Friday, April 15, 2011

Berwick's letter

Castellciutat fortress, 10th September 1713

-Please wait here -General Moragues said in surly tone.

Restless and fearful, the French soldier obeyed. He had no idea about the content of the message his own superior had entrusted him to carry to the Catalan fortress of Castellciutat. But after having delivered the message to General Moragues, his angry reaction made the poor man start fearing for his life.

Moragues called his officers around him. Still looking with suspicion at the French messenger, he reported:

-General Tserclaes de Tilly is acknowledging us he has assumed command of all French-native troops who were under service of the Spanish Army Group North so far, and asks on behalf of His Majesty King Louis XIV for our permission to cross these lands toward France.

Moragues officers frowned too. Their hostile glances converged on the French messenger, who paled.

-I can't believe him -one said.

-I'm persuaded this is just a trick. -another said -I guess their aim is to arrive here undisturbed, and then to put our fort under siege.

Then a garrison soldier broke suddenly into the room: -General, Sir! Sir, a messenger has just arrived from Barcelona. He's come galloping with a personal message from General Villarroel for you, Sir.

The man was then lead into the room. He was dirty like a fox and looked exhausted. Moragues promptly told him: -Take a breath and relax, boy. What news are you bringing?

Without a word, the soldier opened his bag and handed a letter to Moragues. It bore the Catalan Headquarters seal, a double-headed eagle holding Emperor Charles' Coat of Arms as King of Aragon. Moragues tore the envelope and eagerly began reading. As he did, his face started reflecting a growing surprise. After all, he informed his officers, in a genuine tone of perplexity:

-Our Barcelona HQ have sent us a letter handwritten and signed by Marshal Berwick. He is requesting permission to evacuate French troops at the Peninsula through roads currently controlled by us, and gives all kinds of guarantees that there will be no incidents during the evacuation. General Villarroel prays us to give them free rein to pass through our defences with no disturbance.

Deep silence.

-Apparently, it seems true after all -Moragues suddenly murmured. -Gentlemen, France is unwilling to keep waging war against us. They are leaving Catalonia.

A chaotic chorus of exclamations of joy seconded Moragues' words, who turned to an aide and said: -Please, get ensured these two men are having warm water, good food and wine -pointing at both messengers-. And a comfortable bed to rest.


Bluebear Jeff said...

If true this is a very good sign.

-- Jeff

Jiminho said...

Now this changes things! What is up?