The Battle of Almanza 1707
In February 1707, the long voyage from England came to an end. Eight thousand had embarked in England six months before; only four thousand four hundred survived to go ashore at Alicante.
It was at Alicante where the Allied army had wintered. This army, English, Spanish and Portuguese, Dutch and French Huguenots was commanded by Lord Galway. Lord Rivers’ expeditionary force joined Galway’s army. Brigadier-General Carpenter agreed to serve under Galway and he fought with his troopers to the end of the expedition.
Galway marched on Madrid, with a force of fifteen thousand men, half of which were Portuguese and half British, with some Dutch and German and French Huguenots. He advanced into Murcia and destroyed several magazines which the French had established, and then laid siege to the town of Villena. Reports from French deserters claimed that eight thousand reinforcements were expected and were only four hours’ march from Villena.
On the 10th of April, 1707, Galway crossed the Murcian frontier and laid siege to Villena.
Galway accordingly decided to go to meet the French at once, before the reinforcements arrived, and on the morning of the 25th of April he set off from Villena.
After a march of twenty-five miles across country Galway came upon the enemy drawn up in battle order in front of Almanza in the conventional two lines, the infantry in the centre and the cavalry on the flanks. The French army, commanded by the Earl of Berwick, an English Jacobite, consisted of twenty-five thousand men; Galway had fifteen thousand.
There were only 51 of Killigrew’s Dragoons (8th Dragoons) present, for no less than 150 of them had been captured at Elche. The rest of the regiment was sick, absent on duty with different posts and the like. Brigadier-Generals Killigrew and Carpenter led brigades of Dragoons.
After a very short rest, Galway formed his line of battle. The Portuguese claimed the right of the line, and the English and Dutch cavalry were posted on the left flank of the line, facing the Spanish cavalry, with battalions of English infantry interspersed between them.
The brigade, to which the small squadron of the Eight was attached, was posted on the left of the line. The sheer weight of numbers overpowered the cavalry, and they were driven back. The losses were heavy, and four of the cavalry regiments left their commanding officers on the field. Wounded in the first charge, Killigrew continued to fight and was killed in the second charge.
The Remnant from the massacre withdrew and with others that had been badly handled, reformed and charged again and threw the enemy back. All this fighting however had been in vain, for the Portuguese troops which were on the right flank were the cause of the humiliation that followed. The greater part of their cavalry had fled from the field in panic on the first shot being fired. Their infantry stood firm for a while, but they were very soon routed and in flight, following their own cavalry, who had paused only long enough to loot the English baggage wagons on the way.
Of the 51 men of the Eight present at Almanza, 31 were killed or taken prisoners, and 20 escaped to Alcira. Among the killed were Brigadier-General Killigrew and Lieutenant Baxter.