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Simón Susarte: Wikis

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Coordinates: 36°08′18″N 5°20′37″W / 36.138441°N 5.343574°W / 36.138441; -5.343574 (Simón Susarte's path (1704))

Simón Susarte
Born Simón Rodríguez Susarte
Gibraltar
Residence San Roque, Cádiz
Nationality Spanish
Ethnicity Caucasian
Occupation Goatherd
Known for leading 500 Spanish troops up a concealed path to the top of The Rock of Gibraltar in 1704 in order to surprise the British garrison.
Religious beliefs Roman Catholic
Route up the Rock of Gibraltar taken by 500 soldiers of the besieging Spanish Army led by the goatherd Simón Susarte.

Simón Rodríguez Susarte, commonly known as Simón Susarte, was a Spanish Gibraltarian goatherd, who in 1704 aided a Spanish attempt to seize Gibraltar by revealing a concealed path to the attackers which led to the top of The Rock. Susarte then guided a Spanish contingent along this difficult trail, aiming to surprise the Anglo-Dutch garrison in hopes of recovering the fortress.[1] Although the resulting assault proved unsuccessful, Susarte's bravery and resourcefulness made him a local legend.

Contents

The Gibraltar siege

Following their loss of Gibraltar on 4 August 1704, the Spanish Army counterattacked by laying siege to the city in September, mainly attacking from the northern slopes of The Rock. Despite numerous Spanish batteries in this area, the British defenders managed to hold the city's entrance by creating an inundation, with fire support provided by a large ship at the port's northern end.

The path

On 8 October, Simón Susarte visited the Spanish army camp on the north end of the isthmus to advise the troops of a path which led from the east side of The Rock to its summit. This path was known to Susarte and other goatherds from Gibraltar, as they had used it regularly prior to the British capture of The Rock in search of pasture for their goats. The Marquis of Villadarias was in command at the camp; after confirming the veracity of Susarte's account, he decided to send a Colonel Figueroa together with 500 men led by Susarte to take the British by surprise from the top of The Rock, in conjunction with a general attack to be launched by the remaining Spanish forces. On the night of 9 October, Figueroa's soldiers left the Spanish camp and began climbing up the jagged eastern slopes of Gibraltar to the "Paso del Algarrobo" (Spanish: Carob Path). They later descended, guided by Susarte, along the path to the area known to him as "Los Tarfes" and took refuge in St. Michael's Cave on the western slopes of The Rock.

Spanish surprise attack

Susarte's party emerged from the cave before sunrise and proceeded to the "Torre del Hacho" (Signal Station), killing the guards posted there on sentry duty. Shortly after, they took the area then known as "La Silleta" at Gibraltar's summit. Simón Susarte's task as guide ended here. Having accomplished the first part of their mission, Figueroa's men awaited a signal from the Spanish camp to take the Upper Town by surprise at various points. The Marquis of Villadarias planned a supporting assault across the isthmus frontier to displace British troops so that Figueroa's men might take over their posts; however, Figueroa saw no movement from the camp on 10 September, and so decided not to attack. Shortly after sunrise, a boy taking supplies to his father at the Signal Station found that all its occupants were dead, and immediately notified the British garrison.

The British counter-attack

A regiment led by a Colonel Whetham was quickly sent out to engage the Spanish troops. Despite their greater numbers, the British had the disadvantage of advancing up the high sloping terrain, whilst the Spanish were able to cause their enemies more damage from such heights than they would have on flat land. Unfortunately for Figueroa's troops, each soldier was equipped with only three gunpowder cartridges for defense, due to the limited amount of equipment they could transport to The Rock's summit. After using up their munitions they began to retreat, whilst the British riddled them with bullets. Many soldiers who did not perish during the man-to-man battle fell from the "Salto del Lobo" (Spanish: Wolf's Cliff), a high precipice on The Rock's western face. The remaining 160 Spaniards, including their colonel and 30 other officers, were taken prisoner.[2]

Susarte's fate and legacy

According to some sources, Simón Susarte saved his own life by taking a path unknown to the either the Spanish or the British, thus escaping the scuffle. A park in San Roque featuring Susarte's statue is named after him.[1]

See also

References

Bibliography

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