Friday, May 06, 2011

Closing gaps

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 13th September 1713

Gradually put under direct command of Marshal Berwick, French units in Spanish service have started this week to march Segre river valley upwards, back to France, thus leaving the Catalonian battlefields they had been disputing to Archduke Charles for a decade. Anticipating eventual penetration attempts by the Catalans, Duke of Popoli then hurried his generals to close gaps with their badly disminished forces. However, no daring initiative was enterprised this time by the Spaniards. Fully aware as they were of the tide turning happened last week, their only choice was to close files and keep positions, in the confidence the reinforcements delivered by King Philip would not last to arrive.

Certainly, a considerable Spanish force was already about to enter Catalonia by South. It consisted of nearly all the army just evacuated from Sicily, consisting of 11 Infantry battalions and 3 Horse regiments. They had just been spotted close to Vinaròs town, just a few miles from the Principality border. At that very same time, Marquis of Aitona had been reported to descend into the Ebro valley leading 2 battalions of the fearful Guardias Españolas bodyguard infantry, accompanied by the Reales Guardias a Caballo Cavalry, and was expected to encamp in a couple of days by Saragossa city. Both columns were followed at some distance by artillery and dragoons.

Nothing was irreversibly lost to King Philip's cause yet, and Duke of Popoli was confident he would be able to keep their former exploits. All what he needed were just two or three weeks. And then, tide would turn back to its normal flow.

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