|The Struggle for Sea Power|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book IV of the Story of the Worlds series. Focuses on the age of empire and world colonization. The histories of European colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related. Also covered are the Revolution in America, the French Revolution, and campaigns of Napoleon. Ages 12-18 |
SPAIN FOR THE SPANIARDS
"Not stirring words, nor gallant deeds alone,—
Plain patient work fulfilled that length of life;
Duty, not glory—service, not a throne,
Inspired his effort, set for him the strife."
MUCH had been done by Wellington, in the capture of these two strongholds, but much yet remained to do. Spain must
be wrested from the grip of the French, and he must fulfil his commands.
While Napoleon and his Grand Army were starting on their fatal march to Moscow, Wellington was already
advancing into Spain. On July 22 he met the French army at Salamanca, a very old hill-city, famous in the days
222 years B.C. This battle has been summed up by a Frenchman as the "battle in which 40,000 men were beaten in
forty minutes." Wellington himself considered it one of his greatest victories. Let us watch him during the day
of battle. Shortly after mid-day he entered a farmyard, where food was prepared for him. Stumping about and
munching his food,
 Wellington was constantly looking at the French army, where important movements were taking place. Suddenly
mounting in haste, he galloped to a spot of observation. Closing his spy-glass with a snap, he said to the
Spaniard at his side, "My dear Alava, the French are lost."
The French Marshal had made a serious blunder. Wellington saw his chance had come.
"Ned," he cried to his brother-in-law in command of some troops, "d'ye see those fellows on the hill? At them,
and drive them to the devil." Then to his nephew, afterwards the famous Lord Raglan, he said, "Watch the French
through your glass: I am going to take a rest. When they reach that copse near the gap in the hills, wake me."
He lay down in his cloak on the heath, among the sweet gum-cistus flowers, and was soon fast asleep.
Between three and four, they wakened him as he had ordered. Before it was dusk, the French army was defeated.
Through the moonlight Wellington pressed after the flying foe. The victory was complete: the way to Madrid was
clear. Just a month before Napoleon entered Moscow, Wellington entered Madrid. The Spaniards in the capital
threw themselves weeping at his feet, hailing him as their deliverer from the French.
But Spain was not yet delivered from the French. Large armies and tried generals from France still threatened
the English, and Wellington had to leave Madrid. England was complaining bitterly
 of her general. For five years he had been fighting, and it seemed as if the French gripped Spain as tightly as
ever. Money and precious lives had been sacrificed. Napoleon would soon return victorious from Russia, and all
chance of saving Spain would be at an end.
Wellington spent the winter in Portugal preparing for a final overthrow of the French. Joseph Bonaparte was now
in command, having quarrelled with his brother's marshals.
And so, when the vines began to shoot and the wheat was ankle deep, British drums and bugles sounded a long
farewell to Portugal, for this must be the last campaign in the Peninsula. It is said when Wellington, at the
head of his well-trained army, crossed the Douro into Spain, he turned round on his horse, and, taking off his
hat, cried, "Farewell, Portugal: I shall never see you again!"
Then on he marched, his iron will more determined than ever, on towards the Pyrenees to cut off Joseph, who
had left Madrid for the last time, in his brief and troubled reign.
"I looked beyond the limits of Spain," said Wellington as he marched on. "I knew the impression my advance
would make on Europe."
Joseph's army now filled the valley of Vittoria—70,000 strong. He still might escape over the Pyrenees back to
France. But Wellington took care to block the royal road to France.
At dawn on the morning of June 22, the battle of
 Vittoria began. By evening, the unfortunate King Joseph was flying from the field, and Wellington, standing
victorious on the scene of action, was watching the retreating French. As far as the eye could reach, fields
and hillsides were covered with a flying multitude of soldiers and camp-followers. The streets of Vittoria were
blocked with waggons and carriages. The rout was complete: the splendid French army was shattered.
The spoil that fell to Wellington was enormous. It was the result of five years' plunder in Spain. Chests of
money, baggage, gunpowder, plate, pictures, were left behind. A general rush took place to seize the forsaken
treasure, and soon the plain was strewn with things; while the soldiers, that night, marched about the camp
arrayed in turbans and plumes, carrying about French monkeys, lap-dogs, and parrots.
When Napoleon heard of the disaster, he was furious.
"What is going on in Spain?" he cried. "Joseph could have collected a hundred thousand men: they might have
beaten the whole of England."
"Tell Joseph," he added later, "his behaviour has never ceased to bring misfortune on my army for the last five
years. It is time to make an end of it. There was a world of folly in the whole business."
No wonder poor Joseph vanished from history. He sailed away to America, where he ended his
 days in peace. Once he was offered the crown of Mexico.
"I have worn two crowns: I will not risk a third," he answered pathetically.
So after five years of dogged perseverance Wellington stood on the summit of the Pyrenees—a conqueror.
Napoleon at last had found a rival.
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