The first step was to capture Ciudad Rodrigo. I f he was to snatch that fortress, he had to pounce while the French com manders were peacefully hibernating with their armies widely dispersed in search o f food and shelter. Speed was all important. Once the news reached Marmont that the British were in front of Ciudad Rodrigo, the reaction of that marshal was likely to be rapid and decisive. The Emperor was not fond of marshals who lost fortresses.