As a part of the Dos de Mayo (2 May) uprising the city had already successfully resisted a first siege from 15 June 1808 to 14 August 1808. This was one of the first times in history that a regular army was defeated by irregulars in street fighting.
Further defeats – especially the surrender of General Dupont at the Battle of Bailén – forced King Joseph Bonaparte to withdraw behind the Ebro River, abandoning most of Spain except a small corner in the north-east and a small area around Barcelona.
The Spanish at this point missed their best chance to defeat the French. They did not appoint a Supreme Commander, so all the armies continued to operate independently. The main armies consisted of those of General Blake on the north coast, General Castaños around Tudela and General Palafox around Saragossa. Blake was the most active, but he was defeated at Zornoza on 31 October 1808.
Napoleon's plan was to attack in strength towards Burgos in between the armies of Blake and Castaños. Once they broke through they were to swing both north and south to envelope the remaining armies. In order to achieve this, Napoleon wanted the exposed Spanish armies to remain in their current advanced positions. To achieve this Marshal Moncey's 3rd Corps opposite General Castaños remained inactive from late October to 21 November while Ney's 4th Corps tried to get to his rear through Burgos and Soria.
To avoid being trapped, Castaños withdrew to Tudela and asked Palafox to help him hold a line running South of the city towards Cascante, where he intended to confront Moncey's Corps before the arrival of Ney's 4th Corps. Palafox's deputy in the area, general O'Neylle demurred stating that he had strict orders not to cross the borders of Aragon (Tudela is located in Navarre).
When Palafox's approval arrived, the French attack had already begun and got the Spanish in disarray. This battle was a major victory for the French, but the Spanish armies were able to flee, O'Neylle to Saragossa and Castaños to Madrid, escaping with the large majority of their war chests and cannons. The stage was now set for a second siege.
Considerable changes occurred in the defences of Saragossa after the first siege in June–August. In that siege, the city had few fortifications, except for the medieval walls that could not withstand the French artillery bombardment. The defenders consisted of only a handful of regular troops and gunners, plus a mass of thousands of volunteers. They had, however, been able to inflict heavy casualties on the French at the barricades in the narrow winding streets.
Since September 1808, Colonel Sangenís had been working on a number of modern fortifications. To the south, the city was protected by the Huerva River, which Sangení s used as a moat with two redoubts on the south side of the river: "Our lady of the Pillar" in the south-west corner and the San Jose convent on the south-east corner. These were overlooked by the city walls.
To the west, a solid rampart had been built outside the city walls, incorporating the Augustinian and Trinitarian convents. This provided a central gun battery, as well as a ditch that was 14-metres deep.
San Lazaro was fortified with a rampart protected by waterways and the two convents on the north side of the Ebro River had been made into fortresses.
On the key position of Monte Terrero, Sangenís built an entrenched military camp using the Aragon Canal as a moat.
Progress on the fortifications had been slow until the Battle of Tudela. After that, it was clear the French could attack at any moment and suddenly 60,000 volunteers were available. If the French had attacked quickly, then even this would not have helped. Due to the delay, however, the Spanish had time to improve the fortifications and obtain sufficient supplies.
Inside the walls, the strong, almost entirely inflammable masonry homes and apartment buildings were laced together with internal passageways, making each block of the city its own barricaded fortress, with the numerous church buildings standing as keeps and strong-points, from which grapeshot and counter-battery fire could command the streets.
The garrison would also be much stronger than in the first siege. Palafox had raised an additional 10-12,000 new recruits in Saragossa plus a further 17,000 survivors of the Battle of Tudela. By the start of the siege Palafox had 32,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 10,000 armed volunteers.
To prevent the danger of magazine explosions, the city manufactured its gunpowder as it was needed.
Supplies of Food and ammunition were sufficient for three months plus private stocks held by townspeople.
The Battle of Tudela was over on 23 November 1808 but the siege of Saragossa did not commence until 20 December 1808. This allowed the Spanish sufficient time to build up the defences and to lay in supplies.
After the Battle of Tudela two corps had been available to attack Saragossa - the 3rd corps under Marshal Moncey and the 6th Corps under Marshal Ney. Both of these corps left Tudela on 28 November and arrived at Saragossa on 30 November. They were about to commence the siege when Marshall Ney was ordered to take his army across the mountains to New Castille where he was to prevent the army of Castaños, retreating from Tudela, from interfering with his movements towards Madrid.
There were now only 15,000 men under Moncey facing Saragossa which was insufficient for a siege. As a result, Moncey retired to Tudela to await reinforcements from Marshal Mortier with his 5th Corps. These troops arrived from Germany on 15 December giving a total of 38,000 infantry, 3,500 cavalry, 3,000 engineers, and 60 siege guns to attack Saragossa.
On 20 December the French forces arrived again at Saragossa. Moncey split his forces: One division under General Gazan was assigned to the north, Mortier's corps was posted to the west, and Moncey's corps went to the south.
The first key objective was the weak Spanish outworks on Monte Torrero. On 21 December 1808, three batteries began bombarding these positions followed by an attack by twenty battalions of infantry which successfully drove the Spanish out of these positions. This initial success was to prove decisive as once again the French were able to deploy their main gun batteries on Monte Terrero and were ultimately successful in breaching the southern wall.
Gazan launched an attack on the same day against San Lazaro, however, this attack was unsuccessful due to the strength of the Spanish defence.
On 22 December 1808 Moncey formally demanded the surrender of the city but this was refused. Moncey then decided to concentrate his efforts on the southern side of the city and prepared attacks against the Pillar redoubt and against the San Jose convent. Preparations were also made for an attack opposite the castle of Aljafería in the north-west.
On 29 December 1808 Moncey was reassigned to Madrid and was replaced in command of the 3rd corps by General Jean-Andoche Junot. Mortier was then the senior officer however he worked in partnership with Junot until he was himself reassigned on 2 January 1809.
The French preparations were finally complete on 10 January 1809 and they commenced bombarding the Pillar Redoubt and San Jose. By the end of the day, the San Jose walls were about to collapse. Palafox counter-attacked the French guns at 1 am on 11 January 1808 but this attack failed and the Spanish troops withdrew into the city.
The French attack on the Pillar Redoubt continued until the night of 15–16 January 1808 when the 1st Polish Vistula Regiment stormed the position. The Spanish had already left destroying the bridge across the Huerva river at the same time.
On 16 January 1809 the main Spanish outworks were in French hands. The French armies could now concentrate on breaching the walls of Saragossa.
From 17 January 1809 the French began a bombardment of the walls from the San Jose redoubt. Palafox knew the walls would not last long and prepared barricades in the city, turning it into a maze of small forts.
In January Junot was replaced with Marshall Lannes who had been recovering from an earlier injury. Sickness was now creating problems on both sides. On the French side there were now only 20,000 fit infantry. At the same time new Spanish forces were being created near the city under Francisco Palafox (younger brother of the General) and the Marquis of Lazan (older brother of the General).
Lannes was concerned about his rear and recalled Mortier's division which had been protecting the lines of communication between Madrid and Saragossa. On 26 January Mortier's army defeated a peasant militia of some 4–5,000 men at Alcañiz.
The French attack commenced on 24 January 1809 when three beachheads were captured across the Huerva river. The main assault began on 27 January 1809 through three breaches in the city walls. Lannes broke through two breaches and captured the battery at the south-eastern corner and also the convent of Santa Engracia in the south-west.
This marked the end of this phase of the siege with the final phase of vicious street fighting to follow.
The Spanish defenders had been preparing for street fighting from the beginning. Lannes, however, had decided on a slow block-by-block siege of each individual fortification in order to minimise French casualties.
Individual battles were remarkable for their ferocity. At one point in the San Augustin Convent, the French held the altar end of the chapel and exchanged shots for hours on end with the Spanish entrenched in the nave and the belfry. However, French superiority in equipment and training took its toll, and thousands were falling daily both in the fighting and to disease, which was rampant throughout the city.
By February illness was decimating the population of Saragossa and only 8,495 men remained of the original garrison of 32,000 men. There were 10,000 dead and 13,737 sick or wounded.
The French were unaware of this however and morale was low due to the apparent never-ending battle in the narrow streets. Disappointed with the slow progress, Lannes ordered the troops north of the river to make a second attack on San Lazaro and on 18 February 1809 this attack was successful. The northern part of Saragossa could now be attacked with artillery.
By 19 February 1809 the Spanish defence was failing and Palafox himself was seriously ill. He sent his aide to Lannes to discuss terms of surrender. He then resigned his military command in favour of General St, March, and his civil command of the city to a 33-member council of local citizens.
The first offer of surrender was rejected and fighting resumed on 20 February 1809 but the civilian council quickly negotiated to end the fighting which ceased that evening.
Most of the city lay in ruins, and around 54,000 people had perished in the siege.
Under the terms of surrender the garrison marched out of the city and stacked their arms outside the Portillo gate. They had the choice of going into captivity or joining the French army. Of the 32,000 men at the start of the siege only 8,000 survived.
The terms of surrender allowed private property to be respected and a general amnesty was granted to the city. Although some looting took place the city was not sacked.
The suffering of the city had been terrible with estimated deaths of 54,000 made up of 20,000 soldiers and 34,000 civilians. Lannes himself estimated that the population of Saragossa had fallen from 55,500 to 15,000.
The French had also suffered losing about 10,000 men – 4,000 in battle and the rest to sickness.
Palafox himself was harshly treated by the French who imprisoned him as a traitor at Vincennes.
An excellent single volume history of the Peninsular War, which when it was published was the first really good English language history of the entire war since Oman. This is a well balanced work with detailed coverage of those campaigns conducted entirely by Spanish armies, as well as the better known British intervention in Portugal and Spain.
Part two of Oman's classic history falls into two broad sections. The first half of the book looks at the period between the British evacuation from Corunna and the arrival of Wellesley in Portugal for the second time, five months when the Spanish fought alone, while the second half looks at Wellesley's campaign in the north of Portugal and his first campaign in Spain. One of the classic works of military history.
Events from the year 1809 in France.Agustina de Aragón
Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa i Domènech or Agustina of Aragón (March 4, 1786 – May 29, 1857) was a Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Peninsular War, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army. Known as "the Spanish Joan of Arc," she has been the subject of much folklore, mythology, and artwork, including sketches by Francisco Goya and the poetry of Lord Byron.Antoine Morlot
Antoine Morlot (5 May 1766 – 23 March 1809) was a French division commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. After almost eight years of service in the French Royal Army, he became an officer in a local volunteer battalion during the French Revolution. In 1792 he fought with distinction at Thionville and other actions, earning a promotion to general officer in 1793. He was notable for his participation at the Battle of Kaiserslautern where he led a brigade. After another promotion he became a general of division in the Army of the Moselle. In 1794 he led his troops at Arlon, Lambusart, Fleurus and Aldenhoven.
In 1796, while Morlot's soldiers were garrisoning Aachen and its district, he was involved in a dispute with a government official and suspended from command. Restored to service, he thereafter held posts in the interior or was inactive for many years. In 1808 when Emperor Napoleon invaded Spain in the Peninsular War, Morlot was given a division of recruits. He led these soldiers at the Battle of Tudela that year and the Second Siege of Zaragoza in 1809, dying of a fever contracted during the siege. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe. He is buried at the cimetière du Père-Lachaise.Antonio Valero de Bernabé
Antonio Valero de Bernabé Pacheco (October 26, 1790 – June 7, 1863), a.k.a. The Liberator from Puerto Rico, was a Puerto Rican military leader. Trained in Spain, he fought with the Spanish Army to expel the French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, from Spain and was promoted to colonel during these years.
He returned to the New World and joined the Mexican movement for independence next, and was appointed as a Brigadier General. Later he joined Simón Bolívar to fight for the independence from Spain of nations in South America, fighting for Colombia, Peru, Panama. He also supported the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba. Like Bolivar, he advocated forming a federation of Latin American nations.Aragon
Aragon ( or , Spanish and Aragonese: Aragón [aɾaˈɣon], Catalan: Aragó [əɾəˈɣo]) is an autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces (from north to south): Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza (also called Saragossa in English).
Covering an area of 47720 km2 (18420 sq mi), the region's terrain ranges diversely from permanent glaciers to verdant valleys, rich pasture lands and orchards, through to the arid steppe plains of the central lowlands. Aragon is home to many rivers—most notably, the river Ebro, Spain's largest river in volume, which runs west-east across the entire region through the province of Zaragoza. It is also home to the highest mountains of the Pyrenees.
As of January 2016, the population of Aragon was 1308563, with over half of it living in its capital city, Zaragoza. During the same year, the economy of Aragon generates a GDP of €34687 million, which represents 3.1% of Spain's national GDP, and is currently 6th in per capita production behind Madrid, Basque Country, Navarre, Catalonia and La Rioja.In addition to its three provinces, Aragon is subdivided into 33 comarcas or counties. All comarcas of Aragon have a rich geopolitical and cultural history from its pre-Roman, Celtic and Roman days, and four centuries of Islamic period as Marca Superior of Al-Andalus or kingdom (or taifa) of Saraqusta, and as lands that once belonged to the Frankish Marca Hispanica, counties that later formed the Kingdom of Aragon and eventually the Crown of Aragon.Battle of Molins de Rei
The Battle of Molins de Rei or Battle of Molins de Rey or Battle of Molins del Rey (21 December 1808) saw a Imperial French corps led by Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr attack a Spanish army temporarily led by Theodor von Reding and the Conde de Caldagues because its commander Juan Miguel de Vives y Feliu was absent. Saint-Cyr outmaneuvered his opponents, distracting them with a false attack in front while sending the bulk of his force across Llobregat River in a turning movement around the Spanish right flank. The Spanish defensive lines crumbled and the French captured 1,200 soldiers, all the Spanish artillery and Caldagues himself. The Peninsular War engagement was fought near Molins de Rei, located 15 kilometres (9 mi) west of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
The Dos de Mayo Uprising caught the Imperial French occupation forces in Spain off guard. By the end of August 1808, the Franco-Italian garrison of Barcelona found itself isolated and in danger of capture. Emperor Napoleon soon assembled a substantial army, entrusted it to Saint-Cyr, and directed his general to relieve Barcelona. After a risky campaign, Saint-Cyr defeated a Spanish force at Cardadeu and reached Barcelona. Finding his opponents holding a strong position behind the Llobregat, Saint-Cyr marched out of Barcelona and resolved to drive them away.Battle of Tudela
The Battle of Tudela (23 November 1808) saw an Imperial French army led by Marshal Jean Lannes attack a Spanish army under General Castaños. The battle resulted in the complete victory of the Imperial forces over their adversaries. The combat occurred near Tudela in Navarre, Spain during the Peninsular War, part of a wider conflict known as the Napoleonic Wars.
Spanish casualties were estimated to be about 4,000 dead and 3,000 prisoners out of a total force of 33,000. The French and Poles lost no more than 600 dead and wounded out of a total of 30,000. This is one of the battles whose name was engraved on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.Battle of Uclés (1809)
The Battle of Uclés (13 January 1809) saw an Imperial French corps led by Marshal Claude Perrin Victor attack a Spanish force under Francisco Javier Venegas. The French easily crushed their outnumbered foes, capturing over half of the Spanish infantry. Uclés is located in the province of Cuenca 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of Tarancón and 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of Madrid. The action occurred during what is called the Peninsular War in English-speaking countries and the Spanish War of Independence in Spain. The war was part of a larger struggle known as the Napoleonic Wars.
Emperor Napoleon invaded Spain with a huge army in late 1808, scattered the Spanish forces, and seized Madrid. However, the appearance of a British army commanded by John Moore caused the French emperor to order his army to pursue the British into northwest Spain. With their enemies spread thin, the Spanish armies began to revive. In late December 1808, the Army of the Center led by Pedro de Alcántara Álvarez de Toledo, 13th Duke of the Infantado advanced slowly toward Madrid, causing alarm among the scanty French forces guarding the capital. The cautious Infantado sent his lieutenant Venegas with a strong vanguard to annoy the French. After Venegas won a minor action at Tarancón, Victor concentrated his corps and marched against him in mid-January 1809. Without instructions or support from Infantado, Venegas unwisely tried to hold a strong position at Uclés. Victor overwhelmed the Spanish defenders with one division and herded many of them into the arms of his second division which had marched around their flank. Gathering up Venegas' survivors, Infantado led his crippled army into the mountains but not before losing much of his artillery. Blamed for the fiasco, Infantado was relieved of command. The next action in the area was the Battle of Ciudad Real in March.Charles Louis Dieudonné Grandjean
Charles Louis Dieudonné Grandjean (29 December 1768 – 15 September 1828) became a French division commander and saw extensive service during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1792 he gave up his legal career to enlist in the infantry and served in the Army of the Rhine. In March 1799 he earned promotion to general of brigade by distinguished actions at Verona. That year he led an Army of Italy brigade at Magnano, the Trebbia, Novi and Genola. In 1800 he fought at Stockach and Hohenlinden.
Grandjean was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Légion d'Honneur in 1804 and elevated in rank to general of division in 1805. During the War of the Fourth Coalition he led a division at Stralsund and Kolberg. Transferring to Spain he fought at the First and Second Sieges of Zaragoza in 1808–09. Later that year he led a division at the Battle of Wagram. Grandjean and his division participated in the 1812 French invasion of Russia after which they were besieged and captured at Danzig in 1813. He rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days and was placed on the inactive list. In 1821 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.Eloi Charlemagne Taupin
Eloi Charlemagne Taupin (17 August 1767 – 10 April 1814) became a French soldier before the French Revolution and was killed in 1814 leading his division in battle against the British and the Spanish in southern France. After fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars, he was promoted to command an infantry regiment at the beginning of the First French Empire. He led the unit during the War of the Third Coalition in 1805. The following year he fought in the War of the Fourth Coalition. The year 1808 found him at Zaragoza in Spain where he was wounded. In 1809 he led a brigade during the War of the Fifth Coalition at Gefrees.
Taupin transferred again to Spain where he fought in the Peninsular War including the battles of Bussaco and Salamanca. He was appointed to command an infantry division in October 1812 and in January 1813 was promoted general of division. In 1813 he led his division in the battles of the Pyrenees, San Marcial, the Bidassoa, Nivelle and the Nive. In 1814 he conducted a particularly stubborn defense at Orthez and was fatally wounded leading an attack at Toulouse. Ironically, his death came a few days after Napoleon abdicated his throne. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 37.First Siege of Zaragoza
The First Siege of Zaragoza (also called Saragossa) was a bloody struggle in the Peninsular War (1807–1814). A French army under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes and subsequently commanded by General Jean-Antoine Verdier besieged, repeatedly stormed, and was repulsed from the Spanish city of Zaragoza in the summer of 1808.Fuendetodos
Fuendetodos is a town in the Campo de Belchite comarca (county), in Aragon, Spain, located about 44 kilometers south-east of Zaragoza. As of 2011, it had a population of approximately 178.
The town is associated with painter Francisco de Goya, who was born in Fuendetodos in 1746, and contains a museum dedicated to his work. The town has nearly 25,000 visitors each year.Jean Lannes
Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, Prince de Siewierz (10 April 1769 – 31 May 1809), was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".José de la Serna, 1st Count of the Andes
José de la Serna e Hinojosa, 1st Count of the Andes, LCSF (1770 – 1832) was a Spanish general and colonial official. He was the last Spanish viceroy of Peru to exercise effective power (January 29, 1821 to December 1824).List of Napoleonic battles
This list includes all those battles which were fought throughout the Napoleonic era, April 1796 – 3 July 1815.List of battles by casualties
The following is a list of the casualties count in battles in world history. The list includes both sieges (not technically battles but usually yielding similar combat-related deaths) and civilian casualties during the battles. Large battle casualty counts are almost impossible to calculate precisely. Many of these figures are estimates, and, where possible, a range of estimates is presented. Figures display numbers of all types of casualties when available (killed, wounded, missing, and sick) but may only include number killed. Where possible, the list specifies whether or not prisoners are included in the count. This list does not include bombing runs (such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Tokyo) or massacres such as the Rape of Nanking, which, despite potentially massive casualties, are not typically classified as "battles", since they are usually one-sided engagements or the nation attacked is not officially at war with the attackers. Tactical or strategic strikes, however, may form part of larger engagements which are themselves battles.Martina Ibaibarriaga
María Martina Ibaibarriaga Elorriaga (26 January 1788 – 6 June 1849) was a Spanish guerrilla leader during the Peninsular War (1807–14).
A legend later grew up that she pretended to be a man, enlisted in the Spanish army, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.Siege of Mequinenza
The Siege of Mequinenza (15 May to 8 June 1810) saw a 16,000-man Imperial French corps commanded by Louis Gabriel Suchet invest a 1,000-strong Spanish garrison under Colonel Carbon. Mequinenza and its castle were captured by the French after an operation lasting about three weeks. The action occurred during the Peninsular War, which formed part of the Napoleonic Wars. Mequinenza is located at the confluence of the Ebro and Segre Rivers about 211 kilometres (131 mi) west of Barcelona.
Mequinenza's town wall was old and weak, but its castle perched on a mountain spur above the town was a formidable position. It took Suchet's military engineers two weeks to construct a zig-zag road up the mountain. Once the road was ready, the French dragged their siege cannons to the top and opened fire on the castle. The town was successfully stormed on 5 June. After eight days of bombardment the castle was a ruin and Carbon surrendered. Since Mequinenza was at the head of navigation on the Ebro, Suchet was able to use the town as a supply base in his subsequent operations during the Siege of Tortosa in the winter of 1810 and 1811.Tomás de Zumalacárregui
Tomás de Zumalacárregui e Imaz, 1st Duke of the Victory of the Amezcoas, 1st Count of Zumalacárregui, GE, OSH (Basque: Tomas Zumalakarregi Imatz; 29 December 1788 – 24 June 1835), known among his troops as "Uncle Tomás", was a Spanish Basque officer who lead the Carlist faction as Captain general of the Army during the First Carlist War. He was ocassionaly nicknamed the "Wolf of the Amezcoas", making reference to his famous military victory in said region of Navarre.
Zumalacárregui is often credited as the inventor of Spanish omelette (or "tortilla de patatas"), which he elaborated during the Siege of Bilbao, as a simple, fast and nutritious dish with which to satisfy the hardships of the Carlist Army. In search of nourishment, he came across a poor housewife who had nothing other than eggs, onion and potatoes. When Zumalacárregui mixed it up, he liked the end result and fed it to his starving troops. It is said that after this, the tortilla became incredibly popular throughout the rest of the First Carlist War, and is now one of the most renowned dishes in the world.
Peninsular War Napoleon's Campaign