Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[graphic]

the enemy from penetrating into it at all.

The province of Tras-os-Montes, bounded on the east and south by the Douro, is separated on the west throughout great part of its length, from the province of Minho, by the river Tamego, a tributary stream of the Douro, whose banks, steep, and difficult of access, cover the greater part of the latter province upon the east. The marquis Angija, drawing reinforcements from Oporto, on which he could always fall back, and from the northern extremity of the province, where only a few troops were left to check any inroads of guerilla parties, occupied the posts along the right bank of the Tamego. Generals Claudino and Mello, who were between Chaves and the Douro, marched to join him at Amarante, where the insurgents must pass in advancing against Oporto. The line of the Tamego was thus abundantly protected; but the right bank of the Douro, from the mouth of the Tamego eastward was left unguarded, and it was open to the rebels to march unimpeded into the province of Beira: a disadvantage which is much greater in a civil conflict, than in ordinary war; for the moral effect produced in favour of the advancing/and apparently triumphant, party bears no proportion to the ground which they may have gained.

On the departure of the constitutional troops from the opposite hank of the Douro, the spirit of disaffection first shewed itself at Lamego, an ancient city in which Alphonso had first sworn to rule according to the institutions of the national Cortes, to whom, in history, it had given its name. Priests, and other political emissaries had

sedition were much more alarming, as shewing that even the militia, a species of force much more immediately connected with the people than the regular troops, were tainted with rebellion. A militia regiment of Guarda, having been directed, on the 8th of December, to take possession of Celorico, were induced, by general Telles Jordao, to mutiny, instead of obeying orders; being joined in their rebellion by another regiment of militia belonging to Tondella, they proclaimed Don Miguel, and installed a junta of regency.

The force, which Chaves and Montealegre had now assembled at Lamego, was estimated to amount to about ten thousand men. General Azeredo, who commanded in Beira for the regency, retired before this superior force upon Coimbra, on the road to Lisbon, until he should be joined by general Claudino, who might now be spared from the line of the Tamego. The rebels advanced as far as Vizeu, but their movements were attended with much delay and hesitation. The road to Lisbon, indeed, was now before them, and rebellion never gains by delay; but if they had advanced, they left in their rear the armies of Angija and Claudino,onthe frontiers of Minho, besides the garrison of Oporto. They waited, therefore, till they should be joined by Magessi, with the second body of insurgents from the Alentejo, and contented themselves with a fruitless attempt to force the bridge of Amarante, in which they were repulsed with a loss of twenty-five men wounded, and forty-seven taken prisoners. Magessi, in the mean time, who had entered the Alentejo with a large body ofinsurgents and Spanish auxiliaries, at the same time that

Chaves and Montealegre had penetrated into Tras os Montes, had been much less prosperous than his brother conspirators. He had made himself master of Villa Viciosa without difficulty, and compelled or prevailed upon the garrison to join him. On the 7th of December he crossed the Guadiana at Monsaras, and marched northward by Terena, Borba, and Estremos, hastening towards the province of Beira, in which disaffection had been expected to break out, and where, at that very time, it had in fact shewed itself by the defection of the troops under Jordao. At Estremos he learned the approach of the marquis of Villa Flor, who had been appointed commander of the Alentejo, and, declining a battle, directed his march towards the frontiers. Villa Flor, however, came up with his rear guard near Portalegre on the 10th; an engagement ensued, in which the rebels were defeated, and lost about twenty-five men, in addition to the troops of the garrison of Villa Viciosa, who seized the first opportunity of returning to their duty. Magessi and his troops took refuge in Spain; Villa Flor remained some days in Portalegre to refresh his troops, ignorant of the motions of the rebels, and only knowing that they had been expelled from the province. In fact Magessi was very skilfully making use of his defeat, and his means of recruiting in Spain, to make this reverse serviceable to his original design ofjoining Chaves in Upper Beira. When he re-entered Spain, he stationed his army at Alcantara: having there recruited his strength for several days, he made rapid and silent marches northward, along the Portuguese frontier, but in the territory of Spain, till he

crossed it, and suddenly appeared in Upper Beira, in the neighbourhood of Almeida, not far from Guarda and Tondelia, where the troops had already rebelled, and with nothing to prevent him from marching straight to Vizeu or Lamego. Almeida, one of the most important frontier fortresses of Portugal,fellintohishands; having been delivered up by the treason of general Elezeario, who commanded during the illness of general Pego. Immediately on learning this unforeseen movement of Magessi, Villa Flor sent orders to the commandant in Lower Beira to advance from Castello Branco towards Guarda; and he himself, breaking up from Portalegre, crossed the Tagus, and hastened northwards in the same direction. By the 23rd of December he had entered Upper Beira, and immediately drove the rebels from Guarda, where the insurrection in this part of the province had first begun. Some resistance was offered by a body of militia and guerillas, but they were routed, and retreated precipitately to the army of Magessi at Almeida; and on the 25th he had advanced to Celorico. In the mean time, in the western part of the province, general Claudino had crossed the Douro, and was marching upon the Mondego, to join Azeredo, that, with their forces united, theymight attack the rebels under Chaves and Montealegre, who, as yet, had not penetrated further into the province than Vizeu. On the 27th of December Azeredo was at Tondelia. Thus the troops on both sides had effected their junction about the same time. Magessi had made his way from Alentejo into Beira, and placed himself in communication with the division under Chaves;

andtherebels now held the northern part of the province from Almeida to Vizeu. Villa Flor, following the steps of Magessi, had brought himself into communication with Azeredo ,• and the troops of the regency occupied the western and southern parts of the province from Coimbra to Guarda. Out of Beira, the province of Tras os Monteswas all that the rebels had gained by a month's campaign, and that had been gained in a few days. The force of the troops on the Tamego had prevented them from advancing till joined by Magessi; and now that he had joined them, they had in front of them the army before which he had fled, united to the proper army of the province itself. In few instances had their cause been embraced by the people; no general discontent against the regency and the constitution had been excited; a few military seductions were all they could boast of; the nobility, and the commanders, had proved faithful to the government; and, though itinerant priests were the pioneers of Chaves, the influential dignitaries of the church were so far from taking part with them, that the Patriarch of Lisbon, in a pastoral charge, painted their conduct in its true colours, and called their enterprise by its right name. , j

So stood matters with the rebels, when the arrival of the troops sent out from England blasted all their hopes, and overturned all their designs. When the English Cabinet decided on equipping this armament, it was fitted out with a rapidity, which could scarcely have been credited beforehand, and furnished an admirable example of the efficiency in which those departments of public service connected with national defence may ha kept, and ought to be kept, by a regular government, even in the midst of peace. The Pyramus, the first vessel that sailed from England, arrived at Lisbon on the 25th of December, just two days after his majesty's message to parliament, on the 11th, was known there. The message, and Mr. Canning's speech had been received in Lisbon on the 23rd, the last day of the session of the Cortes, and produced an instant change in the hopes and fears of all parties. The charter did not allow the Cortes to continue their session, and not having time to draw up such an address as would sufficiently convey their high sense of the obligations under which they lay to this country, a vote of thanks in their own name, and that of the Portuguese nation, to the king, parliament, and people, of Great Britain, was voted by acclamation. The speech of Mr. Canning was immediately translated, and sought after with an avidity which the presses of Lisbon could scarcely supply. Six thousand copies were sold in a few hours, and it was spread over all parts of the kingdom in the form of hand-bills.

From the moment of the arrival of the British troops in the Tagus, all hope departed from the rebels; it gave confidence to the government, it disheartened the disaffected, it decided the wavering in favour of the regency. These troops, indeed, were not to be employed in civil dissention, or in defending one part of the nation against another, in an internal struggle about a constitution with which no foreign power had a right to interfere; but the rebels, though Portuguese by birth, were the soldiers of Spain j it was her cause they were maintaining, and by her re

sources that they were supported. Ferdinand now saw that the continuance of that support must he purchased, notwithstanding all his wiles, at the expense of an open rupture with Britain; that her long forbearance had only been the result of conscious strength; that the firmness with which she decided, and the rapidity with which she executed, proved her to be completely in earnest. At the same time, France expressed very plainly and publicly her opinion of his conduct, and her determination to leave him, helpless and contemptible as he was, to rescue himself unaided from the lion-grasp into which he had flung himself in despite of so many warnings. The possibility of France taking part with Spain was the only matter which could have deserved much consideration on the part of Britain, before taking the resolution of standing forth in defence of Portugal; and the conduct of De Moustier at Madrid had given reasonable cause for grave suspicions of the sincerity of France. But the French cabinet disavowed his conduct by recalling him from his mission; and convinced Ferdinand much more feelingly how little he had to expect from them in the prosecution of his mad career, by recalling likewise the regiments of Swiss guards, which had been given to him for his personal protection at a time when he could not trust himself among his own subjects.

Ferdinand, therefore, finding that France would not support him, and that Britain would not allow him to trifle with her, was compelled to yield ungraciously to necessity what he might so often have conceded with a good grace. On the 18th of December, M. Salmon addressed a note to Mr. Lamb, in which, after stating his satisfaction that the assurances given in his note of the 28th of November had produced "the happy effects which were to be expected from them."-^these effects having been the landing of five thousand British troops in Portugal—he added, that his august master, in order to furnish another proof of his desire for peace " was ready to receive a public agent on the part of his most faithful majesty Don Pedro, as soon as the count de Casa FloreSj his ambassador at Lisbon, should be re-instated in his functions." New assurances, likewise, were given of the fulfilment at last of repeated promises and former resolutions, "taking at the same time such precautions as must insure the punctual execution of them:"—a very plain acknowledgment that he hitherto had taken care that these promises and resolutions should be worthless and futile. This note being transmitted to Lisbon, the regency informed count Casa Flores that he would be received in a private audience, and, after that audience, would be considered as re-instated in all his official rights and privileges. But it was added, "the speedy execution of all the promises made by Spain in M. Salmon's circular of the 28th of November, and especially the prompt and total disarming and dispersing of the corps of Magessi, now in the Spanish territory, must be considered as an indispensable part of this conciliation." On the 26th of December, M. Casa Flores was admitted to his audience, and the diplomatic relations between the two countries were again established.

By the first of January, 1827, all the vessels of war in which the

British troops had been embarked, had arrived in the Tagus; but the course of events rendered it unnecessary for them to encounter an enemy. Their presence, besides depriving the rebels of the last gleam of hope, enabled the regency to employ an additional force against the insurgents. It was only in Tras os Montes, and in the upper parts of Beira, that they had been able hitherto to maintain any footing; and even there they had little chance of keeping the field against the troops which would now be opposed to them. Hitherto the commanders of the constitutional forces had been content in a great measure to act merely on the defensive, because any serious misfortune in the provinces might have had the worst effects upon the public mind, and endangered the safety of the capital. But the considerations of prudence, which recommended this line of conduct, were now at an end, and the constitutionalists were at liberty to commence offensive operations. Generals Claudino and Azeredo entered Vizeu on the 28th of December; the rebels, who occupied it as the advanced guard of the insurgent army, having already begun to retire towards the frontier. At the same time Villa Flor was moving against them from the neighbourhood of Guarda and Celorico, and at last they were brought to a decisive engagement near the town of Coruches. The rebels were said to amount to about twelve thousand men, and the troops opposed to them to seven thousand. The battle began at one o'clock in the afternoon on the 9th of January, 1827, and lasted till night-fall, when it ended in the total discomfiture of the rebels: their commanders were among the

« ZurückWeiter »