Sunday, June 27, 2010

To Hell with orders

Tivissa, 14th July 1713

From the privileged viewpoint that the Tivissa church belltower was, Sergeant Major Ramón Lanuza of the "Gaspar de Córdova" Imperial Dragoons Regiment raised the right palm to cover his sight from the intense sunrays, and looked at the plains smoothly lowering southwards down to the calm Ebro river waters, which looked as a brightly silvered, tortuous tape in everlasting route towards the sea. A couple of leagues to his right, where the river flew from, there was Aragón -his beloved homeland, now subject to the Two Crowns and squeezed by them up to the exhaustion. This sightseeing usually made him feel sick of melancholy, for he had been forced to abandon home as a prey for the enemy three long years ago, after the second frustrated occupation of Madrid. He would have usually broken in tears for his lost farm and family, of whom nothing was known a long since, silently mourning is fate...

...Usually, but not today. For other were the thoughts worrying him on this day: a dense column of mounted men were doing their way along the road leading towards Tivissa from the riverside. Their bright green coats could already be watched from his position: "Hum, Castilian Dragoons. A full regiment, I'd say. Here we have them, confidently coming to throw us away" he thought. Lanuza took a last glance towards the riverside, to get ensured no other units were following after the Dragoons, and afterwards hurried down the spiral stairs to the ground level, where some of his men were already waiting for him.

His superior Colonel Gaspar de Córdova was in bed due to an unknown fever, and he had to assume command of his Regiment, mostly formed by Aragonese men as himself. -It's a Regiment of Castilian Dragoons, marching in column towards us. Most surely, these are the ones supposed to relieve us, I guess. -Lanuza explained -Let's go to the gates, it wouldn't be proper to have them waiting too long for us... -he sarcastically ended.

-Hey! Who is in command of place? -shouted a voice from outside the town's open gates.
-Yes, it's me -answered Lanuza, advancing a few steps forward to stand just under the rewarding shadow of the gates' gothic arch.
The Castilian officer who had spoken seemed fairly disappointed at Lanuza's answer. -You? You're not Colonel de Córdova -he bitterly spitted to the Austro-Aragonese officer.
-My name is Sergent Major Ramón Lanuza, and it's me who's in command of this place right now in name of Charles, King of Aragon & Castile, and Holy Emperor by the grace of God. Why are you disturbing this neighbourhood with such loud voices? -Lanuza was getting increasingly irritated at that insolent young man, probably just landed on to the battlefields from some wealthy cortijo, and decided to pay him back the same way.

The young man plainly fell into his trap, and responded with even greater insolence: -I have been commissioned to take possession of this town in name of Philip V, King of Spain, and therefore I admonish you to immediately leave this place, if you all don't want to be thrown away from it!

-Ha! You, and how many else? -whispered as a snake Lanuza.

In the meanwhile, the Aragonese Dragoons had been silently taking positions close to the gates, responding to an already prepared plan. Several dozens of them could be clearly seen from the Castilian positions, and many more would be for sure silently hidden behind the windows. Some Castilian sergeants realized the dangerous situation they were, and started ordering their men to dismount without waiting for any order of their dumbfounded commander. Too late.

Suddenly, Lanuza pointed his right hand towards the enemy column, and coldly ordered: -"¡Fuego!".


A hundred carbines and muskets broke out the silence with a deadly volley, followed by the unmistakable roaring of the light cannons deployed along the church square's edge. The volley was followed by an intense delivery of fire from both sides, that lasted a long while. However, the Castilian Dragoons had been caught on the road, the scarce covers available to them had no match against the solid stone houses walls protecting the enemy, and they were being shot from higher positions. It didn't last too long until a NCO decided it was enough for his men and ordered withdrawal -not before leaving on the field almost 25% casualties.

3 comments:

Jordi said...

I think it's compulsory a naval expedition to reinforce Tivissa.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Lluis,

Might I suggest a "who's who" list on the side so that we can try to keep who is on which side straight?


-- Jeff

Soldadets said...

Jeff,

You're true, I do also believe it has started to be necessary. I'll be setting it soon.

Thanks for the suggestion!