Sunday, January 02, 2011

Caught in the middle

Tarragona, 22nd August 1713

Count Wallis had urgently gathered all his officers at Balsells Palace, close to Tarragona Cathedral, in an improvised council of war. Recent army moves of both sides had been dangerously closing to the city, and the main column of withdrawing Imperial troops risked to be caught in the turmoil of a battle.

According to reports, the Catalans had managed to anticipate the rapid advance of the Spanish Army Group South across the Tarragona Plains, and had gathered a considerable force in the whereabouts of the main town in Penedès County, Vilafranca. The Spanish army would compulsory have to pass through these plains to continue their progress towards Barcelona, so that they should first enforce their way through a likely fierce Catalan defence.

-Gentlemen, it seems to me that a big clash is expectable here, among the Penedès vineyards. The future of this Principality might be decided there.

His words were followed by a deep silence among officers. They felt deeply uncomfortable with the situation, Count Wallis was aware of it and could understand them -because he was quite upset too. So many years fighting against the Two Crowns for this soil, to hurriedly withdraw now, leaving everything behind as if they had been soundly defeated...

He made an effort not to miss the target he had gathered his men for, and continued:

-As you likely know, the main column of our withdrawing troops are running across these very same plains where both armies are being gathered, a few leagues from each other. They are between both armies right now, so that they are in a serious risk of being caught in the middle. In one or two days' time, they will meet the Spanish vanguard. I'm sincerely doubtful that any incident happens, although it keeps to be possible.

-Sir, perhaps we should send a messenger to the Spanish General Areizaga, warning him of this odd situation...

-That makes sense, gentleman. I'm persuaded neither General Areizaga or anyone in his staff is willing to start an unfortunate incident with an Imperial column, but I'm not so confident about some lesser rank Spanish officers, who might be anxious to show their bravery and skill...

-Otherwise, what if they are attacked anyway?

-They'll have to care for themselves. If this means to fight the attackers back, they must to. We'll be sending a messenger to them too, with the appropriate directions. They'll have to stand until the Spanish high command notices the error. If such does not happen in a short time and they risk to be outnumbered, they'll have to withdraw and seek the safety of a friendly town, until we can intervene in their rescue. Either Vilanova or Vilafranca might be a good choice.


Jeroen72 said...

One would almost hope for some incident ;)

Soldadets said...

Sure! :D

However, I must admit this to be quite unlikely. At most, I'd guess no more than a few hours of confuse skirmishing, until commanders of both sides had a chance to parley...

In my opinion, it's rather more risky the situation of a solitary Imperial battalion currently marching towards Tarragona from a distant Pyrenees valley -that is, crossing through most of a Principality at war!