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ART. IX. A short Extract from the Life of General Mina. Published by Himself. 8vo. 107 pp. Taylor and Hessey. 1825.
SINCE the decease of the magnanimous Hurlothrumbo, or the no less magnanimous Tom Thumb (two heroes singularly resembling each other in their great qualities, but widely different in the meed by which posterity has repaid them; for the last is well known both to history and the drama, while of the first little is to be told except his name-(caret quia vate sacro)—we have met with no one so likely to stand foremost in the records of eternal fame, as the autobiographer of this Memoir. After reading the "Short Extract" before us, it is impossible not to feel that both the Macedonian madman, and the Swede, must hide their diminished heads when General Mina steps forward; that Marlborough is but as a mushroom in comparison with him; and that the immortal glory blazing round the name of Wellington, which we have hitherto fondly believed was the fruit of British genius and valour, must be transferred, as an act of justice, to the parent stock of a Spanish guerilla captain.
General Mina shall tell his own story: although in the outset there is some difficulty in knowing how to tell it at all. In an advertisement prefixed to this little volume, he denounces any reprint without his sanction, and he warns "the delicacy of the Gentlemen Editors of the Public Papers" to "take this notice into consideration."
Mais essayons. The Spanish government has often solicited General Mina to write the history of his campaigns, but hitherto he has had no leisure; and (strange to say) "neither did its importance stimulate him much.' Some day or other, however, he promises his entire history; meanwhile," he adds, until this shall appear," powerful motives, which I reserve to myself, impel me to give beforehand, the following brief extract." General Mina was born. in 1781. His parents were honest farmers in Navarre. He learned to read and write, and followed the plough till his twenty-sixth year. His patriotism was then roused by Buonaparte's invasion; and having done all the harm he could to the French in his own village, he entered as a soldier in Doyle's battalion. A short time after he joined the guerilla of his nephew Xavier Mina; and when this force was disbanded, in consequence of his nephew's capture, seven of the men named him their chief; and from this small stock arose his future greatness.
With this hopeful force he immediately was named Commander in chief of the Guerilla of Navarre, by the Junta of Arragon, and received the following appointments from the Regency: Colonel and Commandant General of the Guerilla of Navarre, independent of any other chief; Commandant General of the Infantry and Cavalry of the division of Volunteers of Navarre, retaining at the same time the command of the First Battalion; Brigadier of Infantry, with the same command. Major General, with the same command; Second General in command of the 7th army, and Commandant General of High Arragon, to the left of the Ebro, independent of the General in Chief of the 1st army, retaining still the former commands. receiving his first commission he proceeded to Estfella, arrested, with a much inferior force, a guerilla chief named Echeverria, who assumed the title as a mask for plunder, and instantly shot him and three of his accomplices.
And now begins the overture, all kettle-drums, trumpets, and thunderbolts.
"During this campaign, I gave battle, or sustained the attack (without reckoning small encounters) in 143 regular or occasional actions, of which the most distinguished are, in alphabetical order, those of Aibár, Añézcar, Arlában, Ayérbe, between Salinas and Arlabán, Erice, Irurózqui, Lerin and plains of Lodósa, Mañéru, Noáin, Perálta de Alcoléa and Cábo de Sáso, Piedramilléra and Monjardín, Plaséncia, Rocafórt and Sangüésa, Sangüésa, and Valle de Roncal. And less remarkable, although glorious, those of Acédo and Arquíjas, Alcubierre, Alfáro, Barosoáin, Beriáin, Biúrrun, Boquéte de Embic, the plains of Auza, of Mañéru, of Muruzábal, Canfrán, Carrascál, Castilliscar, Castillo de la Alfajería in Zaragóza, Cirauqui, Egea de los Caballéros, Estélla, the plains of Zaragozá, Húesca, Jáca, near to Albáina, Lumbiér, Mendigorría, Mendíbil, Monreál, Názar, Olcóz, Oyárzun, Puente la Réyna, Puéyo, Sáda and Lérga, Santa Cruz de Campézo, Saraza, Segúra, Sorláda, Sos, Tafálla, Tarrazóna, Tiébas, Tiérmas and Sangüesa, Tudéla, and Venta de Oyarzun.
"Of the actions named in the preceding paragraph,-in that of Rocafort and Sangüésa, with scarcely 3,000 men I routed 5,000, took their artillery, and caused the enemy the loss of between 2,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. In that between Salinas and Arlaban, I completely routed the enemy, killed 700 of his men, took all the convoy they were escorting, and liberated from 600 to 700 Spaniards, whom they were carrying prisoners into France; and in that of Mañeru, I entirely destroyed, with the loss of its artillery, Abbé's division, consisting of 5,000 men, put the greater part of its cavalry to the sword, and followed up the remainder during the night, for the space of five leagues, to the very gates of Pampeluna. It would be too minute and improper to continue in this extract the details of what occurred in various other actions.
“I kept in check in Navarre 26,000 men for the space of 53 days, who otherwise would have assisted at the battle of Salamanca, as they were on their march to join Marmont's army; and by cutting down the bridges, and breaking up the roads, I prevented the advance of 80 pieces of artillery, which would otherwise have been employed in that battle.
"I contributed to the happy result of the decisive battle of Vittoria; for if by the manoeuvres I executed, I had not prevented the junction of the French divisions Claussel and Foi, which consisted of from 27 to 28,000 men, and intercepted their correspondence, the issue would have been very doubtful." P. 17.
It is not by any means necessary to attend to chronology or geography in our recital, since it would be unjust to arrange for General Mina those particulars of time and place which he has not been solicitous to arrange for himself; we shall therefore take his actions even as we find them. Once at Placencia he made 1,200 infantry prisoners, and put the whole of his enemy's cavalry to the sword. Once, at Sangüesa, he took 900 prisoners out of a column called the "Infernal." Once, when 6,000 men were only three leagues off, he killed and took prisoners 1,100 more, leaving only the commander and two others to escape. When the French shot and hanged such of his troops as they took prisoners, he shot and hanged in return in an inverse ratio, four for each officer, twenty for each private; a proportion which leads us to believe, that General Mina's privates were five times worth his officers.
"The French generals against whom I conducted this campaign, were: Dorsenne, Claussel, Abbé, Cafarelli, Soullier, Reille, Harispe, Lafourrie, D'Armagnac, D'Agoult, La Coste, Bourgeats, Bison, Dufourg, Cassan, Panetier, Barbot, Roquet, Paris, with many others; and although at one time there were 18 of them, in Navarre, engaged in pursuit of me, still I found means of baffling the endeavours of all.
"I never suffered a surprise. Once, on the 23d April 1812, at break of day, having been sold by the Partizan Malcarado, who had previously made his arrangements with General Panetier, and had withdrawn the advanced guard from before Robres, I saw myself surrounded in the town by 1,000 infantry and 200 cavalry, and was attacked by five hussars at the very door of the house where I lodged: I defended myself from these latter with the bar of the door, the only weapon I had at hand, while my attendant, Louis Gaston, was saddling my horse; and mounting immediately, with his assistance, I sallied forth, charged them, followed them up the street, cut off an arm of one of them at one blow, immediately collected some of my men, charged the enemy several times, rescued many of my soldiers and officers who had been made prisoners, and continued the contest for more than three quarters of an hour, in order that the remainder
might escape. This Louis Gaston I always retain about my person as a friend. The next day I caused Malcarado and his attendant to be shot; while three Alcaldes and a parish priest, likewise concerned in the plot, were hanging." P. 29.
He was several times wounded by musket balls, sabres or lances, and unless he bore "a charmed life," this is by no means surprising. He still has a ball in his thigh, and he has had four horses killed under him in action. During the peace of 1814, he visited Madrid, and had many private audiences of King Ferdinand, during which he " did all in "his power to convince him of the mistaken course he had "been pursuing ever since his return to Spain, and of the inauspicious character of the persons by whom he was sur"rounded." These inauspicious persons, as might naturally be expected, lost no time in getting him hastily summoned to his provincial command. Having attempted to seize Pampeluna, in order to proclaim the Constitution and the Cortes, he found it necessary to emigrate to France; there the Spanish ambassador caused him to be imprisoned for 20 hours. On his release, he chose Bar-sur-Aube as his residence, and remained there till the hundred days, during which Buonaparte made him brilliant offers, which he refused without hesitation, and sought an asylum in Switzerland. When the Constitution was proclaimed in 1820, he again entered Spain, and having published it at the head of 20 men, at Villa de Santesteban, Pampeluna immediately opened her gates to him, and he received from the King a commission as Captain General of the Army and Province of Navarre. He soon "foresaw all or the greater part of "the occurrences which took place;" and, apprehensive of the commotion which afterwards broke out in Navarre, he asked and obtained the Captainship General of Galicia. Here he corrected abuses of all sorts, and animated the public spirit. In 1822 he was named Commander-in-Chief in "Catalonia, an office which he undertook "for the very reason, "that it is perilous." At the head of 1,766 infantry and 275 cavalry, he totally demolished the town of Castell-fullit, the destruction of which he immortalized by an inscription on the site of its ruins; he took Balaguer also, and routed the factious at Torá, Artesa, Orcan, Pobla, Beliber, and Puigcerdá, always with one-third, or less, of their force. He blockaded Urgel for 74 days, and on the morning of its evacuation,❝ 600 profligates and robbers taken out of the "prisons, who formed the greater part of the faction of the "ringleader Romagosa, the defender of the fortresses of Urgel, expiated their crimes on the morning of the evacua
"tion, by their death upon the field." We do not know whether these unhappy wretches were killed in action, or summarily executed.
Afterwards we find him dignified with the rank of Lieutenant General; Commandant General of the Seventh Division; General-in-Chief of the Army of Operation, and Knight Grand Cross of the National and Military Order of St. Ferdinand. With 6,000 men he kept the field two months and a half against 30,000, under General Moncey. Once he marched without halting, 33 hours, pursued and attacked by ten times his numbers; "nevertheless, by constancy and firm"ness in the critical emergencies and terrible conjunctures "in which I was placed, I surmounted every difficulty."
By the treaty of 1823, General Mina was permitted to come to England, and he has been received in this country with distinguished hospitality. He has been medically attended by Sir Astley Cooper and Dr. Gaitskell, and has dined with the Duke of Sussex. We wish it were in our power to add, that the hazards to which his life has been so frequently exposed were now terminated: unhappily, while we write, we learn from the newspapers, that, on retiring from his Royal Highness's well-replenished board, on Sunday the 16th instant, General Mina was seized with violent and unequivocal symptoms of colic and indigestion. By the skill of his apothecary, and by the free application of minoratives, eccoprotres and deobstruents, the General's bowels are at length restored to their fitting tone, though not without a prostration of strength, which, at one time, created considerable alarm.
General Mina most assuredly is an extraordinary man. We wish his publishers had prefixed his portrait, as a frontispiece.
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