The combat of Hostalrich of 7 November 1809 was a minor French victory in Catalonia, which played a significant part in their victory in the third siege of Gerona (24 May-11 December 1809). On 19 September the French had attempted to storm Gerona, and had been repulsed. Marshal St. Cyr had been forced to take over command of the siege, and had decided to starve out the garrison. He had then been replaced by Marshal Augereau, who had continued that policy.
The only real threat to this plan came from the army of General Joachim Blake, which was operating in the area with orders to help the defenders of Gerona. Blake had successfully put one supply convoy into Gerona on 1 September, but his second attempt had failed. By mid October he was ready to make a third attempt. The supplies intended for Gerona were left in the town of Hostalrich, twenty miles to the south west of Gerona, while Blake attempted to find some way to get them into the besieged town.
Hostalrich was not strongly defended. The town was surrounded by a medieval wall of little military value, and a castle that would have been unable to resist a regular siege, but was strong enough to be held against anything else. Despite having placed his supplies in the town, Blake had not left a garrison, and so Hostalrich was defended by the local militia and the garrison of the castle.
Augereau decided that the best way to drive Blake away was to destroy his supply depot. Pino’s three Italian brigades were sent from the siege lines outside Gerona to attack the undefended town. One of these brigades was used to distract the only Spanish division in the area – 2,000 men under General Cuadrado, while the other two attacked the town.
The French attack was a complete success. The Spanish garrison was forced to fall back into the castle, leaving the town and the supply depots in French hands. Pino’s men destroyed the supplies, and then withdrew back to the siege lines, at a cost of 35 dead and 64 wounded. With his supplies destroyed Blake decided to withdraw west to Vich, to gather more supplies. Gerona would fall one month later. Hostalrich itself would fall to the French after a two month long siege (16 January-12 May 1810).
|A History of the Peninsular War vol.3: September 1809-December 1810 - Ocana, Cadiz, Bussaco, Torres Vedras, Sir Charles Oman. Part three of Oman's classic history begins with the series of disasters that befell the Spanish in the autumn of 1809 and spring of 1810, starting with the crushing defeat at Ocana and ending with the French conquest of Andalusia and capture of Seville, then moves on to look at the third French invasion of Portugal, most famous for Wellington's defence of the Lines of Torres Vedras.|
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