19th Century´s militar history in the Basque Country

Battles and acttions


(Plan of the Battle of Oriamendi. 15 and 16 March 1837)In March 1837, the Liberal army tried to end the war by taking the Carlist royal barracks in an extensive manoeuvre involving General Sarsfield in Pamplona, Espartero in Bilbao and Lacy Evans in San Sebastián. The latter General was in charge of the British Legion. Despite strong Carlist resistance, the Liberals managed to take the high points near the city. On the 15th, they held control of the Oriamendi stronghold, forcing the Carlists to take refuge in the fort of Santa Bárbara and Hernani.

The next day, however, after a long and gruelling trip, the Infante Don Sebastian finally reached Hernani with reinforcements for the Carlist troops. After a bloody counter-attack, the Carlists retook Oriamendi causing numerous casualties in the British Legion, which barely mustered the strength to retreat to San Sebastián. The British Royal Navy gave its support to the Liberal retreat with men and artillery from its ships in the bay, ensuring that the outcome of the disaster was no worse.

"San Sebastian from convent of St. Francisco." (Detail)Nonetheless, the Liberals suffered around 1,500 casualties in this offensive, while the Carlists lost less than half of this figure. The scandal reached the British parliament, which regarded this defeat as a blow to the honour of the British Empire. The actions of Lacy Evans were severely criticised in the British press.

Espartero and Sarsfield returned to their respective garrisons and the combined manoeuvre was a total failure.

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