The Battle of Saguntum
25th October 1811

The Battle for the Centre

Meanwhile Blake's main body was making better progress. Posting himself at El Puig with three battalions of Velasco's reserve division (the remainder being sent to cover the Picador bridge), he sent his veteran divisions forward. Drawn up in two lines, Lardzibal's division took possession of a low mound which nonetheless commanded the surrounding plain. At the same time Zayas, his right covered by the fire of allied gunboats, pushed Habert back from Puzzol.

Seeking to regain the initiative and neutralise the Spanish battery bombarding his line from its position on the mound, Suchet ordered Harispe's division forward to retake it. The division advanced in ordre mixte with the 7th line formed in battalion columns flanked by the other two regiments, their left was covered by the 4th Hussars and a squadron of cuirassiers.

The Spanish fought hard, inflicting severe casualties on their opponents before yielding to numerical superiority and falling back onto the plain. Lardzibal re-ordered his division into a single line of 8 battalions and two batteries. To counter this, Suchet brought up a battery to enfilade the Spanish right.

At this point, Loy and Caro's combined cavalry force charged against the French scatterng the outnumbered hussars and cuirassiers. Loy's brigade wheeled left, capturing three guns and threatening to roll up Harispe's division. Caro pursued the routing cavalry to the rear. This was the moment of crisis for the French as the outcome of the day hung in the balance.

The steadiness and experience of Suchet's army saved the day. The 116th Line formed an oblique line to hold off the Spanish horse, while de Gonneville led the remaining cuirassier squadrons in a spirited counter-attack which sent the Spanish cavalry streaming back towards the Picador bridge. Suchet ordered up his last infantry reserve, St Paul's Italians, who emerged from the olive groves to attack Lardzibal's left flank. Attacked on two sides and unprotected by cavalry, Lardzibal's division fell back in a retreat that rapidly degenerated into rout.

Withdrawal and Retreat

Zayas was left in front of Puzzol and in danger of being surrounded by the advancing French. His withdrawal was followed up vigourously by Habert and only a gallant rearguard action by the Walloon guards enabled Zayas to get the remainder of his division back to El Puig. Suchet sent the 24th Dragoons, the last of his reserves, to pursue Lardzibal while he turned on the Spanish right. However this realignment took long enough to allow Blake to withdraw unmolested.

Both sides lost about 1000 killed and wounded, but the Spanish also lost nearly 5,000 prisoners as well as 12 guns and 4 standards. Seeing their relief force defeated so soundly, the garrison of Saguntum surrendered the next day.

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