Napoleon once famously remarked "If I had had two Marshals like Suchet I should not only have conquered Spain, but have kept it." Louis-Gabriel Suchet was one of the few French commanders to leave the Peninsular War with his reputation enhanced, and the only one to win his marshal’s baton in that war. When Suchet was first appointed to take command of French forces in Aragon in 1809 as a général de division, the French were on the verge of losing control over that province. Through a string of brilliant battlefield victories and sieges against Spanish regular forces as well as an initially successful counter-guerrilla campaign, Suchet managed to not only secure French control of Aragon, but moved on to conquer Lower Catalonia and Valencia as well. Like all French commanders in the Peninsular War, Suchet was faced with the challenges of Spanish popular resistance, but stood out above his colleagues for his notable success in pacifying Aragon. yet despite initial triumphs in 1809-1810 against the ‘traditional guerrilla’, Suchet’s counter-guerrilla policies were less successful than is often popularly perceived. As the war went on, French resources became thinly stretched, while conversely, the guerrilla war was increasingly spearheaded by Spanish regular forces to great efficiency, which contributed to the eventual collapse of French control in Eastern Spain.
To Conquer and to Keep is the first English-language book to focus on the operations of Louis-Gabriel Suchet and his army in Eastern Spain in its detailed entirety. Despite being universally accepted as among the best of Napoleon’s marshals, the pivotal role Suchet played in the Peninsular War has largely been overlooked thus far. Through analyzing a variety of sources from both French and allied perspectives, ranging from modern viewpoints to those who saw the war themselves, Yuhan Kim examines both Suchet’s successes and failures in his sieges, battles, counter-guerrilla operations, and administration. Each of Suchet’s major actions, as well as those fought independently by his subordinates, is explained in extensive detail with maps and orders of battle. Special coverage is given to the pivotal, but hitherto misunderstood, Battle of Sagunto and the campaign leading up to it, which is analyzed to incorporate new Spanish research that reconstructs the historical narrative of Suchet’s climactic battle against Joaquin Blake.