The Bravest of the Brave by G. A. Henty
Chapter XI: Valencia
While occupied in preparing for his advance, the general sent letter after letter to Valencia, bidding the citizens to keep up their courage, and promising to hasten to the relief of that city. Ordering Jack to continue the correspondence in his name, so as to delude both friends and foes that he was still at Castillon, he took post secretly and hurried away back to Tortosa to see after reinforcements. He still doubted whether the Spanish troops, which the king had promised should be at his disposal for the campaign in Valencia, had got into motion, and in case they had not done so he determined to post to Colonel Wills and bring up that officer with his brigade.
At Vinaroz he found that the Spanish troops had already entered Valencia, and that some of the militia of that province and of Catalonia were also in motion to join him. He therefore concentrated his little force at Castillon, to which place he returned as rapidly as he had left it. When it was assembled it consisted of a thousand horse and two thousand infantry, being one English and three Spanish battalions of regulars. Besides these were about three hundred armed peasants, whom the earl thought it better not to join with his army, and therefore quartered them at Almenara.
Although he had accomplished marvels, there was yet much to do. The Duke of Arcos had succeeded the Conde de las Torres in the chief command, the latter having been superseded after his signal failures. The duke had ten thousand men placed under his orders, of whom some thirty-five hundred were in possession of the strong town of Murviedro, which covered the approach to Valencia, while with the main body he marched upon Valencia and commenced the siege of that city. The magistrates, knowing that they could expect but little mercy should the town be taken, made vigorous preparations for defense, and dispatched some messengers to Peterborough imploring him to come to their assistance. He was now in readiness to do so, and on the 1st of February marched from Castillon with his army.
Having unlimited powers, the earl, before starting, presented to his two aides de camp commissions as captains, as a reward for the services they had rendered.
Although so inferior in numbers the little army advanced toward Valencia with an absolute confidence of victory. The successes gained by their leader with a handful of cavalry over an army of seven thousand men had been so astounding that his troops believed him capable of effecting anything that he undertook. They had seen him ride off from San Matteo with his little body of horse upon what seemed an impossible enterprise; they had met him again after having conquered half a province; and if he had accomplished this with such scanty means, what was not possible now when he had three thousand men at his disposal?
But the earl trusted fully as much to his talents in the way of deceiving the enemy as to his power of defeating them by open force in the field. His eccentric genius appeared to revel in the mendacious statements by which he deceived and puzzled both friend and foe; and although the spreading of a certain amount of false news for the purpose of deceiving an enemy has always been considered as a legitimate means of warfare, Peterborough altogether exceeded the usual limits, and appeared to delight in inventing the most complicated falsehoods from the mere love of mischief. At times Jack was completely bewildered by his general, so rapid were the changes of plans, so changeable his purposes, so fantastic and eccentric his bearing and utterances. That his military genius was astonishing no one can for a moment question, but it was the genius rather of a knight errant than of the commander of great armies.
As a partisan leader Peterborough is without a rival in history. Whether he would have succeeded equally well as the commander of great armies he had never an opportunity of proving, but it is more than doubtful. Rapid changes of plan, shifting and uncertain movements, may lead to wonderful successes when but a small body of troops have to be set in motion, but would cause endless confusion and embarrassment with a large army, which can only move in accordance with settled plans and deliberate purpose.
It must be said, however, that this most eccentric of generals proved upon many occasions, as at the siege of Barcelona, that he was capable of adapting himself to circumstances, and it is possible that had he ever been placed in command of a great army he would have laid aside his flightiness and eccentricity, his love for theatrical strokes and hair breadth adventures, and would have exhibited a steadfast military genius which would have placed his name in the annals of British history on a par with those of Wellington and Marlborough. Never did he exhibit his faculty for ingenious falsehood more remarkably than at Murviedro, where, indeed, a great proportion of his inventions appear to have been prompted rather by a spirit of malice than by any military necessity.
Murviedro was the Saguntum of the Romans, one of the strongest cities in Spain. The force there was commanded by Brigadier General Mahony, an officer of Irish descent. He had under him five hundred regular cavalry and a battalion of eight hundred trained infantry; the rest of his force consisted of Spanish militia. The town itself was fairly strong and contained a large population. It was separated from a wide plain by a river, on the banks of which redoubts mounted with artillery had been thrown up.
Here the Valencian road wound through a pass, above which, on the crest of a lofty overhanging hill, were the ruins of ancient Saguntum. Peterborough had no artillery save a few Spanish field guns; the enemy's position was formidable both by formation and art, and his force was altogether inadequate for an attack upon it. So hopeless did the attempt appear to be that Peterborough's officers were unanimous in the opinion that it would be better to make a wide circuit and avoid the place, and to march directly upon Valencia and give battle to the Duke of Arcos under its walls. Peterborough, however, simply told them to wait and see what would come of it, and in the mean time he continued to bewilder his foes by the most surprising romances.
His agents were for the most part a few sharp witted dragoons, and some peasants whose fidelity was secured by their families being held as hostages. He had already contrived to bewilder the division of Las Torres before it reached the main body under the Duke of Arcos. A spy in his pay had informed the Spanish general that the British were close upon him, and he had accordingly at once broken up his camp and marched all night.
In the morning the spy again presented himself and stated that the British were pushing on over the mountains to his left to occupy an important point and to cut off his retreat to the Valencian plains. As it seemed absolutely impossible that they could have pressed forward so quickly, Las Torres refused to credit the story. The spy, as if indignant at his truth being doubted, pledged himself at the hazard of his life to give proof of the assertion to any officer who might be sent to ascertain it.
Two officers in plain clothes were accordingly sent with him in the direction where he stated the English to be; but when they stopped for refreshment at a village on the way they were suddenly pounced upon by a picket of English dragoons, who had been sent there for the purpose. After a time the spy pretended to the two officers that he had made the guard drunk and that they could now make their escape, and leading them stealthily to the stable showed them two of the dragoons lying in an apparently drunken sleep. Three horses were quietly led out of the stable, and the three men rode off, some of the dragoons making a show of pursuit.
This incident, of course, established the credit of the spy. Las Torres was convinced that his retreat was really threatened, and hurried on again with all speed, while all this time the English army was really many miles away near Murviedro. Other dragoons were induced to feign desertion, while some permitted themselves to be taken prisoners, and as each vied with the others in the extravagance of his false information, the Spanish generals were utterly bewildered by the contradictory nature of the lies that reached them.
While Las Torres was hastening away at full speed to join the Duke of Arcos, Peterborough was occupied in fooling Mahony. That officer was a distant relation of Lady Peterborough, and the earl sent to demand an interview with him, naming a small hill near the town for the purpose. When the time for the interview approached the earl disposed his army so as to magnify their numbers as much as possible. Some were posted as near the town as they could venture along the pass; others were kept marching on the lower slopes of the hills, their numbers increased in appearance by masses of the armed peasantry being mingled with them.
Mahony having received the earl's word for his safety rode out to the appointed place to meet him, accompanied by several of the principal Spanish officers. Peterborough first used every persuasion to induce Mahony to enter the service of King Charles, but the Irish officer refused to entertain the tempting offers which he made. Peterborough then changed his tone, and said with an air of kindly frankness:
"The Spaniards have used such severities and cruelties at Villa Real as to oblige me to retaliate. I am willing to spare a town if under your protection. I know that you cannot pretend to defend it with the horse you have, which will be so much more useful in another place if joined with the troops of Arcos to obstruct my passing the plains of Valencia. I am confident that you will soon quit Murviedro, which I can as little prevent as you can hinder me from taking the town. The inhabitants there must be exposed to the most abject miseries, and I can in no way preserve it but by being bound in a capitulation, which I am willing to give you if I have the assurance of the immediate surrender of the place this very night. Some cases are so apparent that I need not dissemble. I know you will immediately send to the Duke of Arcos to march to the Carthusian convent and meet him there with the body of horse under your command."
The earl further offered, in the same apparent spirit of frankness, to show Mahony all his troops and artillery, as well as the large resources he had upon the sea, which was only six miles off. Mahony was entirely deceived by the manner of the man he regarded as a relative, and laughingly acknowledged that he had, in case of necessity, intended to fall back with his cavalry upon the Duke of Arcos. The interview ended by Mahony retiring to the town, agreeing to send back an answer in half an hour. At the end of that time he sent out a capitulation by a Spanish officer.
Had Peterborough's scheme ended here he would not have exceeded the bounds of what is regarded as a fair method of deceiving an enemy, but his subsequent proceedings were absolutely indefensible, and are, indeed, almost incredible on the part of the man who in some respects carried the point of honor almost to an extreme. His notion, no doubt, was to paralyze the action of the enemy by exciting suspicions of treachery among their leaders, but the means which he took to do so were base and unworthy in the extreme.
He began with the Spanish officer who had brought the capitulation, giving him a garbled account of his interview with Mahony, and then endeavoring to bribe him to desert to the Austrian cause, insinuating that he had succeeded by this means with Mahony. As the earl expected, he failed to induce the Spaniard to desert, but he succeeded in his purpose of filling his mind with suspicions of treachery on the part of Mahony.
Mahony had conducted the negotiations in a manner worthy of a loyal and skillful officer; he had stipulated not to leave the town till one o'clock in the morning, and that Peterborough should not pass the river until that hour.
This he had arranged in order to allow the Duke of Arcos time to reach the plains, where he was to be joined by the horse from Murviedro. But Peterborough's machinations had been effectual; the Spanish officer, on his return, informed his countrymen that Mahony had betrayed them, and the troops and populace became enraged against the unfortunate Irishman and threatened his life. Peterborough, who, in spite of his perverted notions of honor, would not on any account have passed the river before the time stipulated, heard the neighing of horses in the town and supposed that some of the troops were leaving it. In order, therefore, to create suspicion and confusion among the enemy, he ordered a body of men near the river to fire straggling shots as if small parties were engaged at the outposts.
Mahony hearing these sounds sent word that whatever collision might have occurred it was the result of no breach of the terms of capitulation on his part, and that, depending implicitly on the honor of an English general, he could not believe that any foul play could take place. Peterborough sent back his compliments by the officer who brought the message, with expressions of gratification at the good understanding which prevailed between them, and at the same time he proposed that Mahony, for the security of the inhabitants of Murviedro, and to prevent his troops being molested as they retired from the town, should permit a regiment of English dragoons to cross the river and to form a guard at the gates, offering at the same time to deliver up a number of his officers as hostages to the Spanish for the loyal fulfillment of the terms.
In an evil hour for himself Mahony consented to the proposal. When the Spaniards saw Peterborough's dragoons advancing without opposition through the difficult pass, and up to the very gates of the town, their suspicions of the treachery of their leader became a certainty. The Spanish officers each got his company or troop together as quickly as possible and hurried across the plain to the camp of the duke, where they spread a vague but general panic. The officers accused Mahony of treachery to the Spanish general, and the national jealousy of foreigners made their tale easily believed; bat Peterborough had taken another step to secure the success of his diabolical plan against the honor of his wife's relative.
He made choice of two Irish dragoons, and persuaded them by bribes and promises of promotion to undertake the dangerous part of false deserters, and to tell the tale with which he furnished them. They accordingly set out and rode straight to the camp of the Duke of Arcos and gave themselves up to the outposts, by whom they were led before the Spanish general. Questioned by him, they repeated the story they had been taught.
The statement was that they had been sitting drinking wine together under some rocks on the hillside, close to where the conference was held, and that Peterborough and Mahony, walking apart from the others, came near to where they were sitting, but did not notice them, and that they saw the earl deliver five thousand pistoles to Mahony, and heard him promise to make him a major general in the English army, and to give him the command of ten thousand Irish Catholics which were being raised for the service of King Charles. They said that they were content to receive no reward, but to be shot as spies if Mahony himself did not give proof of treachery by carrying out his arrangements with the earl, by sending a messenger requesting the duke to march that night across the plain toward Murviedro to the Carthusian convent, where everything would be arranged for their destruction by a strong ambush of British troops.
Scarcely had the men finished their story when an aide de camp galloped in from Mahony with the very proposition which they had reported that he would make. Arcos had now no doubt whatever of Mahony's treason, and instead of complying with his request, which was obviously the best course to have been pursued, as the junction of the two armies would thereby have been completed, the duke broke up his camp without delay and fell back in exactly the opposite direction.
This was exactly what Peterborough had been scheming to bring about. Mahony, with his cavalry, having delivered over the town, marched to the Carthusian convent, and there, finding themselves unsupported, rode on to the spot where the duke had been encamped, and finding that his army was gone, followed it. On overtaking it Mahony was instantly arrested and sent a prisoner to Madrid.
It is satisfactory to know that he succeeded in clearing himself from the charge of treachery, was promoted to the rank of major general, and was sent back with Las Torres, who was ordered to supersede the Duke of Arcos.
The success of the earl's stratagem had been complete. Without the loss of a single man he had obtained possession of Murviedro, and had spread such confusion and doubt into the enemy's army that, although more than three times his own force, it was marching away in all haste, having abandoned the siege of Valencia, which city he could now enter with his troops. The success was a wonderful one; but it is sad to think that it was gained by such a treacherous and dastardly maneuver, which might have cost a gallant officer-- who was, moreover, a countryman and distant connection of the earl --his honor and his life.
The next day the earl entered the city of Valencia in triumph. The whole population crowded into the streets. The houses were decorated with flags and hangings. The church bells pealed out their welcome, and amid the shouts of the people below and the waving of handkerchiefs from the ladies at the balconies, he rode through the streets to the town hall, where all the principal personages were assembled, followed by the little army with which he had performed what appeared to have been an impossible undertaking.
After their incessant labors during the past two months, the rest at Valencia was most grateful to the troops. The city is celebrated as being one of the gayest and most delightful in all Spain. Its situation is lovely, standing within a mile and a half of the sea, in a rich plain covered with vines, olives, and other fruit trees, while beyond the plains rise the mountains, range after range, with the higher summits covered with snow. The people, at all times pleasure loving, gave themselves up to fetes and rejoicings for some time after the entrance of the army that had saved them from such imminent danger, and all vied in hospitality to the earl and his officers.
King Charles, astonished and delighted at Peterborough's success, appointed him captain general of all his forces, and gave him the power of appointing and removing all governors and other public servants, as he might consider necessary for the good of the cause, while from London the earl received a dispatch appointing him plenipotentiary at the court of King Charles.
Here as at Barcelona the earl entered with almost boyish animation into the gayety of which he was the center. With the priests and ladies he was an especial favorite, having won the former by the outward respect which he paid to their religion, and by the deference he exhibited toward themselves.
Valencia prided itself on being one of the holiest cities in Spain, and no other town could boast of the connection of so many saints or the possession of so many relics. The priesthood were numerous and influential. Religious processions were constantly passing through the streets, and in the churches the services were conducted with the greatest pomp and magnificence.
Peterborough, knowing the value of the alliance and assistance of the priests, spared no pains to stand well with the Church, revenging himself for the outward deference he paid to it by the bitterest sarcasm and jeers in his letters to his friends at home. Believing nothing himself, the gross superstition which he saw prevailing round him was an argument in favor of his own disbelief in holy things, and he did not fail to turn it to advantage.
With the ladies his romantic adventures, his extraordinary bravery, his energy and endurance, his brilliant wit, his polished manner, his courtesy and devotion, rendered him an almost mythical hero; and the fair Valencians were to a woman his devoted admirers and adherents.
But, while apparently absorbed in pleasure, Peterborough's energy never slumbered for a moment. His position was still one of extreme danger. The force of Las Torres, seven thousand strong, recovering from their panic, had, a day or two after he entered the town, returned and taken post on some hills near it, preparatory to recommencing the siege. Four thousand Castilians were marching to their support by the road leading through Fuente de la Higuera, while at Madrid, within an easy distance, lay the overwhelming forces of the main army under Marshal Tesse.. To cope with these forces he had but his little army in the town, amounting to but three thousand men, deficient in artillery, ammunition, and stores of all kinds.
Had Marshal Tesse marched at once to join Las Torres Peterborough's little force must have been crushed; but the court of King Philip decided to dispatch the marshal against Barcelona. Fortunately Peterborough was well informed by the country people of everything that was passing, for in every town and village there were men or women who sent him news of all that was going on in their neighborhood.
It was but a week after they entered Valencia that the earl, happening to pass close by Jack Stilwell at a brilliant ball, paused for a moment and said:
"Get away from this in half an hour, find Graham, and bring him with you to my quarters. Before you go find Colonel Zinzendorf and tell him to have two hundred men ready to mount at half past one. He is here somewhere. If you find he has left you must go round to the barracks. Tell him the matter is to be kept an absolute secret. I know," the earl said gallantly to the lady on his arm and to Jack's partner, "we can trust you two ladies to say nothing of what you have heard. It is indeed grief and pain to myself and Captain Stilwell to tear ourselves away from such society, and you may be sure that none but the most pressing necessity could induce me to do it."
Jack at once led his partner to a seat and set out on the search for Graham and the colonel of dragoons. He was some time finding them both, and it was already past one when the three issued together from the palace where the fete was held, and hurried off, the two young officers to Peterborough's quarters, the colonel to his barracks.
The earl was already in his chamber. He had slipped away unobserved from the ball, and had climbed the wall of the garden, to avoid being noticed passing out of the entrance. His great wig and court uniform were thrown aside, and he was putting on the plain uniform which he used on service when his aides de camp entered.
"Get rid of that finery and gold lace," he said as they entered. "You have to do a forty mile ride before morning. I have received glorious news. One of my partners told me that she had, just as she was starting for the ball, received a message from a cousin saying that a vessel had come into port from Genoa with sixteen brass twenty-four pounder guns, and a quantity of ammunition and stores, to enable Las Torres to commence the siege. The stores were landed yesterday, and carts were collected from the country round in readiness for a start at daybreak this morning. As these things will be even more useful to us than to the Spaniards, I mean to have them now. Be as quick as you can. I have already ordered your horses to be brought round with mine."
In five minutes they were in the saddle and rode quickly to the cavalry barracks. The streets were still full of people; but the earl in his simple uniform passed unnoticed through them. The dragoons were already mounted when they reached the barracks.
"We will go out at the back gate, colonel," the earl said. "Take the most quiet streets by the way, and make for the west gate. Break your troop up into four parties, and let them go by different routes, so that any they meet will suppose they are merely small bodies going out to relieve the outposts. If it was suspected that I was with you, and that an expedition was on foot, the Spaniards would hear it in an hour. Loyal as the population are here, there must be many adherents of Philip among them, and Las Torres no doubt has his spies as well as we have."
The earl's orders were carried out, and half an hour later the four parties again assembled at a short distance outside the city gates. Peterborough placed himself at their head and rode directly for the sea.
"The Spaniards are sure to have outposts placed on all the roads leading inland," he said to Colonel Zinzendorf, "and the Spanish irregulars will be scattered all over the country; but I do not suppose they will have any down as far as the seashore."
When they reached the coast they followed a small road running along its margin. Two or three miles further they turned off and rode inland till they struck a main road, so as to avoid following all the windings of the coast. They now pushed on at a sharp trot, and just at four o'clock came down upon the little port.
Its streets were cumbered with country carts, and as the dragoons dashed into the place a few shots were fired by some Spanish soldiers belonging to a small detachment which had been sent by Las Torres to act as a convoy for the guns and stores, and who were sleeping on the pavement or scattered among the houses in readiness for a start at daybreak. The resistance soon ceased. Before entering the place Peterborough had placed a cordon of dragoons in a semicircle round it to prevent any one passing out.
No time was lost; the carts were already loaded, and a troop of cavalry horses stood picketed by the guns. These were soon harnessed up, and the few other horses in the place were seized to prevent any one riding off with the news. The order was given to the peasants to start their carts, and in ten minutes after their entering the place the convoy was on its way with its long row of carts laden with ammunition and its sixteen guns.
The cordon of dragoons was still left round the town, the officer in command being ordered to allow no one to pass for an hour and a half, after which time he was to gallop on with his men to overtake the convoy, as by that time it would be no longer possible for any one to carry the news to Las Torres in time for him to put his troops into motion to cut off the convoy from Valencia. The journey back took much longer than the advance, for the carts, drawn for the most part by bullocks, made but slow progress. Three hours after the convoy started the dragoons left behind overtook them. When within three miles of the town, they were met by a small party of the enemy's Spanish militia; but these were at once scattered by a charge of the dragoons, and the convoy proceeded without further molestation until just at noon it entered the gates of Valencia, where the astonishment and delight of the inhabitants at its appearance were unbounded.
In a few hours the cannon were all mounted in position on the ramparts, adding very much to the defensive power of the town, which was now safe for a time from any attempt at a siege by Las Torres, whose plans would be entirely frustrated by the capture of the artillery intended for the siege.
But Peterborough was not yet contented. The junction of the four thousand Castilians, of whose approach he had heard, with Las Torres would raise the force under that general to a point which would enable him to blockade the town pending the arrival of artillery for siege works; and no sooner had the earl returned to his quarters, after seeing the cannon placed upon the walls, than he began his preparations for another expedition. He ordered Colonel Zinzendorf to march quietly out of the city at eight o'clock with four hundred of his dragoons, and four hundred British and as many Spanish infantry were to join him outside the walls. The colonels of these three bodies were ordered to say nothing of their intended movement, and to issue no orders until within half an hour of the time named. At the same hour the rest of the troops were to march to the walls and form a close cordon round them, so as to prevent any one from letting himself down by a rope and taking the news that an expedition was afoot to Las Torres.
At a few minutes past eight, eight hundred foot and four hundred horse assembled outside the gates, and Peterborough took the command. His object was to crush the Castilians before they could effect a junction with Las Torres. In order to do this it would be necessary to pass close by the Spanish camp, which covered the road by which the reinforcements were advancing to join them.
In perfect silence the party moved forward and marched to a ford across the river Xucar, a short distance only below the Spanish camp. Peterborough rode at their head, having by his side a Spanish gentleman acquainted with every foot of the country. They forded the river without being observed, and then, making as wide a circuit as possible round the camp, came down upon the road without the alarm being given; then they pushed forward, and after three hours' march came upon the Castilians at Fuente de la Higuera. The surprise was complete. The Spaniards, knowing that the Spanish army lay between them and the town, had taken no precautions, and the British were in possession of the place before they were aware of their danger.
There was no attempt at resistance beyond a few hasty shots. The Castilians were sleeping wrapped up in their cloaks around the place, and on the alarm they leaped up and fled wildly in all directions. In the darkness great numbers got away, but six hundred were taken prisoners. An hour was spent in collecting and breaking the arms left behind by the fugitives, and the force, with their prisoners in their midst, then started back on their return march. The circuit of the Spanish camp was made, and the ford passed as successfully as before, and just as daylight was breaking the little army marched into Valencia.
The news rapidly spread, and the inhabitants hurried into the streets, unable at first to credit the news that the Castilian army, whose approach menaced the safety of the town, was destroyed. The movement of the troops on the previous night to the ramparts and the absence of the greater part of the officers from the festivities had occasioned some comment; but as none knew that an expedition had set out, it was supposed that the earl had received news from his spies that Las Torres intended to attempt a sudden night attack, and the people would have doubted the astonishing news they now received had it not been for the presence of the six hundred Castilian prisoners.
These two serious misadventures caused Las Torres to despair of success against a town defended by so energetic and enterprising a commander as Peterborough, and he now turned his thoughts toward the small towns of Sueca and Alcira. Below these towns and commanded by their guns was the important bridge of Cullera, by which by far the greater portion of the supplies for the town was brought in from the country. Las Torres therefore determined to seize these places, which were distant about fifteen miles from his camp, and so to straiten the town for provisions.
As usual, Peterborough's spies brought him early intelligence of the intended movement, and the orders issued by Las Torres were known to the earl a few hours later. It needed all his activity to be in time. Five hundred English and six hundred Spanish infantry, and four hundred horse, were ordered to march with all speed to the threatened towns; and, pushing on without a halt, the troops reached them half an hour before the Spanish force appeared on the spot. On finding the two towns strongly occupied by the British, Las Torres abandoned his intention and drew off his troops.
A portion of the Spanish army were cantoned in a village only some two miles from Alcira, and a few days later Peterborough determined to surprise it, and for that purpose marched out at night from Valencia with an English force of a thousand men, and reached the spot intended at daybreak as he had arranged. The Spanish garrison of Alcira, also about a thousand strong, had orders to sally out and attack the village at the same hour. The Spaniards also arrived punctually, but just as they were preparing to burst upon the unconscious enemy, who were four thousand strong, they happened to come upon a picket of twenty horse. An unaccountable panic seized them; they broke their ranks and fled in such utter confusion that many of the terror stricken soldiers killed each other. The picket aroused the enemy, who quickly fell into their ranks, and Peterborough, seeing that it would be madness to attack them with his wearied and unsupported force, reluctantly ordered a retreat, which he conducted in perfect order and without the loss of a man.
This was Peterborough's only failure; with this exception every one of his plans had proved successful, and he only failed here from trusting for once to the cooperation of his wholly unreliable Spanish allies. After this nothing was done on either side for several weeks.
The campaign had been one of the most extraordinary ever accomplished, and its success was due in no degree to chance, but solely to the ability of Peterborough himself. Wild as many of his schemes appeared, they were always planned with the greatest care. He calculated upon almost every possible contingency, and prepared for it. He never intrusted to others that which he could do himself, and he personally commanded every expedition even of the most petty kind.
His extraordinary physical powers of endurance enabled him to support fatigue and to carry out adventure, which would have prostrated most other men. The highest praise, too, is due to the troops, who proved themselves worthy of such a leader. Their confidence in their chief inspired them with a valor equal to his own. They bore uncomplainingly the greatest hardships and fatigues, and engaged unquestioningly in adventures and exploits against odds which made success appear absolutely hopeless. The hundred and fifty dragoons who followed the Earl of Peterborough to the conquest of Valencia deserve a place side by side with the greatest heroes of antiquity.