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The combat of Tremendal of 23-24 November 1809 was a rare French success against one of the elusive bands of Spanish guerrillas. After the fall of Saragossa on 20 February 1809, the French drove the Spanish armies out of Aragon, but this did not end the fighting. Instead Marshal Suchet found himself facing systematic guerrilla warfare. One of those guerrilla bands, under General Villacampa, occupied the hill towns around Calatayud, to the west of Saragossa.
Suchet responded by sending a column under the Polish general Chlopiski to tackle Villacampa. The Spanish retreated south into the remote Sierra de Albarracin, taking up a new position at the convent of El Tremendal, close to the village of Origuela, close to the border of Valencia.
For once the guerrillas did not find safety in the mountains. Chlopiski followed Villacampa south. The French manoeuvred Villacampa out of his preferred position at El Tremendal, then caught him by surprise on the night of 23-24 November, forcing the Spaniards to retreat south into Valencia. They then sacked the village of Origuela, before withdrawing back north into the centre of Aragon. Despite this setback Villacampa’s band soon returned to the mountains of Aragon, where they remained a constant (if minor) thorn in Suchet’s side.
|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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