On arriving at Villa Real the British were horrified at the hideous massacre which had taken place. They went from house to house and found everywhere the bodies of the slaughtered inhabitants, and the ardor of the dragoons was, if possible, heightened by the sight. They made but a short stay here and then galloped on to Nules.
Peterborough afterwards took possession of Nules, and purchasing horses at Castillon de la Plana, began to form a body of cavalry which did good service in the sequel.
Having assured himself of their earnestness Las Torres inspected the muster, and, having viewed all the dispositions for defense, continued his flight. Nules was fortified by strong walls flanked with towers, the fortifications were in an excellent state of defense, and the town could have resisted a siege by a considerable army.
When these assembled on the wall Peterborough told them in an angry tone that he gave them only six minutes for deliberation, and that if they offered the slightest resistance he would repeat at Nules the massacre which Las Torres had carried out at Villa Real. He added that, unless they instantly surrendered, he would blow down their walls the moment his artillery and engineers arrived.
However it was, the fact remained that, as with Villa Real and Nules, neighboring towns were frequently enthusiastically in favor of opposite parties. As Jack had seen all the dispatches and letters which poured in to the earl, he knew what were the circumstances which prevailed in every town and village.
Nules surrendered to the mere terror of his name; and, on the fourth of February, 1706 he arrived in triumph at Valencia. There he learned that a body of four thousand men was on the march to join Las Torres. He set out at dead of night from Valencia, passed the Xucar, came unexpectedly on the encampment of the enemy, and slaughtered, dispersed, or took the whole reinforcement.
When the news reached Nules of the arrival of this regiment at Oropesa, Lord Peterborough at once rode over. The regiment was formed up for his inspection; it had marched with the greatest speed, and the men were worn out and footsore with their long tramp over the stony hills.
Las Torres at Almenara, where he had again perpetrated a horrible massacre, heard the news of great preparations that Peterborough was making for the supply of his army, and considering his position to be unsafe again retreated hastily. At Nules two hundred horses were found and at once appropriated for the use of the army.
The following day, on the news coming in from various points in his rear that the enemy were pressing after him, he marched his dispirited army to Nules, where the inhabitants were well affected. In answer to his appeal a thousand of the citizens enrolled themselves and undertook to defend the town till the last against the English.
On entering Nules, Peterborough had sent orders for Lord Barrymore's regiment of British infantry, at that time under the command of Colonel Pierce, to march from Vinaroz, where they had been sent with the rest of the infantry from San Matteo to Oropesa, a town about nine miles from Castillon, where he had collected all the horses he had obtained during his march.