Marshal Suchet and the Siege of Valencia
By Dominique Contant,
Robert Ouvrard, and Jonathan
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1st - That General Mahy has withdrawn with his troops, and that his fate is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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