1706 – Campaign in Spain

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1706 – Campaign in Spain

The campaign lasted from January to November 1706


All the east of Spain, the former Kingdom of Aragon, which was at all times restive under the supremacy of Castile, now pronounced more or less openly for the Imperialist party. The fall of Barcelona gave a severe shock to the Bourbon king.

For the campaign of 1706, Emperor Joseph I pledged to contribute 40,000 men of his own troops; Great Britain. 28,000 men; the Dutch Republic, 38,000 men (excluding foreign troops in Dutch pay); the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, 87,000 men (including troops in Dutch pay; Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, 18,000 men; and Portugal, 12,000 men. Furthermore, Cavalier, who had taken refuge in the Dutch Republic after the failed uprising in the Cévennes, offered to raise a force of 8,000 rebels in Languedoc.

The Duke of Marlborough would command an army of 71,000 men in the Netherlands; the Margrave of Baden, 40,000 men on the Rhine; Prince Eugène, 45,000 men in Italy; the Duke of Savoy, 18,000 men in his duchy; Archduke Charles, 25,000 men in Spain; and the Earl of Galway, 24,000 men in Portugal.

The vast extension of operations in the Iberian Peninsula, and the general sickliness of the British troops in that quarter, demanded the enlistment of an usually large number of recruits. One new dragoon rgt and 11 new bns were formed in the course of the spring.

In France, the provinces of the kingdom supplied 27,000 militiamen destined to the Army of Italy and the Army of Spain. Each infantry company received 5 additional men. Furthermore, 30 new rgts were raised (a total of 35 bns).

The main goal of King Louis XIV for the current campaign was the re-establishment of the situation in Spain where Catalonia had revolted against its new Bourbon king, Philip V. The first operation would be the siege of Barcelona. It would then be followed by an offensive in the Kingdom of Valencia while any attempt of uprising in Aragon would immediately be quenched.

King Philip V decided to personally command the main army which would operate in Catalonia. He was seconded by the Maréchal de Tessé. The Comte de Toulouse was instructed to assist the king of Spain with a fleet equipped at Toulon for the siege of Barcelona. The Duc de Noailles was charged to send the necessary ammunition for the siege from Roussillon.

Meanwhile the Duke of Berwick, who commanded a Franco-Spanish army on the frontier with Portugal, would make a diversion.

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


At the end of December 1705, the Spanish General de las Torres crossed the northern frontier from Aragon into Valencia and laid siege to Sant Mateu. The town was important, inasmuch as it commanded the communications between Catalonia and Valencia, but it was held by no stronger garrison than 30 men of the 1st Royal Dragoons and 1,000 Spanish irregular infantry under Colonel Jones. This officer defended himself as well as he could, but at once begged urgently for reinforcements.

In January 1706, the troops and militias destined to join the Army of Spain assembled in the French towns along the frontier with Spain.

The Allies relieve Valencia

In January, Archduke Charles appealed for help to Peterborough, who forthwith ordered General Killigrew to march with his garrison (Earl of Barrymore's Foot, Earl of Donegall's Foot, Mountjoy's Foot and 170 men of the 1st Royal Dragoons) from Tortosa and cross the Ebro, while he himself, riding night and day from Barcelona, caught up the column at the close of the first day’s march. Archduke Charles had represented the force of Las Torres as but 2,000 strong, and had added that thousands of peasants were up in arms against it. Peterborough now discovered that the Spaniards numbered 4,000 foot and 3,000 horse, while the thousands of armed peasantry were wholly imaginary. His own force totalled only 1,300 men. With such a handful his only hope of success must lie in stratagem.

In January, Luis Antonio de Belluga y Moncada, a strong supporter of the Bourbon king, who had been recently appointed Bishop of Cartagena, dispatched a contingent which managed to break the siege of Alicante.

On 6 January, pro-Bourbon troops established themselves in Alicante.

By 8 January, the British had five foot rgts stationed in Portugal:

On 8 January, advancing southward with all speed, Peterborough split up his minute army into a number of small detachments, and pushing them forward by different routes arrived early in the morning, unseen and unsuspected, at Traiguera, within 10 km of the enemy's camp. That same day, a spy was captured by the Spaniards and brought before Las Torres. On him was found a letter from Peterborough to Colonel Jones.

“I am at Traiguera, with six thousand men and artillery. You may wonder how I collected them but for transport and secrecy nothing equals the sea. Now, be ready to pursue Las Torres over the plain. It is his only line of retreat, for I have occupied all the passes over the hills. You will see us on the hill-tops between nine and ten. Prove yourself a true dragoon, and have your miquelets(irregulars) ready for their favourite plunder and chase.”

The spy, being threatened with death, offered to betray another messenger of Peterborough’s who was lying concealed in the hills. This second spy was captured, and a duplicate of the same letter was found on him. The pair of them were questioned, when the first protested that he knew nothing of the strength of Peterborough's force, while the other declared that the despatch spoke truth. Suddenly came intelligence from the Spanish outposts that the enemy was advancing in force in several columns, and presently the red-coats appeared at different points on the hill-tops, making a brave show against the sky. Las Torres became uneasy. His depression was increased by the accidental explosion of one of his own mines before Sant Mateu; and he hastily ordered an immediate retreat. Whereupon out came Jones with his garrison, and turned the retreat into something greatly resembling a flight; while Peterborough with his 1,300 men walked quietly into Sant Mateu and took possession of the whole of the enemy's camp and material of war. The trick, for the whole incident of the captured spies had been carefully preconcerted, had proved a brilliant success.

Las Torres was still retreating southward by the coast-road, and Peterborough was making a show of pursuit by marching wide on his right flank, when a pressing message reached him from Archduke Charles. A French force of 8,000 men was advancing into Catalonia from Roussillon; a second force of approx. 4,500 men under Count Tserclaes de Tilly was threatening Lerida; and a third under Maréchal Tessé was marching through Aragon upon Tortosa.

On 12 January, seeing that Archduke Charles was urgent for help in Catalonia, but intent on pursuing his own design in Valencia, Peterborough resolved to send his infantry to the coast at Vinaròs, to be transported if necessary by sea. The men, though ragged, shoeless, and much distressed by long marches through the wintry days, left him very unwillingly.

Then summoning the garrison of Lérida (Henry Cunningham's Dragoon, Saunderson's Marines, Hans Hamilton’s Foot, 2 Dutch bns and 2 Neapolitan bns) and a reinforcement of Spaniards to follow him to Valencia, Peterborough resumed the pursuit of Las Torres with 150 dragoons.

Peterborough was too late to save Villarreal, which Las Torres took by treachery, and having taken massacred the entire male population. Nevertheless, Peterborough, while always concealing his own weakness, contrived by incessant harassing of the enemy's rear to inflict considerable loss and annoyance.

Peterborough reached Nules, three days' march from the city of Valencia, a town of considerable strength, where Las Torres had left arms sufficient to equip 1,000 of the townsmen.

Peterborough marched straight up to the gate with his handful of dragoons. The townspeople manned the walls and opened fire, but were speedily checked by a message from Peterborough, bidding them send out a priest or a magistrate instantly on pain of having their walls battered down and every soul put to the sword, in revenge for Villareal. Some priests who knew him at once came out to him. “I give you six minutes,” said Peterborough to the trembling cassocks. “Open your gates or I spare not a soul of you.” The gates were quickly opened, and the general, riding in at the head of his tattered dragoons, demanded immediate provision of rations and forage for several thousand men. The news soon reached Las Torres, who was little more than an hour ahead, and for the third time his unfortunate army was hurried out of camp and condemned to a weary retreat from an imaginary enemy.

Peterborough, however, after taking 200 horses from Nules, left the town to ponder over its fright and retired to Castellón de la Plana. Having there raised yet another 100 horses he ordered the Earl of Barrymore's Foot to march from Vinaròs to Oropesa and went thither himself to inspect them. The men marched in but 400 strong, with red coats ragged and rusty, yellow facings in tatters, yellow breeches faded and torn, shoes and stockings in holes or more often altogether wanting. Peterborough then marched them up to the brow of a neighbouring hill, where to their amazement they found 400 horses awaiting them, all fully equipped. The officers received commissions according to their rank in the mounted service, two or three only being detached to raise a new battalion in England and thus within an hour Barrymore's Foot became Pearce's Dragoons.

Peterborough then called in such additional weak bns of British as he could, and having collected a total force of 3,000 men, one-third of it mounted, prepared to outwit a new general, the Duke of Los Arcos, who had superseded Las Torres. The relief of Valencia was Peterborough's first object, but to effect this he had first to gain possession of Murviedro (unidentified location), which lay on his road and was occupied by the enemy, and that, too, in such a way that Los Arcos should not move out against him in the open plain and crush him by superior numbers. It was a difficult problem, and it was only solved by a trick too elaborate and lengthy to be detailed here. The plan was very clever, so clever as almost to transcend the bounds of what is fair in war, but it was completely successful.

On 27 January, Sir John Leake, who had sailed from Spithead with his squadron at the beginning of December 1705, finally reached Lisbon on board the Prince George (96).

As soon as his squadron was again ready for sea, Sir John Leake made an attempt, which was foiled by the treachery of the Portuguese, to intercept some galleons bound from Cádiz to the West Indies.

On 4 February, Peterborough marched into Valencia without firing a shot.

Las Torres, who had once more superseded Los Arcos, presently appeared on the scene again, bringing 4,000 men by land and a powerful siege-train by sea for the reduction of Valencia.

Peterborough pounced upon the train directly after it had been landed and captured the whole of it .

Peterborough then sent 1,200 men against the 4,000 Spaniards and surprised them, routed them, and took 600 prisoners.

Peterborough received an urgent summons to assist in the defence of Barcelona.

In March, the garrison of Alicante was reinforced.

The Franco-Spanish lay siege to Barcelona

Exceptionally, for his campaign against Catalonia, King Philip V of Spain was accompanied only by his majordomo, Count of Frigiliana, while, Amelot remained in Madrid with the entire Council of State.

On 14 March, Philip V left Madrid for Catalonia. He planned to establish his headquarters in Caspe, and he recalled the greater part of the troops from the Portuguese border, leaving the Duke of Berwick on this frontier with a small army. He also asked for the support of the Duc de Noailles, who was posted in Roussillon, and of the Comte de Toulouse, who commanded the French fleet in the Mediterranean.

Around mid-March, Philip V escorted by 300 guards arrived at Caspe, where the Maréchal de Tessé, who had replaced the Duc de Berwick as commander-in-chief in Spain, was already waiting for him at the head of 12,000 men. Philip V charged the Count de la Torres to contain the Allies in the Kingdom of Valencia while the main army would invade Catalonia.

The army of the Duc de Noailles marched from Roussillon to Barcelona through the region of Empordà.

On 17 March, the main Franco-Spanish army set off from Caspe for Barcelona.

On 2 April, Philip V and the Maréchal Tessé at the head of the main Franco-Spanish army marched from Lérida reached Barcelona, where it made junction with the army of the Duc de Noailles, arriving from Girona. The army encamped north of Barcelona, its right wing reaching the foot of Montjuich. The naval squadron of the Comte de Toulouse established a blockade from the sea-side.

On 3 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • About 9:00 a.m., Tessé launched an attack on the weakest and most westerly part of the outworks of Barcelona, where there were on 100 men of Hans Hamilton’s Foot. The British drove back the attack.
    • The Duc de Noailles personally joined the army before Barcelona and the siege of began in form. The Franco-Spanish army, now counting approx. 18,000 men, encamped near Sarriá. The naval squadron of the Comte de Toulouse completed the investment of Barcelona.
  • Allies
    • At Gibraltar, Leake’s 21 ships of the line made a junction with Price’s 6 ships of the line and the 7 ships of the line and 6 frigates of Jacob van Wassenaer the Young. Stanhope embarked aboard the fleet.

On 4 April, a party of miquelets made a sally from the neighbouring hills against the Franco-Spanish camp.

On the night of 4 to 5 April, the French made themselves masters of the “Round Fort” on the beach, west of Montjuich.

On April 5,

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Now that they controlled the “Round Fort,” the French unloaded provisions, cannon and ammunition from their naval squadron.
  • Allies
    • 4 rgts of the garrison of Girona (including 2 rgts raised in the country) under Lord Donegal arrived at Barcelona to reinforce the garrison.
    • Leake received a letter from Archduke Charles informing him that a French squadron was off Barcelona and that the city was also besieged, and requesting his assistance. In spite of orders from Peterborough, who, as Joint Admiral of the Fleet, was, though he served ashore, the superior officer, Leake decided to come to the assistance of the place.

On 6 April

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The army began its operations against the Castle of Montjuich and the City of Barcelona.
  • Allies
    • The rest of the garrison of Girona managed to reach Barcelona by sea. Archduke Charles, who had decided to remain in Barcelona, was at the head of 8,900 men:
      • 4,500 men of the Coronela (militia) of Barcelona
      • 2,000 Allied regular foot (British, Germans and Dutch), including 1,100 British:
      • 1,000 Catalan regular
        • Reales Guardias Catalanas
        • Regimiento de Barcelona
      • 1,000 Catalan volunteers
      • 150 British dragoons
      • 250 Catalan dragoons
    • The Count of Cifuentes left Barcelona to wage guerrilla warfare against the Franco-Spanish army. Weak as it was this little garrison made a gallant resistance, but the odds were too great against it.

On 8 April early in the morning, the Franco-Spanish artillery began to bombard the Castle of Montjuich, which Tessé considered the key leading to the capture of Barcelona.. In the afternoon, a party of miquelets, supported by 200 regulars, sallied from Montjuich but were driven back.

On the night of 11 to 12 April, the Franco-Spanish established two batteries (each of 6 guns), facing the two northern bastions of Montjuich.

On 13 April, the bombardment of the Castle of Montjuich intensified.

By 14 April, the Franco-Spanish had six batteries playing on the Castle of Montjuich.

The brutality with which Tessé treated the people of Aragon and Catalonia raised the country against King Philip V.

On the night of 15 to 16 April, Tessé launched an attack against the westernmost outwork of Montjuich, which was defended by the Reales Guardias Catalanas who evacuated the outwork. However, Lord Donegal with 700 British foot put a stop to the advance of the Franco-Spanish.

On the night of 16 to 17 April, Tessé’s troops established a battery in the newly conquered westernmost outwork of the Castle of Montjuich.

On 17 April in the afternoon, two French bomb-ketches anchored near Barcelona.

On the night of 19 to 20 April, the French bombarded Barcelona from the sea (more than 200 bombs during this single night) while their battery near Santa Madrona fired on the walls. Meanwhile they continued to bombard the Castle of Montjuich.

On the night of 20 to 21 April, several barrels of powder blew up in the Castle of Montjuich. The bombardment of the city intensified.

On 21 April at 7:00 p.m., Tessé launched another attack against the Castle of Montjuich, penetrated the works in two places and established a lodgement on the breach.

On the night of 21 to 22 April, the French secured a larger lodgement on the covert way of the Castle of Montjuich.

On 22 April, the Allies sounded the alarm, calling all men not already upon duty to march to Montjuich and dislodged the enemy, but the attempt failed. Lord Donegal was killed in action and the Franco-Spanish took 400 prisoners (including 20 British officers).

On 23 April, the Allies had only 50 British foot defending the Castle of Montjuich, which was bombarded by 8 mortars.

On 24 April

  • Allies
    • At 3:00 a.m., several barks escorted by two half-galleys managed to reach Barcelona with 500 Neapolitans sent from Matero by Lord Peterborough to reinforce the garrison. 400 of them reached the city, the rest being forced to return to Matero.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Franco-Spanish established a new battery in the Valascous Bastion of the Castle of Montjuich.
    • By 8:00 a.m., a breach had been created in the curtain-wall.
    • By 5:00 p.m., more than half of the “Tower” had been beaten down.

On 25 April, the Allies evacuated the Castle of Montjuich and set fire to it.

On the night of 25 to 26 April, the Franco-Spanish worked at new trenches between Santa Madrona and the road from San Antonio.

On 26 April, the Castle of Montjuich fell into Tessé’s hands . The city wall were breached near the San Antonio Gate.

On 27 April, the Allies strengthened the curtain wall facing the Castle of Montjuich.

On 28 April, Tessé established 18 guns and 4 mortars near the San Antonio Gate.

On 29 April, Leake’s fleet reached Altea.

On 30 April

  • Allies
    • In the morning, 2 half-galleys arrived at Barcelona, transporting the Prince of Hesse and 60 soldiers.
    • Byng joined Leake’s fleet at Altea with 14 additional ships of the line.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The trenches reached the breach near the San Antonio Gate.

On 1 May, Tessé established two new batteries to play upon the curtain wall of Barcelona.

On 2 May, Peterborough informed the defenders of Barcelona that the Allied fleet was approaching.

On 3 May, Hovenden Walker joined Leake’s fleet at Altea with 5 ships of the line. Leake’s fleet then sailed for Mallorca and then for Tortosa. In Barcelona, all foot were ordered to be at the breaches throughout the night.

On 5 May, Tessé established another battery near the San Antonio Gate.

On 7 May, 2,000 men belonging to Peterborough’s Army embarked aboard Leake’s fleet at Tortosa. Fearing that the Franco-Spanish army besieging Barcelona would storm the city before his arrival, Leake dispatched Byng and Wassenaer ahead. Off Tarragona, Leake was also joined from the shore by the Earl of Peterborough, who resumed command afloat, and hoisted the Union at the main in the Prince George (96), though he seems to have left the active command of affairs to Leake.

On 8 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The French fleet of the Comte de Toulouse withdrew eastwards.
  • Allies
    • At 2:00 p.m., Admiral Leake's fleet (56 ships, 10,000 men) reached Barcelona and immediately landed 8,000 men. Some rgts marched directly to the breach.

On the night of 8 to 9 May, the Allies had 3,000 men at the breach and inner works of Barcelona.

On 9 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Part of Tessé’s artillery continued to bombard and batter the walls of Barcelona. Without naval support and facing a more numerous enemy, Philip V decided to lift the siege of Barcelona and to retire towards the French border.
  • Allies
    • The Allies landed much of their baggage and provisions for a few days.

On 11 May, Tessé abandoned the whole of his siege-train. The Allies captured 106 brass cannon, 27 mortars, 5,000 powder barrels, 40,000 cartridges, 500 barrels of musket balls, 2,000 bombs, 2,000 grenades and 12,300 hand grenades. Catalonia was now firmly in the hands of the Allies.

During the retreat across the Pyrenees towards Perpignan, his army was pursued and harassed by miquelets. The retreat soon turned to a rout and artillery and ammunition were left behind.

Since the beginning of April, the withdrawal of Spanish troops from the Portuguese frontier for service in Catalonia, had opened the way for an invasion of Castile by the Allies (British, Portuguese and Dutch).

The Allies advance from Portugal into Extremadura

On 31 March, after enormous delay, as the main Franco-Spanish army was marching on Barcelona, the Confederate Army (British, Dutch and Portuguese) began operations from the side of Portugal against Maréchal Berwick. The objective of the campaign was to capture the town of Alcántara and then to advance on Madrid to create a strong diversion. Lord Galway and General das Minas left Elvas with 19,000 men, including 2,000 Dutch and a British contingent of 2,200 men, more precisely:

The same day (March 31), the Allied army reached Salvador.

On 2 April, the Allied army marched to Mayerga (unidentified location).

On 3 April, the Allied army reached San Vicente de Alcántara, between Alburquerque and Valencia de Alcántara. There several units joined the army, bringing its total strength to 26 Portuguese bns, 5 British bns, 4 Dutch bns, 36 Portuguese sqns, 2 British sqns, and 4 Dutch sqns, with 24 heavy artillery pieces and 18 field pieces.

On 4 April, the Allied army advanced to Membrio and encamped near the Selor River (unidentified location).

In the night of 5 to 6 April, Marechal de camp Don Juan Manuel was detached from the Allied main army to secure a passage on the Selor River.

On 6 April, all the cavalry and the first line of infantry of the Allied army crossed the Selor River. The second line of infantry was left behind under the Count de la Corsana, to cover the artillery and baggage. The same day, Berwick threw 7 additional bns into Alcántara, thus bringing its garrison to 10 bns (1 bn of the Reales Guardias Españolas under the command of the Marquis d’Aytona, and 9 Spanish tercios for a total of approx. 5,000 men) under the command of the Maréchal de camp Don Miguel de Guaseo and Brigadier Don Diego d’Avila.

In 7 April in the morning, the Allied army advanced to attack the Duke of Berwick, who was encamped at Brozas. The Marquis das Minas led the right and Lord Galway, the left. By 4:00 p.m., the Allies were deployed, ready for combat, when peasants informed them that Berwick had already retired. The Allied vanguard caught up with the Franco-Spanish rearguard under the Count d’Aguilar and put it to flight, taking Major-General Don Diego Monroy and the Count de Canilleros prisoners. The Portuguese lost the Count de Sao Vincente, killed and Colonel Machedo, severely wounded. Berwick encamped near Anojo del Puereo (unidentified location) before retiring to Cáceres. The Allies entered Brozas.

On 8 April, the Allied army rested near Brozas and put a garrison of 400 men in the castle.

On 9 April, the Allied army marched towards Alcántara.

On 10 April in the morning, Holcroft Blood’s Foot and George Wade’s Foot stormed the Convent of San Francisco. In this affair, they lost 50 men killed or wounded (among the wounded were Colonel Wade and Lieutenant-Colonel d’Harcourt). The same day, the Count de la Corsona joined the main army with the artillery, baggage and provisions, and the rest of the the infantry. In the evening, the Allies opened the trenches before Alcántara. The Marquis de Montandre was charged to supervise the siege. He had 5 bns and 200 horse to cover the 800 workmen.

On 11 April around noon, the defenders of Alcántara made a vigorous sally to recover the Convent of San Francisco, driving back the one of the 2 Portuguese bn occupying it. However, Don Francis de Mello Infantry held its ground, allowing reinforcements to join them. Together, they drove back the attack.

In the night of 12 to 13 April, the Allies completed a battery of 13 pieces. A British battery directed against the Convent of San Francisco was also improved.

On 13 April, the Marquis de Fronteira crossed the Tagus with the troops of Abeira over a bridge of boat. He then took position with some cannon and 6 bns on the other side of Alcántara.

In the night of 13 to 14 April, Major-General Lloyd manned the trenches with 4 bns (British and Dutch). The defenders of Alcántara demanded to capitulate, but they rejected the conditions of capitulation and the bombardment resumed. The Allies erected a new battery on the other side of the river. This battery fired into the streets and places of Alcántara. The Allied artillery widened the breach. The Franco-Spanish garrison then surrendered as prisoners of war.

Berwick was preparing to cross the Tagus, to relieve Alcántara, when he heard that the place had surrendered. Berwick then retired to Plasencia to cover Madrid without risking battle, because his small army was inferior to the Allies.

On 16 April, the garrison (now only 3,282 men, including 6 generals and 128 officers) of Alcántara came out at the breach. The Allies captured 47 brass cannon, 17 iron cannon, 2,961 muskets, 200 barrels of gunpowder, 6 mortars, 800 bombs and a large quantity of flour, rye, wine and oil and 12,000 new uniforms destined to the Spanish Army.

On 19 April, the Marquis de Fronteira set off from Alcántara with a detachment and marched to Moraleja which was defended by a garrison of 400 men under a French governor.

On 20 April

  • Allies
    • The Allied army crossed the Tagus over the bridge of Alcántara and encamped at Piedras Albas.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Duke of Berwick crossed the Tagus at the bridge of Cañaveral and recalled 8 bns and 12 cannon out of Badajoz, ordering them to march to the bridge of Almaraz. He reinforced this detachment with the Chavez Infantry (unidentified unit) and some militia.

On 22 April, the garrison of Moraleja surrendered as prisoners of war.

On 23 April, Don Juan d’Atayda made himself master of Coria, a city surrounded by pretty good walls.

On 24 April

  • Allies
    • The Allied army marched to Coria. The inhabitants of the neighbouring country came in to submit.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick took position at Plasencia with his cavalry.

On 26 April, the Allied army set off from Coria and encamped in a fine plain on the road to Plasencia, near the banks of the Alagón River.

On 27 April, the Allied army marched to Galisteo.

On 28 April, the Allied army reached Plasencia, where it encamped. The Allies held a council of war, where Galway insisted that the army should proceed directly to Madrid, but the Portuguese generals did not want to advance so far into Spain before knowing the outcome of the siege of Barcelona. It was rather decided to attack Berwick, who had assembled all his forces before the fords of the Tietar River and entrenched his positions.

On 1 May

  • Allies
    • The Allied army set off from Plasencia and marched to La Venta Masagona (unidentified location).
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick retired from the banks of the Tietar River with most of his army and his baggage, leaving a rearguard and some dismounted dragoons to defend the entrenchments, who were soon overpowered by the Portuguese infantry.

Once more, the Portuguese generals proved reluctant to advance directly on Madrid. However, the Earl of Galway managed to convince them to advance up to Almaraz and destroy the bridge there.

On 4 May, the Allied army marched to Almaraz and began to pull down the bridge. However, the generals put a stop to the operations when the inhabitants represented that their trade would be quite ruined. The Portuguese generals then made it clear that they would not advance any further, preferring to turn their attention to the capture of Badajoz or Ciudad Rodrigo to cover their frontier. It was resolved to lay siege to Ciudad Rodrigo and the Portuguese generals promised that, if the city was captured and the siege of Barcelona raised, they would then advance towards Madrid by way of Salamanca.

On 10 May, Don Joseph Belvis arrived at the Allied camp with a message from the Earl of Peterborough, urging Galway to march directly on Madrid. This message did not change the resolution of the Portuguese generals, who had already sent their wagons and carriages towards Ciudad Rodrigo. The same day, the Allied army marched from Almaraz to Venta Masagona.

Unknown to Galway and das Minas, the siege of Barcelona had just been raised and the Franco-Spanish army was preparing to retreat to France.

On 12 May, the Allied army encamped at Plasencia.

On 13 May, the Allied army encamped at Galisteo.

On 14 May, the Allied army encamped at Coria. The Marquis de Montandre was detached with 5 bns and some cavalry to make himself master of the Robradillo Pass (unidentified location).

On 17 May, the Allied army encamped at Cadabalso (probably Cadalso).

On 18 May, the Allied army crossed the mountains and encamped at Martiago.

Allied invasion of Castile

With Tessé's withdrawal, nothing now remained but to take advantage of this piece of good fortune. Peterborough had always favoured a dash on Madrid, and had twice urged this course upon Archduke Charles in vain.

On 18 May, a council of war was held in Barcelona. Peterborough pressed for a third time for an advance on Madrid. This time, he was successful. The Allies decided to make a three pronged advance on Madrid: Archduke Charles would advance from Catalonia, the Earl of Peterborough, from Valencia; and Galway and das Minas from the Ciudad Rodrigo, after the capture of the place. The troops operating in Catalonia were subdivided as follows:

  • forces to remain in Catalonia (6,100 foot, 1,000 horse)
    • in Barcelona (2,650 men)
      • British Charles Willis' Marines (1,000 men)
      • British Breton’s Foot (500 men) unidentified unit
      • Catalan? Barcelona Regiment (1,000 men)
      • ???Clariano’s Horse (150 men) unidentified unit
    • in Girona (3,100 men)
      • British Royal Fusiliers (500 men)
      • British Hans Hamilton’s Foot (500 men)
      • Dutch Saint-Amant Infantry (600 men)
      • Imperial Don Joseph Paguera’s Infantry (400 men)
      • Imperial His Majesty’s Deputation (400 men)
      • Imperial Nebot Cavalry (400 men)
      • Imperial Moraga’s Infantry (300 men)
    • in Lérida (850 men)
      • Dutch Palm’s Marines (700 men)
      • ??? Sobias’ Horse (150 men)
    • in Tortosa (500 men)
      • Imperial Don Antonio Paguera’s Infantry (500 men)
  • for the campaign (6,500 men)
    • to be sent by sea to Valencia under the Earl of Peterborough (1,800 British foot)
    • stationed in the Kingdom of Valencia (1,200 men, including Ahumada Infantry)
    • Neapolitan Castillion’s Infantry (1,000 men)
    • ??? Colbatch’s Infantry (500 men)
    • ??? Zinzendorf’s Guards Cavalry (500 men)
    • ??? Morras’ Cavalry (500 men)
    • Killigrew’s Dragoons (1,000 men)
    • Artillery
      • 14 field pieces
      • 4 half-cannon
      • 2 mortars

Peterborough sailed for Valencia with 1,800 British foot.

On 13 May, Peterborough’s troops landed in Valencia. A council of war was held in Altea and the Allied decided to lay siege to Cartagena. With immense trouble, Peterborough procured horses and accoutrements to convert some of his infantry into dragoons (the Peterborough's Dragoons), and then pushed forward a detached force of 1,500 British under Lieutenant-General Windham to besiege Requena.

On 20 May, Confederate Army crossed the Agueda River and encamped within 2 km of Ciudad Rodrigo.

On 21 May, the Confederate Army began the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, which surrendered on 26 May.

On 23 May, Philip V reached Perpignan.

On 25 May, on his way back to Spain, Philip V crossed the Pass of Roncesvalles.

On 27 May, the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo marched out. The same day, Galway and das Minas were informed of the raising of the siege of Barcelona. It was unanimously resolved to march on Madrid.

At the beginning of June, Peterborough captured Requena and Cuenca, opening the road for Archduke Charles to Madrid.

On 2 June, the Confederate Army set off from Ciudad Rodrigo and marched towards Madrid.

On 6 June, Philip V reached Madrid.

On 7 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick’s Army retired from Salamanca towards the Guadarama Pass to cover Madrid.
  • Allies
    • The Confederate Army reached Salamanca. Then turning east, it marched straight upon Madrid. By that time, there were only 20 Portuguese bns with the army, which, through detachments and desertions, counted approx. 13,500 men (compared to 22,000 men at the beginning of the campaign).
    • The Allies sent a detachment to take possession of Alba de Tormes and put a garrison in the castle.

On its way towards Madrid, the Confederate Army received the submission of Peñaranda (Peñaranda de Bracamonte) and Segovia.

In Murcia, Elche fell into the hands of the Allies. The threat posed to the pro-Bourbon Province of Murcia by the occupation of this town gradually worsened.

Two ships loaded with 40,000 pesos, ammunition and food for the garrison of the North African stronghold of Oran, which was besieged by Muaskar's Bey Bouchelaghem, had gathered in Cartagena. Count of Santa Cruz de los Manueles, quadriphus (?) of the royal galleys, was responsible for the relief of Oran. However, he was involved in a pro-Habsburg conspiracy in Cartagena. For this reason, upon leaving the port, he led a mutiny in which he announced his loyalty to Archduke Charles. He then abandoned his mission to relieve Oran and rejoined the Allies fleet commanded by Leake, who had departed from Altea in his search.

On 17 June, the Confederate Army encamped at Villacarteri (probably Villacastin), where they established a magazine and ovens, guarded by 1 bn.

On 18 June, the Confederate Army encamped at Espinal (probably Espinar), where deputies from the Escurial came to submit.

By that time, the Duke of Berwick, who had been reinforced with de Las Torres’ 1,250 men, was at the head of 5,500 horse and 17 bns.

On 23 June

  • Allies
    • the Confederate Army passed the mountains at the Guadarama Pass and encamped near the village of Guadarama.
    • On the coast, Leake’s squadron received the surrender of Cartagena. The Allies had taken over a strategic port, naturally sheltered in a bay which, since 1670, was the permanent naval base of the Spanish galleys in the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, its capture had been a prerequisite for the conquest of the Kingdom of Murcia.

On 24 June

  • Allies
    • the Confederate Army encamped at Nuestra Señora del Retamar. A detachment of horse was sent forward to Madrid, which submitted. Galway received a message from Archduke Charles, informing him that the archduke had been left in Barcelona while the Earl of Peterborough had embarked with the infantry for Valencia. Archduke Charles planned to join Peterborough at Valencia with the cavalry and then march on Madrid.
    • On the coast, the Allies entered into Cartagena. Leake left a garrison of 600 Marines in the place.

On 25 June, the mayor of Madrid along with three other deputies came to the Allied camp to formally submit. The Count de Galba enthusiastically espoused the interests of the Habsburgs.

On 26 June, informed that Philip V had evacuated Madrid and retired to Burgos, Galway sent a column of 2,000 horse under the Marquis de Villaverde, who entered Madrid without resistance.

On 27 June, the Confederate Army encamped on the banks of the Manzanares near Madrid. The queen, who acted as regent in the absence of King Philip V, retired to Burgos.

On 28 June, Lord Galway and the Marquis de las Minas, entered Madrid where they experienced a very cold reception. They took possession of the capital in the name of the Austrian suitor. However, the inhabitants of Madrid offered passive resistance. Furthermore, upon learning that the capital had been invaded by the Portuguese, practically no Castilian city proclaimed itself to favor of the Archduke.

At this juncture, the operations of the Allies, for no particular reason, came to an end. Galway, without a thought apparently of following up Berwick, halted for two weeks in Madrid, where the Portuguese troops behaved disgracefully.

In July, the Marquis of Rafal, who commanded in Orihuela, defected to the Allies who advanced on Albacete, Almansa and Chinchilla de Montearagón.

But the success of the Allies was merely apparent. The appearance in their midst of an invading army of Portuguese and heretics roused the national feeling of the Castilians. The whole of the country through which Galway had marched rose in revolt and rallied to the Bourbon cause. In Old Castile, several towns (among them Segovia and Mancha) rose and took up arms against the Habsburgs pretender. Guerrillero bands sprang up on all sides, and they found capable leaders in Vallejo and Bracamonte.

In the Province of Murcia, adjacent to the Province of Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast, Bishop de Belluga y Moncada mobilized the nobility and inflamed the neighbourhood to resist the advance of the Allies, arguing the legitimacy of Philip V.

On 2 July, Archduke Charles reached Tarragona. He detached Count Noyelles to the Kingdom of Aragon.

On 3 July, Archduke Charles wrote to the Earl of Peterborough, expressing the desire that his troops remain in Spain instead of sailing to Italy to relieve the Duke of Savoy. However, the archduke mentioned that the troops used for the capture of Cartagena could sail for Italy, after capturing the Balearic Islands.

On 5 July, Count Noyelles reached Zaragoza. On his way, he had met deputies of the Kingdom of Aragon who had come to join him with 800 horse and 2,000 foot.

On 6 July, Archduke Charles was proclaimed in absentia King of Spain as Charles III. Only nine titled nobles joined him (the counts of Oropesa, Haro, Erill, Foncalada, Tendilla, Elda, and Gálvez; the Duke of Nájera; and the Marquis of Miraflores) and 15 members of the high clergy, The event was held from a balcony of the Casa de la Panadería in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

Archduke Charles, after immense delay suddenly altered the route which Peterborough had marked out for him and insisted on marching to Madrid through Aragon.

By 7 July

  • Allies
    • The Earl of Peterborough had some 4,000 men posted at Requena, waiting for the arrival of Archduke Charles to march on Madrid.
    • Leake’s fleet (70 ships of the line and frigates, 30 transports and 9 barges) arrived before Alicante. 2,000 miquelets under Seorcia completed the investment. The garrison of the place (500 regulars and 1,500 local militiamen) was under the command of Major-General Daniel Mahony, an Irish exile. Leake summoned Mahony to surrender but the latter declined his offer and decided to resist as long as possible. The Allies landed 800 marines and 500 foot to reinforce the miquelets. Even then, the land forces were not sufficient to undertake a formal siege of the place. Meanwhile, the defenders assembled some 4,000 men (Mahony Dragoons, some coys of Granada and the company of Pedro Corbí).

On 11 July, King Philip V, worried for his Kingdom of Murcia, appointed Bishop Belluga as captain and viceroy of Murcia and Valencia with the task of dealing with the threat of an Allied invasion. The city of Murcia had been isolated 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.

Soon afterwards, the city of Toledo declared for the Bourbons.

On 18 July, King Charles reached Zaragoza. Most of the Kingdom of Aragon (with exception of localities bordering France or Castile such as Jaca, Borja, Tarazona, and others such as Caspe or Fragathen) joined the Habsburg cause.

On 25 July, the Confederate Army marched to Puente de los Viveros, where it took position with the Jarama River to its front to cover Madrid. Galway and das Minas threw a body of infantry under the Count de Torraca into Alcala (Alcala de Henares) where the Allies established their bakery.

On 26 July, the first line of the Confederate Army moved about 60 km northeastward and took up a strong position at Guadalajara. The rest of the army remained at Alcala. Galway and das Minas decided to detach 2,000 foot and 500 horse with 4 cannon under General of Artillery Don Pedro Mascarenas to reduce Toledo. However, they canceled the expedition at the news that Archduke Charles was marching to join them.

On 28 July, the Confederate Army marched to Sopetrán (unidentified location) to cover the march of Archduke Charles towards Molina. It encamped near Asca (unidentified location). There the generals were informed that a Franco-Spanish army was assembled at Jadraque.

In the night of 28 to 29 July, the Confederate Army marched on Jadraque. The two armies cannonaded each other for two days.

On 31 July, the Franco-Spanish receiving reinforcements each day, the Confederate Army retired to Yunquera de Henares. The Franco-Spanish army followed and encamped within 8 km.

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. During the month of August, many Murcians left the capital while guerilleros entered the rest of the kingdom and the neighbouring Andalusia. Many skirmishes occurred.

On 1 August

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick’s Army, reinforced from France to twice the strength of the Confederate Army, marched to Guadalajara, cutting the enemy from Portugal and from Madrid.
  • Allies
    • The Confederate generals took position behind the Henares River and recalled the baggage and provisions which had been left at Alcala.
    • 1,300 British foot and 300 Spanish horse reached Elche. The Allied troops then opened the trench before Alicante. The siege was supervised by Admiral Leake and Major-General Richard Gorges. The established a battery (6 guns) and approached the place from the southwest. Simultaneously, 7 British ships of the lines and 3 Dutch ships of the line opened fire from the bay, continuously bombarding the old town, which was clearly unable to withstand such an attack.

On 2 August

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick’s Army (47 bns, 80 sqns) encamped in front of the Confederate Army (28 bns, 42 sqns) on the opposite bank of the Henares River.
  • Allies
    • Gorges’ troops bombarded Alicante (the bombardment would continue until 8 August).

On 3 August, Berwick sent a detachment towards Madrid.

On 4 August

  • Allies
    • Berwick’s detachment reached Madrid, where it reproclaimed King Philip V. The pro-Habsburg supporters took refuge in the Alcázar, where they were attacked by the 400 horse of Antonio del Valle and surrendered shortly afterwards.

By 5 August, Madrid was once again in the hands of the Bourbons, who spent three days looting and robbing the houses of those who had aligned with the Habsburgs.

On 6 August

  • Allies
    • Archduke Charles and Peterborough with 3,000 men (Charles’ Lifeguards, Charles Yellow Dragoons (4 sqns), Don Pedros Moras Horse (4 sqns) 1 Italian bn, 2 Dutch bns) at last reached Guadalajara where they effected a junction with the Confederate Army. The Archduke found that he must prepare not for triumphant entry into Madrid, but for what promised to be a difficult and perilous retreat.
    • Note: all British bns of Peterborough’s Army had been left behind in Valencia.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Philip V returned to Madrid.

On 7 August, in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, the banner used in the proclamation of the Archduke as King Charles III, a portrait of him, and the paper stamped with the suitor's letterhead were burned. Philip V decreed the persecution, exile and confiscation of the goods of the Archduke's supporters.

On 8 August

  • Allies
    • 2 additional Imperial bns (1 Castillan and 1 German) arrived at Guadalajara.
    • Raby’s Dragoons (3 sqns) and Pearce's Dragoons (1 sqn) arrived at Guadalajara.
    • Gorges was already master of several outworks in front of Alicante. There were two breaches in the walls facing the sea. Allied troops (Gorges’ Foot, Allen’s Foot, Mountjoy's Foot, Mohun's Foot and an unidentified Spanish horse rgt), supported by seamen from the fleet, led by Rear-Admiral Sir John Jennings and by Captains John Evans of the Royal Oak (70), William Passenger of the Royal Anne (100) and John Watkins of the St George (96), launched an assault through the breach near the western corner of the walls. In this action, the Allies lost 35 men killed and 80 wounded. The Allies were now master of the city but the castle resisted for another month under heavy bombardment.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • After severe fighting, Mahony, the governor of Alicante, was forced to retire into the castle with the defenders (Carraciolo Cavalry, Dentici Cavalry and Mariconda rgt unidentified unit, plus 700 men from the Hoya de Castalla, and 900 French and Irish). Considering that he had too many men for the available provisions, Mahony managed to sent 800 men away and kept only 800 men to defend the old castle.

The situation in Spain then started to change at an incredible pace. Some 15,000 volunteers showed up in Jadraque and Sopetrán (Guadalajara) to serve under Philip V. Furthermore, the Duke of Infantado and the Marquis of Mondéjar, who had accompanied the Archduke in his advance towards Madrid, joined the Bourbons. Toledo also revolted against Archduke Charles.

On 14 August

  • Allies
    • The Allied army (14,000 men), which had been so much reduced by sickness, retired southwards to Chinchón. It encamped with its left towards Colmenar de Oreja, where the Count Dohna was posted with 4 bns. The army remained in these positions for a month, in the vain hope of seeing the tide turn in its favour.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick’s Army encamped at Ciempozuelos, separated from the Allied army by the Jarama River.

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 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.

On 4 September

  • Allies
    • The citadel of Alicante surrendered to Sir John Leake.
  • Combat of Murcia
    • 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 occupying the city of Murcia. Bishop Belluga had the idea of releasing water from the ditches to flood the orchard, making the advance of the attacking infantry impractical. In the ensuing Combat of Murcia the Allies were defeated and forced to retreat.

Viceroy Belluga returned to Murcia with the promised reinforcements. He decided to reconquer Cartagena, and established a chain of outposts in the towns bordering the region of Campo de Cartagena, to cut off all communications between Cartagena and the Allied troops in the Kingdom of Valencia.

On 8 September, Mahony and the garrison marched out of the Castle of Alicante with the honours of war. Admiral Leake appointed Major-General Gorges as governor of the place. The new garrison immediately began to repair the fortifications.

On 14 September

  • Allies
    • Being cut off from his base in Portugal, the Allied army crossed the Tagus at Fuentidueña, marching for Valencia and the British fleet.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Berwick’s Army crossed the Tagus 16 km downstream of Fuentidueña.

On 15 September, the Allied army reached Barajas de Melo.

On 16 September, the Allied army reached Veles (unidentified location) where it was joined by 3 bns and the Peterborough’s Dragoons under Lieutenant-General Windham.

The Allied army continued its retreat. Berwick troubling him no further than by occasional harassing of his rearguard. The Allies passed the Jucar near Valverde de Júcar and marched to Motilla del Palancar and then to Peral where they sojourned

Having detached Sir John Jennings with a squadron to Lisbon, Leake, after watering at Altea, sailed to the Balearic Islands.

On 19 September, the island of Ibiza capitulated to the Allies.

On September 21, another engagement took place in the Province of Murcia: the Engagement of Albujón. It resulted in a Bourbon victory which put an end to the enterprises of the Allies against this province.

The Allies, who had retired from Murcia, took refuge in Cartagena and Belluga laid siege to the place. He levied troops in the places of the Kingdom of Murcia that had not yet been affected by the war.

A French army then entered Castilla-La Mancha and marched towards Albacete and Murcia, reaching Cartagena and cutting off the Allies from Southern Spain.

On 25 September

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Duke of Berwick, who was posted near Alarcón with his army and had marched during the night, appeared in the plain of Iniesta to cut the line of retreat of the Allies towards Requena.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army deployed in order of battle, in two lines. All sqns which tried to advance against the Allies were driven back. The Allies managed to reach Iniesta where they deployed with their right anchored on the village of Iniesta and their front covered by a small rivulet.
    • The Allied army then resumed its march and crossed the Cabriel River

On 26 September, Leake’s fleet appeared before the island of Mallorca. Baltasar Escrivá de Híjar, Count de la Alcudia had only 300 men fit for duty to defend the island.

On the night of 26 to 27 September, during the retreat of the Allies towards Valencia, Archduke Charles found himself alone with Count Althann and two pages in Iniesta, after a misunderstanding. They went astray.

On 27 September

  • Allies
    • Archduke Charles rejoined his army.
    • The island of Mallorca capitulated to the Allied fleet.

On 28 September, after crossing the Valencian frontier, the Allied army took its quarters from Requena to Denia. distributed his force into winter-quarters.

Berwick established his headquarters in Jumilla in Murcia. Day after day, he received horses, weapons and men from all over Spain. He then retired to Chinchilla to wait for the arrival of the Duc d’Orléans from France with an army.

On 3 October, leaving Sir George Byng to command the winter squadron in the Mediterranean, Leake returned home with some of the heavier ships of the fleet and with the Dutch contingent under Baron van Wassenaer.

Between 8 and 24 October, the Maréchal de Berwick recaptured Orihuela and Elche.

At the end of October, Berwick’s French army and the Mahony Dragoons made a junction with Belluga’s siege corps before Cartagena.

Besieged by 4,000 foot, 1,000 horse and an undetermined number of militiamen, Cartagena resisted until the night of 17 November, when its governor Count of Galve capitulated to Berwick.

On 18 November, an Allied relief fleet arrived before Cartagena, but its commander refused to disembark the 5,000 men he had brought on board, when he realized that the place had been taken.

At the end of November, Berwick took up his winter-quarters.

By the end of 1706, several Spanish kingdoms were divided. The entire Kingdom of Aragon had declared allegiance to the Habsburg pretender. In Catalonia, Cervera, Pinell de Brai, Berga and Fraga had aligned with the Bourbons; while Anglesola, Guisona Agramunt, Cardona, Lérida, Monzón and Mora del Ebro were with the Habsburgs, In other parts of Spain, Jaca and Tudela were pro-Bourbon, while Huesca and Egea were pro-Habsburg.


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. 6, 1845, pp. 3-8
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 464, 476-484
  • 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. 408-409
  • Anon.: An Exact and Full Account of the Siege of Barcelona, Bragg: London, 1706
  • Freind, John: An Account of the Earl of Peterborow’s Conduct in Spain, Chiefly since the Raising of the Siege of Barcelona, 1706, Bowyer: London, 1707, pp. 65-112
  • Anon.: An Account of the Earl of Galway’s Conduct in Spain and Portugal, Baker: London, 1711, pp. 30-75
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 607

Other sources

Arre Caballo – Guerra de Sucesión Española. Campañas de 1.706

Nafziger Collection - British Foot in Portugal, 8 January 1706

Spanish Wikipedia


Dinos Antoniadis for additional info on operations in the Province of Murcia