The Blockade of Pasajas, 1813

19th Century British Watercolour

1813, Peninsular Campaign

After repulsing Soult’s counter-offensive through the Pyrenees at Sorauren, Wellington returned to his plan of capturing the well-fortified town and port of San Sebastián before making any attempt to cross the border into France.

Overlooked to the north by Monte Urgull and the Castle of La Mota, San Sebastián stood across a narrow isthmus with its approach from the south protected by a formidably-strong fortification known as the Hornwork. In 1813, it was possible at low tide to reach the eastern face of the town’s walls by foot, and it was from this direction that an unsuccessful assault had been made on 25th July. Over the following month, the town’s defences had been reinforced by the construction of a thick, high stone wall behind the repaired breach. Despite everything, it was decided that the second assault would be made against the same point, albeit only after better artillery preparation.

Pasajas, is a water inlet to the east of San Sebastian, which until its blockade by Wellingtons forces and the Royal Navy, has been successfully used to resupply the besieged city by the French.

This remarkably well preserved historical document manages to capture the mechanics of a siege in progress.

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