Napoleonic Literature
Napoleon and His Marshals - Vol. II
Chapter XXI
MARSHAL SUCHET

His Early Career— His Campaigns in Spain— Siege of Lerida— Storming of Taragona— Taking of Montserrat— Battle of Saguntum— Siege and Fall of Valencia— His Character.


    IT is difficult in a single sketch to do Suchet justice, or convey any correct idea of what he accomplished in his military career. His qualities were rather solid than brilliant, and the field on which be was compelled to exhibit them the most unfavorable that could well be given him.
    Never operating on a large scale as commander of a corps till he was sent to Spain, he does not shine in the reflected glory of Napoleon's genius, and the only hale around his head is that which his own actions have made. All the other marshals were allowed, during some part of their lives, to serve under the Emperor as commanders of large bodies of men, and thus to distinguish themselves on those great battlefields whose renown filled the world. To direct one of the wings of Napoleon's army in a pitched battle, or to be appointed by him to lead an immense column on the center, with the Imperial Guard and the resistless cuirassiers in reserve, gave opportunity for a brave, determined, and skillful leader to fix his fame forever. All felt this, and constantly sought to be near the Emperor and under his immediate control. Especially those in Spain earnestly wished to be recalled from a field where success gave little renown, and victory no laurels. The bare fact that Suchet's fame is not at all eclipsed by that of the other marshals, when he was compelled to operate alone, and in most disadvantageous circumstances, is the greatest evidence of his ability that can be given, and the highest encomium that can be passed on his career.
    Louis Gabriel Suchet was born at Lyons, March 2, 1770. His father was a silk manufacturer, in moderate circumstances, and young Louis, at the age of twenty, entered the army as a private. Three years after he was placed over a battalion, and at the siege of Toulon first met the young Bonaparte. He distinguished himself at this siege by his gallant behavior, and was soon after sent to the army of Italy. He fought bravely at Loano, and, charging at the head of his battalion, carried off three Austrian standards. He served here two years before Bonaparte was appointed to the chief command of the army, and then went through the glorious campaign of 1796 as chief of the eighteenth battalion under Massena. He fought at Dego, Lodi, and Borghetto; composed part of the tired army that arrived at Rivoli barely in time to save Napoleon from defeat; charged with impetuous valor along the mountain slopes at Castiglione; fought for three days on the dikes of Arcola; and, finally, at Cerea fell severely wounded. Before he had fairly recovered, he rejoined the army, and went through the Venetian campaign. He was again wounded at Tarvis, and at the fierce conflict of Newmarket poured his battalions with such fury on the enemy that he was made chief of brigade on the spot. Here he was again wounded; and General Joubert, under whose command he fought, did not forget afterward the young officer who had behaved so nobly.
    In 1798 he went through the Swiss campaign, under Menard and Brune, and for his brilliant conduct was made the bearer of twenty-three standards, taken from the enemy, to the Directory. He expected to be joined to the expedition to Egypt, but was sent to the army of Italy, and from thence to that of the Danube, and fought bravely in the Grisons. Soon after, Joubert superseded Moreau in Italy, and Suchet was appointed chief of his staff, and given the command of a division. But his office as chief of staff soon terminated—for, at Novi, in his opening battle, Joubert was killed and his army defeated.
    When Bonaparte returned from Egypt, and sent Massena to Genoa, Sachet was placed over that wing of the army which rested on Nice. But, being separated from the former by the Austrian forces that came pouring in overwhelming numbers through the gorges of the Apennines, he was unable to render that intrepid general any assistance in the dreadful siege he endured.
    In that almost hopeless attempt, however, to restore their communication—when Massena fell on the enemy in front and he in rear—Suchet led his army intrepidly against the dense masses of the Austrians. But, after a long, bloody, and useless struggle on the heights of Mount Giacomo, in which he left its sides strewed with his soldiers, he was driven back, and finally entrenched himself on the Var. Thither the Austrian general advanced in close pursuit, and vainly endeavored to dislodge him. In the mean time Genoa surrendered; and Melas, wishing to concentrate his forces so as to meet Napoleon, already in the plains of Italy, recalled those opposed to Suchet. But no sooner did the latter see his enemy preparing to retreat, than he immediately broke from the defensive he had so long maintained into a furious offensive, and pouring his now excited columns through the gorges and over the heights of the Apennines, fell on him in flank and rear, and, chasing the broken ranks over those dreary mountains, made every cliff and valley a battlefield; so that out of the eighteen thousand with which the Austrian commander first advanced on him, not more than ten thousand ever reached the main army. At Savona he met Massena with his worn and famine-struck troops; and then they two together kept watch and ward on the crest of the Apennines, till the shout of victory from the field of Marengo came rolling over their summits, announcing the overthrow of the Austrian power in Italy.
    After the treaty of Luneville he received the appointment of inspector-general of the infantry, and shortly after was named a member of the Legion of Honor, and the next year made governor of the imperial palace of Lacken.
    In the campaign of Austerlitz he showed himself worthy of a higher command than the one he held, and the next year (1806) opened the battle of Jena for Napoleon. On that foggy morning, Suchet at the head of his division, and Gazan with his, stood at four o'clock in battle array, when Napoleon came riding along their lines, and thus addressed them. "Soldiers! the Russian army is turned as the Austrian was a year ago at Ulm; it no longer struggles, but to be able to retreat. The corps which should permit itself to be broken would be dishonored. Fear not it's famed cavalry; oppose to their charges firm squares and the bayonet." Fierce shouts answered him from those two brave divisions, as they panted for the onset. But the stubborn mist that involved everything prolonged the darkness, so that Suchet was compelled to keep the shivering lines waiting for two hours, before the signal of attack was given. At six o'clock, however, the order arrived, and he led his troops steadily and swiftly forward through the defiles that opened on the Prussian lines, carrying everything before him. The enemy saw him approaching through the mist, and met the shock with a firm and serried front; the artillery opened, and a rapid and heavy fire was kept up on the head of his column, so as to prevent it from deploying into the open plain. But nothing could stay his progress; the lines bent back before his charge, and he swept with his steady battalions up to the very muzzles of the guns, and wrenched them from the artillerymen—and still kept pressing forward, clearing the field, till the advancing army had time to pass the gorges, and form in battle array on fair and open ground. It was at this moment the fog lifted, and the unclouded sun flashed down on the two armies, revealing the position of each to the other. Suchet's management of his division in this engagement showed both the mettle and quality of the man, aud won the highest praise from the Emperor.
    Two months after, he commanded the left wing of the army at the battle of Pultusk, and, attacking the Russian advanced posts, drove them through the forest, and sustained a long and most unequal combat, till Lannes arrived and relieved him.
    In 1808 the grand cordon of the Legion of Honor was conferred on him, and he was created Count of the Empire. The road to the highest summit of military fame was now open to him, and he was prepared to follow it with all the energy, and skill, and daring which characterized him. But he was taken from these brilliant campaigns, and destined to operate, for the rest of his life, in a field offering but few inducements and promising but small reward. He was sent into Spain to supersede Junot in the command of the forces in Arragon. The latter chief had been taken sick, and Napoleon was glad of an excuse to remove one whose whole course in Portugal had been marked by rashness and folly. Nothing shows the sagacity of the French Emperor more than the correct judgment be formed of his generals. Here was Suchet, who had never held a separate command, but had fought only as general of division, suddenly placed at the head of a defeated army, and expected to restore discipline, create resources, and make head against a powerful enemy. This important post was not the reward of some great act of valor or devotion, but the result of sound calculation. Napoleon, who had watched the young Suchet from the time he fought by his side at Toulon, had seen how, through all his career, bravery was tempered with prudence, impetuosity with judgment; and he knew that he was just fitted for a war where something more than brilliant charges and fierce fighting was wanted.
    When Suchet took command of Junot's army, he found it in a most miserable, inefficient state, and the campaign opened with sinister omens. With little over 8000 men he issued from Saragossa, where Lannes had lately performed such prodigies; and coming up with Blake posted at Alcanitz, with an army 12,000 strong, boldly gave him battle. Repulsed, and forced back, he was compelled to order a retreat. A panic followed, and the whole army fled pell-mell over the plain. Nothing but the cowardice of the Spanish troops saved him from utter ruin. This, however, ended his defeats, and falling back to Saragossa, he strained every nerve to repair his loss. But his troops were dispirited and murmuring, and many of his generals insisted on evacuating Arragon. Things looked dark around him, but this was a good school for the young general, for it immediately brought out the immense, but hitherto hidden, resources he possessed. Becoming superior to the sympathetic influence of general discouragement, firmly withstanding the counsels of officers who had served longer in the Peninsula than himself, rising above the dangers that surrounded him, he restored confidence to his soldiers and officers, and by his moral courage and calm and noble demeanor succeeded, at length, in putting a cheerful countenance on affairs. He fortified the city, and was placing everything in preparation for a close siege, when his victorious enemy appeared before the walls.
    Suchet at first hesitated whether to give battle or retreat but feeling it was of the last importance to hold Saragossa, he resolved on the latter. With only 10,000 men, and twelve cannon, he boldly marched out of the city, and drew up in battle array in presence of 17,000 victorious troops supported by a numerous artillery. He immediately advanced to the attack, and the battle soon became general; but in the midst of the conflict a fierce and blinding storm arose, which for awhile separated the combatants. A sudden darkness wrapped everything and Suchet took advantage of the concealment it afforded him to arrange another attack; and the moment the rain slackened, he was again upon the enemy in a furious charge. Nothing could resist the vigor with which he pressed the Spanish lines, and after a short but sanguinary conflict he completely routed them, taking one general as prisoner, twenty guns, and several stands of colors. Following up his success, be pursued Blake to Belchite, and attacking him, though in a strong position, utterly overthrew him, so that the army disbanded and fled in every direction. With 4000 prisoners, all the artillery, ammunition, and baggage wagons of the enemy, he returned to Saragossa, master of Arragon.
    He immediately put forth great efforts to quell the separate chiefs, that still, in small parties, infested the country, now making sudden irruptions and now retiring to their fastness; for before attempting to push his victories over the border, he wished to establish himself firmly where he was, and fix a permanent basis for all future operations. He showed himself an able ruler as well as a good commander, and commenced his administration by such wise and salutary measures that he won the confidence and good-will of the inhabitants he had conquered.
    In one year he put himself in a position to extend his conquests; and his army having been reinforced from time to time, and now presenting a formidable appearance, he took the field. After subduing some smaller towns, he advanced against Lerida, and sat down before it in regular siege. Amid rain and the incessant fire of the enemy, he steadily prosecuted his works, till he at length mounted his battery, and opened a fierce fire on the place. As soon as a breach was effected, be determined to make an assault. In the night, while the cannon were still playing on different parts of the walls, the assaulting companies mounted the ramparts, and carried a part of the town; the next night, the citadel also, after a dreadful carnage, fell into their hands. He here adopted the same mild and conciliatory measures he had practiced before with so much success; and while be levied taxes sufficient to pay all the expenses of the war in Arragon, the manner in which they were collected, and the tyrannical restrictions he removed, made the burdens of the people less even than they were under the established government.
    Planting his feet carefully and firmly, making every step give security to the next, he advanced from place to place, consolidating while he extended his power. No sooner had Lerida fallen than he advanced on Mequinenza. After a short siege this town also fell.
    By these rapid measures and skillful movements, Suchet had now a frontier well protected from invasion from Catalonia and Valencia, and a solid basis on which to commence still more extensive operations.
    In Catalonia, O'Donnell, with 20,000 men, still kept the French at bay. To destroy the base of his operations it was necessary to take Taragona; and to out off all communication by land between Catalonia and Valencia he must also reduce Tortosa. It was of the utmost importance to secure both of these objects, and Napoleon ordered Suchet to undertake the reduction of the latter, while Macdonald, who commanded the army in Catalonia, was to besiege the former city.
    Suchet immediately set about his task, and marched on Tortosa. Macdonald, however, was sluggish in his movements, and did not co-operate with him as he should. In the meantime, the supplies of the latter began to fail, and he was exceedingly perplexed. He had been ordered to draw all his resources from Arragon, and within six months his army had consumed 120,000 sheep and 1200 bullocks. Amid these embarrassments he showed his profound wisdom, not only in managing military affairs, but also in the administration of government. Instead of resorting to threat and violence to draw forth resources from the country, and thus both impoverish and embitter the population, he called the chief of the clergy and the principal men of Arragon to his headquarters, "and, with their assistance, reorganized the whole system of internal administration in such a manner that, giving his confidence to the natives, removing many absurd restrictions to their industry and trade, and leaving the municipal power and police entirely in their hands he drew forth the resources of the provinces in greater abundance than before. And yet with less discontent, being well served and obeyed, both in matters of administration and police, by the Arragonese, whose feelings he was careful to soothe; showing himself in all things an able governor, as well as a great commander." Indeed Suchet made the Spaniards the conductors of his convoys of provisions, and acted more as if he were their lawful and peaceful ruler than their conqueror. Had Joseph Bonaparte possessed a tithe of his military and political ability, Spain, instead of being a drag on Napoleon in the decline of his fortunes, would have been an efficient aid.
    At length he sat down in regular siege before Tortosa, while Macdonald defended all the mountain passes leading to Taragona, to keep back the Spanish army that might, from that direction, advance to the relief of the besieged. The place was strongly defended, both by nature and art, and garrisoned by 9000 men. He made regular approaches toward the walls, placed his guns in battery, and, opening his fire on the ramparts, succeeded, after ten days' hard labor, in effecting a breach. When the garrison perceived this, they displayed a white flag. But as there were no other demonstrations of surrender, and the French commander had suspicion of treachery, he continued his operations, and the next morning three white flags were displayed. The guard at the gates were still uncertain what to do; and while they were hesitating whether to surrender or not, Suchet rode up to them with his staff, followed by a company of grenadiers, and asked the commanding officer to conduct him to the governor. The officer hesitated a moment, and then, advised by those about him not to obey, was about to fire, when Suchet boldly threatened them with military execution if they did not instantly submit. In the mean time, the grenadiers entered the gate, and all was over. A hundred pieces of artillery, 10,000 muskets, and immense magazines, fell into the hands of the victors.
    This constant and great success so pleased Napoleon, that he immediately took 17,000 men from the army of Macdonald, and attached them to that of Suchet, thus increasing it to 42,000, and called it the army of Arragon. A part of Catalonia, however, was embraced in its operations, and the siege of Taragona committed to it. This was a wise stroke of policy, as it took out of Macdonald's hands the most important part of Catalonia, and gave it to the latter, who was better fitted, both by disposition and talent, to carry on the kind of war it was necessary to wage. Macdonald was too slow and formal in his movements, and in waiting to deliver some heavy blow, was worn out and exhausted by the small though constant efforts of the enemy.
    Suchet had now been two years in Spain, and his whole career marked by uninterrupted success. Surrounded with obstacles, in the midst of a hostile country, hemmed in by a still unconquered territory, he had, by his vigor and skill as a general, fixed himself firmly in Arragon; and by his wisdom and prudence as a civil ruler subdued the hostility of the inhabitants, and secured the co-operation even of his enemies. But his labor had scarcely begun, and nowhere does the greatness of his talents shine out with more lustre than in the

SIEGE OF TARAGONA.

    This place, divided into an upper and lower town, with one side resting on the sea and the other standing amid inaccessible rocks, was deemed by the garrison impregnable. The lower town was down in the plain, and divided from the upper by a strong rampart; while around both stretched a massive wall, protected by a line of strong redoubts, and covered by the fire of an English fleet which occupied the harbor. On one side only could the place be approached with any hope of success, and that was in the plain around the lower town. But here were strong artificial defenses, while the fort of Olivo commanded all the open space in which the besieging army must operate.
    The relative strength of the forces, changed from time to time, but the average proportion was 14,000 French against 17,000 Spaniards, without counting with the latter the inhabitants of the place. This was desperate odds, but made still greater by the British fleet in the bay, as well as by a Spanish army of 14,000 men, which was making preparations to raise the siege. An ordinary man would have sunk under these difficulties and abandoned the unequal contest, but it was in such crises that Suchet exhibited his great resources. Careful, prudent, and safe in all his plans, he nevertheless determined to persist in the siege. The subjugation of the place was of the utmost importance, involving the success of all future operations, both in Catalonia and Valencia, and he resolved to effect it, or perish before the walls.
    At length all things being ready, he moved his small but resolute army forward; and, on the 4th of May, invested that part of the town between Fort Olivo and the sea. In doing this, however, the guns from the fort and from the the [sic] English ships played upon his troops, massed in the open field, with such precision that two hundred men fell before night. The next day the garrison made a sally, but were repulsed, and Suchet closed with a firmer coil around the walls. His ranks, however, were battered so incessantly, and his troops so severely galled by the guns from Fort Olivo, that he determined, after a fortnight of severe toil and constant exposure of his men to the enemy's fire, to concentrate all his force against it alone. Fourteen thousand men, or a number equal to his entire army, defended it, protected by heavy cannon and high walls, yet his resolution was irrevocably taken.
    He broke ground before the fort on the 21st, but so great were the difficulties that opposed him in advancing his trenches, and so severe the fire to which he was subjected, that a week had been wasted before he could bring a single cannon to bear with any force on the walls. On the 28th, however, thirteen guns, which had been dragged over the rocks amid a perfect tempest of grape-shot, opened a fierce fire upon them, and, thundering all that day and night and next day, finally effected a breach, though not sufficiently low to afford much hope for success in an assault.
    But Suchet's position was every day becoming more critical. His men were constantly falling before the plunging fire of the fortress, and his forces gradually weakening beneath the repeated sorties of the garrison, while an army equal to his own was daily threatening him in the rear. On the evening of the 29th, therefore, he ordered an assault to be made, and, forming two columns of attack, passed along their ranks and addressed them in words of encouragement, telling them that everything rested on their bravery and success. The night was dark, and the garrison was not expecting any serious movement, as not one of their guns had yet been silenced. Four cannon were fired as the signal for the assault, and in a moment all the drums were beat, and the whole French line, with deafening shouts, and amidst a general discharge of musketry, advanced at once from all quarters against the walls, in order to distract the attention of the besieged from the real point of attack. The Spaniards, alarmed by this general onset and unable in the darkness to see the assailants, opened a furious fire around the entire ramparts. Nothing could exceed the spectacle Taragona at that moment presented; the rocky heights in the rear stood revealed in a lurid light, the ramparts were covered with flame, and the whole town flashed up in the surrounding gloom, as if wrapped in a sudden conflagration. This wild uproar roused up the English fleet, and a fierce cannonade opened also from the ships, and blazing projectiles crossed in huge semicircles over the French army. Amid this confusion and terror, and amid the thunder of four hundred cannon on the ramparts, to which the distant English guns added their heavy accompaniment, those two columns advanced swiftly and steadily to the assault. One column stumbled in the dark against some Spanish troops advancing to succor the fort, and becoming mingled with them, a part, in the general confusion, entered the town. The principal column, which was destined for the breach, found, when they reached the ditch, that their scaling-ladders were too short, for it was fifteen feet to the bottom. In the mean time, the whole front rank went down before the plunging fire from the ramparts, and the remainder were about giving way, when Vaccani, the Italian historian, beating down the paling that blocked the entrance to an old aqueduct that passed into the town, mounted the narrow bridge, followed by the Italian grenadiers, and thus descended into the ditch, and, rushing furiously through the breach, entered the fort.
    In the morning the walls and ditches presented a most melancholy spectacle. They were covered with blood; while bodies, mangled by the heavy shot, lay in confused heaps at their base, and were scattered around on the rocks as far as the eye could reach. Suchet asked for a suspension of arms, that he might bury his dead, for the ground on which they lay was too rocky to admit of graves. This humane request was denied, and he was compelled to gather the two hundred of his men who had fallen in the assault into huge piles and burn them. The smoke and stench from these burning bodies arose on the morning air, carrying heavenward a  fearful testimony of the horrors of war.
    Fort Olivo was taken; but this was only a stepping-stone to the reduction of the place. Suchet's labors had only commenced, the weight and terror of the struggle had yet to come, and, without any delay he continued to urge forward his works. Amid constant sorties, and under a heavy and commanding fire from the upper and lower town, which constantly carried away his men, he pressed the attack so vigorously that every day he gained some new advantage over the enemy. Under a constant shower of balls and grapeshot, that smote every moment over the spot on which the workmen were engaged, he still steadily advanced his parallels. It was one incessant roar and flash above the soldiers, yet they dug and toiled away as calmly as in the peaceful field.
    Thus the siege went on for nineteen days, after Fort Olivo was taken; till at length fifty-four guns were brought to bear on the enemy's batteries. But the metal of the besieged was too heavy for them, and they gradually became silent. In the meantime the English gun-boats had become effective, and sailing up the bay, began to pour their destructive fire on the besiegers. The Spanish army, so long expected, also, now made its appearance, and dangers began to thicken still darker around the French commander. Sending off, however, for a reinforcement of 3000 men, he was able to beat off and disperse the enemy, without abandoning for a moment the siege. Twenty-three days had now elapsed since the storming of the fort, and Suchet moved to make an attempt to carry the lower town also by assault. His cannon, after the first disaster, had gradually overcome and silenced those of the besieged, and opened three narrow breaches in the bastions. Through these he ordered 1500 grenadiers to charge, seconded by a strong storming party to repel all assistance from the upper town. At seven o'clock, at the discharge of four bombs the brave grenadiers rushed forward. In a moment the walls were covered with men, and the carnage became dreadful; but after an hour's desperate fighting, the besieged were driven back, and the assailants swarmed through the town with shouts Of victory. During this breathless and sanguinary struggle, the English fleet kept up an incessant cannonading on the French, the thunder and flash of their guns through the gloom heightening inconceivably the effect of the scene, while, to crown all, the warehouses on the harbor took fire, and burned with such fierceness that "the ships in port cut their cables and stood out to sea."
    But no sooner was the town carried, and the troops rallied, than the soldiers were set to work; and before the garrison in the upper town could recover their confusion were again hidden in their trenches, digging steadily forward towards the walls.
    Suchet had lost over three thousand men, and still the upper town was untouched. Forty-eight days of incessant toil and fighting had passed, and now just as hope began to dawn on his efforts, nearly two thousand British soldier from Cadiz entered the bay, while the Spanish army landward again advanced to succor the city. As the besieged saw those troops step ashore they sent up a shout of joy; but fortunately for Suchet the English officers thought the town could not be held, as the walls were fast crumbling before the heavy batteries, and withdrew entirely from the contest. The Spaniards were easily repulsed, and the works again pressed with redoubled vigor. Still Suchet's position was perilous in the extreme. He had made four different assaults—lost one-fifth of his entire army, and exhausted his men by the labor which the immense works demanded. But the wall which now separated the enemy from him had no ditch at its base to embarrass the columns of attack, and the cannon were playing within musket-shot of the ramparts. A hedge of aloes, however, at the base presented a strong obstacle, and came very near preventing the success of the storming party.
    At length breaches being made in the walls, Suchet prepared to make a final assault on the upper town. But as the prospects grew darker around the besieged their energy seemed redoubled, and their preparations to resist this last effort were of the most formidable kind. Three battalions crowded the breaches, supported by strong reserves; while heavy barricades were stretched across every street, to arrest the enemy the moment he should enter. In the mean time such a terrible fire was kept up from the ramparts that the parapets of the French trenches were shot away, and the gunners, uncovered, stood in full view, a certain mark for the enemy's bullets. They fell one after another, in their footsteps—yet still others sternly stepped in their places, while the excitement, and the wish to close in the last mortal struggle, became so intent on both sides that the soldiers shook their muskets at each other, and shouted forth defiance in the midst of the balls that smote them down.
    At length the signal for assault was given, and the maddened columns rushed forward. An open space of more than twenty rods was to be crossed before the wall was reached, and as the assailants emerged on this, a plunging fire received them, crushing them to the earth with frightful rapidity. Pressing sternly on, however, they came to the aloe-trees, which stood within five rods of the walls, when they were compelled to turn one side for a passage. This, together with the destructive fire before which they stood uncovered, threw the column into confusion, and it was just beginning to break and fly, when an Italian soldier named Bianchini, who had at his own request been allowed to join the forlorn hope, coolly stepped from the ranks, and bidding his comrades follow him, began all alone to ascend the breach. Dressed in white from head to foot, he looked more like a being from the unseen world, than a living man, as he glided onward, and silently and steadily ascended the wall. Regardless of the volleys of musketry that smote his breast, apparently unconscious of the blood that was bursting in streams from every part of his body, he kept on sternly on till he reached the top, and then fell dead. The French soldiers stopped and gazed with astonishment, almost with awe, at that solitary white figure, as it fearlessly strode into the breach, and then with a shout that rent the air, rushed after him. The breach was won—the Spanish troops overthrown, and amid shouts of victory, and cries of despair, and yells of execration, the French thousands went pouring in—and, forming into columns of attack, dashed into the barricaded streets, and, overcoming all resistance, swept like a devastating flood through the town. Some of the inhabitants rushed through the farther gate, others streamed over the ramparts, making for the sea; others still, driven to despair, flung themselves from the rocks. Still thousands were left behind, and on these the soldiery fell in brutal ferocity, and aged men and women, the young, the beautiful, and the helpless, were butchered without mercy. The most pitiful cries and agonizing shrieks and prayers for mercy pierced the heavens on every side. But the maddened troops, hardened against every appeal, smote on the right, and on the left; and it was one incessant flash through the streets, which were literally inundated with blood. The officers put forth every effort to stay the massacre, but the passions of the soldiers had now broken over all bounds, and nothing could arrest them. For nearly two months had they been shot at and taunted by the inhabitants, and now their hour of revenge had come, and reckless alike of sleep or rest, they moved in terror through the darkness. Before morning dawned on the appalling spectacle, six thousand wretched beings had been butchered in cold blood.
    A city sacked presents one of the most frightful scenes this stained and depraved earth of ours ever exhibits. It is the culminating act of human ferocity and pitiless cruelty.
    Taragona was won, and, though Suchet mourned over the violence that had stained his triumph, he could not but rejoice at the successful termination of his long toils, and his happy deliverance from the dangers that threatened every hour to swallow him up.
    Still his labors had not terminated, and in a few hours after the city fell his troops were again in motion. The army that threatened so frequently to raise the siege of Taragona was overtaken at Villa Nueva, and 1500 made prisoners. The whole country was thrown into consternation, and the Spanish troops that so long defended Catalonia were fleeing in every direction for safety. Suchet marched eagerly forward; for, added to the consciousness that he had acted worthy of the trust committed to him, he here received dispatches from Napoleon creating him Marshal of the Empire. He at length came up to Montserrat, into which some of the fugitives had cast themselves, deeming the place impregnable. Indeed, it seemed so, for the rampart on the top was one of the strongest fortresses in that part of Spain. Situated on a high mountain, surrounded by rocks, and approachable only by winding paths that were protected by batteries, it bade defiance to all attacks. There was no foothold for an army, and the irregular, rocky, and isolated height looked, as Suchet said, "like the skeleton of a mountain." Still the daring marshal poured his troops over the rocks and along the paths, and despite the fierce fire kept up by the enemy, succeeded in carrying it.
    He next advanced toward Valencia, prosecuting his war of sieges with astonishing success, and in September sat down before Saguntum, and opened his batteries on the place. Finding it would be slow work to reduce the city by regular approaches, he determined to carry it by escalade. Failing in his attempt, he erected other batteries, and, after effecting a breach, made another assault and was again baffled. After these two repulses his situation became extremely perilous; for blocked in by the enemy's fortresses, his communications all cutoff or interrupted, and a fortified town before him defended by a strong garrison, his destruction seemed an easy matter to accomplish. But in this painful dilemma, Blake, the commander of the Spanish army kindly came to his relief. Trusting to his superior force, the latter resolved to march from Valencia and raise the siege of Saguntum, or decide the fate of the city by a fair fight in an open field. With 25,000 men he approached the place, and Suchet, with 17,000, joyfully advanced to meet him. At eight in the morning the battle of Saguntum commenced. The Spaniards, trusting to their superior numbers, rushed boldly to the attack. Successful at first, the inhabitants and garrison of the city, who crowded the ramparts, thought the hour of their deliverance had come, and waved their caps and handkerchiefs in the air, and shouted victory in the midst of the fire of the cannon which were playing furiously on the walls. Indeed, it began to look dark around the French marshal, for his effort to arrest the first success of the enemy had only added to it, and the excited Spaniards, victorious at all points, were pressing with loud shouts over the field.
    In this critical moment, when all seemed lost, Suchet showed that, with all his prudence and calculation, in an emergency, he was prompt and deadly as a thunderbolt. Galloping to his reserve cuirassiers, his now last remaining hope, he rode among them, rousing their courage by words of enthusiasm and bravery, and, putting himself at their head, sounded the charge. Just then a ball pierced his shoulder, but all heedless of the wound, he continued to ride at the head of his brave cuirassiers. "March, trot, canter," fell in quick succession from his lips, and that terrible body of horse came rushing over the field as if it knew it carried the fate of the battle in its charge. The infantry gave way before those fierce riders, or were trampled under foot; the cavalry sunk under their onset; and, amid the close volley of musketry and through the fire of the artillery, they bore steadily down on the Spanish center. At this moment they presented a magnificent spectacle. The close-packed helmets glittered in the sun; their flashing sabres made a dazzling line of light above them, as in perfect order the black and thundering squadrons swept onward to the final shock. Suchet still rode at their head, and, pouring his own stern resolution into their hearts, broke with resistless fury through the enemy's center, and shouted the victory.
    This settled the fate of Saguntum, and gave Suchet a permanent footing in Valencia. Not thinking himself, however, sufficiently strong to besiege the city of Valencia, as Blake still had an army a third larger than his own, and the place contained a strong garrison, together with a hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants; he sent to Napoleon for reinforcements.
    But, in two months after the battle of Saguntum, his army was before the town, and the governor had been summoned to surrender. Blake, with his large army, endeavored to stimulate the garrison to a brave defence, but the courage of the soldiers was broken, for the French commander had taken every city he had attacked; fortresses, and walls, and rocky heights seemed to present no impediment to his victorious troops.
    Without waiting to make regular approaches, the latter, in utter contempt of his adversary, swept with his army around the entire city, and extending his lines over a space fifteen miles in circumference, beat back all the outposts, and began to bombard the place. In the meantime Blake, at the head of 15,000 men, undertook to cut his way through the French army, but, after a short struggle was driven back within the walls. He then offered to capitulate on certain conditions. These were sternly rejected; and he was finally compelled to surrender at discretion.
    By this glorious victory Suchet got possession of one of the richest cities in Spain, made 16,000 prisoners of the best troops of the army, took nearly four hundred pieces of cannon, 20,000 stand of arms, immense military stores, and laid at his feet one of the finest provinces of the Peninsula. Instead of drawing resources from abroad for his own troops, he was now able to furnish them abundantly to the other portions of the army. In reward for his great services, Napoleon created hint Duke of Albufera, with the investiture of all its rich domains.
    Having fortified himself at every point, and furnished a solid basis in Catalonia and Valencia to all his future operations, he the next year resumed the offensive; but his after-career, to the downfall of Bonaparte, presents no striking features. The defeat of Marmont at Salamanca, darkened the prospects of the French cause in Spain, yet still Suchet held firm his conquered provinces: but the battle of Vittoria completed the ruin, and made all his conquests comparatively worthless. With a heavy heart he was compelled to retire behind the Ebro; and, though defeating the English in some minor combats, his army took no important part in the after-struggles. Napoleon was endeavoring to drive back the allies from France, and the great conflict in the Peninsula was between Wellington and Soult.
    After the abdication of the Emperor, Suchet received King Ferdinand, and conducted him to the Spanish army; and then, handing over his authority to the Duke of Angouléme, bade farewell to the brave troops he was no longer permitted to command. Made peer of France by Louis XVIII., and governor of the fifth military division at Strasburg, he remained at the latter place till the return of Napoleon. He continued firm to the royal cause till the King left France, and then, finding the tide of public opinion too strong to be resisted, hastened to Paris, and gave in his adhesion to Bonaparte. Placed over the Army of the Alps, consisting of only 10,000 men, he defeated the Piedmontese and afterwards the Austrians. But the advance of the main Austrian army, of a hundred thousand men, compelled him to retreat to Lyons. Surrendering the city on honorable terms, he went down with the mighty genius for whom he had combated so long and so bravely.
    On the second restoration be was deprived of his civil, though he was permitted to retain his military, honors. In 1822, however, he was restored to the peerage, but died, four years after, in Marseilles, at the age of fifty-six.
    Suchet was one of those well-balanced characters which is known more by what it accomplishes than by any striking feature it exhibits. There was less personality in his achievements than in those of such men as Murat and Junot, because his intellect had more to do with his success than his arms.
    Destined to act in a field more unfavorable to his fame than any other in Europe, he nevertheless succeeded in placing himself among the first military leaders of his time. Spain was a sort of graduated scale which tested the altitude and real strength of every general who commanded in it; and of all the marshals who, from time to time, directed the French armies there, Massena, Soult, and Suchet alone stood the test; while of the English leaders Wellington was the only one that exhibited the higher qualities of a great military chieftain.
    Suchet was a noble man, both intellectally [sic] and morally. With a mind that grasped the most extensive plans, and yet lost sight of none of the details necessary to success, he also had a heart that delighted to bestow blessings the moment stern duty allowed him to sheathe the sword of war.
    Cautious and prudent in his plans, he was sudden and terrible in their execution. He was impetuous without being rash, and rapid without being hasty. He calculated his blow before he made it, but it was a thunderbolt when it fell. His mind was so perfectly balanced that he never exhibits obstinacy in carrying out a favorite plan, so common to one-sided men of strong character. Graduating itself to circumstances, it was careful or headlong, tardy or swift, as the case demanded. In one respect he resembled Napoleon—he knew when to abandon a minor for a greater good. This was one great secret of Bonaparte's success in his first campaign in Italy. Flinging from him one advantage to gain a better, and relinquishing one conquest to secure a greater, he kept his forces constantly so concentrated that he could at any time bring his whole power to bear on a single point. This is indispensable to success with a small force arrayed against a great one, and it was a remarkable characteristic of Suchet's career in Spain. This seems not so striking a quality at first sight, but it is one of the rarest possessed by any man.
    The campaigns of Suchet in Spain will always remain among the most wonderful of military achievements. With a small force—in the midst of a hostile territory, compelled to carry on a guerilla war with separate chiefs, a regular campaign with a large army, and at the same time, reduce fortresses, assault cities, and administer the government of conquered provinces—he brought to the task before him a mental resource which stamps him the great man.
    Amid the most overwhelming difficulties, and pressed constantly by superior force, he did not remain on the defensive, but steadily advanced from one victory to another—now fighting the enemy in the open field, and now planting cannon against strongly fortified cities, till, at length, Arragon, Catalonia, and Valencia lay at his feet, and his task in the Peninsula was nobly accomplished. Uniting the profoundest military science with the greatest personal bravery the highest practical power with the most skillful theories, he planned and executed every military movement with extraordinary precision and success. He brought the same powerful mind to the administration of civil affairs, and not only conquered the provinces, but governed them with an ability that exhibits a breadth of character and extent of knowledge possessed by few of those stern leaders whom Napoleon clustered around his throne.



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