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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 396

(x) Spain, Carlist War, Battle of Irun 1837, 50mm including trophy of arms suspension x 27mm, gold and enamel, small enamel chip to blue wreath, otherwise good very fine

In May 1837, while the bulk of the Carlist Army was absent on the Royal Expedition, the troops of the Liberal garrison of San Sebastian led by General Sir George de Lacy Evans, Commander of the British Auxiliary Legion, launched an offensive to take the joining the city with the French border. They had just received reinforcements from troops in Portugalete and close to 20,000 men left San Sebastian to take Lezo, Rentería, Astigarraga and Hernani on the 14-15 May 1837.

Espartero set up base in Hernani, in order to protect Evans' troops, which were heading to Oiartzun and the mouth of the river Bidasoa. The Carlists abandoned Oiartzun when they saw Jáuregui's division advancing, but decided to stand firm in Irun.

This garrison was defended at the fort of "El Parque" and the Town Hall, which had been fortified for the occasion. Just 500 Carlists, made up of troops and volunteers, faced Evans' 12,000 men, 5,000 of whom were British and recently humiliated in the Battle of Oriamendi. On the afternoon of the 16th, the British artillery began bombarding, but only managed to take the houses outside the city walls. The offensive began again at daybreak on the 17 May and lasted all day because of the strong Carlist defence.

The Liberal cannons were not powerful enough, so they were forced to attack with the infantry and take the city almost house by house, suffering many casualties in the act. The Town Hall and fort finally surrendered that same afternoon. The long, drawn-out battle and numerous casualties gave rise to the sacking of the town, mainly by the British troops. Hondarribia surrendered the day after without resistance. The Guipuzcoan border was now controlled by the Liberals.

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