six thousand five hundred of wine, one hundred and seventeen thousand of brandy, and sixty-eight thousand of salt; i.e., that reckoning the daily consumption at twenty or twenty-two thousand rations, there is in storage nine or ten days of bread, nineteen or twenty days of vegetables, twenty or twenty-three days of whitefish, two days of wine, five or six of brandy, and three or four of salt; so that by substituting one thing for another, the army could thus subsist for sixteen or eighteen days.

4th - That it is less disadvantageous to the nation to lose Valencia, than to retain the city for sixteen or seventeen more days while sacrificing in her defense an entire army, which could be employed to insure retaining the cities of Alicante and Carthagenia, and to also prepare the means to reconquer the kingdom of Valencia ; while once the troops were lost, these places would be as well.

5th - That if the sortie is delayed, the difficulties would increase, as the enemy would commence their siege works and close the roads.

His Excellency having next posed the question of taking along the artillery, the unanimous opinion of the Generals was in the negative, owing to the many difficulties which would result, which constrained them to put these pieces out of service, and to give up them, to avoid making known to the enemy the movement of the army and so compromising the people of Valencia.

( the signatures follow)



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