Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Awaiting enemy moves

El Bruc, 22nd August 1713

General Bellver inspected once again his maps with high concern. Taking advantage of the indecision of the Spanish Army Group Centre, the Barcelona Headquarters had asked him to send a couple of battalions to Vilafranca town, where the Military Deputy was likely to face a huge Two Crown's column. Understanding the delicate position his own army might be thrown into if Vilafranca was lost, he obeyed order with no arguing.

However, his troops were also facing a not less formidable threat. True that his unsurpassable defensive positions along the Col of Bruc were granting him a good degree of safety if the enemy was foolish enough for launching an attack through that narrow pass, but his own rival was General Vallejo, one of the most brilliant enemy commanders. Early in the morning, he had been reported enemy horse troops marching along his army's flanks, and such notice had seriously disturbed him. Such troops, several squadrons strong, were probably seeking an alternate pass that allowed them avoiding the hazardous Col, but it could not be discarded some other kind of cunning manouvre. Which one? General Bellver couldn't even guess, so that he promptly ordered scouting detachments to be dispatched beyond their flanks.

It was then when a courier came in his tent: -...Your permission, Sire?

-Any news? -the general simply asked.

-Colonel Brichfeus has already arrived in the camp, Sire. He's leading his own Horse Regiment.

-God bless you boy! Please ask the Colonel to join us at my tent as soon as possible.

General Bellver mentally took a fast account: they had at their disposal three Infantry battalions -the dreadful Royal Catalan Guards among them-, besides of a regular Mountain Fusiliers battalion and two companies of Aragonese volunteers; after the arrival of Brichfeus' squadrons, there were also Line Cavalry and Dragoons, in number of one regiment of each. Not to forget the field artillery battery... According to previous reports, the enemy force was not too larger: under Vallejo's command there were four infantry battalions -two French, one Spanish and one Swiss-, two heavy and two light horse regiments, a field battery and finally a heavy siege battery. As for the cavalries theoretical unbalance, half the enemy forces were in fact dispersed in scouting duties... Maybe it wouldn't be that silly taking the initiative and attacking the Spaniards by surprise -on the understanding he managed to find a way to actually surprise them, of course.

No comments: