1711 - The Siege

Documentary's blog


April 17 of 1711

Emperor Joseph I dies without any masculine offspring, thus leaving Archduke Charles as the heritor of the empire.

September 27

Archduke Charles embarks in Barcelona to be coroneted as new emperor. Queen Elizabeth Cristina stays at the city as governor while the king is gone, being a guaranty of the king’s return.

October 12

The Archduke receives the charge with Charles VI as his name and prepares the coronation.

October 17

1.600 men of the Marshal Louis Joseph of Bourbon’s forces, Duke of Vendôme, camped in Calaf, prepare through Pinós a pathway to Cardona so men, cannons, carts and victuals necessary for the siege of Cardona’s castle can move through it, and control the central Catalonia, previous step for the domination of Barcelona. Count of Muret directs the operation, and once the pathway is made about other 4.500 men arrive.

November 7

From Solsona, from 3.000 to 5.000 Bourbon men are heading to Cardona led by Arpajou. Duke of Vendôme wants to directly attack Cardona, but Generals Valdecañas and Aguilar oppose his idea. Aguilar renounces the siege. The others meet Muret in Bergús.

The access to Cardona is covered by an entrenched camp, supported by the wall and two towers, which are located in the west part of town. The garrison is made out of 1.868 men under the orders of Count of Eck. In the castle there was colonel Manuel Desvalls as the governor. The castle’s garrison was formed by the regiments of the Deputation, of Count of Taff (Asutrians), of Faber (Italians), Grisons (Swiss), Castilian and voluntaries. Some document notes that there also could have been 186 Portuguese.

November 12

The Bourbon troops of Count of Muret come near Cardona. They were about 6.00, with some cavalries.

The Bourbon opened trenches against the camp towers, where most part of the allied garrison was found, garrison which looked out for the defense of the town’s walls.

November 15
(3rd night)

The Bourbons create a canon battery which for 48 hours overthrows the walls.

November 17

The camp is attacked by 1.600 Bourbon soldiers divided in three franks. The defense garrison escapes in disorder, together with the attackers. The Bourbon Lieutenant General Count of Muret takes over the village, which had been previously evacuated by all its inhabitants when they had known the Bourbon military was coming. The Bourbons were 6.000 infantry men and 3.00 cavalries, and they yet were waiting some reinforcements.

The Bourbon military provokes a big scare. Count of Eck sends a letter to the Queen telling her that if he doesn’t get any help he might decide to surrender since the castle doesn’t have enough provisions neither garrison (they had just lost 600 men) to face the enemy. The Queen, quoting the words of King Charles, says that “is in front of the danger when the constancy, the determination and the great leadership are to be demonstrated“, and that they would help with troops the release of the siege.

November 18

After taking over the village, Muret directs the batteries to the castle. They shoot from 4 different points. They open trenches against the castle.

Starhemberg knows that is complicated for the batteries to provoke the castle’s downfall. To facilitate the defense against Count of Eck, Starhemberg decides to withdraw the tired and useless troops to the castle and to replace them for new troops.

Count of Gehlen has to arrive with 150 grenadiers to the castle. Once there, he must take note of the garrison’s situation.

According to the information taken by Count of Gehlen, Starhemberg prepares the attack to Cardona’s siege. After having controlled the battle in Prats de Rei, the release of the siege becomes a priority.

November 28

About 3.000 cavalry reinforcement arrive. Now, the attackers have from 9.00000 to 11.000 men.

November 30

The gap achieved by the battery bombings and explosive mines becomes passable. Muret orders the soldiers to attack through this gap, but the incursions are stopped by the defenders.

From November 20 to December 10 there are several bombings in the castle and the events seem to stay the same, with no good results and with numerous frustrated attempts by the Bourbons.

2.400 English men led by Admiral Jennings disembark in Barcelona and head off to Prats the Rei.

December 18

Starhemberg sends the head of the general headquarters Peroni, accompanied by Gehlen and Rohr, to Cardona to inquire about the exact position of the enemy and to pick easy points of attack.

December 18

Count of Traun, who will later be one of the most famous Austria’s military heads, is sent to meet with General Batteé to go over the sourcing and aid instructions to the castle. In total there up to 4.3000 Austrian soldiers ready to attack the siege of Cardona’s Castle.

December 19

Baron of Batteé leaves from Malagarriga’s bridge, where the camp was settled, and approaches the village of Cardona to a distance of half an hour. He spends the night with the military organizing the attacks.

December 21

The attack sign is given out. General Nebot assaults the fortification there was on the hill of the current petrol station Vilalta. Afterwards, he attacks the enemy camp in La Cormina, takes over it and stays there despite the French’s forces.
Colonels Count of Gelhem and Edward Stanhope occupy “Escorials” and the hill of “Querosa“ which were in hands of the French.
In this fight, the French Count of Melun is seriously injured and captured, and ends up dying because of these injuries.
Count of Gehlen, subordinated to the orders of Stanhope, is also fighting. Schonberg and General Nebot add themselves to the column, as well as the Dutch Montese and palatine General Lescheraine.
It is the toughest battle of the siege. Colonel Edward Stanhope is injured and ends up dying to days later.

Just a few hours before, Count of Eck had adverted by a letter that he was about to surrender for the lacking of water, and is required for him to withstand or to take it from the river through some kind of maneuver.

December 22

General Lieutenant Baron of Batteé gets to introduce some provisions to the castle and waits for the simultaneous attack to the enemy. 400 men carry in provisions. The French are attacked. There is a bloody battle at the Bourbon camp of Santa Llúcia. The French evacuate the place. They renounce to Cardona’s castle and they disparately flee without even taking with them the war machinery. General Nebot chases them with 100 horses to make sure they leave to never return.

December 22

Count of Muret writes to Count of Eck and recommends him to take care of the ill and injured ones he couldn’t take with him. He sends him a few doctors and surgeons and holds on to their return once the ill ones have bounced back.

December 22

The French leave to Solsona and until Oliana. According to Satrhemberg, the enemy had 2.500 men in front of the wall, but it lost 1.500 men during the two battle days, plus about 300 injured and numerous imprisoned and deserters.

December 23 of 1711

The release of the siege is now official, new given out by General Count of Traun. The same day, Charles is coroneted as Austria’s emperor.

There is a gratitude feast in the name of Satrhemberg for his aid to Cardona. All canons throw a triple discharge. Count of Traun, outstanding in the battle of Cardona, gives the good news of the victory to Barcelona. Everybody is grateful to Satrhemberg for his right orders, calculations and for his sage control on the different war situations.