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5 mars 2012 1 05 /03 /mars /2012 08:47
  • The Peninsular War[3] was a military conflict between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, andPortugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its ally, Spain. The war lasted until theSixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814. Dell T117C Battery
  • The conflict is regarded by some historians as one of the first national wars[4]and is also significant for the emergence of large scale guerrilla warfare(guerrilla means "little war" in Spanish, from which the English languageborrowed the word).[5] The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrellingprovincial juntas. Dell P721C Battery
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  • In 1810, a reconstituted national government fortified itself in Cádiz and proved unable to recruit, train, or equip effective armies due to being under siege. Britishand Portuguese forces secured Portugal, using it as a secure position from which to launch campaigns against the French army while Spanish guerrilleros bled the occupiers.[6] Dell T118C Battery
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  • Combined, the regular and irregular allied forces prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces.[7] To the Spanish the war is known as the Guerra de la Independencia Española, orSpanish War of Independence, but this name is not often used in English, as Spain had been independent for a long time before the French invasion. Dell 0P891C Battery
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  • The many years of fighting in Spain gradually wore down France's famous Grande Armée. While the French armies were often victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units frequently cut off, harassed, or overwhelmed by the partisans. The Spanish armies, though repetitively beaten and driven to the peripheries, could not be stamped out and continued to hound the French relentlessly.[8][9][10] Dell 312-0773 Battery
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  • The constant threatening presence of a British force under Arthur Wellesley, which became the most experienced and steady force in the British army, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. Allied to the British, the demoralized Portuguese armyunderwent extensive reorganizing, retraining and refitting under the command of British General William Carr Beresford,[11] Dell T555C Battery
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appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese Royal family, and fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellington.

  • In 1812, as Napoleon embarked upon an invasion of Russia which ended in disaster, a combined Allied army under Arthur Wellesley pushed into Spain and took Madrid. Dell W298C Battery
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Marshal Soult led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees and into France over the winter of 1813-14.

  • War and revolution against Napoleon's occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, later a cornerstone of European liberalism.[12] Dell U011C Battery
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  • The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberaland absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. Dell 312-0815 Battery
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  • The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution and restoration led to the independence of many of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazilfrom Portugal. Dell WU841 Battery

Background

  • In 1806, while in Berlin, Napoleon declared the Continental Blockade, forbidding British imports into continental Europe.[13] Of the two remaining neutral countries, Sweden and Portugal, the latter tried in vain to avoid Napoleon's ultimatum (since 1373, it had had a treaty of alliance with the English which became an alliance with the United Kingdom). Dell KM760 Battery
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  • After the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, which cemented French dominance over Central and Eastern Europe, Napoleon decided to capture the Iberian ports.[14] The decision went against Napoleon's own advice earlier in his career, once remarking that a conquest of Spain would be "too hard a nut to crack"[15] Dell KM970 Battery
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On 27 October 1807, Spain's Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy and France signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau, splitting Portugal into three kingdoms: the new Kingdom of Northern Lusitania, the Algarve (expanded to include Alentejo), and a rump Kingdom of Portugal.[16] Dell MT196 Battery

  • In November 1807, after the refusal of Prince Regent John of Portugal to join the Continental System, Napoleon sent an army into Spain under General Jean-Andoche Junot with the task of invading Portugal. At the same time, General Dupont was sent in the direction of Cádiz andMarshal Soult towards Corunna. Dell WU852 Battery
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  • Godoy initially requested Portugal's alliance against the incoming French armies, but later secretly agreed with France that, in return for Spain's cooperation, it would receive Portugal's territories. Spain's main ambition was the seizure of the Portuguese fleet, and it sent two divisions to help French troops occupy Portugal. Dell PW651 Battery
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  • The Portuguese army was positioned to defend the ports and the coast from a French attack, and on 1 December Lisbon was captured with no military opposition. The escape on 29 November of Maria I of Portugal and Prince Regent John, together with the administration and the Court (around 10,000 people and 9,000 sailors aboard 23 Portuguese war ships and 31 merchant ships) Dell 312-0452 Battery
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  • was a major setback for Napoleon and enabled the Prince Regent to continue to rule over his overseas possessions, including Brazil. The Portuguese Royal Family established itself at Rio de Janeiroin Brazil for the next 13 years. Dell CC384 Battery
  • Amongst the liberal, republican and radical segments of the Spanish and Portuguese populations, there was much support for a potential French invasion, despite Napoleon having by 1807 noticeably and explicitly abandoned many liberal and republican ideals. Dell CG623 Battery
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  • Even before the invasion, the term "Afrancesado", literally "turned French" was used to denote those who supported the Enlightenment and secular ideals and the French Revolution.[17] Napoleon was to rely on the support of these "Afrancesados" both in the conduct of the war and administration of the country. Dell KD476 Battery
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  • But while Napoleon - through his brother Joseph who he installed as King - made good on his promises to "sweep away" all feudal and clerical privileges, soon most Spanish liberals came to oppose the occupation for the violence and brutality it brought.[18] Dell CG039 Battery
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  • Under the pretext of reinforcing the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, French Imperial troops began filing into Spain; the populace greeted them with enthusiasm in spite of growing diplomatic unease. In February 1808 Napoleon ordered the French commanders to seize key Spanish fortresses, and in doing so he had officially turned on his ally.[19] Dell NF343 Battery
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  • A French column, disguised as a convoy of wounded, took Barcelona on 29 February by persuading the authorities to open the city's gates.[20]Many commanders were not particularly concerned about the fate of the ruling regime, nor were they in any position to fight. (When Brigadier Alvarez garrisoned the Barcelona citadel against the French, his own superiors ordered him to stand down.)[citation needed] Dell TC030 Battery
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  • The Spanish Royal Army of 100,000 men found itself paralysed: under-equipped,[21]frequently leaderless, confused by the turmoil in Madrid and scattered from Portugal to the Balearic Islands. Fifteen thousand of its finest troops, (General La Romana's Division of the North) had been lent to Napoleon in 1807 and remained stationed in Denmark under French command. Dell CF623 Battery
  • Only the peripheries contained armies of any strength: Galicia, with Joaquin Blake's troops, and Andalusia, under Castaños. The French were consequently able to seize much of northeastern Spain by coups de main, and any hope of turning back the invasion was stillborn. Dell DF192 Battery
  • To secure his gains Napoleon pursued a series of intrigues against the Spanish royal family. A coup d'état instigated by the Spanish aristocrats forced Charles IV from his throne and replaced him with his son Ferdinand. Napoleon removed the royals to Bayonne and forced them both to abdicate on 5 May, handing the throne to his brother Joseph Bonaparte. Dell YD623 Battery
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  • A puppet Spanish council approved the new king, but the usurpation provoked a popular uprising that eventually spread throughout the country. The Spanish revolt was the first example of the nationalism of another country being turned against Napoleon, although it was led largely by priests and nobles who stood for the conservative values of the old regime. Dell FK890 Battery
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  • On 2 May, the citizens of Madrid rose up in rebellion against the French occupation, killing some 150 French soldiers, before the uprising was put down by Murat'selite guardand mameluk cavalry, which crashed into the city, trampling the rioters. Dell PU556 Battery
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Pro-French sentiment

French Invasion by Stealth and Spanish Uprising

  • The next day, immortalized by Goya in his painting, The Third of May 1808, the French army shot hundreds of Madrid citizens in retaliation. Similar reprisals were repeated in other cities and continued for days, with no military effect but to strengthen the resistance; soon afterward bloody, spontaneous fighting known as guerrilla ("little war") erupted in much of Spain; the term "guerrilla" has been used ever since to describe such combat.[23] Dell TT485 Battery
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  • The tiny province of Asturias rose up in arms, cast out its French governor on 25 May and "declared war on Napoleon at the height of his greatness."[24] Within weeks, all the Spanish provinces had followed its example.[25] Mobs butchered 338 French citizens in Valencia. Every French ship of the line anchored at Cádiz was bombarded and captured.[26] Dell 0XR693 Battery
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Napoleon had unwittingly provoked a total waragainst the Spaniards, a mistake from which the French Empire would never truly recover.[27]

  • The deteriorating strategic situation forced France to increase its military commitments – in February, Napoleon had boasted that 12,000 men could conquer Spain;[28] Dell 312-0633 Battery
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  • by 1 June, over 65,000 troops were rushing into the country in an effort to control the crisis.[29] The main French army of 80,000 men held only a narrow strip of central Spain stretching from Pamplona and San Sebastiánin the north through to Madrid and Toledo to the south. The French in Madrid took shelter behind an additional 30,000 troops underMoncey. Dell HP297 Battery,Dell RN873 Battery

Junot stood stranded in Portugal, cut off by 300 mi (480 km) of hostile territory.

  • From Murat's optimistic reports, Napoleon believed the uprisings would die down and the country settle into order if his brother held on to the throne in Madrid while French flying columns seized and pacified Spain's major cities. Dell XR693 Battery
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  • To this end, Gen. Dupont led 24,430 men south toward Seville and Cádiz; Marshal Bessières moved into Aragón and Old Castile with 25,000 men, aiming to captureSantander with one hand and Saragossa with the other; Gen. Moncey marched toward Valencia with 29,350 men; and Gen. Duhesmemarshalled 12,710 troops in Catalonia and put Gerona under siege.[30] Dell TK330 Battery
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Historians have concluded that Napoleon, having no respect for the "insolent" Spanish militias which everywhere opposed him,[31] tried to do too much with too little.

  • The signs of trouble came quickly: Catalan militia (somatén) virtually overran Barcelona, and French units attempting to break the ring were turned back at the Bruc with heavy casualties. Dell WG317 Battery
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  • Gerona twice resisted all efforts to conquer it.[32]At Saragossa, French overtures for an honorable capitulation met with the laconic reply, "War to the knife."[33] Gen. Palafox and the Spaniards defied the French for three months, fighting inch by inch, corp à corp in the streets; finally they forced Lefebvre to lift the siege in August and limp away in defeat. Dell 312-0931 Battery
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  • Moncey's push toward the coast ended in defeat outside the walls of Valencia, where 1,000 French recruits fell trying to storm a city whipped into a frenzy by the clergy. Making short work of Spanish counterattacks, Moncey began a long retreat, harried at every step.[31] After storming and sacking Cordoba, Dupont, cowed by the mass hostility of the Andalusians, broke off his offensive and retired to Andujar. Dell H766N Battery
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  • Only in the north did the French find a measure of success. In June, Gen. Lasalle's cavalry trampled Gen. Cuesta's small, improvised army at Cabezón and unbarred the road to Valladolid. When Bessières' march on Santander was checked by a string of partisan attacks in July, the French turned back and found Blake and Cuesta with their combined army atop Medina del Rio Seco. Dell 312-0804 Battery
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  • The Spanish generals, at Cuesta's insistence, were making a dash toward the vulnerable French supply lines at Valladolid. The two armies deployed on 14 July, Cuesta unwisely leaving a gap between his troops and Blake's. The French poured into the hole and, after a sharp fight against Cuesta, swept the motley Spanish army from the field, putting Old Castile firmly back in Napoleon's hands. Dell C647H Battery
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  • Bessières' victory salvaged the strategic position of the French army in northern Spain. The road to Madrid lay open to Joseph, and the failures at Girona, Valencia and Saragossa were forgotten; all that remained was to reinforce Dupont and allow him to force his way south through Andalusia.Dell F802H Battery
  • A delighted Napoleon asserted that "if Marshal Bessières has been able to beat the Army of Galicia with few casualties and small effort, General Dupont will be able to overthrow everybody he meets."[34] Just a few days later, Dupont was sorely defeated at Bailén and surrendered his entire Army Corps to Gen. Castaños. Dell F805H Battery
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  • The catastrophe was total. With the loss of 24,000 troops, Napoleon's military machine in Spain abruptly collapsed. Joseph and the French command panicked and ordered a general retreat to the Ebro, abandoning Madrid and undoing all of Bessières' hard-fought gains. Dell KM905 Battery
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  • Europe cheered at this first check to the hitherto unbeatable Imperial armies – a Bonaparte had been chased from his throne; tales of Spanish heroism inspired Austria and showed the force of national resistance. Bailén set in motion the rise of the Fifth Coalition against Napoleon.[35] Dell MT276 Battery
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  • Before the Peninsular War, British military operations on mainland Europe had been limited to raids after several early attempts to land and keep an army in action led to failure and ultimate withdrawal. The British could not field a large enough force to operate on its own against the huge and experienced French army. Dell WU946 Battery
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  • On 18 June, the Portuguese uprising broke out. The popular uprisings in Portugal and Spain encouraged the British to commit substantial forces once again and British propaganda was quick to capture the novelty of the situation; for the first time, peoples, not princes, were in rebellion against the "Great Disturber".Dell WU965 Battery
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  • In August 1808, British forces (including the King's German Legion) landed in Portugal under the command of Lieutenant-General SirArthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Wellesley checked Delaborde's forces at Roliça on 17 August, while the Portuguese Observation Army of Bernardino Freire contained Loison. Dell KM974 Battery
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  • On 20 August, the Anglo-Portuguese held their line at the Vimeiro and repulsed Junot. Wellesley, however, was considered too junior an officer to command the newly-reinforced expedition to Portugal and was replaced by Harry Burrard, who proceeded to grant Junot very favourable armistice terms, allowing for his unmolested evacuation from Portugal — courtesy of the Royal Navy — under the controversial Convention of Sintra in August. Dell KM978 Battery
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Retreat from Portugal (August 1808)

The British commanders were ordered back to England for an inquiry into Sintra, leaving Sir John Mooreto head the 30,000-strong British force, supplied, convoyed, and protected by the Royal Navy.

  • Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood's Mediterranean Fleet bottled up the remaining French fleet, stationed at Toulon since its defeat atTrafalgar. Dell MT342 Battery
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  • In June, General La Romana orchestrated a remarkable escape from Denmark, via Gothenburg, by slipping the better part of his Division of the North aboard a British squadron, which set sail for Santander.[28] The presence of the Royal Navy along the coast of France and Spain slowed the French entry into eastern and southern Spain and drained their military resources in the area. Dell PW824 Battery,Dell PW835 Battery
  • Frigates commanded the strategic Gulf of Roses north of Barcelona, close to the French border, and were conspicuously involved in the defence of Rosas; Lord Cochrane held a cliff-top fortress against the French for nearly a month, destroying it when the main citadel capitulated to a superior French force.[36] Dell RM791 Battery
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Napoleon's campaign (October 1808 – January 1809)

The French, all but masters of Spain in June, stood with their backs to the Pyrenees, clutching at Navarre and Catalonia. It was not known if even these two footholds could be maintained in the face of a Spanish attack.[citation needed]

  • However, no attack was forthcoming. The Spanish social fabric, shaken by the shock of rebellion, gave way to its crippling social and political tensions; Dell 312-0712 Battery
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  • the patriots stood divided on every question and their nascent war effort suffered accordingly. With the fall of the monarchy, constitutional power devolved to local juntas. These institutions interfered with the army and the business of war, undermined the tentative central government taking shape in Madrid,[38] Dell F287H Battery
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and in some cases proved almost as dangerous to each other as to the French.[39] The British army in Portugal, meanwhile, was itself immobilized by logisticalproblems and bogged down in administrative disputes, and did not budge.

  • Consequently, months of inaction passed at the front, Dell 312-0818 Battery
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  • the revolution having "temporarily crippled Patriot Spain at the very moment when decisive action could have changed the whole course of the war."[40] While the allies inched forward, a vast consolidation of bodies and bayonets from the far reaches of the French Empire brought 100,000 veterans of the Grande Armée into Spain, led in person by Napoleon and his Marshals.[41] Dell F286H Battery
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With his Armée d'Espagne of 278,670 men drawn up on the Ebro, facing a scant 80,000 raw, disorganized Spanish troops, the Emperor announced to the Spanish deputies:[42]

  • Napoleon led the French on a brilliant[43] offensive involving a massive double envelopment of the Spanish lines. Dell R988H Battery

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The attack began in November and has been described as "an avalanche of fire and steel."[44]

  • In the west, however, one Spanish wing slipped the noose when Marshal Lefebvrefailed to encircle the Army of Galicia after a premature and indecisive attack at Pancorbo; Dell 1G222 Battery
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  • General Blake drew his artillery back to safety and the bloodied Spanish infantry followed in good order. Lefebvre and Victor offered a careless chase that ended in humiliation atValmaseda where their scattered troops were roughly handled by La Romana's newly repatriated Spanish veterans and narrowly escaped to safety. Dell 310-0083 Battery
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  • The campaign raced to a swift conclusion in the south, where Napoleon's main army overran the unprotected Spanish centre in a devastating attack near Burgos. The Spanish militias, untrained and unable to form infantry squares, scattered in the face of massed French cavalry, while the Spanish and Walloon Guards stood their ground in vain and were chewed up by Lasalle and hissabreurs. Dell 310-6322 Battery
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  • Marshal Lannes with a powerful force then smashed through the tottering Spanish right wing at Tudela on 23 November, routing Castaños and adding a new inscription to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Dell 312-0078 Battery
  • Finally, Blake's isolated army about-faced on 17 November and dug in at Espinosa. His lines shook off French attacks over a day and night of vicious fighting before cracking the next day. Blake again outmarched Soult and escaped with a rump army toSantander, Dell 312-0079 Battery
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but the Spanish front had been torn apart and the Imperial armies raced forward over undefended provinces. Napoleon flung 45,000 men south into the Sierra de Guadarrama which shielded Madrid.

  • The mountains hardly slowed Napoleon at all: at Somosierra pass on 30 November, Dell 312-0106 Battery
  • his Polish and Guard cavalry squadrons charged up a narrow gorge through raking fire to overrun General San Juan's artillery. San Juan's militias then gave way before the relentless French infantry, while the Spanish royal artillerymen stuck to their guns and fought to the last. Dell 312-0292 Battery
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French patrols reached Madrid on 1 December and entered the city in triumph on 4 December. Joseph Bonaparte was restored to his throne. San Juan retreated west to Talavera, where his mutinous conscripts shot him before dispersing.

  • General Sir John Moore's small British army moved from Portugal into northwestern Spain, surprising a body of French cavalry at Sahagun. Dell 312-0306 Battery
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  • Moore remained in Leon for some time after he recognised that the position of his army was perilous; this was a calculated attempt to draw the attention of the French and give the Spanish forces time to rally after their recent reverses. In this Moore was successful, alerted to his whereabouts the Imperial army forced Moore into a harrowing retreat marked by a breakdown in the discipline of many regiments. Dell 312-0341 Battery
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  • The retreat was punctuated by stubborn rearguard actions at BenaventeandCacabelos, each time the British army turned to fight the discipline of the troops showed a marked, but temporary, improvement. La Romana dutifully marched his tattered army to cover his ally's retreat, but while the British troops managed to escape to the sea at A Coruña after fending off a strong French attack, Dell 312-0518 Battery
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  • the Spaniard had no escape and was defeated by Soult at Mansilla. Some 26,000 sickly troops eventually reached Britain, 7,000 men having been lost over the course of the expedition.[45] Moore, killed while directing the defence of Coruña, remains buried in Spain under a monument constructed by Soult. Dell 312-0585 Battery
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  • In Catalonia, Napoleon fed his faltering army strong reinforcements as early as October 1808, ordering Marshal St. Cyr with 17,000 men to the relief of Duhesme in Barcelona. Rosas fell to the French at the end of November, opening the path south for St. Cyr, who bypassed Girona and, after a remarkable forced march, fell upon and destroyed part of the Spanish army at Cardedeu, near Barcelona (18 December). Dell 312-7206 Battery
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  • St. Cyr and Duhesme chased the retreating Spaniards under General Reding, capturing 1,200 men at Molins de Rey. In February 1809, Reding led a reconstituted army against the French right wing and, after vigorous marching and countermarching, took a stand atValls only to be ridden down and killed by French cavalry. Dell BAT1297 Battery
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  • Only at Saragossa, still scarred from Lefebvre's bombardments that summer, was the Imperial charge temporarily halted once again. The French invested the city on 20 December. Lannes and Moncey committed two army corps (45,000 men) and considerable materiel to a second siege of the city, but their numbers and guns made no impression on the Spanish citizen-soldiers who, behind the walls of Saragossa, proved unmovable. Dell D6400 Battery
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  • Palafox's second epic defence brought the city enduring national and international fame.[46][47]The Spaniards fought with a determination which never faltered; street by street, building by building, through pestilenceand starvation; at times entrenching themselves in convents, at others putting their own homes to the torch. Dell HF674 Battery
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  • Nearly all who stood with Palafox met their deaths,[48] but for two months, the Grande Armée did not set foot beyond the Ebro's shore. On 20 February 1809, the French left behind burnt-out ruins filled with 64,000 corpses.[49][50] After only a little more than two months in Spain, Napoleon returned command to his marshals and went back to France. Dell XX327 Battery
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  • In March, Marshal Soult initiated the second invasion of Portugal through the northern corridor. On 27 March, the Spanish forces defeated the French at Vigo, and the French troops at Marín andPontevedra were forced to retreat to Santiago de Compostela for fear of being outflanked for the Spanish advance. Dell FM332 Battery
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  • After of the new turn of the situation, the Spanish forces took the initiative, and most of the cities in the province of Pontevedra were recaptured. In Portugal, the French were initially repulsed in the Minho river by Portuguese militias, Soult then captured Chaves,Braga and, on 29 March 1809, Porto. Dell 312-0822 Battery
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  • However, the resistance of Silveira in Amarante and other northern cities isolated Soult in Porto. William Carr Beresford, in his capacity as commander-in-chief (he had been appointed by the Portuguese Royal family), reorganised, rebuilt and refitted the Portuguese army with the aid of senior Portuguese generals, in particular Miguel Pereira Forjaz. Dell Y085C Battery
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  • In a first phase, some 20,000 were called to the regular army and 30,000 to militias.[51]Wellesley returned to Portugal in April 1809 to command the Anglo-Portuguese forces. He strengthened the British army with the recently formed Portuguese regiments trained by General Beresfordand adapted to the British way of campaigning. Dell Y082C Battery
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Portuguese frontier and Galicia (1809)

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  • These new forces turned Soult out of Portugal at the Battle of Grijó (10–11 May) and the Second Battle of Porto(12 May). All other northern cities were recaptured by General Silveira. On 7 June, the French army of Marshal Michel Ney was defeated at the Battle of Puente de San Payo by the Spanish forces commanded by ColonelPablo Morillo, and Ney was forced to retreat to Lugo on 9 June. Dell HW355 Battery
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  • The withdrawal was painful because the French army was harassed by the Spanish guerrillas. Ney's troops met in Lugo with those of Soult, who had to leave Portugal, and they all withdrew from Galicia in July 1809. This marked the final evacuation of Galicia by the Napoleonic army and the creation of a new front. Dell HW358 Battery
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  • With Portugal secured, Wellesley advanced into Spain to unite with General Cuesta's forces. The combined allied force prepared for an assault on Victor's I Corps at Talavera, 23 July. Cuesta, however, was reluctant to agree, and was only persuaded to advance on the following day.[52] Dell RK813 Battery
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  • The delay allowed the French to withdraw, but Cuesta sent his army headlong after Victor, and found himself faced by almost the entire French army in New Castile — Victor had been reinforced by the Toledo and Madrid garrisons. The Spanish retreated precipitously, necessitating two British divisions advancing to cover their retreat.[53] Dell RK818 Battery
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  • The next day, 27 July, at the Battle of Talavera the French advanced in three columns and were repulsed several times throughout the day by Wellesley, but at a heavy cost to the British force. In the aftermath Marshal Soult's army was discovered to be advancing south, threatening to cut Wellesley off from Portugal. Dell TR517 Battery
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  • Wellesley moved east on 3 August to block it, leaving 1,500 wounded in the care of the Spanish, intending to confront Soult before finding out that the French were in fact 30,000 strong. The British commander sent the Light Brigade on a dash to hold the bridge over the Tagus River at Almaraz. Dell TR520 Battery
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  • With communications and supply from Lisbon secured for now, Wellesley considered joining with Cuesta again but found out that his Spanish ally had abandoned the British wounded to the French and was thoroughly uncooperative, promising and then refusing to supply the British forces, aggravating Wellesley and causing considerable friction between the British and their Spanish allies. Dell WT866 Battery
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The lack of supplies, coupled with the threat of French reinforcement (including the possible inclusion of Napoleon himself) in the spring, led to the British deciding to retreat into Portugal.

Torres Vedras

  • Fearing a new French assault on Portugal, Wellesley[54] brought into action his plan to create a powerful defensive position near the Portuguese capital, Dell WT873 Battery
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  • to which he could fall back if necessary. To protect Lisbon he ordered the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras under the supervision of Sir Richard Fletcher comprising three strong lines of forts, blockhouses, redoubtsandravelins with numerous fortified artillery positions. Dell U597P Battery
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  • The various parts of the lines communicated to each other by semaphore, allowing immediate reaction to a threat. The work began in the autumn of 1809 and the first line was finished one year later. The areas immediately in front of the lines were subjected to a scorched earth policy in which they were denuded of food, forage and shelter to further hamper the enemy. Dell 312-4009 Battery
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Some 200,000 inhabitants of the neighbouring districts were relocated inside the lines.

Stalemate (1810–1811)

  • Taking the Spanish fortified town of Ciudad Rodrigo after a siege lasting from 26 April-9 July 1810, the French duly reinvaded Portugal in July with an army of around 65,000 led by Marshal Masséna. Dell P219P Battery
  • Dell Y264R Battery
  • The first significant clash on Portuguese soil was at theBattle of Coa with the French driving back the Robert Crauford's heavily outnumbered Light Division. Masséna now moved to attack the strongly held British position on the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile long ridge), resulting in the Battle of Buçaco on 27 September. Dell 5YRYV Battery
  • Dell 9JJGJ Battery

Suffering high casualties, the French failed to dislodge the Anglo-Portuguese army. Masséna now maneuvered to flank the position, at which point Wellesley fell back to the fortified Lines of Torres Vedras.

As Charles Oman wrote, "On that misty 14 Octoberth morning, at Sobral, the Napoleonic tide attained its highest watermark, then it ebbed." The frontal zones of the lines having been subjected to a scorched earth policy, the French were eventually forced to withdraw due to sickness and lack of food and supplies. Dell TRJDK Battery

  • The British suffered a setback just the next day in the Battle of Fuengirola. On 15 October, a much smaller Polishgarrison held off British troops under Lord Blayney, who was subsequently taken captive and held by the French until 1814. Amazingly the French intelligence never knew that the fortifications were being built, only when their scouts reached the walls did they know. Dell Vostro 1710 Battery
  • Dell Vostro 1720 Battery

It’s also rumoured that even the British government never knew about it as well because all the funds that were used to build it was paid for by the Portuguese government and captured French equipment and supplies.

  • The allies were reinforced by the arrival of fresh British troops in early 1811 and began an offensive. Dell Latitude E4300 Battery
  • Dell Latitude E4200 Battery
  • A French force was beaten atBarrosa on 5 March as part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break up the siege of Cádiz, and Masséna was forced to withdraw from Portugal after an allied victory at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro (3–5 May). Masséna had lost 25,000 men in the fighting in Portugal and was replaced by Auguste Marmont. Dell Studio 14 Battery
  • Dell Studio 1435 Battery
  • Soult came from the South to threaten Extremadura, and captured the fortress town ofBadajoz before returning to Andalusia with most of his army. An Anglo-Portuguese army led by the British Marshal William Beresfordand a Spanish army led by the Spanish generals Joaquín Blake and Francisco Castaños, marched to try and retake the town; they laid siege to the French garrison Soult had left behind, Dell Studio 1436 Battery
  • Dell Studio 1450 Battery

but Soult regathered his army and marched to relieve the siege. Beresford moved his besieging army from Badajoz to intercept the marching French, and after the Battle of Albuera on 16 May, Soult was forced to retreat to Seville.

  • The war now fell into a temporary lull, the numerically superior French being unable to find an advantage and coming under increasing pressure from Spanish guerrilla activity. Dell Studio 1457 Battery
  • Dell Inspiron 1320 Battery
  • The French had upwards of 350,000 soldiers in L'Armée de l'Espagne, but the vast majority, over 200,000, was deployed to protect the French lines of supply, rather than as substantial fighting units. Meanwhile, the Spaniards drafted the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812. Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery
  • Dell Inspiron 1464 Battery
  • In January 1812, Napoleon approved the full annexation of Catalonia into the French Empire. Its territory was divided indépartements(Ter, Sègre, Montserrat and Bouches-de-l'Èbre). Looking for the approval of the local population, Catalan was declared the official language in those departments together with French. Dell Inspiron 1564 Battery
  • Dell Inspiron 1764 Battery

Turning of the tide (1812)

However, the historical aversion that the Catalanshad against the French insured that guerrilla activity continued in Catalonia.

  • Wellington renewed the allied advance into Spain just after New Year in 1812, besieging and capturing the fortified towns ofCiudad Rodrigo on 19 January and Badajoz, after a costly assault, on 6 April. Dell Latitude E6400 Battery Battery
  • Dell Latitude E6500 Battery Battery
  • The allied army took Salamancaon 17 June, just as Marmont approached — the two forces finally met on 22 July where Wellington inflicted a severe defeat on the French in the Battle of Salamanca, during which Marshal Marmont himself was severely wounded. Dell Studio XPS 13 Battery
  • Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery
  • Meanwhile the Spanish army defeated the French at Astorga and Guadalajara, and liberated Seville, Córdoba and Granadafrom the French occupation. As the French regrouped, the allies entered Madrid on 6 August and advanced towards Burgos, before retreating all the way back to Portugal when renewed French concentrations threatened to trap them. Dell Studio XPS 16 Battery
  • Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery

As a consequence of the Salamanca campaign the French were forced to end their long and costly siege of Cádiz[56]and to permanently evacuate the provinces of Andalusia and Asturias.

Allied victory (1813–1814)

He had taken 30,000 soldiers from the hard-pressed Armée de l'Espagne, and, starved of reinforcements and replacements, the French position became increasingly unsustainable as the allies renewed the offensive in May 1813.

Wellesley pursued and dislodged the French from San Sebastián, which was sacked and burnt to the ground by the Anglo-Portuguese.

  • The allies chased the retreating French, reaching the Pyrenees in early July. Dell Vostro A840 Battery
  • Dell Vostro A860 Battery
  • Soult was given command of the French forces and began a counter-offensive, dealing the allied generals two sharp defeats at the Battle of Maya and the Battle of Roncesvalles. Yet he was severely repulsed by the allies at the Battle of Sorauren, lost momentum, and was defeated by the Spanish army of Galicia under General Manuel Freire at the Battle of San Marcial (31 August 1813). Dell Vostro A860n Battery
  • Dell Studio 17 Battery
  • On 7 October, after Wellington received news of the reopening of hostilities in Germany, the allies finally crossed into France, fording the Bidasoa river. On 11 December, a beleaguered and desperate Napoleon agreed to a separate peace with Spain under the Treaty of Valençay,Dell Studio 1735 Battery
  • Dell Studio 1737 Battery

under which he would release and recognize Ferdinand in exchange for a complete cessation of hostilities. But the Spanish had no intention of trusting Napoleon, and the fighting continued.

and the Battle of Nive near Bayonne (10–14 December 1813), the Battle of Orthez (27 February 1814) and the Battle of Bayonne (14 April), the latter occurring after Napoleon's abdication.

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