s simple and conclusive: the paths which lead southward from Talavera are impracticable for artillery and wheeled vehicles. Infantry alone could have retreated by the route which climbs up to the Puerto de San Vincente, the main pass of this section of the Sierra de Guadalupe: nor was the track along the edge of the river from Talavera to Arzobispo any better fitted for the transport of a large army. It is this want of any 鏉窞娲楁荡妗戞嬁 adequate communication with the south which makes Talavera such a dangerous position: no retreat from it is possible save that by the road to Oropesa, unless
the retiring army is prepared to sacrifice all its impedimenta.
Cuesta has been criticized in the most savage style by many 鏉窞鍝噷鏈夎崵娲楁荡鍦烘墍 English writers, from Lord Londonderry and Napier downwards, for his hasty departure from Talavera. It is fair to state in his defence the fact that if he had tarried any longer in his present position he might have been cut off not merely from Almaraz鈥攖hat passage was already 鏉窞涓濊璇辨儜 impracticable鈥攂ut also from the bridge of Arzobispo, the only other crossing of the Tagus by which artillery and heavy wagons can pass southward. If he had started on the fourth instead of the third he[p. 580] might have found Mortier and Soult interposed between him and this last 鏉窞姘寸枟浼氭墍鍏ㄥ line of retreat. He would then have been forced to abandon all his mat茅riel, and to hurry back to Talavera, in order to take the break-neck track to the Puerto de San Vincente. But there was every reason to believe that Victor might arrive in front of Talavera on the evening of the fourth 鏉窞娲楁荡涓績鏈夊摢浜?or the morning of the fifth, so that this last road to safety might have been already blocked. Thus the Spanish army, if it had started on the fourth for Oropesa, might have found itself caught between the two French corps, and vowed to inevitable destruction. As a matter 鏉窞涓嶆瑙勬礂娴?of fact Victor moved slowly and cautiously, and only reached Talavera on the sixth鈥攂ut this could not possibly have been foreseen. We cannot therefore blame Cuesta鈥檚 precipitate departure upon the night of August 3.
His main body marched under cover of the darkness to Oropesa, where 鏉窞瓒崇枟涓婇棬 they arrived, much wearied and in some disorder, on the following morning. He left Zayas鈥檚 division and Albuquerque鈥檚 horse as a rearguard, to hold Talavera till midday on the fourth, with orders to make a semblance of resistance and to detain Victor for a few hours if he should appear. 鏉窞婊ㄦ睙kj鐨勫湴鏂?But no hostile force showed itself: by his unwise retreat to Santa Cruz the Marshal had drawn back so far from the enemy that he could not take advantage of their retrograde movement when it became known to him. Villatte鈥檚 division and Beaumont鈥檚 cavalry only reached 鏉窞419鍚屽煄 Talavera on the morning of the sixth.
The departure of the Estremaduran army had one deplorable result. It exposed the English hospitals at Talavera, with their 4,000 wounded, to capture by the enemy. Wellesley, before he had marched off, had given orders that all the men capable of 鏉窞鍑忓帇浼氭墍 being moved should be sent off towards Plasencia and Portugal as soon as possible. But he had no transport that could cope with the task