1706-12-16 – Engagement of Calamocha

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1706-12-16 – Engagement of Calamocha

Spanish victory

Introduction

At the end of November 1706, the army of the Maréchal of Berwick de Berwick had taken up its winter-quarters.

On 3 December, the newly appointed Spanish Maréchal de camp Pons de Mendoza set off from Molina (Molina de Aragón) with the intention of capturing Daroca. His detachment consisted of 3 cavalry rgts and some infantry for a total of approx. 420 horse and 485 foot. The Dutch Baron van Winterfelt, who commanded an outpost at Villel de Mesa was immediately informed of Mendoza's march and decided to intercept him.

On 5 December, Mendoza's detachment drove out Winterfelt's force out of Villafeliche.

On 6 December, Mendoza rested his troops at Villafeliche.

On 7 December, Mendoza reached Daroca and vainly summoned the Count de Puebla to surrender the place. Puebla had 3 infantry rgts at his disposal, in addition to the cavalry which had retreated from Villafeliche. Furthermore, he had received a reinforcement of 300 horse under José Nebot. Mendoza then decided to retire in the direction of Calamocha, 27 km south of Daroca. Mendoza stopped at San Martin del Rio, 7 km from Daroca, where he established an entrenched position.

From 8 to 10 December, Mendoza's detachment remained at San Martin del Rio.

On 10 December, Mendoza's detachment set off from San Martin del Rio, which was set on fire. On his way, he also set fire to Báguena. He then withdrew to Calamocha, where he entrenched his positions in the outskirts, next to the Franciscan convent and hermitage of San Jorge.

On 15 December, the Count of Puebla marched from Daroca at the head of 840 mounted and 320 unmounted cavalrymen, 1,110 Dutch marines and 182 Catalan sometents and miquelets. He reached the heights of Lechago but did not dare to attack Mendoza's strong positions.

Description of Events

On 16 December at 3:00 p.m., the Allies finally moved into the plain. Mendoza remained in his positions and had ample time to scrutinize his rivals, of which he carefully noted their position and clothing, but not their strength:

"The Winterfelt Dragons (blue and red), Nebot Dragons (red and yellow) and a cavalry squadron of Rafael Nebot (blue and yellow) were positioned on the right. The infantry was in the centre and was made up of San-Aman[d] (tile and blue), the Regiment de Palm (blue and white) and the Soubies Regiment, dismounted (white and straw). On the left the Morrás Regiment (white and red) and, in reserve, three small cannons and a party of the Morrás Regiment".

Around 5:00 p.m., Mendoza noticed a gap in the Allied deployment and decided to abandon his secure defensive position. In his own words, as quoted by Sanchez Martin (2014):

"I, because of my few infantry, closed Crafton's half squadrons and mine and Granada to my right, and between the squadrons of Granada I put a little more than 50 Villel militiamen and on the left side my Carabiniers. And seeing disorder on the left of the enemy, I ordered Crafton to advance with my right while, due to the gap they left, I caught them by the side with the Carabiniers of Granada, and I ordered the left to observe the movement of the enemy's right and to entertain them with small skirmishes.

At first everything went as I wanted, because having advanced with the Granada carabiniers, who were in charge of Captain Carlos de Nava, I took the enemy by the side and, not without some admiration, I put their left, which was then supported by Palm's regiment, into flight. ... I gathered all the Carabiniers that I could, since they had not gotten too far ahead of me, and I went after the enemy. They wounded my horse and wounded me with a blow to the lip… The left at that time had all the cavalry on the right of the enemy swarming around them, which came to fall on the infantry. I was not sustained in time because Mr Crafton halted. He must have had his reason and this was to wait for the infantry that was left uncovered, my people having swirled and even folded on the left for no reason. However, the captain who commanded my Carabiniers tried to relieve them… I do not know by what fate or by what [other reason] most of the people fled, the cavalry protected them and picked them up. They [then] returned to the charge, which was repulsed by the enemy cavalry. I came down from the hill, having collected my portion of the Carabiniers, and notwithstanding the wound of my horse and mine, which made me shed abundant blood from my mouth and nostrils, I wanted to throw me at the enemy, but at this time our cavalry returned to their rear, …I got there without being able to attack them. We still had the day, and although with some loss we withdrew to Molina. The Marquis de Villel is wounded by a shot to the chest, which first broke a button and then penetrated. Some dragoons that have escaped from Daroca say that Crafton is wounded, that they have taken 13 prisoners, that no quarter has been given to any Catalan…"

In fact, Mendoza had been soundly defeated.

Outcome

In this engagement, Granada Cavalry lost 13 soldiers (including lieutenants Alonso de Narváez and Carlos Nava) and 18 horses; Mendoza Dragoons, lost 106 men and 16 horses; and Crofton Dragoons. 80 men and 83 horses.

On 17 December, the Count of Puebla, in his report to Archduke Charles, from Calamocha, reported having captured "Brigadier Crofton, Colonel D. Diego de Estrada, nine captains, seven lieutenants, seven ensigns, 15 sergeants, and 207 soldiers"; 247 in total. About the dead, he added that they had been counted between 300 and 400. About the deaths that Mendoza' troops had in the action various numbers circulate. The only closed one was published in Daroca, the day after the battle, in a pamphlet.

"Defeat given to Pons on 16 December 1706 in Calamocha by the King's Arms. Dead 333. Wounded, more than 300. Banners and others offal that have been taken, that of Don Miguel Pons, that of Granada, 4 flags, 10 war chests, 122 horses, ..."

Berwick sent the Lieutenant-General Marquis de Joffreville with 4 cavalry rgts to assume command of Mendoza's depleted forces.

Order of Battle

Allied Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Ernest Baron van Winterfelt

Summary: 840 mounted and 320 unmounted cavalrymen and 1,110 Dutch marines and 182 Catalan sometents and miquelets

Cavalry (840 mounted and 320 unmounted men)

  • Dutch Mattha Dragoons aka Winterfelt Dragoons
  • Spanish (Habsburg) Moras Cavalry (150 men)
  • Spanish (Habsburg) Jose Nebot Dragoons
  • Spanish (Habsburg) Rafael Nebot Cavalry (1 sqn)

Infantry (1,110 men)

  • Dutch Palm Marines
  • Dutch Saint-Amand Infantry

Light troops

  • Spanish (Habsburg) Subies Cavalry (fought dismounted)
  • Miquelets and Sometent (182 men)

Spanish (Bourbon) Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Maréchal de camp Pons de Mendoza

Summary: 420 horse and 485 foot (including 115 dismounted dragoons)

Cavalry (3 rgt)

Infantry

  • Vitoria Infantry (120 men) under Colonel Don Diego de Estrada y Nava
  • Militia of the Marquis de Villel (approx. 250 men)

References

Sanchez Martin, Juan: Miguel Pons de Mendoza 'El resucitado'. Un joven teniente general en la Guerra de Sucesión Espanola, in: Revista de Historia Militar 2014, II extraordinario de 2014, p.120-127, 147f.

Acknowledgements

Jörg Meier for the initial version of this article