1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Peninsular War
PENINSULAR WAR (1808–14). This important war, the conduct and result of which greatly enhanced the prestige of British arms, had for its main object the freedom of the Peninsula of Spain and Portugal from the domination of Napoleon; and hence it derives its name, though it terminated upon the soil of France.
Nelson having destroyed the French fleet at Trafalgar, Napoleon feared the possibility of a British army being landed on the Peninsular coasts, whence in conjunction with Portuguese and Spanish forces it might attack France from the south. He therefore called upon Portugal, in August 1807, to comply with his Berlin decree of the 21st of November 1806, under which continental nations were to close their ports to British subjects, and have no communication with Great Britain. At the same time he persuaded the weak king of Spain (Charles IV.) and his corrupt minister Godoy to permit a French army to pass through Spain towards Portugal; while under a secret treaty signed at Fontainebleau on the 27th of October 1807 Spanish troops were to support the French. Portugal was to be subsequently divided between Spain and France, and a new principality of the Algarve was to be carved out for Godoy. Portugal remonstrated against Napoleon’s demands, and a French corps (30,000) under General Junot was instantly dispatched to Lisbon. Upon its approach the prince regent fled, and the country was occupied by Junot, most of the Portuguese troops being disbanded or sent abroad. Napoleon induced the king of Spain to allow French troops to occupy the country and to send the flower of the Spanish forces (15,000) under the marquis of Romana to assist the French on the Baltic. Then Dupont de l’Etang (25,000) was ordered to cross the Bidassoa on the 22nd of November 1807; and by the 8th of January 1808 he had reached Burgos and Valladolid. Marshal Moncey with a corps occupied Biscay and Navarre; Duhesme with a division entered Catalonia; and a little later Bessières with another corps had been brought up. There were now about 100,000 French soldiers in Spain, and Murat, grand duke of Berg, as “lieutenant for the emperor,” entered Madrid. During February and March 1808 the frontier fortresses of Pampeluna, St Sebastian, Barcelona and Figueras were treacherously occupied and Spain lay at the feet of Napoleon. The Spanish people, in an outburst of fury against the king and Godoy, forced the former to abdicate in favour of his son Ferdinand; but the inhabitants of Madrid having (May 2, 1808) risen against the French, Napoleon refused to recognize Ferdinand; both he and the king were compelled to renounce their rights to the throne, and a mercenary council of regency having been induced to desire the French emperor to make his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, king, he acceded to their request.
The mask was now completely thrown off, and Spain and Portugal rose against the French. Provincial “juntas” (committees of government) were organized, appeals for assistance made to the British government, which granted arms, money and supplies, and it was resolved to despatch a British force to the Peninsula. Before it landed, the French under Dupont, Moncey and Marshal Bessières (75,000) had occupied parts of Biscay, Navarre, Aragon and the Castiles, holding Madrid and Toledo, while General Duhesme (14,000) was in Catalonia. Moncey (7000) had marched towards the city of Valencia, but been repulsed in attempting to storm it (June 28); Bessières had defeated the Spanish general Joachim Blake at Medina de Rio Seco (June 14, 1808) and Dupont (13,000) had been detached (May 24) from Madrid to reduce Seville and Cadiz in Andalusia. Spanish levies, numbering nearly 100,000 regulars and militia, brave and enthusiastic, but without organization, sufficient training, or a commander-in-chief, had collected together; 30,000 being in Andalusia, a similar number in Galicia, and others in Valencia and Estremadura. but few in the central portion of Spain.
At this juncture Dupont, moving upon Cadiz, met with a reverse which greatly influenced the course of the Peninsular War. On the 7th of June 1808 he had sacked Cordova; but while he was laden with its spoils the Spanish general Castanos with the army of Andalusia (30,000), and also a large body of armed peasantry, approached. Falling back to Andujar, where he was reinforced to 22,000 strong, Dupont detached a force to hold the mountain passes in his rear, whereupon the Spaniards interposed between the detachment and the main body and seized Baylen. Failing to dislodge them, and surrounded by hostile troops and an infuriated peasantry, Dupont capitulated with over Battle of Baylen, July 19, 1808. 20,000 men. This victory, together with the intrepid defence of Saragossa by the Spanish general José Palafox (June 15 to August 13, 1808) temporarily paralysed the French and created unbounded enthusiasm in Spain. Duhesme, having failed to take Gerona, was blockaded in Barcelona, Joseph fled from Madrid (Aug. 1, 1808), and the French forces closed to their rear to defend their communications with France. The British troops were directed towards Lisbon and Cadiz, in order to secure these harbours, to prevent the subjugation of Andalusia, and to operate up the basins of the Guadiana, Tagus and Douro into Spain. The British force consisted of 9000 men from Cork, under Sir Arthur Wellesley—at first in chief command; 5000 from Gibraltar, under General (Sir Brent) Spencer; and 10,000 under Sir John Moore coming from Sweden; Wellesley and Moore being directed towards Portugal, and Spencer to Cadiz. On the 1st of August 1808 Wellesley began to land his troops, unopposed, near Figueira da Foz at the mouth of the Mondego, and the Spanish victory of Baylen having relieved Cadiz from danger, Spencer now joined him, and, without waiting for Moore the army, under 15,000 in all (which included some Portuguese) with 18 guns, advanced towards Lisbon.
Campaign in Portugal, 1808.—The first skirmish took place at Obidos on the 15th of August 1808, against Delaborde’s division (5000 men with 5 guns), which fell back to Roleia (Roriça or Roliça). A battle took place here (Aug. 17) in which Sir Arthur Wellesley attacked and drove him from two successive positions The allied loss was about 500: the French 600 and three guns. On the 20th of August the Allies, strengthened by the arrival of two more brigades (4000 men), occupied some heights north of Vimiera (Vimeira or Vimeiro) where the roads branch off to Torres Vedras and Mafra. Wellesley meant to turn the defile of Torres Vedras by Mafra at once if possible; but on this night Sir Harry Burrard, his senior, arrived off Vimiera, and though he did not land, gave instructions to wait for Sir John Moore On the 21st of August the Allies were attacked by Junot at Vimiera, who, leaving a force at Lisbon, had come up to reinforce Delaborde. In this battle the Allies Battle of Vimiera, August 21, 1808. numbered about 18,000 with 18 guns, French nearly 14,000, with 20 guns. Junot, believing the allied left to be weakly held, attacked it without reconnoitring, but Wellesley’s regiments, marched thither behind the heights, sprang up in line; and under their volleys and bayonet charge, supported by artillery fire, Junot’s deep columns were driven off the direct road to Lisbon. The losses were: Allies about 800, French 2000 and 13 guns. It was now again Wellesley’s wish to advance and size Torres Vedras; but Sir Hew Dalrymple, having at this moment assumed command, decided otherwise On the 2nd of August Junot, knowing of the approach of Moore with reinforcements, and afraid of a revolt in Lisbon, opened negotiations, which resulted in the Convention of Cintra (Aug. 30, 1808), under which the French evacuated Portugal, on condition that they were sent with their artillery and arms to France Thus this campaign had been rapidly brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and Sir Arthur Wellesley had already given proof of his exceptional gifts as a leader. In England however a cry was raised that Junot should have been forced to an absolutely unconditional surrender; and Sir Arthur Wellesley, Sir Hew Dalrymple and Sir Harry Burrard were brought before a court of inquiry in London. This acquitted them of blame, and Sir John Moore in the meantime after the departure of Dalrymple (Oct 6, 1808) had assumed command of the allied army in Portugal, now about 32,000 strong.
Moor’s Campaign in Spain 1808–9.—The British government notified to Sir John Moore that some 10,000 men were to be sent to Corunna under Sir David Baird; that he, with 20,000, was to join him, and then both act in concert with the Spanish armies. As the conduct of this campaign was largely influenced by the operations of the Spanish forces, it is necessary to mention their positions, and also the fact that greater reliance had been placed, both in England and Spain, upon them than future events justified. On the 26th of October 1808, when Moore s troops had left Lisbon to join Baird, the French still held a defensive position behind the Ebro, Bessières being in the basin of Vitoria Marshal Ney north west of Logroño, and Moncey covering Pampeluna, and near Sanguessa. With the garrisons of Biscay, Navarre, and a reserve at Bayonne, their strength was about 75,000 men Palafox (20,000) was near Saragossa and observing Sanguessa, Castaños with the victors of Baylen (34,000) west and south of Tudela and near Logroño; Blake (32,000) east of Reynosa, having captured Bilbao, Count de Belvedere (11,000) near Burgos, reserves (57,000) were assembling about Segovia, Talavera and Cordova; Cataloma was held by 23,000, and Madrid had been reoccupied.
Moore had to decide whether to join Baird by sea or land. To do so by sea at this season was to risk delay, while in moving by land he would have the Spanish armies between him and the French. For these reasons he marched by land; and as the roads north of the Tagus were deemed impassable for guns, while transport and supplies for a large force were also difficult to procure, he sent Sir John Hope, with the artillery, cavalry and reserve ammunition column, south of the river, through Badajoz to Almaraz, to move thence through Talavera, Madrid and the Escurial Pass, involving a considerable détour, while he himself with the infantry, marching by successive divisions, took the shorter roads north of the Tagus through Coimbra and Almeida, and also by Alcantara and Coria to Ciudad Rodrigo and Salamanca. Baird was to move south through Galicia to meet him, and the army was to concentrate at Valladolid, Burgos, or whatever point might seem later on to be best. But as Moore was moving forward, the whole situation in Spain changed. Napoleon’s forces, now increased to some 200,000 men present and more following, were assuming the offensive, and he himself on the 30th of October—had left Paris to place himself at their head. Before them the Spaniards were routed in every direction: Castaños was defeated near Logroño (Oct. 27); Castaños and Palafox at Tudela (Nov. 23); Blake at Zornoza (Oct. 29), Espinosa (Nov. 11) and Reynosa (Nov. 13), and Belvedere at Gamonal, near Burgos (Nov. 10). Thus when Moore reached Salamanca (Nov. 28) Baird was at Astorga; Hope at the Escurial Pass; Napoleon himself at Aranda, and French troops at Valladolid, Arevalo and Segovia; so that the French were nearer than either Baird or Hope to Moore at Salamanca. Moore was ignorant of their exact position and strength, but he knew that Valladolid had been occupied, and so his first orders were that Baird should fall back to Galicia and Hope to Portugal. But these were soon changed, and he now took the important resolution of striking a blow for Spain, and for the defenders of Madrid, by attacking Napoleon’s communications with France. Hope having joined him through Avila, and magazines having been formed at Benavente, Astorga and Lugo, in case of retreat in that direction, he moved forward, and on the 13th of December approached the Douro, at and near Rueda east of Toro. Here he learnt that Madrid had fallen to Napoleon (Dec. 3) after he had by a brilliant charge of the Polish lancers and chasseurs of the Guard forced the Somosierra Pass (Nov. 30) and in another action stormed the Retiro commanding Madrid itself (Dec. 3), that the French were pressing on towards Lisbon and Andalusia, that Napoleon was unaware of his vicinity, and that Soult’s corps, isolated on the Carrion River, had been ordered towards Benavente. He then finally decided to attack Soult (intending subsequently to fall back through Galicia) and ordered up transports from Lisbon to Corunna and Vigo, thus changing his base from Portugal to the north-west of Spain, Blake’s Spanish army, now rallying under the marquis de la Romana near Leon, was to co-operate, but was able to give little effective aid.
On the 20th of December Baird joined Moore near Mayorga, and a brilliant cavalry combat now took place at Sahagun, in which the British hussar brigade distinguished itself. But on the 23rd of December, when Moore was at Sahagun and about to attack Soult, he learnt that overwhelming French forces were hastening towards him, so withdrew across the Esla, near Benevente (Dec. 28), destroying the bridge there. Napoleon, directly he realized Moore’s proximity, had ordered Soult to Astorga to cut him off from Galicia, recalled his other troops from their march towards Lisbon and Andalusia, and, with 50,000 men and 150 guns, had left Madrid himself (Dec. 22). He traversed over 100 m. in less than five days across the snow covered Escurial Pass, reaching Tordesillas on the Douro on the 26th of December. Hence he wrote to Soult, “If the English pass to-day in their position (which he believed to be Sahagun) they are lost.” But Moore had passed Astorga by the 31st of December, where Napoleon arrived on the 1st of January 1809. Thence he turned back, with a large portion of his army towards France, leaving Soult with over 40,000 men to follow Moore.
On the “Retreat to Corunna” fatigue, wet and bitter cold, combined with the sense of an enforced retreat, shook the discipline of Moore’s army; but he reached Corunna on the 11th of January 1809, where he took up a position across the road from Lugo, with his left on the river Mero. On the 14th of January the transports arrived; and on the 16th Soult attacked. Battle of Corunna, January 16, 1809. In this battle the French numbered about 20,000 with 40 guns; the British 15,000 with 9 very light guns. Soult failed to dislodge the British, and Moore was about to deliver a counter-attack when he himself fell mortally wounded. Baird was also wounded, and as night was approaching, Hope suspended the advance, and subsequently embarked the army, with scarcely any further loss. The British casualties were about 1000, the French 2000. When the troops landed in England, half clothed and half shod, their leader’s conduct of the campaign was at first blamed, but his reputation as a general rests solidly upon these facts, that when Napoleon in person, having nearly 300,000 men in Spain, had stretched forth his hand to seize Portugal and Andalusia, Moore with 30,000, forced him to withdraw it, and follow him to Corunna, escaping at the same time from his grasp. Certainly a notable achievement.
Campaign in Portugal and Spain, 1809.—On the 22nd of April 1809 Sir Arthur Wellesley reached Lisbon. By this time, French armies, to a great extent controlled by Napoleon from a distance, had advanced—Soult from Galicia to capture Oporto and Lisbon (with General Lapisse from Salamanca moving on his left towards Abrantes) and Marshal Victor, still farther to the left, with a siege train to take Badajoz, Merida and subsequently Cadiz. Soult (over 20,000), leaving Ney in Galicia, had taken and sacked Oporto (March 29, 1809); but the Portuguese having closed upon his rear and occupied Vigo, he halted, detaching a force to Amarante to keep open the road to Braganza and asked tor reinforcements. Victor had crossed the Tagus, and defeated Cuesta at Medellin (March 28, 1809); but, surrounded by insurgents, he also had halted; Lapisse had joined him, and together they were near Merida, 30,000 strong. On the allied side the British (25,000), including some German auxiliaries, were about Leiria: the Portuguese regular troops (16,000) near Thomar; and some thousands of Portuguese militia were observing Soult in the north of Portugal, a body under Silveira being at Amarante, which Soult was now approaching. Much progress had been made in the organization and training of the Portuguese levies; Major-General William Carr Beresford, with the rank of marshal, as placed at their head. Of the Spaniards, Palafox, after his defeat at Tudela had most gallantly defended Saragossa a second time (Dec. 20, 1808–Feb. 20, 1809); the Catalonians, after reverses at Molins de Rey (Dec. 21, 1808) and at Valls (Feb 25, 1809) had taken refuge in Tarragona; and Rosas had fallen (Dec. 5, 1808) to the French general Gouvion St Cyr who, having relieved Barcelona, was besieging Gerona. Romaña’s force was now near Orense in Galicia. A supreme junta had been formed which could nominally assemble about 100,000 men, but jealousy among its members was rife, and they still declined to appoint any commander-in-chief.
On the 5th of May 1809, Wellesley moved towards the river Douro, having detached Beresford to seize Amarante, from which the French had now driven Silveira. Soult expected the passage of the Douro to be attempted near its mouth. with fishing craft; but Wellesley, by a daring surprise, crossed (May 12) close above Passage of the Douro, May 12, 1809. Oporto, and also by a ford higher up. After some fighting Oporto was taken, and Soult driven back. The Portuguese being in his rear, and Wellesley closing with him, the only good road of retreat available lay through Amarante, but he now learned that Beresford had taken this important point from Silveira; so he was then compelled, abandoning his guns and much baggage, to escape, with a loss of some 5000 men, over the mountains of the Sierra Catalina to Salamonde, and thence to Orense.
During the above operations, Victor, with Lapisse, had forced the passage of the Tagus at Alcantara but, on Wellesley returning to Abrantes, he retired. News having been received that Napoleon had suffered a serious check at the battle of Aspern, near Vienna (May 22, 1809), Wellesley next determined—leaving Beresford (20,000) near Ciudad Rodrigo—to move with 22,000 men, in conjunction with Cuesta’s Spanish army (40,000) towards Madrid against Victor, who, with 25,000 supported by King Joseph (50,000) covering the capital, was near Talavera. Sir Robert Wilson with 4000 Portuguese from Salamanca, and a Spanish force under Venegas (25,000) from Carolina, were to co-operate and occupy Joseph, by closing upon Madrid. Cuesta, during the advance up the valley of the Tagus, was to occupy the pass of Baños on the left flank; the Spanish authorities were to supply provisions, and Venegas was to be at Arganda, near Madrid, by the 22nd or 23rd of July; but none of these arrangements were duly carried out, and it was on this that the remainder of the campaign turned. Writing to Soult from Austria, Napoleon had placed the corps of Ney and Mortier under his orders, and said: “Wellesley will most likely advance by the Tagus against Madrid; in that case, pass the mountains, fall on his flank and rear, and crush him.”
By the 20th of July Cuesta had joined Wellesley at Oropesa; and both then moved forward to Talavera, Victor falling back before them: but Cuesta, irritable and jealous, would not work cordially with Wellesley; Venegas—counter-ordered it is said by the Spanish junta—did not go to Arganda, and Wilson, though he advanced Battle of Talavera, July 27, 28, 1809. close to Madrid, was forced to retire, so that Joseph joined Victor, and the united force attacked the Allies at Talavera de la Reina on the Tagus. The battle lasted for two days, and ended in the defeat of the French, who fell back towards Madrid. Owing to want of supplies, the British had fought in a half-starved condition; and Wellesley now learnt to his surprise that Soult had passed the mountains and was in his rear. Having turned about, he was on the march to attack him, when he heard (Aug. 23) that not Soult’s corps alone, but three French corps, had come through the pass of Baños without opposition; that Soult himself was at Naval Moral, between him and the bridge of Almaraz on the Tagus, and that Cuesta was retreating from Talavera. Wellesley’s force was now in a dangerous position: but by withdrawing at once across the Tagus at Arzobispo, he reached Jaraicejo and Almaraz (by the south bank) blowing up the bridge at Almaraz, and thence moved, through Merida, northwards to the banks of the Agueda, commencing to fortify the country around Lisbon.
Elsewhere in the Peninsula during this year, Blake, now in Catalonia, after routing Suchet at Alcaniz (May 23, 1809), was defeated by him at Maria (June 15) and at Belchite (June 18); Venegas, by King Joseph and Sébastiani, at Almonacid on the 11th of August; Del Parque (20,000), after a previous victory near Salamanca (Oct. 18), was overthrown at Alba de Tormes by General Marchand (Nov. 28); the old forces of Venegas and Cuesta (50,000), now united under Areizaga, were decisively routed by King Joseph at Ocaña (Nov. 19); and Gerona after a gallant defence, had surrendered to Augereau (Dec. 10).
Sir Arthur Wellesley was for this campaign created Baron Douro and Viscount Wellington. He was made captain-general by Spain, and marshal-general by Portugal. But his experience after Talavera had been akin to that of Moore; his expectations from the Spaniards had not been realized, he had been almost intercepted by the French, and he had narrowly escaped from a critical position. Henceforth he resisted all proposals for joint operations, on any large scale, with Spanish armies not under his own direct command.
Campaign in Portugal, 1810.—Napoleon, having avenged Aspern by the victory of Wagram (July 6, 1809), dispatched to Spain large reinforcements destined to increase his army there to about 370,000 men. Marshal Masséna with 120,000, including the corps of Ney, Junot, Reynier and some of the Imperial Guard, was to operate from Salamanca against Portugal, but first Soult, appointed major-general of the army in Spain (equivalent to chief of the staff), was, with the corps of Victor, Mortier and Sébastiani (70,000), to reduce Andalusia. Soult (Jan. 31, 1810) occupied Seville and escaping thence to Cadiz, the Supreme Junta resigned its powers to a regency of five members (Feb. 2, 1810). Cadiz was invested by Victor's corps (Feb. 4), and then Soult halted, waiting for Masséna, who arrived at Valladolid on the 15th of May.
In England a party in parliament were urging the withdrawal of the British troops, and any reverse to the allied arms would have strengthened its hands. Wellington's policy was thus cautious and defensive, and he had already commenced the since famous lines of Torres Vedras round Lisbon. In June 1810 his headquarters were at Celorico. With about 35,000 British, 30,000 Portuguese regular troops and 30,000 Portuguese militia, he watched the roads leading into Portugal past Ciudad Rodrigo to the north, and Badajoz to the south of the Tagus, as also the line of the Douro and the country between the Elga and the Ponsul.
Soult having been instructed to co-operate by taking Badajoz and Elvas, Masséna, early in June 1810, moved forward, and Ciudad Rodrigo surrendered to him (June 10). Next pushing back a British force under Craufurd, he invested Almeida, taking it on the 27th of August. Then calling up Reynier, who during this had moved on his left towards Alcantara, he marched down the right bank of the Mondego, and entered Viseu (Sept. 21). Wellington fell back before him down the left bank, ordering up Rowland Hill's force from the Badajoz road, the peasantry having been previously called upon to destroy their crops and retire within the lines of Torres Vedras. A little north of Coimbra, the road which Masséna followed crossed the Sierra de Bussaco (Busaco), a very strong position here Wellington resolved to offer him battle. Masséna, superior in numbers and over-confident, made a direct attack upon the heights on the 27th of September 1810: his Battle of Busaco, September 27, 1810. of strength being about 60,000, while that of the Allies was about 50,000, of whom nearly half were Portuguese. After a stern conflict the French were repulsed, the loss being five generals and nearly 5000 men, while the Allies lost about 1300. The next day Masséna turned the Sierra by the Boyalva Pass and Sardao, which latter place, owing to an error, had not been occupied by the Portuguese, and Wellington then retreated by Coimbra and Leiria to the lines, which he entered on the 11th of October, having within them fully 100,000 able bodied men.
The celebrated “Lines of Torres Vedras” were defensive works designed to resist any army which Napoleon could send Lines of Torres Vedras against them. They consisted of three great lines, strengthened by about 150 redoubts, and earthworks of various descriptions, mounting some 600 cannon, the outer line, nearly 30, m. long, stretching over heights north of Lisbon, from the Tagus to the sea. As Masséna advanced, the Portuguese closing upon his rear retook Coimbra (Oct 7), and when he neared the lines, astounded at their strength, he sent General Foy to the emperor to ask for reinforcements. After an effort, defeated by Hill, to cross the Tagus, he withdrew (Nov 15) to Santarem. This practically closed Wellington's operations for the year 1810, his policy now being not to lose men in battle, but to reduce Masséna by hunger and distress.
In other parts of Spain, Augereau had taken Hostalrich (May 10), captured Lerida (May 14); Mequinenza (June 8); and invested Tortosa (Dec. 15). The Spanish levies had been unable to contribute much aid to the Allies, the French having subdued almost all Spain, and being now in possession of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida. On the other hand Wellington still held Lisbon with parts of Portugal, Elvas and Badajoz, for Soult had not felt disposed to attempt the capture of the last two fortresses.
Campaign of 1811.—Napoleon, whose attention was now directed towards Russia, refused to reinforce Masséna, but enjoined Soult to aid him by moving against Badajoz. Soult, therefore, leaving Victor before Cadiz, invested Badajoz (Jan. 26, 1811) and took it from the Spaniards (March 10). With the hope of raising the blockade of Cadiz, a force under Sir Thomas Graham (afterwards Lord Lynedoch [q. v.]) left that harbour by sea, and joining with Spanish troops near Tarifa, advanced by land against Victor's blockading force, a Spanish general, La Peña, being in chief command. As they neared Barrosa, Victor attacked them, the Allies numbering in the battle about 13,000 with 24 guns, 4000 being British; the French 9000, actually engaged, with 14 guns; but with 5000 more a few miles off and others in the French lines. Hard fighting, chiefly Battle of Barrosa, March 5, 1811. between the French and British, now ensued, and at one time the Barrosa ridge, the key of the position left by La Peña's orders, practically undefended, fell into the French hands: but Graham by a resolute counter-attack regained it, and Victor was in the end driven back. La Peña, who had in the battle itself failed proper support to Graham, would not pursue, and Graham declining to carry on further operations with him, re-entered Cadiz. The French afterwards resumed the blockade, so that although Barrosa was an allied victory, its object was not attained. The British loss was about 1200, the French 2000, 6 guns and an eagle.
On the day of the above battle Masséna, having destroyed what guns he could not horse, and skilfully gained time by a feint against Abrantes, began his retreat from before Masséna's Retreat. the lines, through Coimbra and Espinhal. His army was in serious distress, he was in want of food and supplies, most of his horses were dead, and his men were deserting Wellington followed, directing the Portuguese to remove all boats from the Mondego and Douro, and to break up roads north of the former river. Beresford was detached to succour Badajoz, but was soon recalled, as it had fallen to Soult. Ney, commanding Masséna's rearguard, conducted the retreat with great ability. In the pursuit, Wellington adhered to his policy of husbanding his troops for future offensive operations, and let sickness and hunger do the work of the sword. This they effectually did. Nothing could well exceed the horrors of Masséna's retreat. Rearguard actions were fought at Pombal (March 10), Redinha (March 12) and Condeixa (March 13). Here Ney was directed to make a firm stand; but, ascertaining that the Portuguese were at Coimbra and the bridge there broken, and fearing to be cut off also from Muicella, he burnt Condeixa, and marched to Cazal Nova. An action took place here (March 14) and at Foz d'Arouce (March 15). Wellington now sent off Beresford with a force to retake Badajoz, and Masséna, sacrificing much of his baggage and ammunition, reached Celorico and Guarda (March 21). Here he was attacked by Wellington (March 29) and, after a further engagement at Sabugal (April 5, 1811), he fell back through Ciudad to Salamanca, having lost in Portugal nearly 30,000 men, chiefly from want and disease, and 6000 in the retreat alone.
The key to the remaining operations of 1811 lies in the importance attached by both Allies and French to the possession of the fortresses which guarded the two great roads from Portugal into Spain—Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo on the northern, and Badajoz and Elvas on the southern road; all these except Elvas were in French hands. Wellington, on the 9th of April 1811, directed General Spencer to invest Almeida; he then set off himself to join Beresford before Badajoz, but after reconnoitring the fortress with his lieutenant he had at once to return north on the news that Masséna was moving to relieve Almeida.. On the 3rd of May Loison attacked him at Fuentes d'Onor near Almeida, and Masséna coming up himself made a more serious attack on the 5th of May. The Allies numbered Battle of Fuentes d'Onor, May 5, 1811. about 33,000, with 42 guns; the French 45,000 with 30 guns The battle is chiefly notable for the steadiness with which the allied fight, covered by the Light Division in squares, changed position in presence of the French cavalry; and for the extraordinary feat of arms of Captain Norman Ramsay, R.H.A., in charging through the French cavalry with his guns. Masséna failed to dislodge the Allies, and on the 8th of May withdrew to Salamanca, Almeida falling to Wellington on the 11th of May 1811. The allied loss in the fighting on both days at Fuentes d'Onor was about 1500: the French 3000.
In the meantime Soult (with 23,000 men and 50 guns), advancing to relieve Badajoz, compelled Beresford to suspend Battle of Albuera, May 16, 1811 the siege, and to take up a position with about 30,000 men (of whom 7000 were British) and 38 guns behind the river Albuhera (or Albuera). Here Soult attacked him on the 16th of May. An unusually bloody battle ensued, in which the French efforts were chiefly directed against the allied right, held by the Spaniards. At one time the right appeared to be broken, and 6 guns were lost, when a gallant advance of Sir Lowry Cole's division restored the day, Soult then falling back towards Seville. The allied loss was about 7000 (including about half the British force); the French about 8000.
After this Wellington from Almeida rejoined Beresford and the siege of Badajoz was continued: but now Marshal Marmont, having succeeded Masséna, was marching southwards to join Soult, and, two allied assaults of Badajoz having failed, Wellington withdrew. Subsequently, leaving Hill in the Alemtejo, he returned towards Almeida, and with 40,000 men commenced a blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo, his headquarters being at Fuente Guinaldo. Soult and Marmont now fell back, the former to Seville, the latter to the valley of the Tagus, south of the pass of Baños.
In September, Marmont joined with the army of the north under General Dorsenne, coming from Salainanca—their total force being 60,000, with 100 guns—and succeeded (Sept. 25) in introducing a convoy of provisions into Ciudad Rodrigo. Before so superior a force, Wellington had not attempted to maintain the blockade; but on Marmont afterwards advancing towards him, he fought a rearguard action with him at El Bodon (Sept. 25), notable, as was Fuentes d'Onor, for the coolness with which the allied squares retired amidst the enemy's horsemen; and again at Fuente Guinaldo (Sept. 25 and 26) he maintained for 30 hours, with 15,000 men, a bold front against Marmont's army of 60,000, in order to save the Light Division from being cut off. At Aldea de Ponte there was a further sharp engagement (Sept 27) but Wellington taking up a strong position near Sabugal, Marmont and Dorsenne withdrew once more to the valley of the Tagus and Salamanca respectively, and Wellington again blockaded Ciudad Rodrigo.
Thus terminated the main operations of this year. On the 28th of October 1811, Hill, by a very skilful surprise, captured Arroyo de los Molinos (between Badajoz and Trujillo), almost annihilating a French corps under Gérard; and in December 1811 the French were repulsed in their efforts to capture Tarifa near Cadiz In the east of Spain Suchet took Tortosa (Jan. 1, 1811); Tarragona (June 28), and Murviedro (Oct 26), defeating Blake's relieving force, which then took refuge in Valencia. Macdonald also retook Figueras which the Spaniards had taken on the 9th of April 1811 (Aug 19). Portugal had now been freed from the French, but they still held Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, the two main gates into Spain.
Campaign in Spain, 1812.—The campaign of 1812 marks an important stage in the war. Napoleon, with the Russian War in prospect, had early in the year withdrawn 30,000 men from Spain, and Wellington had begun to carry on what he termed a war of “magazines.” Based on rivers (the navigation of which greatly improved) and the sea, he formed dépots or magazines of provisions at many points, which enabled him always to take and keep the field. The French, on the other hand, had great difficulty in establishing any such reserves of food, owing to their practice of depending for sustenance entirely upon the country in which they were quartered Wellington assumed the offensive, and by various movements and feints, aided the guerrilla bands by forcing the French corps to assemble in their districts, which not only greatly harassed them but also materially hindered the combination of their corps for concerted action. Having secretly got a battering train into Almeida and directed Hill, as a blind, to engage Soylt by threatening Badajoz, he suddenly (Jan. 8, 1812) besieged Ciudad Rodrigo.
The French, still numbering nearly 200,000, now held the following positions: the Army of the North—Dorsenne (48,000)—was about the Pisuerga, in the Asturias, and along the northern coast; the Army of Portugal—Marmont' (50,000)—mainly in the valley of the Tagus, but ordered to Salamanca; the Army of the South-Soult (55,000)—in Andalusia; the Army of the Centre—Joseph (19,000)—about Madrid.
The siege of Ciudad Rodrigo was calculated in the ordinary course to require twenty-four days: but on it becoming known that Marmont was moving northward, the assault was Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, January 8–19, 1812. delivered after twelve days only (Jan. 19). The gallantry of the troops made it successful, though with the loss of Generals Craufurd and McKinnon, and 1300 men, and Marmont's battering train of 150 guns here fell into the allied hands. Then, after a feint of passing on into Spain, Wellington rapidly marched south and, with 22,000 men, laid siege to Badajoz (March 17, 1812), Hill with 30,000 covering the siege near Merida. Wellington was hampered by want of time, and had to assault prematurely. Soult and Marmont having begun to move to relieve the garrison, the assault was Siege of Badajoz, March 17 to April 17, 1812. delivered on the night of the 7th of April, and though the assailants failed at the breaches, the carnage at which was terrible, a very daring escalade of one of the bastions and of the castle succeeded, and Badajoz fell, Soult's pontoon train being taken in it. After the assault, some deplorable excesses were committed by the victorious troops. The allied loss was 3600 in the assault alone and 5000 in the entire siege.
The Allies had now got possession of the two great gates into Spain: and Hill, by an enterprise most skilfully carried out, destroyed (May 19) the Tagus bridge at Almaraz, by which Soult to the south of the river chiefly communicated with Marmont to the north. Wellington then, ostentatiously making preparations to enter Spain by the Badajoz line, once more turned northward, crossed the Tormes (June 17, 1812), and advanced to the Douro, behind which the French were drawn up. Marmont had erected at Salamanca some strong forts, the reduction of which occupied Wellington ten days, and cost him 600 men. The Allies and French now faced each other along the Douro to the Pisuerga. The river was high, and Wellington hoped that want of supplies would compel Marmont to retire, but in this he was disappointed.
On the 15th of July 1812, Marmont, after a feint against Wellington's left, suddenly, by a forced march, turned his right, and made rapidly towards the fords of Huerta and Alba on the Tormes. Some interesting manoeuvres now took place, Wellington moving parallel and close to Marmont, but more to the north, making for the fords of Aldea Lengua and Santa Marta on the Tormes nearer to Salamanca, and being under the belief that the Spaniards held the castle and ford at Alba on that river. But Marmont's manoeuvring and marching power had been underestimated, and on the 21st of July while Wellington's position covered Salamanca, and but indirectly his line of communications through Ciudad Rodrigo, Marmont had reached a point from which he hoped to interpose between Wellington and Portugal, on the Ciudad Rodrigo road. This he endeavoured to do on the 22nd of July 1812, which brought on the important battle of Salamanca (q v.) in Which Wellington gained a decisive victory, the French falling back to Valladolid and thence to Burgos. Wellington entered Valladolid (July 30), and thence marched against Joseph, who (July 21) had reached Blasco Sancho with reinforcements for Marmont. Joseph retired before him, and Wellington entered Madrid (Aug. 12, 1812), where, in the Retiro, 1700 men, 180 cannon, two eagles, and a quantity of stores were captured. Soult now raised the siege of Cadiz (Aug. 26), and evacuating Andalusia joined Suchet with some 55,000 men. Wellington then brought up Hill to Madrid.
On the 1st of September 1812, the French armies having begun once more to collect together, Wellington marched against the Siege of the Castle of Burgos, Sept. 19 to Oct. 21. Army of the North, now under General Clausel, and laid siege to the castle of Burgos (Sept 19) to secure the road towards Santander on the coast. But the strength of the castle had been underrated; Wellington had insufficient siege equipment and transport for heavy guns; five assaults failed, and Soult (having left Sucht in Valencia) and also the Army of Portugal were both approaching, so Wellington withdrew on the night of the Retreat from Burgos. 21st of October, and, directing the evacuation of Madrid, commenced the “Retreat from Burgos.” In this retreat, although military operations were skilfully conducted, the Allies lost 7000 men, and discipline, as in that to Corunna, became much relaxed.
By November 1812, Hill having joined him at Salamanca, Wellington once more had gone into cantonments near Ciudad Rodrigo, and the French armies had again scattered for convenience of supply. In spite of the failure before Burgos, the successes of the campaign had been brilliant. In addition to the decisive victory of Salamanca, Madrid had been occupied, the siege of Cadiz raised, Andalusia freed, and Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz stormed Early in January also the French had abandoned the siege of Tarifa, though Valencia had surrendered to them (Jan 9). One important result of the campaign was that the Spanish Cortes nominated Wellington (Sept. 22, 1812) to the unfettered command of the Spanish armies. For the operations of this campaign Wellington was created earl, and subsequently marquess of Wellington, duke of Ciudad Rodrigo by Spain, and marquis of Torres Vedras by Portugal.
Campaign in Spain and the South of France, 1813.—At the opening of 1813, Suchet, with 63,000 men, had been left to hold Valencia, Aragon and Catalonia; and the remainder of the French (about 137,000) occupied Leon, the central provinces and Biscay, guarding also the communications with France. Of these about 60,000 under Joseph were more immediately opposed to Wellington, and posted, in scattered detachments, from Toledo and Madrid behind the Tormes to the Douro, and along that river to the Esla. Wellington had further organized the Spanish forces—Castanos (40,000), with the guerrilla bands of Mina, Longa and others, was in Galicia, the Asturias and northern Spain, Copons (10,000) in Catalonia; Elio (20,000) in Murcia, Del Parque (12,000) in the Sierra Morena, and O'Donell (15,000) in Andalusia. More Portuguese troops had been raised, and reinforcements received from England, so that the Allies, without the Spaniards above alluded to, now numbered some 75,000 men, and from near the Coa watched the Douro and Tormes, their line stretching from their left near Lamego to the pass of Baños, Hill being on the right. The district of the Trasos-Montes, north of the Douro, about the Tamega, Tua and Sabor, was so rugged that Wellington was convinced that Joseph would expect him to advance by the south of the river. He therefore, moving by the south bank himself with Hill, to confirm Joseph in this expectation, crossed the Tormes near and above Salamanca, having previously—which was to be the decisive movement—detached Graham, with 40,000 men, to make his way, through the difficult district above mentioned, towards Braganza, and then, joining with the Spaniards, to turn Joseph's right Graham, crossing the Douro near Lamego, carried out his laborious march with great energy, and Joseph retired precipitately from the Douro, behind t11e Pisuerga, The allied army, raised by the junction of the Spanish troops in Galicia to 90,000, now concentrated near Toro, and moved towards the Pisuerga, when Joseph, blowing up the castle of Burgos, fell back behind the Ebro Once more Wellington turned his right, by a sweeping movement through Rocamunde and Puente Arenas near the source of the Ebro, when he retreated behind the Zadorra near the town of Vitoria.
Santander was now evacuated by the French, and the allied line of communications was changed to that port. On the 20th of June Wellington encamped along the river Bayas, and the next day attacked Joseph. For a description of the decisive battle of Vitoria (June 21, 1813), see Vitoria. In it Battle of Vitoria, June 21, 1813. King Joseph met with a crushing defeat, and, after it, the wreck of his army, cut off from the Vitoria-Bayonne road, escaped towards Pampeluna. Within a few days Madrid was evacuated, and all the French forces, with the exception of the garrisons of San Sebastian (3000), Pampeluna (3000), Santona (1500), and the troops under Suchet holding posts in Catalonia and Valencia, had retired across the Pyrenees into France. The Spanish peninsula was, to all intents and purposes, free from foreign domination, although the war was yet far from concluded. The French struggled gallantly to the close: but now a long succession of their leaders —Junot, Soult, Victor, Masséna, Marmont, Joseph—had been in turn forced to recoil before Wellington; and while their troops fought henceforward under the depressing memory of many defeats, the Allies did so under the inspiriting influence of great successes, and with that absolute confidence in their chief which doubled their fighting power.
For this decisive campaign, Wellington was made a field marshal in the British army, and created duke of Victory by the Portuguese government in Brazil. He now, with about 80,000 men, took up a position with his left (the Spaniards) on the Bidassoa near San Sebastian. Thence his line stretched along the Pyrenees by the passes of Vera, Echallar, Maya and Roncesvalles, to Altobiscar, his immediate object now being to reduce the fortresses of San Sebastian and Pampeluna. Not having sufficient matériel for two sieges, he laid siege to San Sebastian only, and blockaded Pampeluna. Sir Thomas Graham commenced the active siege of San Sebastian on the 10th of July 1813, but as Soult was approaching to its relief, the assault was ordered for daylight on the 24th. Unfortunately Siege of Sebastian, July 10–24, 1813. a conflagration breaking out near the breaches caused it to be postponed until nightfall, when, the breaches in the interval having been strengthened, it was delivered unsuccessfully and with heavy loss. Wellington then suspended the siege in order to meet Soult, who endeavoured (July 25) to turn the allied right, and reach Pampeluna. Attacking the passes of Maya and Roncesvalles, he obliged their defenders to retire, after sharp fighting, to a position Battles of the Pyrenees, July 25 to August 2, 1813. close to Sorauren, which, with 25,000 men, he attempted to carry (July 28). By this time Wellington had reached it from the allied left; reinforcements were pressing up on both sides, and about 12,000 allied troops faced the French. A struggle, described by Wellington as “bludgeon work,” now ensued, but all efforts to dislodge the Allies having failed, Soult, withdrawing, manoeuvred to his right towards San Sebastian. Wellington now assumed the offensive, and, in a series of engagements, drove the French back (Aug. 2) beyond the Pyrenees. These included Roncesvalles and Maya (July 25); Sorauren (July 28 and 30), Yanzi (Aug. 1); and Echallar and Ivantelly (Aug. 2), the total losses in them being about—Allies under 7000, French 10,000. After this, Wellington renewing the siege of San Sebastian carried the place, excepting the castle, after a heavy expenditure of life (Aug. 31). Upon the day of its fall Soult attempted to relieve it, but Storm of San Sebastian, August 31, 1813. in the combats of Vera and St Marcial was repulsed. The castle surrendered on the 9th of September, the losses in the entire siege having been about—Allies 4000, French 2000. Wellington next determined to throw his left across the river Bidassoa to strengthen his own position, and secure the port of Fuenterrabia.
Now commenced a series of celebrated river passages, which had to be effected prior to the further invasion of France. At daylight on the 7th of October 1813 he crossed the Bidassoa in seven columns, and attacked the entire French position, which stretched in two heavily entrenched lines from north of the Irun-Bayonne road, along mountain spurs to the Great Ruhne 2800 ft. high. The decisive movement was a passage in Passage of the Bidassoa, October 7, 1813. strength near Fuenterrabia to the astonishment of the enemy, who in view of the width of the river and the shifting sands, had thought the crossing impossible at that point. The French right was then rolled back, and Soult was unable to reinforce his right in time to retrieve the day. His works fell in succession after hard fighting, and he withdrew towards the river Nivelle. The loss was about—Allies, 1600; French, 1400. The passage of the Bidassoa “was a general's not a soldiers' battle” (Napier).
On the 31st of October Pampeluna surrendered, and Wellington was now anxious to drive Suchet from Catalonia before further invading France. The British government, however, in the interests of the continental powers, urged an immediate advance, so on the night of the 9th of November 1813 he brought up his right from the Pyrenean passes to the northward of Maya and towards the Nivelle. Soult's army (about 79,000), in three entrenched lines, stretched from the sea in front of St Jean de Luz along commanding ground to Amotz and thence, behind the river, to Mont Mondarin near the Nive. Each army had with it about 100 guns; and, during a heavy cannonade, Wellington on the 10th of November 1813 attacked this extended Passage of the Nivelle, Nov. 10, 1813. position of 16 m. in five columns, these being so directed that after carrying Soult's advanced works a mass of about 50,000 men converged towards the French centre near Amotz, where, after hard fighting, it swept away the 18,000 of the second line there opposed to it, cutting Soult's army in two. The French right then fell back to St Jean de Luz, the left towards points on the Nive. It was now late and the Allies, after moving a few miles down both banks of the Nivelle, bivouacked, while Soult, taking advantage of the respite, withdrew in the night to Bayonne. The allied loss was about 2700; that of the French 4000, 51 guns, and all their magazines. The next day Wellington closed in upon Bayonne from the sea to the left bank of the Nive.
After this there was a period of comparative inaction, though during it the French were driven from the bridges at Urdains and Campo The weather had become bad, and the Nive unfordable; but there were additional and serious causes of delay. The Portuguese and Spanish authorities were neglecting the payment and supply of their troops. Wellington had also difficulties of a similar kind with his own government, and also the Spanish soldiers, in revenge for many French outrages, had become guilty of grave excesses in France, so that Wellington took the extreme step of sending 25,000 of them back to Spain and resigning the command of their army, though his resignation was subsequently withdrawn. So great was the tension at this crisis that a rupture with Spain seemed possible. These matters, however, having been at length adjusted, Wellington, who in his cramped position between the sea and the Nive could not use his cavalry or artillery effectively, or interfere with the French supplies coming through St Jean Pied de Port, determined to occupy the right as well as the left bank of the Nive. He could not pass to that bank with his whole force while Soult held Bayonne, without exposing his own communications through Irun. Therefore, on the 9th of December 1813, after making a demonstration elsewhere, he effected the passage with Passage of the Nivelle, Nov. 10, 1813. a portion of his force only under Hill and Beresford, Ustaritz and Cambo, his loss being slight, and thence pushed down the river towards Villefranque, where Soult barred his way across the road to Bayonne. The allied army was now divided into two portions by the Nive; and Soult from Bayonne at once took advantage of his central position to attack it with all his available force, first on the left bank and then on the right. On the morning of the 10th of December he fell, with 60,000 men and 40 guns, upon Hope, who with 30,000 men and 24 guns held a position from the sea 3 m. south of Biarritz on a ridge behind two lakes (or tanks) through Arcangues towards the Nive. Desperate fighting now ensued, but fortunately, owing to the intersected ground, Soult was compelled to advance slowly, and in the end, Wellington coming up with Beresford from the right bank, the Battles before Bayonne, or Battles of the Nive, Dec, 10–13, 1813. French retired baffled. On the 11th and 12th of December there were engagements of a less severe character, and finally on the 13th of December Soult with 35,000 men made a vehement attack up the right bank of the Nive against Hill, who with about 14,000 men occupied some heights from Villefranque past St Pierre (Lostenia) to Vieux Moguerre. The conflict about St Pierre (Lostenia) was one of the most bloody of the war; but for hours Hill maintained his ground, and finally repulsed the French before Wellington, delayed by his pontoon bridge over the Nive having been swept away, arrived to his aid. The losses in the four days' fighting in the battles before Bayonne (or battles of the Nive) were-Allies about 5000, French about 7000. Both the British and Portuguese artillery, as well as infantry, greatly distinguished themselves in these battles.
In eastern Spain Suchet (April 11, 1813) had defeated Elio's Murcians at Yecla and Villena, but was subsequently routed by Sir John Murray near Castalla (April 13), who then besieged Tarragona. The siege was abandoned after a time, but was later on renewed by Lord W. Bentinck. Suchet, after the battle of Vitoria, evacuated Tarragona (Aug. 17) but defeated Bentinck in the combat of Ordal (Sept. 13).
Campaign in the South of France, 1814.—When operations recommenced in February 1814 the French line extended from Bayonne up the north bank of the Adour to the Pau, thence bending south along the Bidouze to St Palais, with advanced posts on the Joyeuse and at St Jean Pied de Port. Wellington's left, under Hope, watched Bayonne, while Beresford, with Hill, observed the Adour and the Joyeuse, the right trending back till it reached Urcuray on the St Jean Pied de Port road. Exclusive of the garrison of Bayonne and other places, the available field force of Soult numbered about 41,000, while that of the Allies, deducting Hope's force observing Bayonne, was of much the same strength. It had now become Wellington's object to draw Soult away from Bayonne, in order that the allied army might, with less loss, cross the Adour and lay siege to the place on both banks of the river.
At its mouth the Adour was about 500 yds. wide, and its entrance from the sea by small vessels, except in the finest weather, was a perilous undertaking, owing to the shifting sands and a dangerous bar. On the other hand, the deep sandy soil near its banks made the transport of bridging matériel by land laborious, and almost certain of discovery. Wellington, convinced that no effort to bridge below Bayonne would be expected, decided to attempt it there, and collected at St Jean Pied de Port and Passages a large number of country vessels (termed chasse-marées) Then, leaving Hope with 30,000 men to watch Bayonne, he began an enveloping movement round Soult's left. Hill on the 14th and 15th of February, after a combat at Garris, drove the French posts beyond the Joyeuse; and Wellington then pressed these troops back over the Bidouze and Gave de Mauleon to the Gave d'Oleron. Wellington's object in this was at once attained, for Soult, leaving only 10,000 men in Bayonne, came out and concentrated at Orthes on the Pau. Then Wellington (Feb. 19) proceeded to St Jean de Luz to superintend the despatch of boats to the Adour. Unfavourable weather, however, compelled him to leave this to Sir John Hope and Admiral Penrose, so returning to the Gave d'Oleron he crossed it, and faced Soult on the Pau (Feb. 25). Hope in the meantime, after feints higher up the Adour, succeeded (Feb. 22 and 23) in passing 600 men across Passage of the Adour, Feb. 22 to 26, 1814. the river in boats. The nature of the ground, and there being no suspicion of an attempt at this point, led to the French coming out very tardily to oppose them; and when they did, some Congreve rockets (then a novelty) threw them into confusion, so that the right bank was held until, on the morning of the 24th, the flotilla of chasse-marées appeared from St jean de Luz, preceded by men-of-war boats. Several men and vessels were lost in crossing the bar, but by noon on the 26th of February the bridge of 26 vessels had been thrown and secured, batteries and a boom placed to protect it, 8000 troops passed over, and the enemy’s gunboats driven up the river. Bayonne was then invested on both banks as a preliminary to the siege.
On the 27th of February Wellington, having with little loss
effected the passage of the Pau below Orthes, attacked Soult.
In this battle the Allies and French were of about equal strength
(37,000): the former having 48 guns, the latter 40. Soult held
a strong position behind Orthes on heights commanding
Battle of Orthes,
Feb. 27, 1814. the roads to Dax and St Sever. Beresford was directed to turn his right, if possible cutting him off from Dax, and Hill his left towards the St Sever road. Beresford’s attack, after hard fighting over difficult ground, was repulsed, when Wellington, perceiving that the pursuing French had left a central part of the heights unoccupied, thrust up the Light Division into it, between Soult’s right and centre. At the same time Hill, having found a ford above Orthes, was turning the French left, when Soult retreated just in time to save being cut off, withdrawing towards St Sever, which he reached on the 28th of February. The allied loss was about 2000; the French 4000 and 6 guns.
From St Sever Soult turned eastwards to Aire, where he covered the roads to Bordeaux and Toulouse. Beresford, with 12,000 men, was now sent to Bordeaux, which opened its gates as promised to the Allies. Driven by Hill from Aire on the 2nd of March 1814, Soult retired by Vic Bigorre, where there was a combat (March 19), and Tarbes, where there was a severe action (March 20), to Toulouse behind the Garonne. He endeavoured also to rouse the French peasantry against the Allies, but in vain, for Wellington’s justice and moderation afforded them no grievances. Wellington wished to pass the Garonne above Toulouse in order to attack the city from the south—its weakest side—and interpose between Soult and Suchet. But finding it impracticable to operate in that direction, he left Hill on the west side and crossed at Grenade below Toulouse (April 3). When Beresford, who had now rejoined Wellington, had passed over, the bridge was swept away, which left him isolated on the right bank But Soult did not attack, the bridge (April 8) as restored, Wellington crossed the Garonne and the Ers, and attacked Soult on the 10th of April. In the battle of Toulouse the French numbered about 40,000 (exclusive of the local National Guards) with 80 guns; the Allies under 52,000 with 64 Battle of Toulouse, April 10 1814 guns. Soult’s position to the north and east of the city was exceedingly strong, consisting of the canal of Languedoc, some fortified suburbs, and (to the extreme east) the commanding ridge of Mont Rave, crowned the redoubts and earthworks. Wellington’s columns, under Beresford, were now called upon to make a flank march of some two miles, under artillery, and occasionally musketry, fire, being threatened also by cavalry, and then, while the Spanish troops assaulted the north of the ridge, to wheel up, mount the eastern slope, and carry the works. The Spaniards were repulsed, but Beresford gallantly took Mont Rave and Soult fell back behind the canal. On the 12th of April Wellington advanced to invest Toulouse from the south, but Soult on the night of the 11th had retreated towards Villefranque, and Wellington then entered the city. The allied loss was about 5000, the French 3000. Thus, in the last great battle of the war, the courage and resolution of the soldiers of the Peninsular army were conspicuously illustrated.
On the 13th of April 1814 officers arrived with the announcement to both armies of the capture of Paris, the abdication of Napoleon, and the practical conclusion of peace; and on the 18th a convention, which included Suchet’s force, was entered into between Wellington and Soult. Unfortunately, after Toulouse had fallen the Allies and French, in a sortie from Bayonne on the 14th of April, each lost about 1000 men so that some 10,000 men fell after peace had virtually been made.
In the east, during this year (1814), Sir W. Clinton had, on the 16th of January, attacked Suchet at Molins de Rey and blockaded Barcelona (Feb. 7); the French posts of Lerida, Mequinenza and Monzon had also been yielded up, and Suchet, on the 2nd of March, had crossed the Pyrenees into France. Figueras surrendered to Cuesta before the end of May; and peace was formally signed at Paris on the 30th of May.
Thus terminated the long and sanguinary struggle of the Peninsular War. The British troops were partly sent to England, and partly embarked at Bordeaux for America, with which country war had broken out (see American War of 1812–15): the Portuguese and Spanish recrossed the Pyrenees: the French army was dispersed throughout France: Louis XVIII. was restored to the French throne: and Napoleon was permitted to reside in the island of Elba, the sovereignty of which had been conceded to him by the allied powers. For the operations of this campaign Wellington was created marquess of Douro and duke of Wellington, and peerages were conferred upon Beresford, Graham and Hill.
The events of the Peninsular War, especially as narrated in the Wellington Despatches, are replete with instruction not only for the soldier, but also for the civil administrator. Even in a brief summary of the war one salient fact is noticeable, that all Wellington’s reverses were in connection with his sieges, for which his means were never adequate. In his many battles he was always victorious, his strategy eminently successful, his organizing and administrative power exceptionally great, his practical resource unlimited, his soldiers most courageous, but he never had an army fully complete in its departments and warlike equipment. He had no adequate corps of sappers and miners, or transport train. In 1812 tools and material of war for his sieges were often insufficient. In 1813, when he was before San Sebastian, the ammunition ran short; a battering train, long demanded, reached him not only some time after it was needed, but even then with only one day’s provision of shot and shell. For the siege of Burgos heavy guns were available in store on the coast, but he neither had, nor could procure, the transport to bring them up. By resource and dogged determination Wellington rose superior to almost every difficulty, but he could not overcome all; and the main teaching of the Peninsular War turns upon the value of an army that is completely organized in its various branches before hostilities break out. (C. W. R.)
Authorities.—The Wellington Despatches, ed. Gurwood (London, 1834–1839); Supplementary Wellington Despatches (London, 1858–1861 and 1867–1872); Sir W. Napier, History of War in the Peninsula and South of France (London, 1828–1840), C. W. C. Oman, History of the Peninsular War (London, 1902); Sir J. Jones, Journals and Sieges in Spain, 1811–12 (London, 1814); and Account of the War in Spain, Portugal and South of France, 1808–14 (London, 1821); Sir J. F. Maurice, Diary of Sir John Moore (London, 1904); Commandant Balagny, Campaign de l’Empereur Napoléon en Espagne, 1808–1809 (Paris, 1902); Major-General C. W. Robinson, Wellington’s Campaigns (London, 1907); Sir A. Alison, History of Europe, 1789–1815 (London, 1835–1842); T. Choumara, Considérations militaires sur les mémoires du Maréchal Suchet et sur la bataille de Toulouse (Paris, 1838); Commandant Clerc, Campagne du Maréchal Soult dans les Pyrénées occidentales en 1813–14 (Paris, 1894); Mémoires du Baron Marbot (Paris, 1891; Eng. trans by A. J. Butler, London, 1902); H. R Clinton, The War in the Peninsula, &c. (London, 1889); Marshal Suchet’s Mémoires (Paris, 1826; London, 1829); Captain L. Butler, Wellington’s Operations in the Peninsula, 1808–14 London, 1904); Batty, Campaign of the Left Wing of the Allied Army to the Western Pyrenees and South of France, 1813–14 (London, 1823); Foy, Histoire de la guerre de la Péninsule, &c., sous Napoléon (Paris and London, 1827); Lord Londonderry, Narrative of the Peninsular War, 1808–13 (London, 1829); R. Southey, History of the Peninsular War (London, 1823–1832); Major A. Griffiths, Wellington and Waterloo (illustrated; London, 1898); Thiers, Histoire du consulat et de l’empire (Paris, 1845–1847; and translated by D. F. Campbell, London, 1845); Captain A. H. Marindin, The Salamanca Campaign (London, 1906); Marmont’s Mémoires (Paris, 1857); Colonel Sir A. S. Frazer, Letters during the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns (ed. by Major-General E. Sabine, London, 1859); Lieut.-Colonel W. Hill-James, Battles round Biarritz, Nivelle and the Nive (London, 1896); Battles round Biarritz, Garres and the Bridge of Boats (Edinburgh, 1897); H. B. Robinson, Memoirs of Lieutenant-General Sir T. Picton (London, 1835); G. C. Moore-Smith, Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith (London, 1901); Life of John Colborne (F.-M. Lord Seaton) (London, 1903), Rev. A. H. Cranford, General Craufurd and his Light Division (London, 1891); Sir George Larpent, Private Journal of F. S. Larpent during the Peninsular War (London, 1853); Major-General H. D. Hutchinson, Operations in the Peninsula, 1808–9 (London, 1905); The Dickson MSS, being Journals of Major-General Sir Alexander Dickson during the Peninsular War (Woolwich, 1907).
- They subsequently escaped from Jutland, on British vessels, and reached Santander in October 1808
- The king, the queen and Godoy were eventually removed to Rome, and Ferdinand to Valençay in France.
- In this account of the war the losses and numbers engaged in different battles are given approximately only, and the former include killed, wounded and missing. Historians differ much on these matters.
- It was not, however, signed at Cintra, but at Lisbon, and was mainly negotiated near Torres Vedras.
- The two latter were recalled from the Peninsula; Sir Arthur Wellesley had proceeded to London upon leave, and had only signed the armistice with Junot, not the convention itself.
- After the battle the Light Division, under Robert Craufurd, joined Wellesley. In the endeavour to reach the field in time it had covered, in heavy marching order, over 50 m. in 25 hours, in hot July weather.
- Duque da Victoria, often incorrectly duke of Vitoria. The coincidence of the title with the place-name of the battle which had not yet been fought when the title was conferred, is curious, but accidental.
- Commander of a British expedition from the Mediterranean islands.
- “Gave" in the Pyrenees means a mountain stream or torrent.