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The combat of Mislata of 26 December 1811 was a rare Spanish success during the fighting around Valencia in the winter of 1811-12. General Joachim Blake had decided to defend the line of the Guadalaviar River against a French army under General Suchet which was threatening Valencia. Suchet decided to attack around the left flank of the Spanish line, but he also decided to attack what appeared to be the weakest point in the Spanish lines, opposite the village of Mislata. This position was held by Zayas’s division, one of the best in the Spanish army, and was defended by a combination of Spanish trenches, the river itself and a mass of canals and irrigation ditches which criss-crossed the land close to the Guadalaviar.
Suchet decided to use Palombini’s Italian division to make the attack at Mislata. The attack made no real progress. The Italians were unable to move their guns to the front without building bridges over the canals. The Italian infantry managed to wade across the Guadalaviar, but was halted in front of the canal of Fabara, on the southern bank of the river. Palombini launched a second attack, which managed to break into the Spanish lines east of Mislata but was then repulsed. Despite his lack of success, Palombini’s attack had a direct impact on the wider battle. Blake decided that it was the main French attack, ignored the real French attack further west, and moved to a position just behind Zayas’s lines.
When it eventually became clear that the French had outflanked the entire Spanish line, Blake attempted to form a new line at ninety degrees to Zayas’s position, but the troops allocated to this new line fled at the first attack. Some fled back into Valencia and some escaped to the south. Blake himself decided to pull back into Valencia, and ordered Zayas to retreat back into the city. Palombini’s troops were in no position to pursue the retreating Spanish troops, and Zayas was able to get all of his men and his guns into the city.
|A History of the Peninsular War vol.5: October 1811-August 31, 1812 - Valencia, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Madrid, Sir Charles Oman Part Five of Oman's classic history of the Peninsular War starting with a look at the French invasion of Valencia in the winter of 1811-12, before concentrating on Wellington's victorious summer campaign of 1812, culminating with the battle of Salamanca and Wellington's first liberation of Madrid.|
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