25 June, 1806
5 July, 1807
made two unsanctioned attempts to lessen the grip of France's
ally Spain on South America with two ill-prepared missions.
first was in 1806 when the then Colonel
William Beresford was sent from the Cape Colony with
only 1500 men to capture Buenos Aires.
plan was thought up by Sir Home Popham, a noted naval commander,
but was badly flawed.
Beresford did manage to capture Buenos Aires, his force
was to weak to hold it for long and when the Spanish eventually
counterattacked he was forced to surrender.
next attempt was in 1807 when reinforcements belatedly sent
to assist Beresford finally arrived and set out to capture
Montevideo. After a fierce fight, General Sir Samuel Auchmuty's
8000 men took the city on 3 February, but then a new British
commander entered the stage.
John Whitelocke was not a talented soldier and upon receiving
new reinforcements - including General
Robert Craufurd's Light Brigade - he decided to march
on Buenos Aires.
hare-brained plan was to move on Buenos Aires without transport
or a strong cavalry force and he greatly weakened his troops
by leaving behind his most effective soldiers as a garrison
at Buenos Aires in a shocking state, the British found many
of their weapons unuseable but, despite the obstacles, performed
very well. Unfortunately, Whitelocke divided his force into
small units and many were overpowered by greater numbers.
some 3000 casualties, the British leader requested a truce
and in return for leaving Buenos Aires was granted a peace
Popham and Whitelocke faced inquiries for their parts in
the operation. The former received an official reprimand
and Whitelocke was sacked.