1707 – Campaign in Spain

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1707 – Campaign in Spain

The campaign lasted from April to November 1707


For the campaign of 1707, Elector Maximilian II of Bavaria kept overall command in the Low Countries. He was seconded by the Duc de Vendôme. The Army of the Rhine remained under the command of the Maréchal de Villars. The Maréchal de Tessé received the command of the Army of Italy; and the Duc de Noailles received command of a corps posted in Roussillon and the Duc de Roquelaure, of a detachment in the Cévennes. The Duc d'Orléans, assisted by the Maréchal de Berwick, the command of the Army of Spain.

According to the French strategic plan for this campaign, in Provence and Dauphiné, Tessé would remain on the defensive. All places of these two provinces were made ready to oppose a long resistance. In Roussillon the Maréchal de Noailles would prepare all means to support the offensive in Spain and would then advance into Catalonia. In the Cévennes, the Duc de Roquelaure had to prevent a new uprising. On the Rhine, Villars would attack the Lines of Stollhofen and then penetrate into the centre of Germany to support the Hungarian Rebellion. In Spain, the Duc d'Orléans and the Maréchal de Berwick had to drive the Allies out of the kingdoms of Valencia and Aragon. Afterwards, they should lay siege to Lleida (aka Lérida) in Catalonia.

For their part, the Allies major initiative was confided to Duke Victor Amadeus II Savoy and Prince Eugène who would proceed to the invasion of the provinces of Dauphiné and Provence. Their first objective was the capture of Toulon, for which large fleets were being prepared in Great Britain and in the Dutch Republic.

In mid-November 1706, an Allied relief fleet had arrived before Cartagena, but its commander refused to disembark the 6,900 men of Lord Rivers he had brought on board, when he realized that the place had been taken. Nevertheless, these unexpected reinforcements from Great Britain came opportunely to revive the hopes of Archduke Charles at the opening of the new year. This relief force consisted of:

At the beginning of 1707, Sir Clowdisley Shovell was the sole commander-in-chief of the Allied navy in the Iberian Peninsula.

For 1707, Lord Peterborough strongly advocated a defensive campaign. However, he was overruled.


Map of Spain and Portugal circa 1700 published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain


Order of Battle
Allied army in Spain in 1707

On 18 January, Shovell sailed from Lisbon.

On 28 January, Shovell landed Lord Rivers's relief force at Alicante. This force had originally numbered some 9,000 men but, having been kept eleven weeks wind bound at Torr Bay, a large number of them died. When it landed thehis force numbered only 6,900 men.

To strengthen this force, the Earl of Galway wanted to send for the Royal Fusiliers (aka Tyrawley's Foot) and 2 bns of Marines that were quartered in Catalonia. However, the viceroy refused to let these troops out of Catalonia.

In February or March at Alicante some of the weaker British bns were reduced and incorporated into the other units:

Towards the end of February, Archduke Charles declared his intention to take part of the forces assembled in the Kingdom of Valencia and to advance into Catalonia.

In March, since Peterborough's endless squabbles with his colleagues and his military conduct in general had been called in question in Great Britain, he was relieved of his command and returned to England. After his departure Archduke Charles and the British commanders fell at variance over their alternative plans.

At the beginning of March, Archduke Charles marched from the vicinity of Alicante with the Winterfeldt Dragoons (4 sqns), the Dutch Falais Infantry and the whole of the Spanish troops. He assembled a force of 29 sqns and 14 bns in Catalonia.

The Earl of Galway and the Marquis das Minas then decided first to feign an offensive in Murcia while the real objective was to march through Aragon to Navarre and cut the line of communication of the Franco-Spanish army with France. A direct offensive on Madrid through La Mancha had been ruled out because the Franco-Spanish army would have retreated towards its bases, shortening its supply lines and gathering reinforcements while the Allies would have to march through regions devastated by the retreating enemy and to lengthen their line of supply from Alicante.

On 22 March, Shovell was back at Lisbon. Sir George Byng, who had already joined him, was then sent back to Alicante with supplies for the land forces.

At the beginning of April, the Allies (42 bns and 53 sqns) assembled at Fuente La Higuera. Galway then decided to change the plan of operations. He planned to destroy Berwick's magazines in Murcia, and this done to march up the Guadalquivir, turn the head-waters of the Tagus, and so move on to Madrid.

On 6 April, the Allied army took the field.

On 10 April, the Allied army crossed the Murcian frontier.

On 12 April, the Allied army reached Yecla, where it destroyed magazines. The Franco-Spanish were insufficiently prepared to face this offensive and evacuated the place.

On 14 April, the Allied army arrived at Montealegre del Castillo, where it destroyed additional magazines.

The Duke of Berwick then encamped near Pétrola, where he was soon joined by reinforcements.

The Allied army then marched to Villena.

On April 17, the town of Villena surrendered, but the garrison (150 men) took refuge in the castle, forcing the Allies to undertake a formal siege. However, the siege train had been left in Valencia, waiting to join the army in its planned march towards Aragon. Galway had to improvised a siege battery with 6 field guns, but these small pieces were unable to breach the walls of the castle.

Berwick, having collected his army (54 bns, 76 sqns), advanced towards Almansa, some 40 km to the northeast of Villena, where he had an important store of provisions in a large plain allowing his cavalry to graze. Furthermore, the Duc d’Orléans was on his way to join him with reinforcements (approx. 9,500 men).

On 22 April, Berwick sent a detachment (2,000 foot, 500 horse) to recapture the town of Ayora, which was occupied by migueletes. Galway and das Minas were informed of this operation, but their informants overestimated the size of the detachment to 8,000 men, and assured that the reinforcements expected from France had not yet reached Berwick's camp. Thereupon Galway and Das Minas, estimating that their army outnumbered Berwick's, resolved to advance and fight Berwick at once, apparently without taking pains to ascertain what the numbers of his army might actually be. Berwick had with him approx. 25,000 men, half French, half Spanish, besides a good train of artillery. Galway, owing to the frightful mortality on board the newly-arrived transports, had but 15,500 men of which a bare third were British, half were Portuguese, and the remainder Dutch, German, and Huguenot.

On 24 April, after an unsuccessful siege of 7 days, the Allies held a council of war, where it was decided to raise the siege of Villena and to force march towards Almansa and attack Berwick's Army. The same day, the reinforcements brought by the Duc d'Orléans made a junction with Berwick's Army.

On 25 April early in the morning, the Allied army set off from Villena and marched in four columns towards Almansa. As the Allied vanguard appeared, the Franco-Spanish immediately struck their tents, called in their foragers and formed themselves in order of battle. Berwick defeated the Allies in the ensuing Battle of Almansa. By great exertions, Galway brought off some remnant of the Allied infantry in good order and retreated unpursued to Ontiniente, some 32 km distant. The guns also were saved. However, a party of 13 bns which had been brought off the field by General Shrimpton, were left behind without any support. These bns retired, pursued by the Spanish cavalry and took up a defensive position some 12 km from the battlefield.

On 26 April in the morning, the 13 isolated Allied bns were compelled to lay down their arms and surrender.

At the end of April, off Cape St. Vincent, Byng learned that the army, then under the command of Galway, had been crushingly defeated at Almansa, and that the remnants of it were retreating upon Tortosa, in Catalonia. Byng consequently hastened on, picking up sick, wounded and stragglers at Denia, Valencia and elsewhere along the coast, and finally proceeding to Barcelona.

Galway, with such troops as he could collect, retired to the Catalonian frontier, and set himself to reorganise a force to defend the lines of the Segre and Ebro rivers.

After the battle of Almansa, Berwick formed two columns: a column under his personal command would advance northwards in the Province of Valencia towards Requena, and the other column (10,000 men) under Asfeld would advance eastwards to conquer Xàtiva, Gandia and Alcoy.

Onofre Assio, the governor of Xàtiva, was disposed to surrender to the army of Philip V, but some of the inhabitants disagreed and complained to the Viceroy of Valencia, the Count of Corzana, who dismissed Onofre and replaced him by the Aragonese Miguel Purroi. The new governor ordered to reinforce the defensive works and to build barricades and obstruct all streets. Some of the inhabitants, who were favourable to Philip V, were imprisoned in the castle. The place had its own militia and the Valencian Captain Josep Marco joined the defenders 400 migueletes.

On 2 May, Berwick's column took Requena.

On 3 May, d'Asfeld laid siege to Xàtiva after having vainly summoned the place to surrender. He encamped in the vicinity of Raval and Las Barreras. He then opened the trench in front of the western wall. He also sent a detachment to Villena to bring back heavier pieces.

On 8 May, Valencia was delivered to Berwick’s column without offering any resistance.

On 31 May, Byng's squadron reached Barcelona, where it was joined by Sir Cloudesley Shovell.

On 6 June, Xàtiva capitulated after resisting more than a month to d'Asfeld's column.

In mid-June, the Duc d'Orléans and the Duc Noailles arrived at Balaguer, where they established their headquarters.

In July and August, Shovell's fleet was redirected towards the French coasts, where it took part in the invasion of Provence and in the Siege of Toulon.

Until the end of August, Galway had hold positions near Bellpuig on the road between Lleida and Barcelona.

By 9 September, the Duc d'Orléans had assembled an army of some 30,000 men for the Siege Lleida.

On 10 September, the Duc d'Orléans opened the trench in front of Lleida. The place was garrisoned by volunteers from the city and the neighboring counties, and by a few British coys. This force (2,500 men) was under the command of Prince Heinrich of Hesse-Darmstadt.

On 11 and 12 September at Lleida, the Franco-Spanish made themselves masters of outworks at Puig Burdel, Pardinyes and Pla de Vilanoveta.

On 18 September, a Franco-Spanish corps (9,500 men) under the command of the Marquis de Bay, arrived in front of Ciudad Rodrigo. The place was defended by 1,400 regular troops and 1,600 militiamen.

On 22 September, the main body of the Franco-Spanish army arrived at Lleida. Its supply bases were at Balaguer and Fraga.

On 4 October, the walls of Ciudad Rodrigo were breached and the place was stormed and forced to capitulate. In this action, the Allies lost 300 men killed, 600 wounded and 2,100 taken prisoners.

On 10 October, after the failure of the expedition, Sir Cloudesley Shovell sailed from Gibraltar with part of his fleet to return home, leaving Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Dilles in command of the winter squadron at Gibraltar. Byng and Norris went home with the commander-in-chief. Shovell's squadron consisted of:

In mid-October, Berwick arrived at Lleida with heavy artillery. The bombardment soon opened breaches in the city walls.

In the night of 12 to 13 October, the Duc d'Orléans launched an assault against the Carmen and Magadalena bastions of Lleida. After four hours the garrison retreated to the castle and a large part of the inhabitants took refuge in the castle as well as in religious buildings.

On 13 October in the morning, the city of Lleida was looted and houses burned. At the Roser Convent, some 700 people were killed. The Franco-Spanish then undertook the siege of the castle.

During its passage to England, Shovell's squadron suffered from extremely bad weather and constant squalls and westerly gales. As it sailed out on the Atlantic, passing the Bay of Biscay on its way to England, the weather worsened, and on most days it was impossible to take the observations needed to determine their latitude.

On 21 October, Shovell's squadron came into the soundings.

On 28 October, Galway marched towards Balaguer with 6,000 soldiers and some miquelets. By that time at Lleida, the trench of the besiegers were only 15 paces from the Castle wall.

On 31 October, Galway's relief forces did not march to Balaguer but encamped at Les Borges Blanques (about four hours from Lleida). In the vicinity of the town, there were small encounters between cavalry forces, and small engagements between about 2,000 soldiers.

On 2 November, with the city of Lleida already occupied (only its castle still resisted, the Franco-Spanish proceeded to the siege of Morella.

On the same day (2 November), in the evening, Shovell's squadron had reached the Scilly Islands and was to the southwest of St Agnes Island, when 4 ships (Association (96), Eagle (70), Romney (54) and Firebrand) were lost when they struck the rocks. The Phoenix fireship went ashore, but was got off again; the St George (96) also struck, but came off without breaking up. Shovell himself drowned.

In early November, Galway met with his staff and decided not to send his entire army to relieve Lleida but only 1,000 horse and 1,000 foot, who should enter the city by surprise.

Shortly afterwards, the Franco-Spanish began the sieges of Ares and Tortosa, to isolate Catalonia from the Kingdom of Valencia.

On 11 November, the Castle of Lleida capitulated. With the capture of Lleida, Philip V was now master of the western part of Catalonia and its agricultural plains, which were essential to supply the army for the planned siege of Barcelona.

On 12 November, the garrison of the Castle of Lleida marched out with all marks of honour and 2 cannon and joined Galway's Army encamped 12 km from thence, too weak to attempt the relief of that place.

In December, Berwick's Franco-Spanish army took up its winter-quarters.

In December, Sir Thomas Dilkes, with the squadron left under his charge, visited Barcelona and Livorno.

On 23 December, Sir Thomas Dilkes died at Livorno. It was suspected at the time that he had been poisoned, but of this no proof has ever been discovered. The command devolved upon the officer next in seniority, Captain Jasper Hicks, of the Cornwall (80).


This article incorporates texts from the following books, which are now in the public domain:

  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 7, 1848, pp. 5-8
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 464, 484-489
  • Clowes, Wm. Laird: The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. II, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 409-412
  • Anon.: An Account of the Earl of Galway’s Conduct in Spain and Portugal, Baker: London, 1711, pp. 81-86

Other sources

Arre Caballo – Campañas en 1.707

Atkinson, C.T.: More Light on Almanza, In: Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 25, No. 104 (Winter, 1947), pp. 150, 154

English Wikipedia


Jörg Meier for details on the British regiments landed and reorganised in Alicante