1706-09-04 – Combat of Murcia

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1706-09-04 – Combat of Murcia

Spanish victory

Introduction

At the beginning of the summer, the Allies had gradually isolated the Kingdom of Murcia from the north (Albacete and Almansa), the south (Cartagena) and the east (Orihuela), its only subsisting line of communication was with Andalusia, to the west.

On 11 July, King Philip V, worried for his Kingdom of Murcia, appointed Luis Antonio de Belluga y Moncada, who had been recently appointed bishop of Cartagena, as captain and viceroy of Murcia and Valencia with the task of dealing with this threat of an Allied invasion.

Belluga y Moncada mobilized the nobility and inflamed the neighbourhood to resist the advance of the Allies, arguing the legitimacy of Philip V. In August and September, Belluga used La Gazeta de Murcia to spread his pro-Bourbon propaganda. On 8 August, he pretended that the tears of an image of Our Lady of Sorrows that was in a house near Monteagudo, constituted an irrefutable proof of the malice of the supporters of Archduke Charles.

On 18 August, the Allies sent a delegation demanding the surrender of the city of Murcia, which received a sharp refusal from Bishop Belluga.

Between mid-August and the first days of September there were some skirmishes around Murcia.

Between 24 and 27 August, the Allies launched raids against mountain villages in Murcia and captured the towns of Beniel and Espinardo. Viceroy Belluga left Murcia for Lorca to bring back reinforcements from Andalusia. He left precise instructions to Brigadier Fernando de Arias y Ozores for the defence of Murcia.

Description of Events

At dawn 4 September 1706, an Anglo-Dutch corps of 6,000 foot, several artillery pieces and an engineer section with a portable wooden bridge to cross the ditches, advanced from Espinardo with the intention of making themselves masters of the City of Murcia.

The Spanish defenders had erected an earthwork on the outskirts of the Puerta de Castilla and dug a trench along the “Papel” channel. They then deployed in the area where the present-day neighborhoods of Santa María de Gracia and San Basilio stand to prevent the Allies from entering into the City of Murcia. In these days, this area was a vast expanse of orchards and ditches.

Some 400 soldiers were placed in the residence of Baltasar de Fontes y Melgarejo, a Knight of the Order of Santiago, which was located in a huge orchard some 500 m. from the city.

The Allies reached Fontes’s residence.

Obeying an order given by Belluga before his departure, the defenders opened the dykes of the Segura River and flooded the orchards. In a very short time, the entire area, with the exception of the highest places, became a huge lake. The Allies could advance through it with difficulty, ignoring its depth. Allied horses could not venture into the flooded orchards while the infantry got almost stuck in this immense muddy swamp.

Nevertheless, the Allies advanced against Fontes’ residence, making artillery fire and throwing grenades. The defenders replied with a deadly fire, causing numerous casualties.

The regulars of the Segundo Corpo de Granada and the militamen were posted behind the earthwork and in the trench along the channel under the command of Don Fernando de Arias Ozores, his lieutenant Don Antonio Marzo and the sergeant-major Don Juan Antonio de Contreras y Torres.

The firefight lasted two hours.

Unable to make any significant progress, the Allies finally retreated to Orihuela, leaving more than 400 men dead or wounded on the battlefield.

From that date, the orchard where the engagement took place became known as "the Bomb Orchard".

Outcome

The Allies had been repulsed but the Kingdom of Murcia was still threatened by an invasion.

The losses of the Spanish defenders are unknown.

The Allies lost 400 men killed or wounded, including some officers and two colonels.

Order of Battle

Allied Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: ???

Summary: 6,000 foot

British Allnutt’s Foot (1 bn)
unidentified Dutch infantry bns
British Killigrew Dragoons (a detachment)
several artillery pieces
1 portable wooden bridge and engineers

Spanish Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Brigadier Don Fernando de Arias Ozores

Summary: 500 regulars, unknown number of militia and 200 horse

Segundo Corpo de Granada (approx. 500 men)
Orihuela Militia
Cartagena Militia
Irish Mahony Dragoons (? sqns)
Dentici Cavalry (? sqns)

References

Clonard, Conde de, Historia Orgánica de las Armas de Infantería y Caballería, vol. IX, Madrid, 1851-62, pp. 345, 372-375

Región de Murcia Digital – La Batalla del Huerto de las Bombas

Wikipedia


Acknowledgements

Dinos Antoniadis for the initial version of this article