Spain circa 1800 (map from 1912)

  Carolyn Colucci's great great great grandfather, James Sutherland Sr., was a soldier in the 59th Regiment of the Foot having been recruited from the Ross-shire Militia in 1809.  The Regiment arrived in Càdiz, Spain on September 7, 1812 to participate in the Peninsular War, in which an alliance of Spain, Portugal and Britain endeavoured to push Napoleon's armies back out from Spain.  The 59th first stayed in the Isla de León near Càdiz, but in March, 1813 sailed to Lisbon, Portugal and then marched for 21 days to Lamego to join the 5th Division within the grand army commanded by the Marquess of Wellington.  They continued on to Braganza, before crossing back into Spain and on to Salamanca.  They progressed northeast through Spain securing all areas north of the River Douro, and on towards the River Ebro, with the French army retreating towards an eventual stand at Vitoria.  For their part in the bitter and pivotal battle of Vitoria (sometimes spelt with two 't's), the 5th Division including the 59th regiment was positioned at Gemarra Menor. 

Vitoria and environs, showing positions of French, British and Spanish troops
(more extensive map can be seen at The Napoleon Series)

The painting below depicts the 59th in the assault on Gamarra Major, in which the French army was driven onwards into Vitoria and not allowed to return.

“The 59th at Gammara Major June 1813”
“The 59th at Gamarra Major June 1813”

Gamarra Menor
The area today of the attack.  Note the ruins of the church where it is believed James Sr. may have tended the wounded when listed "on command Vitoria" in the regimental musters.
(Photo from 2006 by David Ingham)

The battle at Vitoria was commemorated by Beethoven in the "Battle Symphony" also known as "Wellington's Victory", Opus 91, which he premiered on December 8, 1813 in Vienna with Beethoven himself conducting, along with the premier of his 7th Symphony.   By this time, the 59th regiment had been through the battle of San Sebastian, passed into southern France and, after the Battle of the Nivelle, was cantoned in St. Jean de Luz.  The same month of Beethoven's performance, Catherine Sutherland gave birth to James Sutherland, Jr. in a stable in St. Jean de Luz.

Interesting Links:

1) Andrew C. Jackson's site on the Peninsular War.
2) The Napolean Series. An excellent resource on the Napoleonic era.
3) Wikipedia article on Beethoven's Battle Symphony.'s_Victory


Site maintained by Norman Franke. Last modified August 12, 2007