Saturday, May 22, 2010

The road to Cardona

Outskirsts of Balaguer, 11th July 1713

They had left Balaguer a few hours before, with the first lights of dawn. Riding his agile "pinto" horse, the Lusitania Dragoons senior trooper Hernando De Soto nervously scanned -once again, how many times since the first one?- the rugged cliffs outlining on the horizon, a few miles to his left. Their steep slopes were brighting intensely under the morning sun, and this seemed a especially bad omen to him. De Soto was leading a small squadron in advanced reconaissance of the main road running alongside the course of Segre river, preceding by half a league the main corps of their army.

Realizing about De Soto's unrest, another soldier encompassed their horses and asked to him:

-What's the matter, Hernando? Did you see anything?

-No, Diego, I didn't. However...

Then De Soto shut up again, and watched once more the distant, hostile crests. The sight of that steep range made him feel really upset, as in his worst nightmares. He wasn't able to dispel the feeling they were being watched. Silently watched by dozens of teller and relentless eyes.

-Which ones are those mountains, Hernando? Are these the Pyrenees? -asked that Diego.

-No, I believe that the Pyrenees are much higher than these, their peaks reach the sky and are most of time covered in snow. What you see there is another range that extends parallel to the Pyrenees, some 3 leagues from these, just like the buttress of a large wall. The naturals call it Montsec.

-Is that "Monte Seco"? ...What a wild land! -exclaimed the youngest soldier, amazed at the sight.

-Wild and deadly -De Soto replied shortly. Unlike most of the troopers in his squadron, he had already been there three years ago. He had to fight there, and survived to the battle just beacause someone there in Heaven had decided to spare his life a bit longer. It all happened during the unfortunate siege of Balaguer, by then still in Austro-Catalan hands. The siege could never be completed, because of that damned mountain range, and the deadly, silent enemy hidden amongst its slopes... The siege wasn't completed, for no one would dare to fix a siege line with these bloody mountains to the rear, and the Two Crowns entire Army wasted purposeless its time, until taken and overrun by a large Austro-Catalan force at Almenar battlefield...

-This Montsec is infested with Miquelets, Diego.

-"Migueletes"? -repeated the young soldier, his eyes open wide in terror.

-True. Hundreds of them. And I bet they've already noticed us, and are watching us right now. So! "Ojo avizor", open wide your eyes young man, or you won't be able to see even the knife cutting your throat! Go rear, and spread the word! Go!


Bluebear Jeff said...

A nice "atmosphere" post, Lluis.

-- Jeff

David said...

Yes, very atmospheric - and threatening!



abdul666 said...

And, pleasant uniforms and an impressive landscape, btw.


Soldadets said...

Glad you like it, Sirs.

Believe me it's written with blood, for I'm not that fluent in English for such an amount of literature!! :D

About photos: they've been taken from chronicles on the 1710 Monte Torrero battle re-enactment, that took place last week by Saragossa.

There are several flickr and facebook chronicles on it, on the net. Some have been linked from my own post, others can be found at: (amidst text of the post entitled 'Las tropas de Carlos de Austria derrotan a Felipe V')

Salvador said...

Thousands of 'em, actually.
Exciting start, Msr. Vilalta. I can imagine the sheer terror invading the droagoons hearts when they get to a narrow vaeely and then they hear the cry of the corn, right behind them, answered by other corns in front of them, and elsewhere around them... To realise they're almost dead, not having had the chance to see their enemies until they realise they're surrounded by them...
It helps to remember a nice stat on casualty comparison between catalans and borbonics in southern Catalunya... It was like 7 (!) borbonics for each catalan... 7 to 1! That had to be so frihgtening...