Combat of Tiebas, 9 February 1813

The combat of Tiebas (9 February 1813) saw the Spanish guerrilla leader Mina defeat a French force that was attempting to lift the siege of Tafalla (to 12 February 1813), and was quickly followed by the fall of the town.

Francisco Espoz y Mina was one of the most organised of the Spanish guerrilla leaders. He had been given two siege guns, which had been landed at Deba on the Biscay coast, and then dragged across the mountains to Tafalla, sixty miles inland. Mina then began a regular siege of the town, digging trenches and bombarding the walls.

This was a serious challenge to General Abbé, the Governor of Pamplona, twenty miles to the north. He gathered together a field army of 3,000 infantry (including the 3rd, 52nd and 105th Line and 10th Léger) and advanced south towards Tafalla.

Mina had no intention of letting Abbé reach Tafalla without a fight. He moved north with four infantry battalions and his cavalry, and took up a new position at Tiebas, a key position in a mountain pass nine miles to the south of Pamplona.

Abbé attacked Mina in his strong positions, but despite a day long battle was unable to force his way past the Spanish lines. In the aftermath of this failure Abbé gave up, and returned to Pamplona. This left the surviving garrison of Tafalla with little choice other than surrender. The garrison commander had already been killed, and only 11 officers and 317 men survived to go into captivity.

In the aftermath of this defeat the French moved Barbot’s Division from the Army of Portugal to Navarre to help Abbé. However Barbot’s first major clash with the Spanish was an even more embarrassing defeat, when two of his battalions were destroyed while looting the town of Lerin. For some time after this success, Mina had control of Navarre. In late April the French were able to move enough reinforcements into the area to regain some control, but this came just as Wellington was about to set out on the Vitoria campaign.

A History of the Peninsular War, Volume VI: September 1, 1812 to August 5, 1813: Siege of Burgos, Retreat of Burgos, Vittoria, the Pyrenees

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 May 2018), Combat of Tiebas, 9 February 1813 ,

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