In July 1832, a place of prayer and seclusion turned into a bloody battlefield.
During the Civil War, the monks at the Serra do Pilar Monastery learned of the arrival at Porto of the liberal troops, commanded by D. Pedro, and abandonned the immense convent, located on the southern bank of the River Douro, in Vila Nova de Gaia – a strategical positon, overlooking both Porto and Gaia.
|"PLANTA TOPOGRAPHICA DA CIDADE DO PORTO" - 1839|
In following August, the convent was occupied by some liberal troops and on the 8th September, the then Colonel – future General - José Antonio da Silva Torres was appointed Commander of the stronghold.
On that very same day, the liberal troops repelled the first attack of the enemy forces – the Absolutist Army. The Commander of the liberal troops, then Colonel Bernardo de Sá Nogueira, was seriously wounded by a bullet in the right arm – which he lost - and had to hand over command to Major Bravo, which, though always repelling the enemy, had to take refuge in the Convent.
As the troops of D. Miguel approached the convent, a large group of Gaienses (inhabitants of Gaia) led by Major Fontoura, went to the Convent to help the liberal defenders.
After a vicious and bloody struggle, which lasted for 7 hours, the “Miguelistas” had to withdraw. On the next day, September 9, a new attack was inflicted on the stronghold of the Pilar, which was immediately repealled, with bold enthusiasm and courage.
|On the right side: a soldier of the 3rd Mobile Battallion - Serra do Pilar - nicknamed "The Poles" - as seen in the XIX Century book "History of the Siege of Porto" by Luz Soriano.|
On the 29th of the same month, three “Miguelista”columns attacked at full strenght the Gaiense stronghold, but, again had to withdraw, after six hours of fierce combat.On October 13th, at six o'clock in the morning, the “Miguelistas” started a vicious artillery barrage, constantly firing five batteries against the mountain convent building. It lasted for 33 hours.At end of the bombardment, in the afternoon of the 14th October 1832, the troops of D. Miguel, divided into three columns, assaulted the liberal trenches on 3 differnet locations - Eira, Cerca and Calçada.
The defenders of the Convent, amongst them many Gaienses, vigorously repelled the attackers, who for six times, tried, again and again, to overcome them. After three hours of bloodshed and vicious hand to hand fighting, the Miguelistas began to leave the field, already covered with six hundred dead and wouded.
This liberal victory was the largest military contribution to the triumph of Don Pedro. Some say it was him who, being told of the heroism of the Serra do Pilar fighters, gave them the honorable epithet of Poles, equaling them to the heroic Sons of Poland, who had so bravely and recently fought against the Russian Army for the freedom of their country in the November Uprising.
A very interesting and informative text, included in a .pdf file published by the Polish Embassy in Portugal, describing the contacts and friendship between Portugal and Poland along the centuries. Link here
Viva a Constituição!
Dedykowane do mojego przyjaciela Michał który jest prawdziwy Polak! :D