19th Century´s militar history in the Basque Country

Battles and acttions


 "El jefe Carlista general Gomez" (The general carlist chief Gómez) (Detail)The main battlefields of the First Carlist War were in Catalonia, Aragón and, particularly, in Euskal Herria. As Don Carlos set up his court in Basque territory, it was the people of this region who endured the most in the war. To try and alleviate this burden, the Carlists made many attempts to expand the battlefield to the entire Iberian Peninsula. The Gómez Expedition was the longest and most significant of these.

"Expedición de Gómez" (The Gómez Expedition)Gomez left Amurrio on the 26th of June 1836 with 2,700 foot soldiers, 180 cavalry, and two cannons. His aim was to transfer the war to Asturias and Galicia but six months later, having travelled around the entire peninsula, the expedition returned to Euskal Herria without completing its mission. Gomez took Oviedo, Santiago de Compostela, León, Palencia, Albacete, Córdoba, Almadén, Cáceres and Algeciras, sometimes through difficult battles and other times, without firing a single shot.

However, as soon as his soldiers left these sites, the Liberals came and took them again, so the mission to spread the war could not be completed.

"Parte de la acción de Villarobledo." (Part of the action at Villarobledo) (Detail)In these six months, Gomez to retreat in Escaro and Villarrobledo. The generals Rodil and Narváez also tried to pursue Espartero to retreat in Escaro and Villarrobledo. The generals Rodil and Narváez also tried to pursue Gomez. At times, behind his 6,000 men (including the Carlists who joined them on the road, as a result of his union with Cabrera), there were 25,000 Liberal soldiers, though these could not obliterate the expedition despite attempting to do so on several occasions.

In all events, as Stendhal wrote in one of his novels, the Gomez expedition showed that the Spanish were neither Carlists nor Liberals. If they had been Carlists, the war would have been won after conquering almost the entire peninsula, and this did not happen. If they had been Liberals, they would not have allowed a group of 3,000 Carlists to complete such a long expedition.

The failure of Gomez was evidenced by the trial the Carlists had arranged for him on his return to Euskal Herria, when he was accused of not following orders and it was alleged that instead of extending the war to Asturias and Galicia, he had instead travelled around the peninsula deliberately ignoring the instructions of his superiors. This trial lasted until the end of the Carlist Wars, so Gómez went unpunished.

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