Siege of Tafalla, to 11 February 1813

The siege of Tafalla (to 11 February 1813) was a success for the Spanish guerrilla leader Mina, and saw him force the surrender of the French garrison, after defeating a relief effort.

Francisco Espoz Ilundain, or Francisco Espoz y Mina, was one of the most organised of the Spanish guerrilla leaders. This shows clearly in the preparation for the siege of Tafalla. Mina had been given two siege guns, but they had been landed at Deba on the Biscay coast. Tafalla is sixty miles inland, on the opposite side of a mountain range. Even so Mina’s men were able to drag the guns across the mountains, and prepared to besiege the garrison. His men dug trenches, and prepared for a regular siege, although admittedly on a fairly small scale.

The nearest strong French forces were at Pamplona, where General Abbé, the Governor, commanded a small division. He took 3,000 infantry (including men from the 3rd, 52nd and 105th Line and 10th Léger) and 150 cavalry and advanced south towards Tafalla. However Mina intercepted and defeated him at Tiebas (9 February 1813), and forced Abbé to abandon the relief attempt.

By this point the walls of Tafalla were beginning to crumble under the bombardment of Mina’s two guns. The garrisons’ commander had already been killed. When the news of Abbé’s defeat reached them, the surviving 11 officers and 317 men surrendered.

This victory briefly allowed Mina to dominate Navarre. It was followed by a worse setback for the French, whe two battalions from Barbot’s division, which had been sent into Navarre to try and restore French control, were defeated heavily at Lerin (30 March 1813). Mina was able to dominate the area until late April, when more French reinforcements finally arrived.

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

Napoleonic Home Page | Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), Siege of Tafalla, to 11 February 1813 ,

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