'Oh, by God, it was too serious to say anything.'
THERE WAS NO TIME for Lord Wellington to rest on his laurels, though. The French were still in Spain and the key town of Burgos was still in their hands. He set out for Burgos in September; and, at the sight of its strong fortifications, the confidence he had felt in Madrid deserted him. 'Matters go on well,' he had written while there, 'and I hope before Christmas, if they turn out as they ought, and Boney [who had invaded Russia in June 1812] requires all the reinforcements in the North, to have all the gentlemen safe on the other side of the Ebro.'1 But how, he began to wonder. He doubted that he had the means to take the castle at Burgos which was 'very strong'. 2
Moreover the French governor of Burgos was considered to be 'a very clever fellow' who knew his business only too well; and, to add to Wellington's concern, a strong enemy force was reported to be marching fast towards him. He realized that he would soon have to 'discontinue this operation in order to collect the army'. 3
Before doing so, however, he mounted an attack upon a hornwork which, after the loss of over 300 casualties, fell into his hands. Encouraged by this expensive success, he decided to attack the fortress itself, even though it had not yet been bombarded and only eight heavy guns had so far been brought up for this purpose. Predictably, the attack on the fortress failed; and almost 200 more casualties were incurred.
It was now clear that if Burgos were to be taken, an orthodox siege would be required. But as trenches were dug and mines ineffectively exploded, the autumn rains poured down, flooding the siege works. Transport, unusually under his command, was inadequate; so was the army's siege equipment; and, worst of all, ammunition was running short.
After a more satisfactorily placed mine blew a wide breach in the wall, storming parties were sent forward again; and, after further loss of life, they gained a foothold in the outer defences of the fortress.