Sunday, October 03, 2010

Amphibious operation

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, 5th August 1713

The operation had been planned and carried under the highest secret. As designed by General Prado, a handful of unarmed cabotage ships would sail off Barcelona harbour transporting a whole Mountain Fusiliers battalion, along with the light battery recently arrived from Monte-Cristo, and would head to S'Agaró inlet -close to Sant Feliu de Guíxols town-, where they should land. The convoy would be escorted all the way by Sant Francesc de Paula ship, which would be later used as a mobile artillery support for the landing forces. The expedition had to be lead by a resourceful commander, and the Valencian General Joan B. Basset was selected for the mission. Once on shore, Basset would also take command on the land forces already present at that place, leading all them to re-conquer that coastal town, which was key to the Catalan Headquarters plans due to its large shipyards.

Everything went as expected: the convoy arrived in Sant Feliu de Guíxols shores undisturbed, with no enemy ships on sight, and the St. Vincent battalion was quietly disembarked under close supervision of General Basset. In the meanwhile, the forces already besieging the French garrison -the "Àngel Custodi" Miquelets battalion and local militia- were reinforced by land by a third Mountain Fusiliers battalion, under command of Colonel Martirià Massagur.

Under the capable command of General Basset, this considerably large force assaulted and took the town in few hours, in spite of the French fierce defence -an exhausted Dragoons battalion-, who were exposed to the Catalan ship deadly cannons during the whole operations' development.

The French were finally overrun, not without serious Catalan losses so that, when the last defenders surrendered, the rash miquelets' first impulse was to slaughter all them. Being aware the Two Crowns' "Gallows Tithe" policy was fresh in his soldiers' minds, Basset had instructed his Colonels to prevent any retaliation, but on the field he was unable to stop some abuses until dismissing and arresting one of the Colonels and personally ordering that battalions' men to stop executions under death penalty.

Basset's severity proved successful enough, so that almost all the surviving French officers and nearly two hundred troopers were spared their lives. They were confined into the town's old monastery after having given a Christian, honoured burial to all the battle casualties -both Catalan and French.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols was back into Catalan hands.

6 comments:

abdul666 said...

A fine and well-executed operation; then, given how precious French / Gallian neutrality (or at least tacit 'apathy') would be, this could well be a costly victòria pírrica...

Jordi said...

The casualties were affordable, but certainly it was not an immediate important strategic goal.

We hope that Vilana's negotiations were fruitful quickly.

Soldadets said...

My interpretation of this 3rd turn operations is that both sides are trying to place themselves in the best possible position while expecting eventual negotiation results -just as it was simultaneously happening at Rhine and Flanders fronts...

This also explains my own campaign moves as Two Crowns' commander, when, rather unexpectedly, I ordered a series of French chain moves, in order to reinforce Girona city sorroundings -and eventually leasing a further counter-offensive beyond the 'tacit' static front line... (sorry Jordi, but as Two Crowns' commander on the field I MUST ensure Bourbons' victory...)

From the diplomatic point of view, the battle might be intended to represent some kind of Catalan "force demonstration" -moreover if victory is attained versus French instead of Spanish troops... That might mean some kind of "you see, it will be quite harder and bloodier to subdue us by force..."

However, Catalan Headquarters might have underestimated the importance of having assigned only Miquelets to General Basset. If having assigned at least one Line Infantry battalion instead, it would have been infinitely easier for him to keep his force under control after victory.

Fortunately, he has managed to have their revenge will at bay, saving most of the prisoners' lives.

Bluebear Jeff said...

It reads like a well carried out operation. My congratulations to the victors.


-- Jeff

Salvador said...

Fine, our very own Day D. Let's hope the Sun sees the boon of having such a fiery people in good terms, just for the case...
BTW, brits will sure like this too!
Now you'll have to start looking for a suitable mounted figure to make a monument for the brains behind all of this...

Soldadets said...

Mmmm... a statue to General Jordi Prado? :D

Jordi, what do you believe about this? Where in Barcelona would you like to see your bronze statue?