Translated by Dave Fisher from: La Batalla de Chiclana en Pocas Palabras
The leaflet is available in Spanish from Tourist Information Offices or in PDF form here.
On the 7th of February 1810, the French army entered Chiclana, which was known in those days as “the Villa of Chiclana” and settled down in it to establish part of their forces that would be blockading the city of Cádiz. The following morning the Chief magistrate dictated a decree “That all inhabitants will open their doors to the French to admit they will gladly lodge them as friends and allies without causing them even the smallest molestation; facilitating them with aid that is corresponding, avoiding everything controversial and displeasing them”.
On the 14th of the same month, the town council, the clergy and diverse personalities of the village made an oath of obedience to the King “José Bonaparte 1” who would visit the village on the 19th day of February. From then on, Chiclana becomes an immense military camp.
The battle of Chiclana, also well known as the battle of La Barrosa, was liberated on the 5th March 1811; confronting the French army headed by the Marshal Victor was the combined Anglo-Spanish forces with the Spanish forces controlled by General Lapeña, and General Graham controlling the English.
The confrontation of the 5th March at “la Loma de la Cabeza del Puerco” (“the pig's head hill” - because of its shape when viewed from the sea) ended in a victory for the allied side, formed by the Spanish & English troops. Never the less, it wasn't possible to break the blockade of Cádiz or re-establish communication with the island of León. In fact, the French troops, despite their defeat suffered in the battle of Chiclana, remained in the village until 25th August 1812; a date in which they left Chiclana ruined & virtually uninhabited.
The French blockade of Cadiz and occupation of Chiclana
7th February 1810
Chiclana was occupied by a division of the French Cavalry
8th February 1810
At dawn, the chief magistrate made a decree that “Because of yesterday afternoon’s entrance of French troops into this village, everyone must promptly & diligently follow their orders for supplies that are urgent”. Within two days he had prepared that they surrender to the town council all types of weapons within the next 24 hours
14th February 1810
A town without weapons, with many escaped Chiclaneros, after the order received from Cádiz, had to swear obedience and fidelity to the new rulers and its king “José Bonaparte the First”.
19th February 1810
A visit to Chiclana by José Bonaparte 1, who was received by the Town council, the Clergy and personalities. He is the only king of Spain that has visited Chiclana.
10th April 1810
In the face of the possibility of some epidemic, the French staff dictated the order “Each neighbour every day must sweep and water the street in front of his house."
27 October 1810
The constant artillery barrage by the batteries of the Ángeles and Gallineras in San Fernando against the French besiegers caused today the death of the artillery general and commander Senarmont as well as that of Colonel Degennes, Captain Pinondelle and several soldiers that were in the battery of Villate, in front of the island. The bodies of the three officials were buried in the hermitage of Santa Ana, a place where the General Barracks of the French Artillery was located. They extracted the heart of General Senarmont and sent it to the Emperor Napoleon in Paris.
21 February 1811
The English troops leave of the port of Cádiz in a convoy of 20 large ships to disembark in Tarifa; although they actually disembarked in the Bay of Algeciras due to bad weather.
27th February 1811
The second convoy arrives by sea at Tarifa, composed of 200 craft transporting the Spanish troops to the control of Lieutenant General Lapeña; there were more than 6,000 men and 600 horses.
The British Army. In front of the British division is General Thomas Graham with between four and five thousand troops.
The Spanish Army. In front of the Spanish force is Lieutenant General Lapeña with around 6,000 troops.
The French Army. Made up of three divisions led by Villatte, Leval and Ruffin. An army of more than 15,000 troops.
Dawn on the 5th March 1811
The dawn before the battle. The allied forces arrive at the hill “La cabeza del Puerco” (The Pig’s Head).
5th March 1811
The Battle of Chiclana. After a hard and bloody confrontation, there were 1,350 allied troop casualties and 2,000 in the French Army.
18 March 1812
184 delegates signed the constitution in Cádiz.
19th March 1812
The constitution of 1812 is proclaimed; and is popularly known as “La Pepa”. Its birth is celebrated with respect and happiness.
24 August 1812
The blockade of Cádiz is lifted after 30 months and 20 days of seige.
25 August 1812
The French leave Chiclana; it is ruined and almost uninhabited.
To read a more detailed article about the Battle written by Andrew Brown click here.
The author Carole Divall has written some interesting articles on the Siege of Cadiz and also about General Graham.
Part 1 The Siege of Cadiz
Part 5 The Battle of Barossa
General Graham. a most unusual soldier