Sunday, March 20, 2011

A last chance for offensive

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 6th September 1713

After the announcement of Marshal Berwick about re-taking control over the French regiments ceded to Spain, Duke of Popoli's headquarters leeway had become dangerously narrow. Although the French wouldn't take over all their regiments at once but according to a progressive plan instead, the Spaniards had been warned not to compromise in offensive operations any of thir remaining French units. This had left Duke of Popoli with almost half the forces initially at his disposal, losing any chance of keeping any more the offensive. He had no other chance that waiting for reinforcements to arrive from Spain, giving the least possible ground in the meanwhile.

Rather coolly, Duke of Popoli realized the tide was about to turn and prepared his forces for assuming a defending role, issuing the necessary orders to give back the minimum ground to the likely more aggressive Catalan columns. By the North, siege operations on Balaguer increased intensity with the purpose to subdue the rebel city before they might be relieved by Marquis de Poal forces. In order to prevent an eventual lightning advance of that daring Catalan commander, Duke of Popoli ordered an interposition force to be placed a couple of leagues ahead of the siege cordon, consisting of two Foot battalions (one of them, French) and two Dragoons regiments. He was confident that Balaguer would fall into Spanish hands before that line defence was probed by the Catalan, however.

General Vallejo felt himself in a not that uncomfortable situation with his 4 Infantry battalions, 2 regiments of Cavalry and 1 of Dragoons in higher ground at Panadella plains, so that he decided to keep positions, wait and see. True that most of the infantry under his command were French, but if he wisely managed to keep a defensive attitude, Berwick would show no inconvenience at allowing him using French troops to repulse any eventual Catalan attack on that front.

Cunningly, General Areizaga left all his French regiments in front of Tarragona city, while daringly launching an offensive with all his Spanish troops against the neighbouring town of Vilafranca, where an army had begun gathering. That was likely their last oportunity to keep some offensive chances before winter fell upon them, so that he made the bid. However, he couldn't know the Catalan headquarters had just ordered that position to be reinforced and put under command of dreadful General Basset, who was already waiting for them...

A major clash in the plentiful vineyards of Penedès County was about to happen.


Capt Bill said...

Great photos, thanks!!!

Andreu said...

Philip V is a very agressive commander if Populi doesn't attack will be dismissed.

And Populi knows that.