The Huerta de San Lázaro, commonly known as Huerta del Sordo (or Orchard of the Deaf in English) is a prominent symbol of the battle of 1808, where the two armies met during the Battle of Bailén in 1808. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the “Historical Site” category, inside its old waterwheel is preserved to this day, which acted as a dividing line between the French and Spanish army during the battle.
It played a crucial role on that historic day given that, for the French troops, the heat combined with the shortage of liquid was a key factor in defeating the French army. In the final moments of the battle, they were desperate to reach the desired location where they could quench their unbearable thirst. According to popular tradition, many of the soldiers threw themselves at the Waterwheel of the Huerta de San Lázaro, the only place nearby with water, with the phrase “Die here and resurrect in Paris”.
BRIEF SEQUENCE OF THE BATTLE OF BAILÉN
- Tuesday July 19th, 1808, Dupont marched from Andújar, unaware of the complex situation that he would face in Bailén, where two full divisions under the command of Reding and Coupigny planned to block the Napoleonic troops by following the instructions of the Porcuna Plan drawn up by the Chief of Staff Castaños.
- 5:00: The French vanguard crossed the Rumblar bridge, alerting Reding’s divisions that they were adopting a defensive position on the outskirts of Bailén. After an initially unsuccessful attack, Dupon began a series of offensives in fear of the fact that Castaños’ troops would arrive from behind.
- 07:00: A second attack took place which concluded with the retreat of the French troops due to the superiority of the Spanish artillery.
- 09:00: A third offensive put the Spanish army in a delicate situation, who feared for their left flank. The superiority of the central batteries once again resolved the critical situation. Overwhelmed by thirst and the heat, the French army carried out one final attack, which was a waste of effort. Finally, Dupont decided not to attack again and to surrender to the Spanish army.