|War of the Pyrenees|
|Part of the War of the First Coalition|
The Panissars blockhouse, looking south from the Fort de Bellegarde into Spain. The town of La Junquera is left of center and Montroig (Red Mountain) is in the center distance
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
| 6,530 killed|
| 20,844 killed|
The War of the Pyrenees, also known as War of Roussillon or War of the Convention, was the Pyrenean front of the First Coalition's war against the First French Republic. It pitted Revolutionary France against the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal from March 1793 to July 1795 during the French Revolutionary Wars.
The war was fought in the eastern Pyrenees, the western Pyrenees, at the French port of Toulon, and at sea. In 1793, a Spanish army invaded Roussillon in the eastern Pyrenees and maintained itself on French soil through April 1794. The French army drove the Spanish army back into Catalonia and inflicted a serious defeat in November 1794. After February 1795, the war in the eastern Pyrenees became a stalemate. In the western Pyrenees, the French began to win in 1794. By 1795, the French army controlled a portion of northeast Spain.
The war was brutal in at least two ways. The Committee of Public Safety decreed for all French royalist prisoners to be executed. Also, French generals who lost battles or otherwise displeased the all-powerful representatives-on-mission were sent to prison or to the guillotine with alarming frequency. Army of the Eastern Pyrenees commanders and generals were especially unlucky in this regard.
On 21 January 1793, the National Convention of France executed King Louis XVI of France by guillotine, enraging the other monarchs of Europe. France was already at war with the Habsburg Monarchy, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. After winning the Battle of Jemappes, the French army occupied the Austrian Netherlands. Emboldened, the French government decreed annexation of the territory (modern Belgium), provoking a diplomatic break with Great Britain. On 1 February, France declared war on Britain and the Dutch Republic. On 7 March, France declared war on its former ally, Spain.
Spanish forces took part in the Siege of Toulon, which lasted from 18 September to 18 December 1793. The French were led by Dugommier, and the Anglo-Spanish defenders were commanded by Admirals Juan de Lángara, Federico Gravina, Samuel Hood and General Charles O'Hara. The Allies abandoned the port after a young officer of artillery, Napoleon Bonaparte, took the fleet's anchorage under cannon fire. The French navy lost 14 ships of the line burned and 15 more captured. French casualties numbered 2,000, and Allied losses were twice as great. Afterward, the victors massacred up to 2,000 French royalists, who had been taken as prisoners.
The Action of 14 February 1795 in the Gulf of Roses was a defeat for the French navy.
At the outbreak of war, King Charles IV of Spain appointed Captain General Antonio Ricardos to command the Army of Catalonia in the eastern Pyrenees. Ricardos invaded the Cerdagne and captured Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans on 17 April 1793. Three days later, he routed a French force at Céret on the Tech River. In despair, the elderly French commander in charge of Roussillon, Mathieu Henri Marchant de La Houlière, committed suicide. On 30 April, the French government divided the Army of the Pyrenees into the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees and the Army of the Western Pyrenees.
In the Battle of Mas Deu on 19 May 1793, Ricardos defeated Louis-Charles de Flers, which allowed the Spanish to invest the Fort de Bellegarde on 23 May. The Siege of Bellegarde ended by the French garrison surrendering on 24 June. During the Battle of Perpignan on 17 July, de Flers turned back the Spanish though French losses were heavier.On 28 August, Luc Siméon Auguste Dagobert defeated a Spanish force under Manuel la Peña at Puigcerdà in the Cerdagne.
In September, Ricardos sent two divisions under Jerónimo Girón-Moctezuma, Marquis de las Amarilas and Juan de Courten to cut off the fortress of Perpignan. However, Eustache Charles d'Aoust rallied the French to win the Battle of Peyrestortes on 17 September. That represented the farthest Spanish advance in Rousillon. Five days later, Ricardos defeated Dagobert at the Battle of Truillas before he fell back to the Tech Valley. Ricardos repulsed d'Aoust at Le Boulou on 3 October.The Battle of the Tech (Pla del Rei) on 13–15 October saw the Spanish repel the assaults of Louis Marie Turreau. A 5,000-man Portuguese division led by John Forbes joined Ricardos in time to defeat d'Aoust at the Battle of Villelongue-dels-Monts on 7 December. At the Battle of Collioure, Gregorio García de la Cuesta captured the ports of Collioure and Port-Vendres from the French on 20 December.
Ricardos died on 13 March 1794, and Spanish success died with him. Captain General Alejandro O'Reilly died ten days after the man whom he was to succeed, and Luis Firmin de Carvajal, Conde de la Union was appointed to command the Army of Catalonia instead. The Army of the Eastern Pyrenees also had a new commander, Jacques François Dugommier. At the Battle of Boulou, from 29 April to 1 May, Dugommier drove de la Union's army south of the border and forced the Spanish to abandon all their artillery and trains. Collioure fell to the French in late May and Eugenio Navarro's 7,000-man Spanish garrison became prisoners. The French royalist defenders fled in fishing boats before the surrender to avoid execution.Dugommier imposed a blockade on Bellegarde starting on 5 May. The inconclusive Battle of La Junquera was fought on 7 June. At the Battle of San-Lorenzo de la Muga (Sant Llorenç de la Muga) on 13 August, Pierre Augereau repulsed a Spanish attempt to relieve Bellegarde. The fortress fell on 17 September after the Spanish garrison had been starved out. From 17 to 20 November, the climactic Battle of the Black Mountain saw both Dugommier and de la Union killed in action. Dominique-Catherine de Pérignon took command of the French and led them to victory. Figueres and its Sant Ferran Fortress quickly fell to the French with 9,000 prisoners.
Pierre François Sauret successfully concluded the Siege of Roses on 4 February 1795. Pérignon was replaced in army command by Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer. On 14 June 1795, Schérer was defeated near the Fluvià River by José de Urrutia y de las Casas at the Battle of Bascara.After peace was signed but before word had reached the fighting front, Cuesta recaptured Puigcerdà and Bellver from the French on 26 and 27 July.
A number of minor clashes occurred in 1793, including actions fought by Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey's 5th Light Demi-Brigade at Chateau-Pignon on 6 June, Aldudes in June, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz on 23 July.
On 5 February 1794, at the Battle of Sans Culottes Camp, the French successfully defended a fortified hilltop position near Hendaye against 13,000 Spanish infantry and 700 cavalry and artillery led by José Urrutia y de las Casas. Spanish casualties numbered 335, and French losses were 235.On 3 June, a 2,300-man French brigade commanded by Lavictoire stormed the Casa Fuerte position at Izpegi Pass (Col d'Ispeguy) 13.5 km west of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The 1,000 defenders, including a battalion of the Spanish Zamora Infantry Regiment, three companies of the Aldudes Rifles, and the French émigré Légion Royal battalion, lost 94 killed and wounded, ans 307 were captured. The losses of the French brigade, which were part of Mauco's division, were described as "light". The same day, Jacques Lefranc's 2,000 French Republican troops seized the Izpegi Ridge.
On 3 March 1794, the bordering villages of Sara, Itxassou, Ascain and another nine Basque villages were declared ignoble by the republican authorities after 74 young residents, instead of watching the border for the French army, had fled south to the Spanish Basque region. All of the villages' inhabitants were held accountable for the flight, and draconian measures were imposed on them. All inhabitants of the villages 3 to 88 were crammed in carts like criminals and carried off to the Landes of Gascony. Men and women were segregated, and their valuable possessions seized or burnt. The victims of the massive deportation may amount to several thousand, and in five months, some 1,600 had died, 600 being from Sara.In a few years, many survivors would manage to return home.
On 23 June, Captain General Don Ventura Caro with 8,000 infantry and 500 cavalry and artillery tried unsuccessfully to oust a French force from a fortified position atop Mont Calvaire. The Spanish suffered 500 killed and wounded, as well as 34 captured. The French admitted 30 killed and 200 wounded. On 10 July, Antoine Digonet with a brigade of 4,000 troops overwhelmed the Zamora Infantry and the Légion Royal defending Mount Argintzu (Mont Arquinzu), at km south of Elizondo. Spanish losses numbered 314, and the French royalist commander, Marquis de Saint-Simon, was badly wounded. The French Republicans executed 49 French royalist prisoners., 10
On 23 July, the Army of the Western Pyrenees attacked Spanish fortified positions with the divisions of Moncey, Henri François Delaborde, and Jean Henri Guy Nicolas de Frégeville. Jacques Léonard Muller commanded the army at the time, but Moncey exercised tactical control of operations during the Battle of the Baztan Valley. In the fighting near Elizondo and Doneztebe (Santesteban), Moncey overran the Spanish defenses. The French then followed the Bidasoa River northward in late July to seize the heights of San Marcial and the town of Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia), near the coast. In the latter operation, Moncey captured Don Vicente de los Reyes, 2,000 Spanish soldiers and 300 cannon on 1 August. Moncey followed the exploit by capturing San Sebastián without resistance on 3 August, with an additional 1,700 Spanish soldiers and 90 cannon falling into French hands. Soon afterward, the French also captured the town of Tolosa, and Moncey was soon promoted to army commander.
On 14 August 1794, the General Assembly of Gipuzkoa reunited in the coastal town of Getaria with the support of the San Sebastián bourgeoisie, followed by tense negotiations with senior officials of the French army. Besides embracing the French revolutionary ideas, the council made a formal petition: detachment from the Kingdom of Spain, respect for the region specific laws, allegiance of Gipuzkoa to France, free Catholic practice and a set of rules for the management of war-related circumstances.However, with negotiations leading to the Peace of Basel being in place, the French army's representatives of the National Convention, Jacques Pinet and Jean-Baptiste Cavaignac refused to accept the demands, and the Gipuzkoan representatives were imprisoned or exiled. Given the circumstances, another assembly was held in Mondragón on 13 September in which the attending regional representatives decided this time to support Ferdinand VII and mustered an autonomous provincial militia against the French army. However, on an unspecified date soon afterward, the more diplomatic Moncey restored the governing institutions of Gipuzkoa. The news of the declaration issued in Getaria by the Gipuzkoan representatives spread like fire to Madrid and sparked outrage in Spanish ruling circles and press, which lashed out at the Basque province and its inhabitants. Also, after the imprisonment in Bayonne, the Gipuzkoan representatives were persecuted by Spanish authorities and tried on high treason charges and unpatriotic behaviour.
From 15 to 17 October, Moncey, launched a broad front offensive from the Baztan Valley and the Roncevaux Pass to the south toward Pamplona. The Battle of Orbaitzeta saw clashes at Mezkiritz (Mezquiriz), Orbaitzeta, Lekunberri and Villanueva (Hiriberri). The 46,000-man French army drove back 13,000 Spanish troops under the command of Pedro Téllez-Girón, 9th Duke of Osuna, with 4,000 casualties and the loss of 50 cannon. French losses are unknown. The arms foundries at Orbaitzeta and Eugi, as well as the Spanish navy's mast store at Irati, fell to the French. However, the onset of winter weather and the outbreak of disease caused operations to be suspended for the year.A final clash occurred at Bergara on 7 November in which the French inflicted losses of 150 killed and 200 men and one cannon captured on a 4,000-man division led by Cayetano Pignatelli, 3rd Marquis of Rubí. The town was sacked, but a detachment of the territorial militia, led by Gabriel Mendizabal, who was to be promoted to general during the Peninsular War, managed to recapture it.
During the winter, Moncey reorganised his army, which had lost 3,000 men to disease. He finally secured a siege train and in June 1795, 12,000 reinforcements arrived from the Army of the West. Moncey's offensive began on 28 June and soon drove back Crespo's Spanish forces. Vitoria fell to the French on 17 July and Bilbao two days later. When news of the Peace of Basel arrived in early August, Moncey had crossed the Ebro and was preparing to invest Pamplona.
The Peace of Basel ended the War of the Pyrenees on 22 July 1795 with Moncey close on the gates of Pamplona, the Basques fearing an abolition of the self-government and Spanish Prime Minister Manuel Godoy panicking at the prospect of the still-autonomous Basque region switching allegiances to France and detaching from Spain. Ultimately, Spain gave up on the eastern two thirds of the Hispaniola in exchange for keeping Gipuzkoa.Additionally, at the behest of Moncey and the Committee of Public Safety (Jean-Lambert Tallien), an annex was added to the treaty by which the Spanish Basques and specifically the Gipuzkoans, who had shown sympathies for the French, were given guarantees of receiving no reprisals from Spanish authorities, which was agreed. Notwithstanding that provision, at least the city council of San Sebastián was arrested and put to a court-martial trial in Pamplona that was held as of February 1796.
An alliance convention between France and Spain was signed at the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso on 19 August 1796, which was overall a French victory. However, as peace was not concluded with the Portuguese, who kept fighting.
The Second Battle of Boulou was a battle in the War of the Pyrenees, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. This battle saw the French Army of the Eastern Pyrenees led by Jacques François Dugommier attacking the joint Spanish-Portuguese Army of Catalonia under Luis Firmín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión. Dugommier's decisive victory resulted in the French regaining nearly all the land they lost to the Kingdom of Spain in 1793. Le Boulou is on the modern A9 highway, 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the department capital at Perpignan and 7 kilometres (4 mi) north of Le Perthus on the France-Spain border.
The Battle of Sant Llorenç de la Muga was fought on 13 August 1794 between an attacking Spanish–Portuguese army led by the Conde de la Unión and a French army commanded by Jacques François Dugommier. The local French defenders headed by Pierre Augereau and Dominique Pérignon repulsed the allies. The Spanish garrison of Fort de Bellegarde surrendered a month later.
Jean-Baptiste Cavaignac was a French politician and statesman.
Jacques François Coquille named Dugommier was a French general.
Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón, 9th Duke of Osuna, Grandee of Spain, , was a Spanish nobleman. He led Spanish troops during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Luis Fermín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión became a general officer in the army of the Kingdom of Spain. In 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars, he commanded the Spanish Army in a mostly unsuccessful effort to hold back the army of the First French Republic. He died in battle fighting the French.
The Army of the Western Pyrenees was one of the Republican French armies of the French Revolutionary Wars. From April 1793 until 12 October 1795, the army fought in the Basque Country and in Navarre during the War of the Pyrenees. After indecisive fighting during the first year of its existence, the army seized the Spanish port of San Sebastián in August 1794. By the time the Peace of Basel was signed on 22 July 1795, the Army of the Western Pyrenees held a significant portion of northeastern Spain.
The Army of the Eastern Pyrenees was one of the French Revolutionary armies. It fought against the Kingdom of Spain in Roussillon, the Cerdanya and Catalonia during the War of the Pyrenees. This army and the Army of the Western Pyrenees were formed by splitting the original Army of the Pyrenees at the end of April 1793 soon after the war started. Shortly after the Peace of Basel on 22 July 1795, the fighting ended and the army was dissolved on 12 October that same year. Many of its units and generals were transferred to join the Army of Italy and fought under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796.
Pierre François Sauret de la Borie led a combat division under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte during the Castiglione Campaign in 1796. He enlisted in the French army as a private in 1756. During the Seven Years' War he fought at Hastenbeck and Rossbach. He became a first lieutenant in 1789 and a lieutenant colonel in 1792. Assigned to the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees, served with distinction during the War of the Pyrenees against Spain. He was promoted to general officer in 1793 and became one of three infantry division commanders in the field army. He led his division at Palau, Boulou, Collioure, Black Mountain, Roses, and Bascara. He transferred to the Army of Italy in 1795. Bonaparte called him a very good soldier, but unlucky. He retired from active military service in order to enter politics.
The Battle of the Black Mountain was fought from 17 to 20 November 1794 between the army of the First French Republic and the allied armies of the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Portugal. The French, led by Jacques François Dugommier defeated the Allies, who were commanded by Luis Firmín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión. Though the Spanish right wing held, its left flank was driven back on the first day's fighting. On the last day of the battle, the French overran a key position and put the Spanish army to rout. The battle was remarkable in that both army commanders were slain. A Spanish artillery shell killed Dugommier early in the battle and Dominique Catherine de Pérignon assumed command of the French army. De la Union was shot dead while leading a cavalry charge on the last day of the fighting and was temporarily replaced by Jerónimo Girón-Moctezuma, Marquis de las Amarilas. The French victory led to the capture of Figueres and the Siege of Roses (Rosas), a port in Catalonia.
The Siege of Bellegarde commenced on 23 May 1793 and ended on 24 June 1793 when Colonel Boisbrulé's French garrison surrendered the Fort de Bellegarde to a Spanish army under the command of Antonio Ricardos. The capture of the fort gave Spain control of an important road through the Pyrenees. The siege took place during the War of the Pyrenees, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Fort de Bellegarde is on a height overlooking the border town of Le Perthus, which lies on the modern A9 autoroute and Autovía A-7.
Eustache Charles Joseph d'Aoust was a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Antonio Ricardos Carrillo de Albornoz was a Spanish general. He joined the army of the Kingdom of Spain and fought against Habsburg Austria, the Portugal, and the First French Republic during a long military career. By embracing the Spanish Enlightenment, he earned the displeasure of conservative elements of society. He played an active role in reforming the Spanish military. Upon the outbreak of the War of the Pyrenees in 1793, the king sent him to command in Catalonia. He invaded Rousillon where he won several victories over the French. After his death in early 1794, the war went badly for Spain.
The Battle of Peyrestortes saw soldiers of the First French Republic fighting troops of the Kingdom of Spain during the War of the Pyrenees. Forces from the French Army of the Eastern Pyrenees, temporarily commanded by Eustache Charles d'Aoust and Jacques Gilles Henri Goguet, defeated two divisions of the Army of Catalonia led by Juan de Courten and Jerónimo Girón-Moctezuma, Marquis de las Amarillas. This Spanish setback in an attempt to capture Perpignan marked the high point of their invasion of Roussillon.
Louis-Charles de La Motte-Ango, vicomte de Flers joined the French Royal army and rose in rank to become a general officer in the French Revolutionary Wars. After serving in the Austrian Netherlands, he was appointed to command the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. His army suffered several defeats in May and June 1793, but he rallied his troops to win a defensive victory at the Battle of Perpignan in July. The all-powerful Representatives-on-mission arrested him in August 1793 for a minor setback and sent him to Paris under arrest. The Committee of Public Safety executed him by guillotine on trumped up charges in the last days of the Reign of Terror. De Flers is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.
Jerónimo Morejón Girón-Moctezuma, 3rd Marquis de las Amarillas, born 7 June 1741 at Málaga and died 17 October 1819 at Seville, became a general officer in the army of the Kingdom of Spain and commanded division-sized combat units during the War of the Pyrenees in 1793 and 1794. Though he attained high rank, he displayed limited military talent. Shortly after succeeding to the top command of the Army of Catalonia, he was dismissed for blunders made on the battlefield.
The Battle of the Baztan Valley was fought between 23 July and 1 August 1794 during the French Revolutionary War, between a French force from the Army of the Western Pyrenees commanded by Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey and the Spanish forces led by Don Ventura Caro. The French army drove the Spanish from their defenses, then followed the valley northward to the Atlantic coast. The Spanish forces holding the coastal defenses were compelled to surrender or flee.
The Battle of Orbaizeta was fought from 15 to 17 October 1794 during the War of the Pyrenees, between the French Army of the western Pyrenees led by Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey and Spanish forces under the command of Pedro Téllez-Girón, 9th Duke of Osuna. Part of the wider French Revolutionary Wars, this engagement was fought over a wide area to the northwest and northeast of Pamplona in Navarre and ended in a French victory. The Spanish defenders gave up territory to the north of Pamplona, including a number of strategic locations.
The Battle of Collioure saw troops from the Kingdom of Spain attack a Republican French division during the War of the Pyrenees. The Spanish troops led by Gregorio García de la Cuesta were completely successful in ousting the French under Louis Pierre François Delattre from Collioure, Fort Saint-Elme and Port-Vendres. The contending sides were the Spanish Army of Catalonia commanded by Antonio Ricardos and the French Army of the Eastern Pyrenees led by François Amédée Doppet and Eustache Charles d'Aoust. In September 1793, the French successfully defended Perpignan from Spanish attack but December saw a series of French defeats. One of the French representatives on mission, Claude Dominique Côme Fabre was killed during the fighting at Collioure. Aoust and Delattre were arrested, condemned and executed by guillotine for the disaster.
The Siege of Collioure saw a Republican French army led by Jacques François Dugommier invest a French port held by a Spanish garrison commanded by Eugenio Navarro. The actual siege work was carried out by Pierre François Sauret's reinforced division. After the three-and-a-half-week War of the Pyrenees siege the Spanish fleet sent to evacuate the garrison was blown off station by a storm. Navarro surrendered the town on the promise to exchange the paroled garrison with an equal number of French prisoners. After the defenders were released, the Spanish army commander Luis Firmín de Carvajal, Conde de la Unión refused to authorize the agreement or return any French captives. The infuriated French government afterward passed a decree ordering death to all Spanish prisoners and some units carried out the brutal order.