The sorrows and the follies of the Spanish Republic were evident on the highway that ran for seventy kilometers from Toledo to Madrid. The Republican militia that had been laying futile siege to the Alcazar for six weeks were fleeing before the Army of Africa that had been flown in German and Italian transport planes to the Spanish mainland in the first weeks of the war. The troops that retreated in disorder from Toledo belonged to an army that contrasted sharply with that led by General Varela. The militia columns were the product of the first days of the rebellion. Four regiments of the regular army were stationed in Madrid on the outbreak of the rebellion. The first concern of General Varela was to secure his left flank by conquering a strong place d'armes and base of operations in the area centering on the town of Valdeiglesias, fifty-four kilometers west of Madrid.