The Peninsular War (3)

1807 to 1814

Peninsular Battles Location Map
Tour Suggestions for Portugal
Tour Suggestions for Spain
Deaths in British Army Hospitals

With the extremely capable Sir William Beresford retraining and organising the Portuguese army, Wellesley at last had allies he could trust and caught Marshal Nicholas Soult on the hop when he crossed the Douro River at Oporto and seized the military initiative.

Moving into Spain, Wellesley was attacked by the French at Talavera, where the duplicitous Spanish general Gregorio de la Cuesta did nothing as the British fought tooth and nail to defeat Marshal Victor and Joseph Bonaparte's army.

Deciding against trusting the Spaniards again, the now Viscount Wellington fell back to Portugal where he waited for the next opportunity to take on the French.

By 1810, Wellesley had constructed an impenetrable, series of fortified prepared defensive Lines of Torres Vedras, which completely cut off Lisbon from attack and stymied the new French commander's, Marshal Andre Massena, hopes of an easy victory over the Anglo-Portuguese.

Massena's invasion of Portugal earned him a bloody nose at Bussaco and before he had time to reorganise for another attempt at Wellington, the British commander had withdrawn behind the defensive perimeter at Torres Vedras.

The French marshal made some attempts to get through the lines and then sat obstinately outside them waiting for another chance to be at the British.

Wellington had other ideas and just waited for hunger - the lands having been cleared of foodstuffs - to take its effect.

It took the entire winter for Massena to get the message and he was finally forced to march his starving army towards better providing countryside.

The British won a further battle at Barrossa and Wellington and Massena drew the encounter at Fuentes de Onoro.

In 1811, one of the most bloody encounters on the Peninsula occurred when Soult moved to end the siege of Badajoz, a fortress guarding the Portuguese-Spanish border.



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