The Battle of La Caya 1709

From The Tatler No. 17. May 19, 1709

This day arrived a mail form Lisbon, with letters of the 13th instant, N.S., containing a particular account of the late action in Portugal. On the 7th instant, the army of Portugal, under command of the Marquis de Frontera, lay on the side of the Caya, and the army of the Duke of Anjou, commanded by the Marquis de Bay, on the other. The latter commander having an ambition to ravage the country, in a manner in sight of the Portuguese, made a motion with the whole body of his horse toward Fort St. Christopher, near the town of Badajos. The generals of the Portuguese, disdaining that such an insult should be offered to their arms, took a resolution to pass the river, and oppose the designs of the enemy. The Earl of Galway represented to them, that the present posture of affairs was such on the side of the Allies, that there needed no more to be done at present in that country, but to carry on a defensive part. Upon which, a great detachment of foot, and the whole of the horse of the King of Portugal’s army, passed the river, and with some pieces of cannon did good execution on the enemy. Upon observing this, the Marquis de Bay advanced with his horse and attacked the right wing of the Portuguese cavalry, who faced about, and fled, without standing the first encounter. But their foot repulsed the same body of horse in three successive charges, with great order and resolution. While this was transacting, the British general commanded the brigade of Pearce to keep the enemy in diversion by a new attack. This was so well executed that the Portuguese infantry had time to retire in good order, and repass the river. But that brigade which rescued them, was itself surrounded by the enemy, and Major-General Sarkey, Brigadier Pearce, together with both their regiments, and that of the Lord Galway, lately raised, were taken prisoner.

During the engagement the Earl of Barrymore having advanced too far to give some necessary order, was hemmed in by a squadron of the enemy: but found means to gallop up to the brigade of Pearce, with which he remains also prisoner. My Lord Galway had his horse shot under him in this action; and the Conde de St. Juan, a Portuguese general was taken a prisoner. The same night the army encamped at Aronches, and on the 9th moved to Elvas, where they lay when these despatches came away. Colonel Stanwix’s regiment is also taken. The whole affair has give the Portuguese a great idea of the capacity and courage of my Lord Galway, against whose advice they entered upon this unfortunate affair, and by whose conduct they were rescued from it. The prodigious constancy and resolution of that great man is hardly to be paralleled, who under the oppression of a maimed body, and the reflection of repeated ill fortune, goes on with an unspeakable alacrity in the service of the common cause. He has already put things in a very good posture after this ill accident, and made the necessary dispositions for covering the enemy, who lie still on the camp they were in before the battle.

Location Map

Location Map
The Battle of La Caya
Portugal 1709

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