27 September, 1810

Portugal Battle Tour Guides

Retreating towards the impregnable defensive lines of Torres Vedras, the Duke of Wellington decided to buy himself more time to complete the withdrawal by checking Marshal Massena and his army of Portugal at Bussaco.

The British numbered some 51,000 men while Massena, bolstered by the talents of Marshal Ney and generals Junot and Reynier had almost 66,000 troops at his disposal.

Adopting his favoured tactic of hiding his true strength from the enemy, Wellington had drawn up only two divisions on a steep ridge in view of the French.

Thinking this was only a rearguard, Massena sent Reynier's corps in a dawn attack, which reached the high ground on the British right before being repelled by a bayonet charge from the Connaught Rangers of the 88th.

Within an hour two more attempts were made by the French to seize the ridge, but both failed with heavy losses.

Just after 8am, Ney sent his corps against the British left and while successful in pushing the defenders back, the attack was stopped by concentrated firepower of cannons and muskets.

The battle became sporadic after that with little serious effort by the French to advance and was eventually ended when Massena withdrew having lost 4500 men.

Wellington, whose casualty list was just over 1250 men, continued on towards Torres Vedras.





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