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jueves, 28 de octubre de 2010

EL COMBATE DE EL BODÓN VISTO POR UN OFICIAL DE LA GUARDIA IMPERIAL

En esta carta, escrita en Simancas (Valladolid) por un oficial de la Guardia llamado Goupilleau, tenemos la narración de la ayuda a la plaza de Ciudad Rodrigo en septiembre de 1811 y del combate que sucedió pocos días después entre las localidades salmantinas de Fuenteguinaldo y El Bodón






Goupilleau piensa que Valladolid será el cuartel de invierno de su unidad y que la campaña de 1811 ha terminado. Pero Napoleón tiene otros planes para ellos, la Guardia sigue los pasos de Dorsenne y es destinada al norte de España para terminar abandonando la Península y engrosar la Grande Armée en su aventura rusa.

El combate de El Bodón por Modesto Lafuente, Maldonado y Wellington:

El general inglés Wellington había puesto sus reales (agosto, 1811) en Fuenteguinaldo, á cuatro leguas de Ciudad-Rodrigo, como amenazando á esta plaza. El 6.° ejército español, mandado antes por Santocildes, y desde mediado agosto por don Francisco Javier Abadía, aunque subordinado á Castaños, hallábase repartido en Astorga, Puente de Orbigo y la Bañeza, aparte de la 1ª división que permanecía en Asturias. Guiaban aquellos tres cuerpos Castaños, Carrera y el conde de Belveder. Acometidos el 25 de agosto por fuerzas superiores del general Dorsenne, algunos se replegaron á Castrocontrigo y Puebla de Sanabria, aproximándose al ejército inglés, los más con Abadía se retiraron al Bierzo para cubrir las entradas de Asturias y Galicia. Al atravesar los puertos de Fuencebadón y Manzanal batieron bien al enemigo, matándole entre otros á un general y un coronel. Sin embargo, Dorsenne bajó tras ellos al Bierzo corriéndose hasta Villafranca, obligando á los nuestros á situarse á la boca de Galicia en el Puente de Domingo Florez, habiendo dejado alguna fuerza en Toreno para defender las avenidas de Asturias. No se resolvió Dorsenne á pasar de Villafranca, antes bien retrocedió pronto á Astorga, cuyo movimiento le agradeció el mariscal Marmont como útil que le era para el plan que meditaba de socorrer á Ciudad-Rodrigo.
Tenia Wellington como bloqueada esta plaza, que intentaba rendir por hambre, firme él en sus posiciones de Fuenteguinaldo, que había fortificado, como tenia de costumbre, con obras de campaña. Auxiliaban al ejército inglés los españoles don Carlos de España y don Julián Sánchez. Emprendió el mariscal Marmont su marcha desde Plasencia el 13 de septiembre con el objeto indicado. Desde Astorga pasó á unírsele el general Dorsenne, y el 22 se juntaron cerca de Tamames. La fuerza que entre los dos llevaban se aproximaba á 60.000 hombres. A los tres días había logrado ya este ejército su principal propósito de introducir socorros en Ciudad-Rodrigo, sin que Wellington que parecía tener tan amenazada la plaza se moviese de sus posiciones. Aguardó en ellas á ser atacado por el francés, que lo verificó en efecto el 25 (septiembre, 1811). Hubo un combate, en que tomaron parte catorce escuadrones franceses, y se pusieron en movimiento mas de treinta. Defendiéronse bien los ingleses: los resultados no fueron de importancia. Creyeron los franceses mas fuerte de lo que era la posición de Fuenteguinaldo. Sin embargo Wellington no se contempló allí seguro, y tomó otras posiciones tres leguas mas atrás. También le buscaron en ellas Marmont y Dorsenne: también hubo combate (27 de septiembre), pero también de escaso resultado, pues se redujo á unos 200 hombres de pérdida por ambas partes. Marmont y Dorsenne no andaban bien avenidos, subsistencias no les sobraban, y sin otro fruto de su expedición que el socorro de Ciudad Rodrigo, separáronse los dos jefes, y Marmont se volvió á tierra de Plasencia de donde había partido, y Dorsenne tiró hacia Salamanca y Valladolid.
Historia general de España, Volumen 25
Escrito por Modesto Lafuente

Ciudad Rodrigo se hallaba á la sazón abandonada á sus propias fuerzas, y Lord Wellington tomó las medidas convenientes para hacerse dueño de esta plaza. En 5 de Septiembre la bloqueó, y se ocupaba en reunir los pertrechos necesarios para sitiarla, cuando el enemigo se dirigió á hacerle levantar el bloqueo, y obligarle á retirarse hasta las montañas de Guarda. Concertado Marmont con Dorsenne para el logro de esta empresa, se verificó la reunión de sus tropas el 22 de Septiembre en Tamames, á dos leguas de Ciudad Rodrigo, ascendiendo el total de su gente á 60.000 hombres, entre ellos 6.000 de caballería. El ejército aliado no contaba mas que 50.000 soldados, y suponiendo que Wellington dejase empleados en el bloqueo de aquella plaza los 10.000, es visto que en caso de dar una batalla no podía disponer de mas de 40.000 hombres, inclusos 4.000 de caballería. El éxito, pues, no hubiera sido incierto para los franceses; y por esta razón Wellington abandonó sus posiciones delante de Ciudad Rodrigo el 24 de Septiembre, y se retiró sobre Fuenteguinaldo, punto fortificado de antemano con algunas obras de campaña, dejando una fuerte vanguardia en Azaba , á las órdenes del General Graham. En la mañana del siguiente día el General Montbrun, cuya división de caballería formaba la vanguardia del ejército de Marmont, alcanzó en Bodón á la división del General Graham , compuesta de cuatro batallones , 400 caballos , y algunas piezas de artillería. La resistencia que ésta opuso fue de las mas obstinadas; mas cedió al fin á la superioridad numérica, retirándose la infantería , formando sus cuadros , y rechazando á la caballería enemiga , con la misma precisión y exactitud que pudiera hacerlo en el mas estudiado simulacro, á bayonetazos y con un vivo fuego de fusilería. Esta intrepidez y serenidad contuvo á Montbrun , que no hizo ya mas tentativas, contentándose con disparar algunos cañonazos, y continuar en su seguimiento hasta Fuenteguinaldo. Los Generales franceses emplearon el resto de aquel día y la mañana siguiente del 26 en reconocer la posición de Fuenteguinaldo , y tomar sus disposiciones para atacarla. Wellington, conociendo por el movimiento de los enemigos que un cuerpo considerable de estos trataba, doblando su izquierda , de atacarle por su espalda, se retiró en la noche del 26 á las inmediaciones de Alfayates , colocando su retaguardia en Aldea de Ponte, á tres leguas de Fuenteguinaldo, encargando su defensa al General Cole, y á la caballería á las órdenes del General Stapleton Cotton. El 27 los franceses atacaron aquella aldea con una fuerte columna de infantería y 14 escuadrones de caballería, y se empeñó una acción muy reñida, en la que fue tomada y perdida alternativamente varias veces, hasta que la noche puso fin al combate, y los franceses se retiraron á su línea sin conseguir su objeto, á pesar de haber empleado en esta operación las tropas mas selectas, á las órdenes de los Generales Thiebault y Gathiez. Las buenas disposiciones del General Cole, y la firmeza de su división hizo inútiles todos los esfuerzos del enemigo; y Lord Wellington, al ver la heroica defensa de la posición de Aldea-Ponte, se arrepintió de no haber permanecido en su campo fortificado de Fuenteguinaldo, en donde hubiera podido celebrar el aniversario de la batalla de Busaco con otra victoria mas completa tal vez que la que había ganado el año anterior en aquellas montañas de Portugal.
Los franceses, después de haber reforzado á Ciudad Rodrigo, retrocedieron hacia Salamanca, y entraron en sus antiguos acantonamientos. El 1° de Octubre Wellington volvió á situarse en su campo de Fuenteguinaldo, y el Mariscal Marmont se vio precisado á suspender todas sus operaciones por la falta absoluta de víveres , estableciéndose, para que el ejército pudiese subsistir, en una nueva línea de acantonamientos desde Salamanca á Toledo.
Historia Politica y Militar de la Guerra de la Independencia de España
Escrito por Jose Munoz Maldonado

'My Lord, ' Quadraseis, 29th Sept., 1811.
The enemy commenced their movements towards Ciudad Rodrigo with the convoys of provisions from the Sierra de Bejar, and from Salamanca on the 21st instant, and on the following day I collected the British army in positions, from which I could either advance or retire without difficulty, and which would enable me to see all that was going on, and the strength of the enemy's army.
The 3rd division, and that part of Major General Altens' brigade of cavalry which was not detached, occupied the range of heights which are on the left of the Agueda: having their advanced guard, under Lieut. Colonel Williams, of the 60th, on the heights of Pastores, within three miles of Ciudad Rodrigo; the 4th division was at Fuente Guinaldo, where I had strengthened a position with some works ; the Light division on the right of the Agueda, having their right resting upon the mountains which separate Castille and Estremadura. Lieut. General Graham commanded the troops on the left of the army, which were posted on the Lower Azava; the 6th division, and Major General Anson's brigade of cavalry, being at Espeja, and occupying Carpio, Marialva, &c.
' Don Carlos de Espafia observed the Lower Agueda with Don Julian Sanchez's cavalry and infantry.
' Lieut. General Sir Stapleton Cotton, with Major General Slade, and Major General De Grey's brigades of cavalry were on the Upper Azava, in the centre, between the right and left of the army; with General Pack's brigade at Campillo; and the 5th division was in observation of the Pass of Perales, in the rear of the right, the French General Foy having remained and collected a body of troops in Upper Extremadura, consisting of part of his own division of the army of Portugal, and a division of the army of the centre: and the 7th division was in reserve at Alamedilla.
' The enemy first appeared in the plain near Ciudad Rodrigo, on the 23rd; and retired again in a short time; but on the 24th, in the morning, they advanced again in considerable force, and entered the plain by the roads of Santi-espiritus and Tenebron ; and before evening, they had collected there all their cavalry, to the amount of about 6000 men, and four divisions of infantry, of which one division was of the Imperial Guard; and the remainder of the armies were encamped on the Guadapero, immediately beyond the hills which surround the plain of Ciudad Rodrigo.
' On the morning of the 25th, the enemy sent a reconnaissance of cavalry towards the Lower Azava, consisting of about fourteen squadrons of the cavalry of the Imperial Guard. They drove in our posts on the right of the Azava, but having passed that river, the Lancers de Berg were charged by two squadrons of the 16th, and one of the 14th light dragoons, and driven back ; they attempted to rally and to return, but were fired upon by the light infantry of the 61st regiment, which had been posted in the wood on their flank, by Lieut. General Graham ; and Major General Anson pursued them across the Azava, and afterwards resumed his posts on the right of that river: Lieut. General Graham was highly pleased with the conduct of Major General Anson's brigade ; and Major General Anson particularly mentions Lieut. Colonel Hervey, and Captain Brotherton, of the 14th, and Captain Hay and Major Cocks, of the 16th.
But the enemy's attention was principally directed during this day, to the position of the 3rd division, in the hill between Fuente Guinaldo and Pastores. About eight in the morning, they moved a column, consisting of between thirty and forty squadrons of cavalry, and fourteen battalions of infantry, and twelve pieces of cannon from Ciudad Rodrigo, in such a direction, that it was doubtful whether they would attempt to ascend the hills by La Encina, El Bodon, or by the direct road towards Fuente Guinaldo; and I was not certain by which road they would make their attack, till they actually commenced it upon the last.
' As soon as I saw the direction of their march, I had reinforced the 2nd battalion 5th regiment, which occupied the post on the hill over which the road passes to Guinaldo, by the 77th regiment, and the 21st Portuguese regiment, under the command of Major General the Hon. C. Colville, and Major General Allen's brigade, of which, only three squadrons remained which had not been detached, drawn from El Bodon ; and I ordered there a brigade of the 4th division from Fuente Guinaldo, and afterwards from El Bodon, the remainder of the troops of the 3rd division, with the exception of those at Pastores, which were too distant.
' In the mean time, however, the small body of troops in this post sustained the attack of the enemy's cavalry and artillery. One regiment of French dragoons succeeded in taking two pieces of cannon which had been posted on a rising ground on the right of our troops, but they were charged by the 2nd battalion 5th regiment, under the command of Major Ridge, and the guns were immediately retaken.
' While this operation was going on on the flank, an attack was made on the front by another regiment, which was repulsed in a similar manner by the 77th regiment; and the three squadrons of Major General Alten's brigade charged repeatedly different bodies of the enemy which ascended the hill on the left of the two regiments of British infantry, the Portuguese regiment being posted in the rear of their right.
' At length, the division of the enemy's infantry which had marched with the cavalry from Ciudad Rodrigo, were brought up to the attack on the road of Fuente Guinaldo, and seeing that they would arrive and be engaged before the troops could arrive either from Guinaldo or El Bodon, I determined to withdraw our post, and to retire with the whole on Fuente Guinaldo. The 2nd battalion 5th regiment, and the 77th regiment, were formed into one square, and the 21st Portuguese regiment into another, supported by Major General Alten's small body of cavalry, and the Portuguese artillery.
' The enemy's cavalry immediately rushed forward, and obliged our cavalry to retire to the support of the Portuguese regiment; and the 5th and 77th regiments were charged on three faces of the square by the French cavalry, but they halted and repulsed the attack with the utmost steadiness and gallantry. We then continued the retreat, and joined the remainder of the 3rd division also formed in squares, on their march to Fuente Guinaldo, and the whole retired together in the utmost order, and the enemy never made another attempt to charge any of them; but were satisfied with firing upon them with their artillery, and with following them.
' Lieut. Colonel Williams with his light infantry, and Lieut. Colonel the Hon. R. Trench with the 74th regiment, retired from Pastores across the Agueda; and thence marched by Robleda, where they took some prisoners, and recrossed the Agueda, and joined at Guinaldo in the evening.
' I placed the 3rd and 4th divisions, and General Pack's brigade of infantry, and Major General Alten's, Major General De Grey's, and Major General Slade's brigades of cavalry in the position at Fuente Guinaldo on the evening of the 25th, and ordered Major General R. Craufurd to retire with the Light division across the Agueda, the 7th division to form at Albergueria, and Lieut. General Graham to collect the troops under his command at Nave d'Aver, keeping only posts of observation on the Azava; and the troops were thus formed in an echellon, of which the centre was in the position al Guinaldo ; and the right upon the pass of Perales; and the left at Nave d'Aver; Don Carlos de Espana was placed on the left of the Coa; and Don Julian Sanchez was detached with the cavalry to the enemy's rear.
' The enemy brought up a second division of infantry from Ciudad Rodrigo in the afternoon of the 25th; and in the course of that night, and of the 26th, they collected their whole army in front of our position at Guinaldo; and not deeming it expedient to stand their attack in that position, I retired about three leagues, and on the 27th formed the army as follows; viz., the 5th division on the right, at Aldea Velha; the 4th, and light dragoons, and Major General Allen's cavalry, at the Convent of Sacaparte, in front of Alfayates; the 3rd and 7th divisions in second line, behind Alfayates; and Lieut. General Graham's corps on the left at Bismula, having their advanced guard beyond the Villar Mayor river; and Lieut. General Sir Stapleton Cotton's cavalry near Alfayates, on the left of the 4th division, and having General Pack's and General M'Mahon's brigades- at Rebolosa, on their left. The piquets of the cavalry were in front of Aldea da Ponte, beyond the Villar Mayor river; and those of General Alten's brigade beyond the same river, towards Forcalhos.
' It had been the enemy's intention to turn the left of the position of Guinaldo by moving a column into the valley of the Upper Azava, and thence ascending the heights in the rear of the position by Castillejos; and from this column they detached a division of infantry and fourteen squadrons of cavalry to follow our retreat by Albergueria, and another body of the same strength followed us by Forcalhos. The former attacked the piquets of the cavalry at Aldea da Ponte, and drove them in ; and they pushed on nearly as far as Alfayates. I then made General Pakenham attack them with his brigade of the 4th division, supported by Lieut. General the Hon. L. Cole, and the 4th division, and by Sir Stapleton Cotton's cavalry; and the enemy were driven through Aldea da Ponte, back upon Albergueria, and the piquets of the cavalry resumed their station.
' But the enemy having been reinforced by the troops which marched from Forcalhos, again advanced about sunset, and drove in the piquets of the cavalry from Aldea da Ponte ; and took possession of the village.
' Lieut. General Cole again attacked them with a part of General Pakenham's brigade, and drove them through the village; but night having come on, and as General Pakenhatn was not certain what was passing on his flanks, or of the numbers of the enemy, and he knew that the army were to fall back still further, he evacuated the village, which the enemy occupied, and held during the night.
' On the 28th, I formed the army on the heights behind Soito; having the Serra de Meras on their right, and the left at Rendo, on the Coa; about a league in rear of the position which they had occupied on the 27th. The enemy also retired from Aldea da Ponte, and had their advanced posts at Albergueria; and as it appears that they are about to retire from this part of the country, and as we have already had some bad weather, and may expect more at the period of the equinoctial gales, I propose to canton the troops in the nearest villages to the position which they occupied yesterday.
' I cannot conclude this report of the occurrences of the last week, without expressing to your Lordship my admiration of the conduct of the troops engaged in the affairs of the 25th instant. The conduct of the 2nd battalion 5th regiment, commanded by Major Ridge, in particular, affords a memorable example of what the steadiness and discipline of the troops, and their confidence in their officers, can effect in the most difficult and trying situations. The conduct of the 77th regiment, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Bromhead, was equally good, and I have never seen a more determined attack than was made by the whole of the enemy's cavalry, with every advantage of the assistance of a superior artillery, and repulsed by these two weak battalions. I must not omit also to report the good conduct on the same occasion, of the 21st Portuguese regiment, under the command of Colonel Bacellar, and of Major Arentschildt's artillery. The Portuguese infantry were not actually charged, but were repeatedly threatened, and they showed the utmost steadiness and discipline, both in the mode in which they prepared to receive the enemy, and in all the movements of a retreat ,made over six miles of plain in front of a superior cavalry and artillery.
' The Portuguese artillerymen attached to the guns which were for a moment in the enemy's possession, were cut down at their guns.
' The infantry upon this occasion were under the command of Major General the Hon. C. Colville; Lieut. General Picton having remained with the troops at El Bodon: and the conduct of Major General Colville was beyond all praise.
' Your Lordship will have observed by the details of the action which I have given you, how much reason I had to be satisfied with the conduct of the 1st hussars and 11th light dragoons of Major General Alten's brigade. There were not more than three squadrons of the two regiments on the ground, this brigade having for some time furnished the cavalry for the outposts of the army, and they charged the enemy's cavalry repeatedly ; and notwithstanding the superiority of the latter, the post would have been maintained if I had not preferred to abandon it to risking the loss of these brave men by continuing the unequal contest under additional disadvantages, in consequence of the immediate entry of fourteen battalions of infantry into the action, before the support which I had ordered up could arrive. Major General Alien, and Lieut. Colonels Gumming and Arentschildt, and the officers of these regiments, particularly distinguished themselves upon this occasion.
' I have also to mention that the Adjutant General, Major General the Hon. C. Stewart, being upon the field, gave his assistance as an officer of cavalry with his usual gallantry.
' In the affair of the 27th, at Aldea da Ponte, Brigadier General Pakenham and the troops of the 4th division, under the orders of Lieut. General the Hon. G. L. Cole, likewise conducted themselves remarkably well.
' His Serene Highness, the Hereditary Prince of Orange, accompanied me during the operations which I have detailed to your Lordship, and was for the first time in fire ; and he conducted himself with a spirit and intelligence which afford a hope that he will become an ornament to his profession.
' The enemy having collected for the object of relieving Ciudad Rodrigo the army of the north, which were withdrawn from the attack they had commenced on General Abadia in Galicia, in which are included 22 battalions of the Imperial Guards, and General Souham's division of infantry, composed of troops recently arrived in Spain from the army of Naples, and now drawn from the frontier of Navarre, where they had been employed in operations against Mina, together with five divisions and all the cavalry of the army called of Portugal, composing altogether an army of not less than 60,000 men, of which 6000 cavalry and 125 pieces of artillery, I could not pretend to maintain the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo, nor could any effort which I could make prevent or materially impede the collection of the supplies or the march of the convoy for the relief of that place. I did all that I could expect to effect without incurring the risk of great loss for no object; and as the reports as usual were so various in regard to the enemy's real strength, it was necessary that I should see their army in order that the people of this country might be convinced that to raise the blockade was a measure of necessity, and that the momentary relief of Galicia, and of Mina, were the only objects which it was in my power immediately to. effect.
' I have had no reports from the north since I addressed your Lordship last, nor from the south of Spain.
' General Girard had collected at Merida a small body of troops, I believe with the intention of making an incursion into Portugal, under the notion that I had withdrawn Lieut. General Hill's corps from the Alemtejo for the purpose of maintaining the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo. But I imagine that he will break up this collection again, as soon as he shall hear that General Hill is at Portalegre.
' I have the honor to be, &c. ' The Earl of Liverpool. ' Wellington.

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