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Sunday, June 15, 2014

LETTER OF A PORTUGUESE SOLDIER IN SARAGOSSA

Another interesting link someone found and shared. I've attempted to translate it; hope I did well (I accept corrections). It will be the longest post I've ever published on this blog. Please, read it through, it has some hilarious moments, besides all the suffering and warfare.
Personally, I find that the way to author of this letter writes, shows he still had some sense of humor left in him (specially sarcasm) and that is what, most likely, made him survive, even after loosing his right hand. It tells us how he was taken to become part of the French army, how he escapes and how he joined the Spanish forces in Saragossa. This letter he writes to his beloved Nation is nothing less then an anonymous encouragment for the Portuguese to fight the French. And the last part has even brought tears to my eyes. Anonymous no more!
On another note, it would also be interesting for some Spaniard ladies to start a re-enactment group based on something I have underlined further down. I'm a strong believer in sending our wishes into the world; they may just com back.

LETTER
THAT A PORTGUESE MILITARY WRITES
FROM
SARAGOSSA
TO HIS BELOVED COMPATRIOTS
That refers to them everything that has happened with the French, after they ripped him from his homeland , how it happened with the Spaniards and everything that has happened in the illustrious Saragossa until the present day.

TRANSLATED FROM SPANISH
----------
LISBON
FROM THE WORKSHOP OF JOÃO EVANGELISTA GARCEZ
ANNO 1809
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With the permit of the Mesa do Desembargo do Paço

LETTER

My beloved compatriots, I doubt that this will reach you, but in the meantime I'll flatter myself with the hope that you will get to know what happened to this poor man, that had the misfortune of being driven out by our French Protectors, better said, to have been ripped of the womb of his family and of his beloved homeland by the treacherous imposters.
The continuous fatigue, the ceaseless fire, what the enemy does to us, does not allow me to tell you all the occurrences of my voyages and I'll tell only the most notable ones after my separation.
Undoubtedly, you must know the many promises they made us, the big prizes they offered us before we left our territory; however friends, everything turned into nothing and as these men are accustomed to fail at everything they promised, just as we lost sight of our country, we began to try out gradually the effects of the French regeneration. The rations were limited, the marches doubled, Pret not even a sight of him, however they filled our ears on how soon we would see the great one, the omnipotent, the generous Emperor. With these and other bravado they dragged us until Valladolid, even though not everyone, because many with better sense then them knew how to escape before we got there and the larger part of us protested not to leave from here; I could not describe to you the diligence we made to run away, what inquiries, what measures and plots, in effect many, and in truth we managed to escape; however since the wicked knew about the Portuguese craftiness, immediately they took the most scrupulous measures and a friend of mine was willing to be shot; however the French benignity , after many pleas, made it possible that he and other twenty five, me including these numbers, were put in iron collars: frankly I tell you, that this instrument made the hairs on my back stand up, and I began to learn that all the resources were closed to me, making my luck fatal. In this way I was led until Burgos with the greatest sorrow to learn that we were close to the Pyrenees, bearing many cudgel blows, and eating very badly, finally they learned that for those who had committed no fault it was to much of a punishment and for that they freed us, but I learned that they only did it for their own convenience.
I was one of those who was unlucky to go with a party to Pamplona, passing first through Calahorra and to have a look at those desperate ones, because it convened them. Me, who has never traveled in my life, and saw those sudden and turbulent expeditions, not knowing where, nor how, nor why we were going, could not help myself not to get startled, even more so after hearing an officer say that much activity was needed because otherwise fatal consequences could rise. I must advert you that I was always spying and listening, even though pretending I did not understand their uproar, which has helped me a lot; but this officer surprised me, knowing for what they were saying, everything was tranquil and truthfully, at this moment, the poor and the honored Spaniards feared nothing, but us the Portuguese had experienced the frankness, the ingenuity and French honor, for which reason, at the every step I gave, I remembered that at least they would make me Grand-Duke.
We've arrived at Pamplona with forced marches without giving us an instant of rest, and there we began to carry caskets of ammunition, bombs and mortars; we've asked then for a moment to find something to eat and an officer answered me that good soldiers in campaign forget about food to fight the enemy and that I should go and help the artillery to get ready. And then I remembered their Protection, lowered my head and without replying went to help my comrades that despaired making eight pieces ready, which we then drove.
But what amazement of mine to observe the unrest of the entire garrison! The amount of secrets, of oaths (promises or swearing?) and what Diables de Saragossa! Which was the reason for me to approach a paisan of ours of the region of Beira and asked him what all of that meant? He simply answered that it seemed that they were failing Saragossa. We've continued our work; they despaired and we've payed their desperation. As we hadn't eaten anything, I grew tired and I stopped working; here, a perverse cadet, or of the Military School, unloads on my such lashes, that they managed to bent me. I couldn't contain my wrath and I said in our language: Is this happiness! Is this protection! We miserable ones, we're slaves: Oh! Who could tell this to the Portuguese paisanos so they would not give them (the French) credit! He undoubtedly understood something I said and, amongst other things, made me understood that if we hadn't had to march he would put me in jail.
We've left in great hurry and in our company a detachment of Poles; we took our artillery, our mortars and wagons of ammunition, but not knowing to where. We went to Estella and from there to Tudella. I won't be able to describe you the needs and the bad days I've spent on this march and, non so, the continuous insults of those damned ones, but I will only say that the object of their mockery were us the unfortunate Portuguese. Regularly we were their cooks and there was always something to do; they wanted their meat undercooked and we always ate in smaller amounts so not to imitate such wolves: and with certainty, if this continued we would starve. We made our way to Egéa; here we saw on the road straight towards us several French, that making many grimaces and twitching didn't ceased to speak to the officers; everything was quarrel and disorder; and we noticed that all of them were without rifles, with their uniforms torn, other without shoes, nor backpacks, some without shakos and finally everything made us comprehend that all of those gentlemen had been shaken out of their socks. We made no findings, but I can only tell you that we made a different way than the road to Egéa.
We knew that that wasn't a good sign. We agreed, three most intimate Portuguese friends, that we should inquire this with all cost; and in effect I was able to do so talking to an Aragonese muleteer, that told me that in Egéa there had been a very gallant function; that the braggarts wanted to enter and that all the people hid in their houses, well provided with cartridges and ammunition; and that besides this they closed a great number of bulls in the town's stockyard and when finally the French entered the town very conceited and when they were about looking for lodging, suddenly the well goaded bulls were released and made the ones they would find fly into the air and, at the same time, fire started from the windows, in such way that such confusion and caos was made that you could only see wreckage; however it was plenty to laugh at, to see the Gabachos leave their banners, their passarolas (another word for banner?), and in fear climbing the windows and balconies, but the inhabitants of Egéa stopped them of such luck that not many escaped.
The good man told me also that arms were raised in Saragossa and I remembered the speeches in Pamplona, and that many French sieged the city having with them a considerable number of Portuguese, good troops, and that it was a pity to see that the people of Saragossa had to defend themselves to death. This he told me and I was abstracted; I then went to my comrades and I told them everything I had learned. The French noticed that we made a circle to talk and came straight at us like arrows, telling us that on a second attempt they would break such gathering up with gunfire.
Since then, we tried to run away, however the vigilance and the continuous guards kept by those evil ones stopped us, also the fact that we didn't knew the roads very well and that they didn't allowed us to talk to the people of the country. We were afraid of the people that we knew to be enraged and, since we had French uniforms and that our language, or even any other, that at that moment could be French, gave our fear good reasons; and so we were determined to go about our luck until Our Lady of Hope would show us a way.
From day to day our fears multiplied with every news, that even with all it's secrecy and caution reached our ears: the workload was considerable and the treatment awful. With this we arrived at a place three miles away from Saragossa, from where we saw the encampment of General Lefevre, ready for an attack, and our kind compatriots, the Portuguese in the forefront. We've just had lay down the artillery when they told us to gather our Corps. With great satisfaction I saw myself amongst my patricians, although, non the less was my terror when they told us about some of them being part of the battle of Eiras, the wreckage, the death-tole and the valor of the Aragonese and how they were surprised because the French had retreated in great haste to the stopping point where they were, with the intention to redo the attack with the Portuguese reinforcements and the Verdier Division they were waiting for at any moment. It was then, mad with the French barbarity, knowing about the death of friends of mine that were at Eiras, I said: It's a horrifying thing that we go and kill our friends and they do the same to us; this only French do: Ah! Inhuman, let us die first or move to the city: but that was not possible, even if on that day three of us had that chance. Verdier arrived by nightfall with his divisions and by morning we marched, taking the forefront at the left side of the city, we've surrounded it perfectly with mortars and other pieces, we've made terrible batteries and after various and bloody attacks, we began the most horrendous bombardment. The close bullets, the grenades and bombs rained upon them. Five thousand of the last we threw inside, which burnt and destroyed a lot of buildings. With this damage and with so many people that the French had, they thought of ending once and for all this illustrious city, after sending to Palafox many aides-de-camp for him to surrender, and being all their propositions useless, Lefevre, the perverse, determined that we should give a final attack and end it all.
In effect, I was one of those who felt that Palafox wasn't going to surrender, because there wasn't one Frenchmen that didn't guaranteed that the city was going to be erased and reduced to ashes; they relied already with the spoils and many of them made holes in their backpacks to keep the chalices and pattens that they intended to steal from the church of the Holy Virgin of Pilar. Finally, I heard talks in which they discussed the manor they should loot the maiden, and all of them on how more to profit the harvest of their fatigue and wished for the day of the attack.
At last the memorable day of August 4th arrived, he took all of the army with weapons and the attack was put into action. Lefevre and Verdier ran all the ranks, made energetic proclamations, told that it would be a dishonor for the victors of Jenna if on that day they wouldn't teach the rebels a lesson; that the wealth was immense and was destined by the Great Napoleon for his brave, and finally that it was necessary to renew the old promise of not retreating.
Us too had our share of proclamations; told us Verdier “that the time of the valiant Portuguese to unite to the terrible French Eagles had arrived; that the unbeatable Marengo and the Discoverers of the new hemispheres were brothers and that they should divide the triumph between them; that the omnipotent Emperor under which protection they were and all his generosity, wished us as much; and that lastly, that small attack would be the prelude of new laurels for Portugal, that the Duke of Abrantes, would tell the Portuguese Nation about the heroic action of his children.” Having said that he left and more positive orders were given.
For my disgrace it fell unto me to tackle the worst side and I went through the Puerta de Santa Engracia, were they had six pieces of artillery that rased us, even with French reinforcements, and jumping over the mounts of cadavers we've forced the door down and entered the streets, but already had Palafox other six ready that entirely disrupt us, five or six with me had the luck of being hurt by grapeshot and we could escape. I've passed by another crossroad, gathered with others and arrived at the Calle del Coso; here I met with another battery and even if the ground was covered with cadavers, the generals wanted to take it, but the vivid fire from the windows, and women shooting, made us draw back. Me, in all my diligence, was trying to see from were I could escape, although I wasn't able to. To demonstrate now how the Aragonese were is impossible. In the meanwhile, while we were leaving Coso and the Hospital Street an order came saying that we should reinforce the Verdier division, that he had made a breach at the San Miguel cemitery. The Aide-de-camp came to us happily informing that Saragossa was ours, that we should help promptly and that these were the voices in the city and of Verdier himself. We rejoiced and ran, the few remaining of my battalion, and I didn't ran this time into the city, but all day the most terrible and disputed battle happened.
But on the other day to my surprise, and the fear of all, when we heard say that Palafox had entered the city with reinforcements! All in one voice said «he won't surrender now.» In effect, they had another horrid combat, those who were inside and the limited remaining that got away gave us the news, telling us that we should find a way to escape. I cannot explain the face of the braggarts at their time of flight; but by then I didn't held myself too long at looking at them because the Aragonese followed us and a great number of bullets passed by me, whistling in my ear. We spent all night putting bombs and grenades in the city, meanwhile the troops continued marching. I was one of the chosen for this plot and I became glad because I thought my time of freedom had arrived, but I flattered myself in vain. On August 14th at midnight we were given orders to leave from there in forced marches, all of us who were there, and that the injured should be left behind: I felt bad for not staying, as two of my comrades did, whom I saw later in Saragossa, and one of whom I survived (?). Much I neglected myself in this hasty retreat and we went in this trot to Tudella, because Palafox persecuted us to death.
I shall abbreviate this narration by saying that by chance we didn't stayed long in Tudella; another retreat, even more hasty then the first one, was the reason why I had to free myself of the power of the French. The darkness of night and their hastiness were the cause for four Portuguese to make their pilgrimage. I could not tell the troubles, nor the famine of which we suffered: commonly we walked through deserts, since nobody could stop the excitement of the people; our wish was to present ourselves to Palafox, but not all of us could make that come true because my friend Pereira, as tough as he was, and for not being able to explain himself well enough, some villagers took him for French, shooting him twice.
Arriving, not knowing how, at Monson, I thought seriously that my time had come; all the people began to yell that we were French and from the yelling to action there was little time, throwing at me three stabs and for my luck they weren’t' deadly, but without a doubt they would have killed us if the village's priest hadn't arrived at that moment to inquire who we were: they put us in a house and the questioning began. The people didn't stopped saying that we were spies and that we had been with the French. The Alcaide of the town arrived and examined us and concluded his defense by saying that he would inquire to be true or not what he was told, that they should let him have a look at the backpacks, because he wanted to examine if we had any silver from the Church: he looked at them and said in a loud voice that if he had found anything of such likes in the packs that not even god could help us. With such an exclamation we became stupefied, such was the anger of these people against the thieves of holy chalices.
At this moment a party of Spanish troops arrived and led us to Saragossa, and another one took us to the Army and a last one presented us to Palafox. There were evil tongues who suggested we were spies; even so he had us arrested until we could justify ourselves; this concluded, he received us with such pleasantry that I don't have enough words to describe it. From this moment on I began to love this rare man and agreed with all the troubles I had, just to enjoy his presence; he presented us with many paisanos of the Legion (LLL) and told us that if we wanted to stay there that he would not only leave us with our patent and rank, but also advance us: I was one of those that that same day became a Lieutenant. I'm delighted with his candice and his generosity captivates all of the soldiers and his joviality has absorbed many that communicate with him. This general of mine, no doubt incomparable, sees himself eating with the soldiers at meal times and speaking with them in a familiar manor. Never did he made himself look better then the rest and many times he just wears a vest, and many times only wears his Guard uniform, brown trousers lined in fur, and this is all the ostentation of the best general of the world: I confess naively that many times I had tears in my eyes to see this amicable young man and so relentless; all soldiers would give gladly their lives so he would not suffer the smallest upset, even though he risks his life many times to save us.
Not having written about the beginning of this relationship, I cannot detain myself now doing so, since time is limited, but my wishes are stronger then this; since it is the last time I write, I want you not to ignore the hardships and fatigues of your patricians. Time is limited and for that reason I haven't said anything about the battle of Naurdes, nor about the retreat of Tudella, nor about the continuous attacks, or the several setbacks, or about the desertion of many soldiers: all these are soften with the presence of Palafox. We've entered, finally, in this immortal city, being always attacked, besides giving the Gentlemen Moncey and Mortier two blows, that without doubt they will remember for their entire lives. They kept on attacking us and took Torrero, costing us much blood. They continued on another attack to the city, but left 6000 men dead, to scold us, and most of them from the Imperial Guard. The Great General, so we call him, didn't forget to prize his soldiers with that rightful attitude and equality that is so familiar to him; I, for my own bad luck, found myself amongst this dance where I lost my right hand, but I have the glory to hold tight the red bandage, is what I have more in regard than all the Empires, and have to say that it flattered me all of those decorated Portuguese Paisanos: this one is worth much more then what the wicked Junot promised and the vile Lagarde. But what wrath, what indignation! My admiration took over my senses when I learned that Junot was at Saragossa and that he had reached the walls. The Portuguese in all their enthusiasm yelled: We rejoice with his arrival because he will now pay the outrages he made to our motherland! Not many days had passed when, together with Moncey, they attacked terribly this city through the Puerta del Portilho, and entering it until the Plaza de San Paulo. The fire was heavy, the grenades caused big damages and our artillery didn't missed one shot, but we had to give in because the response was infinite; but at this instant along comes our immortal General, and without one moment of rest ran through all the ranks cheering our soldiers, arriving at the Plaza, he tripped (?) before the cavalry and fell over them with such force that one couldn't explain the expressions on their faces, at the same time one infantry column attacked on the left, enabling the immense bold mob to enter, few of them managing to escape, having three soldiers of Palafox's regiment the animosity of almost putting their hands on Junot, but when they continued with their honorable intent, eight Poles on horses surrounded them and they were forced to cease their business. A big fright did that coward got; and many of us felt this moment was lost: two soldiers that returned said that when he saw himself in such circumstances he changed is color and began to tremble.
Even so, nothing intimidates these Cannibals, not even the many losses, that they have experienced, nor the terrible blows that they suffer can move them, they take revenge in throwing continually bombs and grenades into the city and it causes big damages; even so, our General consoles us with much hope, repeating many times that when there's nothing left but ruins, those become our houses and above them we will fire at the enemy. The attacks continued unrelentingly and I believe that the prognosis of our beloved General had arrived; there isn't one day in so many that have occurred in which there isn't one skirmish and it was verified that eleven attacks had happened in such a short time of twenty four hours; to describe what happened is impossible and I only say, since I'm not lengthy and time escapes me, that no one could believe, not even the ones that have witnessed what happened here, the singular heroism, that is found in the weaker gender and even children. But what man wouldn't be brave when seeing entire battalions formed by Aragonese women? The (female) cousin of our General is the commander of 300. On the day they presented themselves ready before Palafox and with weapons, there wasn't one that couldn't hold back the tears, nor did the soldiers, and didn't wished for the French to attack.
It seems like providence that on that same day the great Marshall Lannes arrived and took the place of Moncey by orders of the unjust Bonaparte; being the reason of this change, according to what he said, the slackness of the proceeding of the former general. If attacking every day and all the time is being slack, you judge it then, but I cannot agree with it. The superb Lannes brought with him nothing less then 25 (thousand?) infantry and 5 (thousand?) cavalry.
Nothing that could scare us. The new women militia cried: cheer up, cheer up, rather die then being French. I perceived those voices to be like embers, that fed the fire and the troop's enthusiasm. All the soldiers followed in an unbreakable joy: To die or to win, hurray for Spain and England, hurray for our General: Immediately we made ready for the most terrible attack that the past centuries have seen. Lannes wanted the attack to be broad and ordered Saragossa to be brought down at once; this was a bloody and executive order of the unjust and turbulent tyrant.
We all knew the people there were put against immense forces, that the artillery and cavalry was immense and the infantry proportional; the endless generals and officers, and the marshals Mortier, Moncey and Lannes; but not even so we discouraged. We waited for the backup of D. Francisco Palafox and of General Doyle; we knew that the priest Theobaldo had a Corps of troops, and lastly we trusted in our General and in the Virgin of Pilar. On the preceding day, and even after, we amazed ourselves, even if we had seen it continuously, with the diligence of the women, children, in repairing the trenches, carrying water, leading ammunition and cleaning the pieces. My tears burst out when I saw a decrepit old man that was holding a grenade, and without being able to hold it in his hands, because the weight was superior to his feeble strength, it fell on his foot, crushing his big toe and he gave in to the violent pain and fell on the ground. I ran to him promptly to lift him up and regaining consciousness he said: Com on honorable Portuguese, run to the trenches, avenge the outrages done to your homeland and of mine, this is not momentarily and the lack of one toe is not enough that I stop myself in helping you: He didn't agreed that I should spend more time with him, and bleeding away he continued in his intent to pick up the grenade again, dropping it beside the artillery piece. Who cannot fill himself with pride, I yelled, with a behavior so rare and singular! I feel that the world will ignore all that has happened here; nothing here that can be seen here is less then prodigy; but oh! Disgrace, these unfortunate ones, these old people, women and children have for many times lived the luck of an angry soldier! Ah! How it angers us the memory of the two hundred and fifty when we attacked the Casa de Misericordia, for not being able to hold themselves back, they merged with the soldiers and the 4 (thousand?) French that had build forts there.
Everything was ready for the attack when Lannes pretending to be our protector, renewed the summon made earlier by Moncey, that he didn't wanted to destroy the city, that the great numbers of troops he had should be taken into account, that we should surrender and we could expect French magnanimity and generosity, everything which would made us worthy of such proceedings. Our General Palafox answered him back, no doubt, as he was accustomed; but with certainty he started a horrific and never seen before attack: a thousand times our batteries were lunged and other more were repelled, but trenches were made by the same pieces (?). The cavalry advanced at three different spots and at the same time entered the Hospital street and reached the entrance of Coso. A bomb contributed a lot to this venture, that fell and blew up a gunpowder warehouse: taking advantage of this chance to move in with more fervor; however it cost them a great deal, regardless entering another column through the Puerta to join those already inside, but all their efforts were destroyed. I cannot explain how our General was able to be everywhere, as quickly as we saw him, we also loose sight of him, to quickly appear in front of us again filling us with encouragement in such way that each one of us was worth three Frenchmen. Oh! What wouldn't be my satisfaction if I could see a great number of my countrymen, just to see them transform themselves in fierce lions!
I've already explained who our General is or what his dispositions were; nor can I say the sudden evolution he had made in which he charged over the Gabachos (this is the name that we commonly give them) on every side and with such speed, that he done unto them the biggest damage, remaining the street empty with living French and blocked by mounts of bodies. I don't know, nor can I guess the particularities of such attack; the (spoken) admiration ceases when the lips become wet (with tears). In one word, everyone, and in every street, had to run in much haste. Left to Junot was his share (of troubles), I guess, Moncey, if he's not dead then he is almost; because a soldier of my regiment put a bullet in him; Lannes was the one that got away better, however not for the best, he took injured shoulder with him to have some fun with it. We suppose that his wound won't gangrene, although we wish the contrary to be true since it was done by grapeshot.
How much we Portuguese rejoiced (when we're so few) to know about the success of the insolent Lannes. Ah! We said then, he starts to pay the evil he did in Lisbon. You well know that this wicked man we had in our sight after our Prince covered him with benefits, until to the point of reaching the baptismal font holding in his royal hands a sun of his, was paying these generosities with bad politics and insolence. I still remember when he entered the Queluz palace in boots and spurs, with a whip in his hand as if he was entering the stables, such proceeding embarrassed our kind Prince, filling with indignation all the nobility of Portugal, whom he embarrassed more then once with his coarse manors. This is the dignified fellow that has been decreeing our ruin and of Saragossa, you well know his haughty genie, and from there you can conclude how he treats his enemies, someone who also behaves like that with his benefactors.
Nevertheless, we will do our part in diligence so we can get rid of him, to make him see that he's not in Queluz. In the meanwhile, about the terror that the French want to influence us with, has Palafox already intimidated more then once with his Almogavar troops, the ones that have upset them ceaseless, ruining their fortifications and killing their engineers.
How big my willingness would be if you could see this Noble Militia, dressed in an old Hispanic fashion; what determined our General to do such heinous things even to the French costume, and remember their old glories in Spain; such is the just hatred that our Chef has towards them; however many of his subjects imitate him getting to the extreme, that on the attack of the 25th, having an Aragonese woman found a backpack filled with clothing and tools, etc (?) Ah! She says, they are clothing, tools and French money, be all damned, since it is from the Gabachos it is enough for it to become hateful in my eyes, and with the biggest indignation she threw it away from her: but speaking with ingenuity, us soldiers didn't proceed in such way, on the contrary, we wished that many such backpacks and gear had fallen onto us.
After the attacks of the 23rd, 24th and 25th of February we haven't had any rest. These damned ones don't even get tired, they don't rest, even if he had killed many of them, the dead don't bother them, and many of our people have fallen ill because of the stench of the cadavers, continuously we occupy ourselves in throwing them in the river and burying them; the most strict set of rules were ordered for this purpose and even so they were not enough; because there are attacks every day and, consequentially, death and unburied bodies cannot be avoided; and in truth, I say it again, this cause us such damage as the enemy's bayonets. Don't be admired of what I tell you about the bodies, because according to our calculations we have killed over 45 (thousand?) Irrésistibles. The worst is that the reinforcements we expect haven’t' arrived yet, but we know from a spy that managed to enter the enemy's ranks, that they are twelve miles from us. If providence allows them to enter, we won't have to fear the entire France: in the meanwhile, the valor, the fervor and more of what I cannot explain of our General has been enough for us.
There are no words that are enough to describe the young Palafox, the exhortations, that his method he has revives more and more our enthusiasm, and in one word, his kindness with the soldiers. Ah! How many times I have seen him taste of our meals! How many times I have seen him caress the children making clubs! How many times praised the brave amazons, that never stopped working and do the same work as the most fierce soldiers; finally even the old became part of his liking: Oh! Heavens, have I said repeated times, whatever the luck of this immortal city is and of it's chef, if he is beaten to disgrace, or because the Referee of Destiny so determines, he will always be a model of bravery, of magnanimity, of heroism and will always be a part of the people's admiration. We could be beaten, but it will be like our esteemed General says, burying ourselves under the ruble, but never surrender! Ah! And how much pleasure I have to see that that Higher Being allowed the Portuguese to be in the immortal Saragossa! Yes, through them posterity will know of those who showed the Law to the other Emiserio (?); those who were surprised and deceived by the tyrant, will also have a share in the Laurels and Crowns (Glory), that at any moment can be acquired in Saragossa with honor and without perfidy and deceit.
I well know, beloved countrymen, that you haven't forgotten of the glory of our Greater. I know that in Vimeiro you've reasoned new Laurels and Crowns (Glory) of our forefathers. I know that the artillery didn't missed one shot. I know about the bravery, the cold blood of João da Silviera Pinto, helper (aide-de-camp?) of the second Division, that with a coolness never seen before made his troops rest in front of 5 (thousand?) enemies and then having taken twenty oxen and 2 thousand and five hundred rations, had made a meal been made, ordering that the soldiers should profit from it, making fun of the closely watchful enemy that way. The Horn (bugle) of Fame sounds everywhere and even our newspapers made public the heroism of the cavalry of the Guarda Real da Policia, that had left Lisbon to escape oppression. Oh! And what exultation wouldn't be mine if these valiant and other patricians of mine had, just as me, little more then the luck of being here and to show the world until where the Portuguese heroism goes! Only then would they experience the Irrésistibles of Gironda, and the winners of Austerlitz, and Jena, the terrible, and heavy hand of the Portuguese. The last newspapers assure us that Portugal finds itself armed, and in the most respectable state, that here nothing else then hatred and revenge is inhaled: may God allow it and then my pleasure and satisfaction will rise in me. Be convinced of what our General says all the time, that is that the People who want to be be free will always be so, and be sure that the flames of two thousand and a half inhabitants doesn’t go out with oppression. Courage and fear not: if amongst you there's a coward, show him the way to Saragossa. This town square, this open city, old, without walls, nor pits, without favorable qualities, without bulwarks, nor castles, just frail walls, I better say, even that it lacks of; because so many are the shots, that they have endured, so many are the breaches, and even this you shouldn't ignore; but between so many faults what the Spaniards have is free men, that hate and dislike of slavery of a tyrant and of its wicked plans, that will shout in a terrible voice not surrender, and this NO in front of the entire army of France; this NO, lately over shadows fifteen years of continuous victories: how much does a small town do with so few inhabitants, with so few troops! How it resists against all the power of France! Allied are their best Marshals and Generals! Finally, point to them Saragossa, the one that still exists although eighty days of rigorous and cruel siege, and maybe that will be enough for them to destroy the cowardice, to valor the People, and be able that every village, every city of our Portugal will be an unconquerable place; more fortes then Mantua, Danzika and the most famous Ulm.
I don't know if these words will be the last and also my last service, I'll make for my beloved Motherland: my condition is very feeble and I don't know if I'll ever see her (Portugal) ever again; but in the meantime, for my consolation, I will tell some quotes that are engraved in the hearts of every fellow compatriot; I've learned them of the biggest Hero of the world, the great Palafox: Hate and revenge, my kind patricians,(throw them?) at those vandals, those that intended to make us their slaves, will get terrible iron collars themselves in conquering gelid countries and murdering unfortunate ones that will not defy us. Don't believe in their promises; don't give them credit, notice that I speak from experience; as much as they promise, they will fail it all; they make contracts just to undo them; they promise Freedom and undoubtedly keep it by giving place to slavery. If you want to become vile slaves, give them credit, that nothing more is necessery to get it, but if you enjoy being free in your own hand you have this chance said the Noble, the Valiant No that Saragossa pronounced, and you will be so insuperably. Oh! What joy will fill you hearts! The ugly and terrible death will become sweeter and more pleasant to you. Yes, believe me, I have experienced it myself, and I feel that sweetness today, what certainly I cannot explain in words.
I doubt, I say it again, that this letter will reach, or not, you; however all my efforts are the goodness towards my fellow compatriots. In good luck I gave it to a muleteer, that leaves in disguise to Valencia; if you don't get it, and let God not allow it, at least I'll have the consolation of pouring my heart out and to have the world see all of my troubles, my intentions and that Portuguese found themselves too in the defense of Saragossa; the bravery of this city and the French wickedness. The love that I have for all the Portuguese my fellow compatriots, that are here with us, makes that on their behalf I salute you and invite you to ambition the Laurels, this is for the present time very blissful, fly to Saragossa as long as this patrician of yours and comrade, that cherishes and esteems you very much, shoots fire with the hand that remains, to the bloody army that surrounds us.

Saragossa, February 26th
Written by another comrade (concerning the present part, since the rest had been written already) about a piece of artillery of the Battery of the Puerta del Carmen, and dictated by yours truly.
Fellow Compatriot.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Quick research VII - June 7th of 1759

This is the 3rd coat of arms of Oeiras. For more info go to (sorry, only in Portuguese):
http://www.cm-oeiras.pt/municipio/HerSim/Paginas/He.aspx

Since today is the 7th of June, I decided to give you a small insight to the importance of this date in the town I live.
I have told you in the past of the possible stay of Wellington here in Oeiras at his arrival during the 1st French Invasion, I also have told you about the importance of the town of Oeiras in the Wellington Lines as the maritime defense of the river Tagus (still need to develop tha subject in a future post) and also that Oeiras was the home of the Earl of Oeiras, Marquis of Pombal, the most notorious man in 18th century Portuguese History (for better and for worse). Perhaps I should write a post on this man one day. He has done many wonderfull and also terrible things during his lifetime.
What I have never told you was anything related to the History of this town.

 The Fort of São Lourenço do Bugio, at the "entrance of the Tagus river. Photo taken by me.

Relation to the municipal town of Oeiras to the rest of the country. You can see how it lays exactly at the mouth of the river Tagus.

Well, there have been living people around this area since the paleolithic time and iron age up to the Roman and Arab occupation. It always has been a fisher town, but during the Maritime Discoveries it grew in importance being situated exactly on the shoal line of the river Tagus. Fortifications were built, like the Forte de S. Julião da Barra and the Fort of São Lourenço do Bugio, as part of the Maritime Defense Line (which later were included by Wellington in the more general defense of Portugal against the French invasions), quarries and lime kilns emerged as part of the hustle of military defense versus maritime discoveries, and even the building of the gunpowder factory of Barcarena, which I wrote about on a previous post: http://myneighborwellington.blogspot.pt/2012/04/royal-gunpowder-factories-at-end-of.html


 Gunpowder factory of Barcarena. Photo taken by me.

 Lime kiln of Paço de Arcos, Oeiras. Photo taken by me.

Oeiras grew very quickly and in 1759 it became a town, through a regal letter written by our king D. José the 1st, granting the Marquis of Pombal the title of Count (Earl) of Oeiras. Not only was this small settlement, that has existed since the 12th century, elevated to a town, but also Oeiras became a municipality a month later as a reward by the king to his minister (Marquis of Pombal) for his efforts in rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake in 1755.
There are a lot more interesting facts linked to this town and which I'll post as a link (in English).

But one that isn't mentioned is that during the French Invasions, the Earls palace (which had not been inhabited for a long time) was “visited” by some French soldiers, probably being part of one of the many camps along the coastal line of the Tagus, or part of the wounded soldiers being taken care after around this town. Legend tells that they weren't able to steal anything and we don't know the reason why. People say it was the Virgin Mary that intervened, but most likely it was a more earthly reason.
And there you have it, the importance of this date, of today and why it is a local holiday. It seems that oeiras has been linked to the Portuguese History for a long time and today is the day that those links should be remembered.

The palace of the Earl of Oeiras, or better know as the Palace of the Marquis of Pombal.. Photo taken by me.

I cannot forget to mention the importance of religion in Catholic Portugal, specially in the month of June where a lot of towns celebrate their Patrons (including St. Anthony, patron of Lisbon) making this day also the day of Our Lady of the Candle , which is this town’s Patron Saint. Also called Our Lady of the Light or of Purification, it is a patron established in many towns, including Almeida, and is part of the Mariology movement. For more on the devotion of Mary go to: