Battle of Villaviciosa
|Battle of Villaviciosa|
|Part of the War of the Spanish Succession|
Vendôme (left) present the enemy standarts to Philip V of Spain (right) at Villaviciosa by Jean Alaux.
| Bourbon Spain
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of Portugal
|Commanders and leaders|
| Philip V
Duke of Vendôme
Count of Aguilar
Marquis of Valdecañas
| Guido Starhemberg
Antoni de Villarroel
Count of Atalaya
|Casualties and losses|
|2,000–3,000 dead or wounded||2,000–3,000 dead or wounded|
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (April 2013)|
The Battle of Villaviciosa took place on December 10, 1710, between the Franco-Spanish army led by Louis Joseph, Duke of Vendôme and Philip V of Spain and the Habsburg-Allied army commanded by the Austrian Guido Starhemberg. The battle took place during the War of the Spanish Succession, one day after the decisive Franco-Spanish victory at Brihuega against the British army under James Stanhope. Both Philip V of Spain and the Archduke Charles of Austria claimed the victory, but the number of dead and wounded, the pieces of artillery and other weapons abandoned by the Allied army, and the strategic consequences in the war confirmed the decisive victory for Philip V.
The battle was determined in great part by the crucial role of the Spanish squadrons of cavalry and Dragoons commanded by the Marquis of Valdecañas and the Count of Aguilar, which far exceeded the enemies' armies. Austrian forces retreated, pursued by Spanish cavalry. The allied army was reduced to 6,000 or 7,000 men when he reached Barcelona on January 6, almost the only place in Spain which still recognized the authority of Charles.
After the victories in the Battle of Almenara (July 27), and the Battle of Saragossa (August 20), the Habsburg allies supporting Archduke Charles captured Madrid for the second time, and on 21 September the Archduke Charles entered Madrid. The invasion of 1710 was a repetition of the invasion of 1706. The 23,000 men of the Allied army were reduced by the military actions at Almenara and Saragossa, and in the constant skirmishes with the Spanish-Bourbon militia. The allied troops were absolutely incapable of occupying the two Castiles.
The position of the allies at Madrid was dangerous. On 9 November they evacuated the city, and began their retreat to Catalonia, closely pursued by the Spanish cavalry of the Marquis of Valdecañas. The Archduke left the army with 2,000 cavalry, and hurried back to Barcelona. The rest of the army marched in two detachments. Austrian general Guido Starhemberg with the main body of 12,000 men, was a day's march ahead of the British troops, 5,000 men, under Lord Stanhope. The British force was surprised and decisively defeated at Brihuega on December 9, 1710. The British troops were taken prisoners, including Stanhope, who finally surrendered.
When General Starhemberg was informed of the attack on the British column, moved his troops to help Stanhope's army, unaware that he had capitulated. In the morning the next day, December 10, was found the Franco-Spanish army waiting in the plain of Villaviciosa. Compared to the 14,000 soldiers of the Austrian general, the Duke of Vendome was deployed in battle order about 20,000 soldiers, among whom was King Philip V of Spain himself, and other troops of the Duke who had joined in the morning. Both armies deployed in two lines, as was the custom of the time, on two parallel heights.
Deployment of the Bourbon army
- Dragoons of Caylus
- Dragoons of Vallejo (three squadrons)
- Dragoons of Osuna
- Guards of Corps (four squadrons)
- Old Granada
- Old Order (four squadrons)
Commander: Count of Torres.
- Spanish Guards (three battalions)
- Walloon Guards (three battalions)
- Comesfort (one battalion)
- Castellar (one battalion)
- Gueldres (one battalion)
- Benmel (one battalion)
- Santal of Gende (one battalion)
- Armada (one battalion)
- Lombardy (one battalion)
- Milan (one battalion)
- Uribe (one battalion)
- Mulfeta (one battalion)
- Dragoons of Marimon
- Dragoons of Quimalol
- Dragoons of Grinao
- Old Santiago
- Reina (four squadrons)
Commander: Count of Merode (Subordinate to the Marquis of Valdecañas).
- Asturias (four squadrons)
- Pozoblanco (four squadrons)
- Lanzarote (three squadrons)
- Extremadura (three squadrons)
Commander: Lieutenant-General Pedro de Zúñiga.
- Castile (one battalion)
- Murcia (one battalion)
- Trujillo (one battalion)
- Savoy (one battalion)
- Écija (one battalion)
- Naples Sea (one battalion)
- Extremadura (one battalion)
- Toledo (one battalion)
- Sicily (one battalion)
- Coria (one battalion)
- León (one battalion)
- Vitoria (one battalion)
- Segovia (two battalions)
- Naples (one battalion)
Commander: Lieutenant-General Navamorquende (Subordinate to the Count of Aguilar).
- New Roussillon (four squadrons)
- New Granada
- Cavalry of Raja
- Cavalry of Jaén
- Old Roussillon (four squadrons)
Commander: Marquis of Canales (23 pieces of artillery).
Battle of Villaviciosa
The battle began afternoon and lasted until midnight. Both armies possessed same amount of artillery, 23 pieces each, and they both were deployed in the same way: in 3 batteries. The fire of the artillery began at the same time and the both armies were damaged. The Marquis de Valdecañas under the command of the cavalry in the Bourbon right wing began the attack, where King Philip V was present, and sent his cavalry against the enemy left wing, composed of German infantry, and Portuguese and Spanish cavalry, under the Imperial general von Frankemberg. The German infantry, with the help of the Portuguese cavalry, tried to stop the Bourbon charge, but finally relented, and the left wing was completely destroyed. The Spanish captured the pieces of artillery and massacred the Anglo-Dutch troops that were sent to help the left wing. With the allied left wing destroyed, the Archduke's infantry advanced toward the Franco-Spanish center and drove back the Bourbon infantry. The Marquis of Toy went to try to prevent the decrease in the center and avoid the division in two of the army, but most were taken prisoners by the Portuguese soldiers.
While the center Bourbon was in serious difficulties, the Count of Aguilar threw their cavalry against the right wing of the Archduke, commanded by the general himself Starhemberg, formed by the brightest grenadiers and cavalry squadrons of the allied army. The charge was unstoppable, and the Allies were unable to contain the cavalry of the Count of Aguilar. The right wing of the Archduke was saved from disaster by the support of the allied center, led by the Spanish general Villarroel. General Starhemberg regrouped and reorganized its forces, and finally rejected the cavalry of the Count of Aguilar, and charged against the Bourbon left wing. The allies captured the cannons of the left wing and immediately Starhemberg launched his army against the center.
The Bourbon center and left wing began to retreat, and the right wing cavalry was occupied in the pursuit of the enemy, in the allied left wing. Then, the Count of Aguilar attacked with his cavalry and Dragoons against the right wing of the Archduke. The German and Portuguese cavalry under the command of the Count of Atalaya, resisted the first charge, but finally the cavalry of Aguilar broke the lines of the right wing enemy. At the same time reached the cavalry of Valdecañas, and caused a severe blow to allied army, and the Lt. Gen. Mahony and the Field Marshal Amezaga with their troops charged from the right wing. General Starhemberg was not impressed by the burden of Bourbon commanders Mahony and Amezaga, and launched three charges of cavalry against them. In the fighting, Field Marshal Amezaga injured in the face. Finally, Starhemberg forces retreated to a nearby forest to escape the Franco-Spanish cavalry, and the allied forces began to withdraw in the cover of night.
Both Philip V of Spain and the Archduke Charles claimed the victory, but the number of dead and wounded, the pieces of artillery and other weapons abandoned by the Allied army, and the strategic consequences in the war, confirmed the decisive victory obtained by Philip V of Spain.
Starhemberg was compelled to continue his retreat, harassed at every step by the Spanish cavalry. His army was reduced to 6,000 or 7,000 men when he reached Barcelona on January 6, almost the only place in Spain, which still recognised the authority of Charles.
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