Asedio francés de Badajoz y batalla de Gabora

Asedio francés de Badajoz y batalla de Gabora

Asedio francés de Badajoz y batalla de Gabora

Mapa que muestra Badajoz durante el asedio francés del 26 de enero al 10 de marzo de 1811 y la batalla de Gabora, el 19 de febrero de 1811

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Segundo asedio de Badajoz (1811)

los Segundo asedio de Badajoz (22 de abril - 12 de mayo y 18 de mayo - 10 de junio de 1811) vio a un ejército anglo-portugués, primero dirigido por William Carr Beresford y luego comandado por Arthur Wellesley, conde de Wellington, sitiar una guarnición francesa al mando de Armand Philippon en Badajoz, España. . Después de no poder forzar una rendición, Wellington retiró su ejército cuando los franceses organizaron un exitoso esfuerzo de ayuda al combinar los ejércitos de los mariscales Nicolas Soult y Auguste Marmont. La acción se libró durante la Guerra de la Independencia, parte de las Guerras Napoleónicas. Badajoz se encuentra a 6 kilómetros (4 & # 160 millas) de la frontera portuguesa en el río Guadiana en el oeste de España.

Mientras Wellington se enfrentó al Ejército de Portugal del mariscal Andre Massena en el norte, su lugarteniente Beresford intentó capturar Badajoz en manos francesas en el sur. Beresford invirtió la ciudad en abril, pero la guarnición de Philippon logró rechazar sus ataques. El asedio se levantó brevemente mientras se libraba la batalla de Albuera el 16 de mayo. Aunque ambos bandos sufrieron terribles bajas, Beresford salió vencedor y Soult se retiró hacia el este. Wellington trajo refuerzos del norte, pero el reemplazo de Massena, Marmont, también trajo grandes fuerzas al sur para unirse a Soult. Los esfuerzos de Wellington para capturar Badajoz resultaron infructuosos y levantó el sitio después de ser amenazado por el gran ejército francés dirigido por Soult y Marmont.


Conflictos militares similares o similares al Sitio de Badajoz (1812)

El ejército anglo-portugués, primero dirigido por William Carr Beresford y luego comandado por Arthur Wellesley, el vizconde de Wellington, asedia una guarnición francesa al mando de Armand Philippon en Badajoz, España. Después de no poder forzar una rendición, Wellington retiró su ejército cuando los franceses organizaron un exitoso esfuerzo de ayuda al combinar los ejércitos de los mariscales Nicolas Soult y Auguste Marmont. Wikipedia

Batalla en la que un ejército anglo-portugués al mando del duque de Wellington derrotó al mariscal Auguste Marmont y a las fuerzas francesas en Arapiles, al sur de Salamanca, España, durante la Guerra de la Independencia. También presente pero no participó en la batalla. Wikipedia

Intento del ejército francés de Portugal al mando del mariscal André Masséna de aliviar la ciudad sitiada de Almeida. No es el tipo de batalla que se esperaba que siguiera a la expulsión de Masséna & # x27 de Portugal. Wikipedia

Ejército anglo-portugués-español comandado por Arthur Wellesley, marqués de Wellington. Después de su fallido asedio de Burgos, el ejército aliado de 35.000 hombres se retiró hacia el oeste, perseguido por los 53.000 soldados franceses de Souham. Wikipedia

En el asedio de Burgos, del 19 de septiembre al 21 de octubre de 1812, el ejército anglo-portugués dirigido por el general Arthur Wellesley, marqués de Wellington intentó apoderarse del castillo de Burgos de su guarnición francesa bajo el mando del general de brigada Jean-Louis Dubreton. . Los franceses rechazaron todo intento de apoderarse de la fortaleza, lo que provocó la retirada de Wellington. Wikipedia

Ejército imperial francés dirigido por el mariscal Nicolas Soult en el sur de Francia. Obligado a retirarse. Wikipedia

Batalla de la Guerra Peninsular que tuvo lugar del 18 al 19 de mayo de 1812, en la que el ejército anglo-portugués al mando de Lord Hill destruyó un puente de pontones francés sobre el río Tajo, en Almaraz, España. Protegido por dos guarniciones francesas en cada extremo. Wikipedia

La división de caballería imperial francesa dirigida por Anne-François-Charles Trelliard ataca dos brigadas de caballería al mando de Benjamin d & # x27 Urban y forma la vanguardia de Arthur Wellesley, conde de Wellington & # x27s ejército. La brigada líder de Trelliard & # x27 derrotó a los jinetes portugueses de d & # x27Urban & # x27s e invadió tres cañones británicos. Wikipedia

La Batalla de Buçaco o Bussaco, librada el 27 de septiembre de 1810 durante la Guerra de la Independencia en la sierra portuguesa de Serra do Buçaco, resultó en la derrota de las fuerzas francesas por Lord Wellington y el ejército anglo-portugués # x27s. Atacado cinco veces sucesivamente por 65.000 franceses al mando del mariscal André Masséna. Wikipedia

La guarnición imperial francesa de 800 hombres dirigida por el teniente coronel Duchemin defiende tres conventos fortificados en la ciudad de Salamanca contra el ejército anglo-aliado de 48.000 hombres dirigido por Arthur Wellesley, Lord Wellington. Intento fallido de relevar la guarnición. Wikipedia

En la Batalla de Campo Maior, o Campo Mayor (una ortografía más antigua que se usa con mayor frecuencia en las cuentas en inglés), el 25 de marzo de 1811, el general de brigada Robert Ballard Long con una fuerza de caballería anglo-portuguesa, la vanguardia del ejército comandó por William Beresford, chocó con una fuerza francesa comandada por el general de división Marie Victor de Fay, marqués de Latour-Maubourg. Inicialmente exitoso, algunos de los jinetes aliados se entregaron a una temeraria persecución de los franceses. Wikipedia

En las batallas de San Millán y Osma (18 de junio de 1813) dos divisiones del ejército aliado de Arthur Wellesley, el marqués de Wellington se enfrentaron con dos divisiones del rey José Bonaparte y el ejército imperial francés en el noreste de España. En San Millán de San Zadornil, Charles Alten & # x27s Light Division atacó a Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune & # x27s French Division. Wikipedia

Acción de retaguardia que tuvo lugar el 12 de marzo de 1811, durante la retirada de Masséna & # x27s de Portugal, por una división francesa al mando del mariscal Ney contra una fuerza anglo-portuguesa considerablemente mayor al mando de Wellington. Desafiando a los aliados con sólo una o dos divisiones, los 7.000 soldados de Ney & # x27 se enfrentaron a 25.000 hombres. Wikipedia

El conflicto militar que libraron España y Portugal, asistidos por el Reino Unido, contra las fuerzas invasoras y ocupantes de Francia por el control de la Península Ibérica durante las Guerras Napoleónicas. Considerado superposición con la Guerra de Independencia española. Wikipedia

Luchó el 25 de septiembre de 1811 por elementos del ejército anglo-portugués y elementos del ejército francés durante la Guerra de la Independencia. Poco después de la batalla de Fuentes de Oñoro, el ejército francés se retiró de la frontera norte de Portugal, y el duque de Wellington, con tres divisiones del ejército británico y un cuerpo de caballería, bloqueó Ciudad Rodrigo. Wikipedia

Ejército imperial francés al mando del mariscal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult. Publicado en una cresta al norte de la ciudad de Orthez en el sur de Francia y en la propia ciudad. Wikipedia

Compromiso de la Guerra Peninsular que tuvo lugar el 3 de abril de 1811 entre las fuerzas anglo-portuguesas al mando de Arthur Wellesley y las tropas francesas al mando del mariscal André Masséna. La última de muchas escaramuzas entre las fuerzas francesas en retirada de Masséna & # x27 y las de los anglo-portugueses bajo Wellington, que lo perseguían después de la fallida invasión francesa de Portugal en 1810. Wikipedia

Batalla que terminó con la victoria del ejército anglo-portugués comandado por Sir Arthur Wellesley (el futuro primer duque de Wellington) sobre el ejército francés comandado por el mariscal Nicolas Soult durante la segunda invasión francesa de Portugal en la Guerra Peninsular. Al día siguiente, Wellesley condujo a Soult desde Porto en la Segunda Batalla de Porto. Wikipedia

Parte de una maniobra fallida de una fuerza anglo-ibérica para romper el asedio francés de Cádiz durante la Guerra de la Independencia. Durante la batalla, una sola división británica derrotó a dos divisiones francesas y capturó un águila de regimiento. Wikipedia

El ejército imperial francés al mando de Jean François Leval sitió una guarnición anglo-española dirigida por Francisco Copons. A pesar del consejo del coronel británico John Byrne Skerrett de evacuar la ciudad, Copons decidió resistir. Wikipedia

Compromiso de la Guerra Peninsular que tuvo lugar el 15 de marzo de 1811 entre las fuerzas anglo-portuguesas al mando de Arthur Wellesley y las tropas francesas al mando del mariscal Michel Ney. Parte del retiro de Andre Masséna de Portugal en la primavera de 1811. Wikipedia

En la batalla de Villagarcia (también conocida como la batalla de Llerena) el 11 de abril de 1812, la caballería británica comandada por el teniente general Sir Stapleton Cotton derrotó a una fuerza de caballería francesa dirigida por el general de brigada Charles Lallemand en el pueblo de Villagarcia en la Guerra Peninsular. . Separado por varios kilómetros del cuerpo principal del ejército francés, mediante la ejecución simultánea de ataques frontales y de flanco. Wikipedia

En la batalla de García Hernández el 23 de julio de 1812, dos brigadas de caballería anglo-alemana dirigidas por el general de división Eberhardt Otto George von Bock derrotaron a 4.000 infantes franceses dirigidos por el general de división Maximilien Foy. Insólita escaramuza de la Guerra Peninsular, los dragones pesados ​​alemanes lograron la inusual hazaña de romper tres casillas francesas, las de la Línea 6, 69 y 76, derrotando a toda la fuerza francesa con grandes pérdidas. Wikipedia

En la Batalla de Maguilla (11 de junio de 1812) una brigada de caballería británica dirigida por el mayor general John Slade atacó a una brigada de caballería francesa de tamaño similar comandada por el general de brigada Charles Lallemand. Éxito inicial, derrotando a los dragones franceses y capturando a varios de ellos. Wikipedia

En la batalla de Vitoria (21 de junio de 1813) un ejército británico, portugués y español al mando del general marqués de Wellington rompió el ejército francés bajo el rey José Bonaparte y el mariscal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan cerca de Vitoria en España, lo que finalmente condujo a la victoria en la Guerra Peninsular. . En julio de 1812, después de la Batalla de Salamanca, los franceses habían evacuado Madrid, donde el ejército de Wellington entró el 12 de agosto de 1812. Wikipedia

En la batalla de Usagre el 25 de mayo de 1811, la caballería anglo-aliada comandada por el general de división William Lumley derrotó a una fuerza de caballería francesa dirigida por el general de división Marie Victor Latour-Maubourg en el pueblo de Usagre en la Guerra Peninsular. Una semana después de la sangrienta Batalla de Albuera, el mariscal Nicolas Soult envió a Latour-Maubourg & # x27s caballería para descubrir la posición del mariscal William Carr Beresford & # x27s ejército aliado. Wikipedia

La acción de retaguardia luchó como parte de la Guerra de la Independencia el 23 de octubre de 1812 entre una fuerza anglo-alemana dirigida por el general de división Stapleton Cotton contra la caballería francesa al mando de los generales de división Jean-Baptiste Curto y Pierre François Xavier Boyer. Victoria francesa. Wikipedia

El ejército anglo-portugués al mando de Sir Arthur Wellesley derrotó a una división francesa imperial superada en número bajo el mando del general de división Henri François Delaborde, cerca del pueblo de Roliça en Portugal. Los franceses se retiraron en buen estado. Wikipedia

En la batalla del Bidasoa (o la batalla de Larrun) el 7 de octubre de 1813, el ejército aliado de Arthur Wellesley, marqués de Wellington, ganó un punto de apoyo en suelo francés de Nicolas Soult y el ejército francés. Las tropas aliadas invadieron las líneas francesas detrás del río Bidassoa en la costa y a lo largo de la cresta de los Pirineos entre el Bidasoa y La Rhune (Larrun). Wikipedia

El cuerpo imperial francés al mando de Jean-Andoche Junot y las tropas militares españolas invaden el Reino de Portugal, que estaba encabezado por su príncipe regente João de Bragança (Juan de Braganza). La operación militar resultó en la ocupación de Portugal. Wikipedia


Bienvenido a la Royal Irish Virtual Military Gallery, El soldado irlandés del ejército británico

Entregué a un pobre tipo en un peñasco rocoso y sangriento en Tanngoucha. Estaba mirando hacia el lado correcto, la última ronda de un cargador en la recámara y tres alemanes muertos frente a él. Su nombre era Duff. Después de que todo haya terminado, y el resto del Imperio está comprensiblemente irritado con Irlanda, espero que estos innumerables Duffs, tanto del Norte como del Sur, y en los tres servicios, sean recordados.
(Brigadier Nelson Russell, Comandante de la Brigada 38 (irlandesa), 1942-44)


Batalla de Arni

Lugar de la batalla de Arni: En Tamil Nadu, en el sureste de la India.

Combatientes en la batalla de Arni: El Nabob de Arcot, Chunda Sahib, asistido por los franceses contra Mohammed Ali, el hijo del anterior Nabob de Carnatica, asistido por los británicos.

Robert Clive: Batalla de Arni el 3 de diciembre de 1751 en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India (Segunda Guerra Carnática)

Generales en la Batalla de Arni: Raju Sahib, hijo de Chunda Sahib, contra Robert Clive.

Tamaño de los ejércitos en la batalla de Arni: Clive estaba al mando de 200 soldados europeos, 700 cipayos (soldados indios entrenados para luchar como tropas europeas), 600 jinetes Mahratta bajo Bassin Rao y 3 cañones. Raju Sahib comandó 300 tropas francesas, 2500 cipayos entrenados y liderados por franceses, 2000 caballos nativos y 4 cañones.

Ganador de la batalla de Arni: Robert Clive y su fuerza británica, cipay y mahratta.

Uniformes, armas y equipo en la batalla de Arni:
Los soldados indios nativos iban armados con arcos, espadas y lanzas. Había algunas armas de fuego.

Los príncipes indios poseían armas de campaña, pero los artilleros indios no las manejaban bien.

El componente significativo de la guerra en la India en la década de 1750 se convirtió en la disciplinada infantería y artillería francesa y británica. Había pocas de estas tropas y, aunque eficaces en el campo contra las levas nativas, eran susceptibles a las enfermedades y rápidamente se convirtieron en víctimas.

La respuesta de los franceses y los británicos al pequeño número de tropas europeas y su vulnerabilidad a las enfermedades tropicales fue reclutar cipayos nativos, armarlos con mosquetes y entrenarlos en ejercicios de batalla europeos. Esto ambas naciones europeas comenzaron a hacer.

Las tropas y cipayos europeos reclutados por las Compañías de las Indias Orientales de Gran Bretaña y Francia estaban equipados y armados de la misma manera que su infantería nacional. Las armas que portaban eran un mosquete, una bayoneta y una pequeña espada, conocida en el ejército británico como "percha". En campaña, cada soldado llevaba alrededor de 25 rondas de mosquete confeccionadas en cartuchos de papel en una bolsa de cuero colgada de un cinturón al hombro. El uniforme era un abrigo, rojo para los británicos y azul para los franceses, chaleco y sombrero tricornio que se usaba según las exigencias del clima. En algunos casos se usó blanco en lugar de azul o rojo. Los cipayos vestían abrigos más cortos del color de su nación empleadora. El tocado para cipayos era una variante local del tricornio.

Las tropas europeas llevaban medias, polainas y zapatos pesados. Los cipayos vestían ropa nativa en la parte inferior del cuerpo con sandalias o descalzos.

Los relatos contemporáneos de las guerras se refieren a tropas "europeas", en lugar de británicas o francesas. Tanto las compañías británicas como las francesas de las Indias Orientales reclutaron a todos los soldados europeos que estuvieran dispuestos a unirse a sus ejércitos independientemente de su nacionalidad. Si era capturado, era muy probable que un soldado europeo se alistara con su captor en lugar de permanecer en prisión, por lo que las fuerzas británicas contenían franceses junto con soldados de muchas otras nacionalidades europeas con predominio de británicos. Lo mismo ocurre con los franceses.

Soldados indios: Batalla de Arni el 3 de diciembre de 1751 en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India (Segunda Guerra Carnática)

La presencia de las diversas nacionalidades europeas en la India fue inicialmente para el comercio y hubo una renuencia a involucrarse en la recaudación, entrenamiento y pago de grandes cuerpos de tropas, hasta que quedó claro que esto era inevitable si se quería mantener una presencia en la India. . Los franceses y británicos se convirtieron rápidamente en una fuerza importante en la guerra india, particularmente en el sur, debido a su avanzada tecnología y disciplina.

Malleson afirma que la velocidad de disparo de los artilleros indios en la década de 1750 era de alrededor de 1 disparo cada 15 minutos. La velocidad de los disparos en Europa, 2 o 3 disparos por minuto, sorprendió a sus oponentes. Malleson afirma que las tácticas de batalla de los comandantes indios se basaban en la suposición errónea de que una vez que se disparaban los cañones europeos había un período de 15 minutos durante el cual se podía lanzar un ataque mientras se recargaban los cañones. Otras características de las tácticas francesas y británicas que fueron una sorpresa fueron las ráfagas disciplinadas y la agresión de los asaltos de la infantería europea. (En estos primeros días no había caballería europea o caballería cipay en la India y los franceses y británicos dependían de jinetes nativos como los Mahrattas)

La combinación de estas características tácticas con el liderazgo hábil y despiadado mostrado por Robert Clive y otros oficiales británicos y por algunos de los oficiales franceses como M. Paradis explica cómo las batallas fueron ganadas por un pequeño número de tropas europeas y cipayos luchando contra grandes ejércitos nativos.

A medida que los ejércitos cipayos franceses y británicos se hicieron más fuertes, las dos naciones dejaron de luchar como representantes de los gobernantes locales y la lucha entre ellos se volvió directa, aunque las guerras con los gobernantes nativos continuaron siendo el componente más importante de la política del sur de la India, en particular. como los franceses perdieron terreno frente a los británicos.

Una amenaza constante del noroeste de la India eran los Mahrattas, guerreros montados mejor disciplinados, que en las guerras de la década de 1750 actuaron como aliados de los británicos. Más tarde, los británicos llevaron a cabo la guerra contra los Mahrattas.

Los jinetes Mahratta iban armados con sables y estaban acompañados por un número equivalente de soldados de infantería armados con espadas, garrotes o lanzas. Si un caballo quedaba inutilizado, el jinete seguía peleando a pie. Si un jinete quedaba discapacitado, uno de los soldados de infantería se haría cargo del caballo.

Antecedentes de la batalla de Arni:
El poder predominante en el subcontinente indio a mediados del siglo XVIII fue el Emperador Mogul Musulmán en Delhi. El Emperador mantuvo un gobierno flexible sobre un sistema de subgobernantes de diferente poder y lealtad. Estos gobernantes lucharon por la soberanía de varios estados de diferentes tamaños, siendo las contiendas particularmente salvajes cuando un gobernante moría, dejando a la familia y los criados para luchar por la sucesión.

La presencia británica en la India fue a través de la organización comercial, la Compañía de las Indias Orientales, sin participación directa de la Corona británica, aunque las tropas y los barcos reales ayudaron en las guerras. El equivalente francés también era una Compañía de las Indias Orientales, aunque hubo una participación más estrecha de la Corona francesa.

En el sur de la India, los gobernantes nativos de Deccan, Mysore, Carnatica, Tanjore y otros estados acudieron a las dos potencias europeas en competencia, Gran Bretaña y Francia, en busca de ayuda. Las Guerras Carnáticas fueron una lucha prolongada entre los indios rivales que reclamaban el trono Carnatic, apoyados por los franceses y los británicos.

Entre 1748 y 1751, el gobernador francés Dupleix trabajó para aumentar la influencia francesa en el área. La salida de la flota británica de Boscawen hacia Inglaterra en el otoño de 1749 con la llegada del monzón levantó una importante restricción a la ambición francesa y los franceses rápidamente establecieron el control del Deccan, gran parte del Carnatic y otros estados del sur de la India.

En julio de 1751, Chunda Sahib, el Nawab de Arcot, con una fuerza de 8.000 soldados nativos y 400 franceses, avanzó para sitiar el Trichinopoly, en poder de Mohammed Ali, el Nawab de Tanjore, un aliado de la Compañía Británica de las Indias Orientales.

Los británicos apresuraron a las fuerzas que tenían para ayudar a Mohammed Ali a mantener el Trichinopoly. Si el Trichinopoly caía, el prestigio británico sufriría un duro golpe y la mayoría de sus tropas y oficiales se perderían. Asegurar que Trichinopoly resistiera y se sintiera aliviado se convirtió en un objetivo esencial para los británicos.

Robert Clive, un oficial subalterno al servicio de la Compañía de las Indias Orientales, y uno de los pocos oficiales que no están encerrados en Trichinopoly, ideó un plan para desviar a Chunda Sahib atacando su capital, Arcot. Robert Saunders, gobernador de la Compañía de las Indias Orientales en Madrás, adoptó el plan de Clive y lo envió con una pequeña fuerza de tropas británicas y cipayos para el ataque a Arcot.

Clive marchó a Arcot, tomó el fuerte en la ciudad y lo mantuvo contra una fuerza enviada por Chunda Sahib y comandada por su hijo, Raju Sahib. Ver el asedio de Arcot.

Mapa de la batalla de Arni el 3 de diciembre de 1751 en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India (Segunda Guerra Carnática): mapa de John Fawkes

Relato de la batalla de Arni:

El 15 de noviembre de 1751, Raju Sahib abandonó el asedio de Arcot, luego de su fuerte derrota al intentar tomar el fuerte el día anterior, y en vista de la aproximación de una columna de relevo de Madrás al mando del Capitán Kilpatrick con una fuerza de 1,000 Mahratta. jinetes comandados por Morari Rao.

Raju Sahib retiró su ejército a Vellore, al oeste de Arcot. Durante el curso de esta retirada, el ejército se disolvió, dejando a Raju Sahib con su fuerza original de Trichinopoly, todos los demás contingentes partieron hacia sus áreas de origen.

Raju Sahib marchó con su ejército hacia el sur desde Vellore, con la intención de reunirse con su padre en el sitio de Trichinopoly, una ruta que le obligaba a cruzar el río Poondi en Arni. Allí recibió un refuerzo de las tropas europeas que le devolvió la confianza.

Clive dejó una guarnición en el Fuerte Arcot al mando del Capitán Kilpatrick y marchó en persecución de la fuerza de Raju Sahib, alcanzando a Raju Sahib en el enfoque del río Poondi que cruza al norte de Arni.

La fuerza de Clive estaba compuesta por 200 soldados europeos, 700 cipayos y 600 jinetes Mahratta bajo el mando de Bassin Rao, haciendo 1.500 en total, con 3 cañones.

Raju Sahib comandó 300 tropas francesas, 2500 cipayos entrenados y liderados por franceses y 2000 caballos nativos, haciendo 4.800 en total, con 4 cañones.

En vista de su superioridad numérica, Raju Sahib se alejó del cruce del río y avanzó para atacar a la fuerza de Clive.

Clive tomó una posición con los 600 jinetes Mahratta en una arboleda en su flanco izquierdo. Colocó sus 700 cipayos en una aldea en su flanco derecho y sus 200 soldados europeos y 3 cañones en las 300 yardas de terreno abierto entre los dos flancos. Entre la posición de Clive y el río se extendía un área abierta de arrozal pantanoso atravesado por una calzada elevada desde el río hasta el pueblo a su derecha.

Raju Sahib lanzó dos ataques simultáneos contra la fuerza de Clive: sus 4 cañones, 300 infantería francesa y 1.500 cipayos avanzaron a lo largo de la calzada para atacar a los cipayos en la aldea en el flanco derecho de Clive, mientras que sus 4.000 infantes nativos y jinetes con los 1.000 cipayos restantes avanzaron hacia los Mahrattas en la arboleda a la izquierda de Clive.

El gobernador francés Dupleix con las tropas francesas que se encuentran con un príncipe indio: la batalla de Arni el 3 de diciembre de 1751 en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India (Segunda Guerra Carnática)

Mientras la fuerza de Raju Sahib marchaba a lo largo de la calzada, se detuvieron y descargaron salvas de fuego de cañón en la aldea y en el centro de Clive. Esto retrasó su avance de modo que el primer enfrentamiento se produjo en el otro flanco entre las tropas nativas y los cipayos y los jinetes Mahratta en la arboleda.

A medida que avanzaban los hombres de Raju Sahib, los Mahrattas lanzaron carga tras carga, cinco en total, en un intento de repeler el ataque, pero fueron rechazados en cada ocasión por las descargas de los cipayos dirigidos por los franceses.

A la izquierda de Raju Sahib, la fuerza de infantería y cipayos franceses avanzó por la calzada, pero con dificultad creciente, ya que fueron sometidos a un fuerte fuego de enfilada por los 3 cañones en el centro británico. Los hombres de Raju Sahib sufrieron muchas bajas, hasta que el avance se detuvo y sus tropas se derramaron en el arrozal para escapar de los disparos, dejando solo a los artilleros y algunos infantes en la calzada. No fue posible seguir avanzando en el arrozal pantanoso.

Aprovechando este rechazo del ataque de la calzada, Clive envió 2 de sus cañones para ayudar a los Mahrattas en el flanco izquierdo y ordenó un ataque a lo largo de la calzada por los cipayos en la aldea, apoyados por 2 pelotones de tropas europeas enviadas desde el centro.

Este contraataque hizo que los artilleros franceses detuvieran sus cañones y los retiraran por la calzada hacia el río. Al ver esta retirada de sus armas, la infantería de Raju Sahib en el arrozal también comenzó a retirarse, en creciente desorden.

En el flanco derecho de Raju Sahib, las tropas nativas y los cipayos afectados por el fuego de los 2 cañones se trasladaron a la arboleda y, al ver la retirada del resto de la línea, también retrocedieron, perseguidos vigorosamente por los jinetes Mahratta.

Sin necesidad de cubrir más el centro de su línea, Clive llevó el cañón restante y su infantería europea a la aldea y atacó agresivamente a lo largo de la calzada.

Los hombres de Raju Sahib retrocedieron, intentando detenerse en la calzada en tres puntos donde había edificios o chozas. Pero en cada ocasión fueron rechazados y la persecución continuó.

La batalla llegó a su fin al anochecer. El ejército de Raju Sahib cruzó el río y entró en Arni con considerable confusión. Alrededor de la medianoche, el ejército dejó Arni y se dirigió hacia Gingee.

A la mañana siguiente, las tropas de Clive cruzaron el río y se apoderaron de la ciudad. Encontraron muchas tiendas de campaña y una gran cantidad de equipaje abandonado. Los Mahratta persiguieron al ejército en retirada, capturando 400 caballos y alrededor de 100.000 rupias, que representan el cofre de guerra de Raju Sahib, antes de regresar a Arni ese mismo día.

Los británicos reclutaron a unos 600 cipayos franceses, que se rindieron con las armas al servicio de la Compañía Británica de las Indias Orientales.

Clive convocó al fuerte de Arni para que se rindiera con el equipaje de Raju Sahib que quedaba allí. El gobernador envió un elefante, 15 caballos y una cantidad de equipaje. Aceptó prestar juramento de lealtad a Mohammed Ali, el Nawab de Arcot patrocinado por los británicos, pero se negó a entregar el fuerte. Clive no estaba en condiciones de atacar el fuerte, ya que no tenía artillería de asedio.

Guerrero Mughal: Batalla de Arni el 3 de diciembre de 1751 en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India (Segunda Guerra Carnática)

Víctimas en la batalla de Arni: La fuerza de Raju Sahib sufrió 200 muertos y heridos. Los británicos perdieron 8 cipayos. El caballo Mahratta sufrió 50 muertos y heridos. Clive capturó las 4 armas.

Medalla de honor de batalla y campaña:
No se otorgó ningún honor de batalla ni condecoración por la Batalla de Arni.

Seguimiento de la batalla de Arni:
El asedio de Arcot seguido de la batalla de Arni, ambos en 1751, fueron las primeras victorias significativas de los británicos en la India. El comentario del líder Mahratta, Morari Rao, después de estas 2 acciones, fue que "los ingleses pueden luchar.

La reputación que los británicos adquirieron en la India de que solo eran comerciantes e incapaces de llevar a cabo la guerra se disipó. Se estaba iniciando una era de conquista británica en la India.

Referencias de la batalla de Arni:

  • Transacciones militares de Orme
  • El calendario militar de las Indias Orientales Volumen II
  • Las batallas decisivas en la India por Malleson
  • Historia del ejército británico por Fortescue Volume II

La batalla anterior en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India es el asedio de Arcot.

La próxima batalla en las guerras anglo-francesas en la India es la batalla de Kaveripauk.


Tormenta

Con tres grandes huecos en el muro cortina y con el mariscal Soult marchando en ayuda de la ciudad, Wellington ordenó a sus regimientos que asaltaran la ciudad para que a las 22:00 del día 6 las tropas avanzaran con escalas y varias herramientas. Se realizarían tres ataques. Los primeros hombres en asaltar las brechas fueron los hombres de la Esperanza Desamparada, que liderarían el ataque principal de la 4ª División en dos de las brechas. La tercera brecha sería asaltada por la División Ligera de Craufurd mientras que los soldados portugueses y británicos de la 5ª División realizarían ataques de distracción al norte y al este y la 3ª División de Picton [8] asaltaría el Castillo desde el otro lado del río. [6]: 302

Justo cuando el principal Forlorn Hope estaba comenzando su ataque, un centinela francés fue alertado y dio la alarma. En cuestión de segundos, las murallas se llenaron de soldados franceses, que lanzaron una lluvia letal de fuego de mosquete contra las tropas en la base de la brecha. Los británicos y portugueses se lanzaron hacia adelante en masa y corrió hacia la pared, enfrentándose a un aluvión asesino de fuego de mosquete, complementado con granadas, piedras, barriles de pólvora con mechas toscas y fardos de heno ardiendo para proporcionar luz. [6]: 302

El furioso bombardeo devastó a los soldados británicos en el muro y la brecha pronto comenzó a llenarse de muertos y heridos, por los que las tropas asaltantes tuvieron que luchar. La carnicería, los escombros y la pérdida de los oficiales de ingeniería que los guiaban llevaron a la División Ligera de Craufurd a confundirse, asaltando un revellín periférico que no conducía a ninguna parte, las tropas se mezclaron con las de la 4ª División. A pesar de la carnicería, los casacas rojas continuaron avanzando valientemente en gran número, solo para ser derribados por interminables descargas y metralla de granadas y bombas. Los franceses pudieron ver que estaban aguantando el asalto y los británicos se estaban volviendo estupefactos e incapaces de hacer más esfuerzos. [6]: 304 En poco menos de dos horas, unos 2.000 hombres murieron o resultaron gravemente heridos en la brecha principal, mientras que incontables hombres más de la 3.ª División fueron abatidos mientras realizaban su asalto de distracción.

La tercera división de Picton logró llegar a la parte superior de la muralla del castillo, sin el general Picton, quien resultó herido [3] cuando subió una escalera para intentar llegar a la parte superior de la muralla, y se encontró seguro dentro del castillo, pero como todas las puertas en la ciudad estaban bloqueados, no pudieron acudir de inmediato en ayuda de las otras divisiones. [6]: 302

Dondequiera que atacaran, los soldados aliados estaban siendo detenidos y la carnicería era tan inmensa que Wellington estaba a punto de detener el asalto cuando escuchó que los soldados se habían afianzado en el castillo. Ordenó que se volaran las puertas del castillo y luego la 3.ª División debería apoyar los asaltos a las brechas con un ataque de flanco. [6]: 304

La 5ª División, que se había retrasado porque su grupo de escaleras se había perdido, ahora atacó el bastión de San Vicente, perdiendo 600 hombres, finalmente llegaron a la cima del muro cortina. [6]: 304 FitzRoy Somerset, el secretario militar de Wellington (y futuro Lord Raglan), fue el primero en montar la brecha, [9] y luego aseguró una de las puertas para los refuerzos británicos antes de que los franceses pudieran organizar una nueva defensa. .

El destino de la ciudad se selló con el vínculo con los hombres de la 3ª y la 5ª Divisiones, que también estaban entrando en la ciudad. [8] Una vez que se establecieron, los soldados británicos y portugueses tuvieron una ventaja. Al ver que ya no podía aguantar más, el general Philippon se retiró de Badajoz a las afueras de San Cristóbal, sin embargo, se rindió poco después de la caída del pueblo. [10]


Asedio francés de Badajoz y batalla de Gabora - Historia

Cuando 1811 llegó a su fin, los cambios en la disposición de las fuerzas francesas en la Península Ibérica permitieron a Wellington prepararse para moverse contra las ciudades fortaleza de Ciudad Rodrigo y Badajoz que custodiaban las rutas de invasión a España Mariscal Auguste Marmont, cuyo ejército de Portugal tenía su base. A 130 km de distancia de Ciudad Rodrigo en Almaraz, se le había ordenado enviar 10,000 hombres para apoyar el asalto de Suchet contra la ciudad de Valencia controlada por los españoles mientras Napoleón comenzaba a retirar tropas, principalmente del Ejército del Norte del general Jean Dorsenne, en preparación para su invasión. de Rusia.

Wellington comenzó su asedio de Ciudad Rodrigo el 8 de enero de 1812, desesperado por concluir rápidamente el negocio antes de que Marmont o Dorsenne tuvieran la oportunidad de intervenir. Aunque guarnecido por sólo 2.000 hombres bajo el mando del general Barri & # 233, Ciudad Rodrigo estaba bien armada. Cuando estuvo en manos del ejército español, había resistido 25 días de asedio en el verano de 1810 antes de que el general Andrés Herrasti se viera obligado a entregar la ciudad a los franceses.

Izquierda: El monumento al General Herrasti en Ciudad Rodrigo y, detrás, la torre de la Catedral, marcada con virutas.

Its weakness however lay in the proximity of two hills - the Lesser and Greater Tesons - the crests of which are only 200m and 600m distant from the northern angle of the town's walls. The Tesons were obvious locations for siege artillery batteries, and it was from here that the French had blown a breach through the angle of the walls in 1810. After capturing the town, the French had strengthened its defences by constructing a fort - the Reynaud Redoubt - on the Greater Teson it would have to be taken quickly if Wellington's siege was to be successful.

On the night of the 8th, and without any preliminary bombardment, ten companies of the Light Division were led by Lt.-Col. John Colborne to within 50m of the Reynaud Redoubt before they were seen. Supported by superbly accurate covering fire, three companies broke into the redoubt by escalade. Within a matter of minutes, the redoubt was captured at a cost of just 25 casualties. Under heavy fire from the town's walls, work was started immediately on the first siege-trench (first parallel). Construction of a second siege-trench (second parallel) leading on to the Lesser Teson began on the night of the 13th/14th.

At around 4.30pm on the 14th, three batteries (27 guns) opened fire from the Greater Teson against the northern angle of the town's walls. Owing to a shortage of lime, the mortar used by the French to repair the walls was of poor quality, and the stonework soon began to disintegrate under the impact of the artillery rounds. On the 18th, a fourth battery on the first parallel entered action, targetting the tower which stood where the main road now enters the town at dusk, the upper part of the tower collapsed forward. By the 19th, breaches had been made both at the northern angle of the walls (the main breach) and at the site of the tower (the lesser breach). Although the breaches were considered practical, both were steeper than could be considered satisfactory. For Wellington, however, time was at a premium, and he ordered the assault to be made on the evening of the same day.

Above: The Roman bridge over the Agueda with the walls of Ciudad Rodrigo and the castle, now a Parador, beyond. Above: Ciudad Rodrigo as seen from the Greater Teson. The site of the main breach can be seen on the right of the photograph.
Click to enlarge

The main assaults against the two breaches were prefaced by a supporting attack made at the south-west face of the town's walls. Shortly before 7pm, the 2nd Caçadores and the Light Company of the 2/83rd led by Lt.-Col. Bryan O'Toole crossed the Agueda river by the Roman bridge, broke into the castle outworks by escalade and captured the two guns which covered the ground in front of the Puerta de la Colada. With these guns silenced, the 2/5th were able to scale the outer wall using ladders, then clear the French as far as the main breach.

The frontal assault on the main breach was made by the 94th (from Campbell's Brigade) and Mackinnon's Brigade. Having scrambled to the top of the breach under a hail of fire, the head of the column was confronted by an impracticable 5 metre drop onto ground strewn with sharp entanglements. At the same time, grapeshot ripped through the column from two 24-pounder guns mounted either side of the breach and protected by ditches. The only way forward was to take the guns on directly. On the left side of the breach, men of the 1/88th abandoned their muskets to claw their way across the ditch and up to the gun which they took at bayonet-point. Moving through them, the 2/5th gained a foothold on the ramparts. Across the breach, the 1/45th were able to use abandoned planks to cross the ditch and, braving intense fire, succeeded in capturing the second gun. As the defences gave way, the French detonated a large mine directly under the main breach Maj.-Gen. Henry Mackinnon was amongst those killed by the blast.

At the lesser breach, the Light Division had also broken through, though it was an assault that cost the life of Maj.-Gen. Robert Crauford, fatally wounded at the top of the breach. Elsewhere, the town's defences had been penetrated by detachments under O'Toole and Pack. Resistance rapidly crumbled. The plundering and destruction that followed - regrettable as it was - was largely quelled long before dawn.

British and Portuguese casualties from the start of the siege totalled 1,121 killed, wounded and missing of which 562 were accounted for during the storm itself. French casualties totalled around 530 killed or wounded - mostly in the assault - with a further 1,360 unwounded taken prisoner.

Wellington now turned his attention towards Badajoz.

We were fortunate to stay at the Parador - the former Castle - and more fortunate still to be given one of the rooms from which - as Weller wrote - "one can toss an orange onto the exact position of the two guns taken by O'Toole."

Starting from the west side of the Parador, walk in a clockwise direction along the top of the inner ramparts. Approaching the site of the main breach at the north-west corner of the town, there are views towards the sites of the British artillery batteries on the Lesser and Greater Tesons. At the site of the main breach, wide steps lead down past a statue of the guerilla leader Julian Sanchez to the Pl. de Herrasti and the Cathedral. The memorial in the little square commemorates General Herrasti who led the Spanish garrison's valiant - if ultimately unsuccessful - resistance to the French siege of 1810. The side of the Cathedral facing the breach is heavily pot-marked from shell fire. After passing the Cathedral, turn left as if to leave town by the gate Puerta de Amayuelas then turn right into the C. de los Cáceres to see the Palacio de Los Castro where Wellington stayed after the battle. Return to see the plaque to Crauford on the inner wall to the west of the gate. This is the site of the lesser breach. The Tourist Information office is close by.

Left: The entrance to the Palacio de Los Castro.
Above: Detail of the plaque commemorating Maj.-Gen. Robert Crauford.

Pass through the gate and turn immediately left to walk between the inner and outer ramparts. The site of the main breach is very obvious from this vantage point. Continue as far as the parking area outside the Puerta de Sancti-Spiritus. You can return to the Parador from here by passing through the gate and taking the steps to the right. The more intrepid can walk to the Tesons from here. Leave the parking area by the road, then immediately take the path to the right leading downhill. At the main road, cross into the apartment block complex that now stands on the Lesser Teson. Walk straight through the complex towards the ridge on the far side, the Greater Teson. Behind the complex, look forward and to the right to find a recognized crossing point of the railway. Cross the railway here - do take care - and you are on the Greater Teson with fine views over to the main breach from further uphill. Please also take care not to disturb the farmer's crops in this area.

"A History of the Peninsular War, Volume V" by Sir Charles Oman, published by Greenhill Books 1996, ISBN 1853672254.

"Wellington's Peninsular War" by Julian Paget, published by Pen & Sword 1992, ISBN 0850526035.

"Wellington in the Peninsula 1808-1814" by Jac Weller, published by Greenhill Books 1999, ISBN 1853673811.

"Peninsular Sketches by Actors on the Scene" edited by W. H. Maxwell, Volume One, published by The Naval & Military Press 2002.


Battle Honour 'BADAJOZ'

The Battle Honour BADAJOZ is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.

Both the 3rd (Young) Inniskillings and the 2/83rd took part in the third siege of Badajoz, one of three fortresses from which the French derived great strength in blocking Wellington's advance into Spain. Wellington realised that to continue his successes against the French he would have to capture Badajoz, this his third attempt. The siege opened on 17 March 1812 when his troops began digging trenches against an outlying fort, La Picurina, which was a key feature. The assault against this fort occurred on 24 March 1812 included in the storming party were two officers and 50 other ranks from the 2/83rd.

This operation having succeeded, Wellington's siege artillery began breaching the walls. The main assault on Badajoz took place on the night 6-7 April 1812. Whereas the 4th Division, which included the Young Inniskillings, attacked the breaches, the 3rd Division, with 2/83rd, attacked the Castle.

Although the French repulsed all British attempts to penetrate the breaches, the 3rd Division scaled successfully the Castle's walls, and having captured that strong point, outflanked the main French defences close to the breaches.

Thus fell Badajoz but the losses were severe. The Young Inniskillings had suffered particularly heavy casualties while attempting to storm the breaches on the night of 6-7 April four officers and 37 other ranks killed while the 2/83rd suffered one officer and 22 other ranks killed.

The following day the storming of the town was one of the most infamous in the history of many corps and regiments of the British army soldiers broke into the town's brandy store and thereafter followed a dreadful rampage of pillage, arson and drunkenness. Despite this orgy of destruction, which was excessive when judged by the standards of the time, both Regiments were included in the award of the Battle Honour BADAJOZ to twenty-three British infantry regiments.

You can read the story of Sergeant Hazelhurst of the 2/83rd at Badajoz by clicking on the account of his fighting at the siege of Badajoz. Sergeant Hazelhurst's Military Service Medal with its twelve battle clasps (right) for actions in the Peninsular War, including BADAJOZ is in the Collection of The Royal Ulster Rifles.


French Atrocities in the Peninsular War.

A difficult topic, but one that is often ‘dismissed’ by Francophile historians as too common, was the French Army’s behaviour towards the civilian population when it invaded a country. Here the focus is on Spain & Portugal, though there were cases in many other invasions, Napoleon had already encouraged his troops to loot and kill after sieges in Italy and after the siege of Jaffa he ordered thousands of captive civilians killed at bayonet point (in order to save ammunition) For examples in Russia see: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v31/n23/geoffrey-hosking/peasants-in-arms)

This is not to say that the British Army behaved angelically, though allied and invited to liberate Portugal & Spain from Napoleon’s aggressive expansionism. The retreat to Corunna in 1809 ‘remains a dark chapter in the history of the British army’ (Charles Esdaile), and the sacking of Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz and San Sebastian were abysmal incidents, which caused Wellington to fly into a rage and order the hanging of perpetrators on the spot. The differential factor is that the French were ordered to use the murder (and worse) and fear as a weapon as well as individual crimes and on the whole the British Army at least tried to convict those caught and Wellington was clear on harsh punishments for any crimes committed on their allies.

In the Autumn of 1807 Napoleon ordered General Jean-Andoche Junot along with over 24,000 men to invade the neutral nation of Portugal, to end it’s trade with Britain, which it refused to cease (this was an alliance with Britain which dated back to the the 14th Century). No military resistance was offered (The only resistance was offered by the governor of Valenca, who refused to open his gates to the northern column. He only caved in when he found that Lisbon had fallen and the Royal family had already fled to Brazil)

Junot was instructed to seize the property of the 15,000 persons who had fled to Brazil and to levy a 100 million Franc fine on the nation. As it happened, the refugees had carried off almost half of the specie in Portugal and the French were barely able to raise enough money to maintain the occupation army. Nevertheless, the harsh taxes caused bitter resentment among the population. By January 1808 there were open executions of civilians who resisted the heavy handed demands of the French. Meanwhile in Spain, King Charles IV, France’s supposed ally, was forced to abdicate in favour of his son, all of whom were held captive in Bayonne. The remaining children of the royal family were then forcibly ordered to join their parents in France. This led to a spontaneous uprising in Madrid The Dos de Mayo. What followed was street fighting in different areas of Madrid as the poorly armed population confronted the occupying French troops. There were only a few Spanish military leaders involved, most of whom had been planning a campaign away from the capital and were caught unawares. The uprising was brutally put down by French Troops, street by street, famously having to storm a Spanish artillery barracks which was bravely defended.

The repression following the crushing of the initial rebellion was harsh. A special military commission was created on the evening of 2 May to be presided over by General Grouchy. This commission issued death sentences to all of those captured who were bearing weapons of any kind. In a statement issued that day Murat said: “The population of Madrid, led astray, has given itself to revolt and murder. French blood has flowed. It demands vengeance. All those arrested in the uprising, arms in hand, will be shot.”

These initial executions against cooperation, as in Portugal, or reprisal killings, as in Spain formed a pattern for the French behaviour during the Peninsular War that followed.

As the Spanish uprisings became open revolt against their invaders and evolved into successful Guerrilla War, elements to liberate their nation, the French Army used murder and fear as a weapon, under orders and spontaneously alike.

There is far less detail given in French memoirs, on how they carried out orders to sack villages and spare no one (sometimes enthusiastically as the loot provided a chance for the soldiers to gain great valuables). Joseph de Naylies, a French officer (who later because a Captain in the Eclaireurs of the Imperial Guard) wrote, “we entered the town… which was immediately pillaged and reduced to ash… We burnt [it down] and killed everyone we found there”

Maurice de Tascher, another French officer, but who was related to the Empress Josephine wrote a more harrowing account of the sacking of Cordoba 30th June 1808:

“The Cathedral and the sacred lives within were not spared, which made the Spanish look upon us in horror, saying out loud that they would prefer we violated their women than their churches. We did both. The convents had to suffer all that debauchery has invented and the outrages of the soldier given up to himself”

The Duke of Wellington wrote of the murder, thefts and worse: “The British people, I’m certain, wouldn’t believe the indecent behaviours of the French after their retreat. I have never seen, nor heard, nor read of such behaviour and am convinced their actions have no equal in world history. You will hear several shocking recounts which should be told to the world at large. They killed all the countryfolk they found. Every day, we found the bodies of women, young and old, who were either stabbed, or shot. Since we were near Condexia, they regularly sent patrols to fetch all girls over the age of 10 to the camp to satisfy the soldiery… Every child we met was in tears, mourning the death of a parent. The houses were systematically burned … They dug up and looted the graves. Two days ago, one of our patrols entered a village where they found 36 corpses, most of whom were in their beds…”

It’s worth noting that the British public and Parliament were already well motivated against Napoleon as a threat towards Britain. The fear of invasion was tangible, especially in London and along the South coast. Wellington was not prone to exaggeration, nor did he often write graphic descriptions of the war he witnessed (for example the aftermath of Waterloo so deeply upset him, that he refused to talk about it), so we can presume his writing is factual.


In the first ever special episode of Rex Factor, we had an in-depth look at the Battle of Waterloo in which Napoleon’s French army took on Wellington (Anglo-Allies) and Blucher (Prussia – a German kingdom containing parts of modern-day Germany, Poland, Russia and other countries). We look at the three men responsible for leading their armies into battle on 18 June 1815, their characters, how they got to Waterloo and then finally the epic battle itself. To find out more and to listen to a free preview of the episode (as well as how to purchase the whole thing) read on.

Backgroundy Stuff

Napoleon was born on 15/08/1769, and unusually for one of the most famous and renowned Frenchmen in history, he was actually Corsican! The island was taken over by the French and initially Napoleon was very much the Corsican nationalist, bemoaning the presence of the French on his island. He was also not as short as is often implied (not least by British cartoons of the time) – the 5𔈀 often listed refers to a contemporary French measurement which would actually translate to 5𔈄 in the UK – not exactly basketball height, but about average for the time. Nevertheless, he was instantly recognisable by his bicorne hat, as well as tending to wear a simple green colonel uniform in a bid to cultivate the image of an approachable leader. He was a remarkable individual – incredibly driven and ambitious, inspiring an almost messianic status among his troops and a master of propaganda. His rival, the Duke of Wellington, noted that “His presence on the battlefield made the difference of 40,000 men.”

The French Revolution of 1789 was the making of Napoleon, wherein the French Bourbon monarchy was overthrown and replaced with a republic. After initially fighting against French forces in Corsica, Napoleon joined the revolution (now under siege from the other European powers), first winning acclaim in 1793 in the siege of Toulon, recpaturing the port from Britain. He then led a remarkably successful campaign in Italy before conducting a fascinating campaign in Egypt which made him a national hero in France despite a mixed record. When he returned to Paris in 1800, another coup saw the latest regime overthrown and Napoleon manipulated the chaos to have himself created First Consul and later Emperor. Over the next decade, he oversaw extensive domestic reforms with his Napoleonic Code whilst simultaneously defeating successive coalitions of the great powers of Europe (the Ulm Campaign and Wagram against Austria, Austerlitz against Russia, Jena-Auerstedt against Prussia), marched into Madrid and in 1810 marrying Princess Marie-Louise of Austria, producing a son who was named King of Rome (the Pope having been sent packing!) At this point, Napoleon seemed unstoppable.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Wellington was born on 01/05/1769 – just a few months before his nemesis, Napoleon. Also like Napoleon, Wellington was born on an island rather than the mainland, in his case in Dublin, Ireland (which was, at this time, part of the United Kingdom). Wellington was taller than Napoleon at 5𔈇, with a long face and an aquiline nose (for which he was nicknamed Old Nosey!) Like Napoleon, he wore simple but recognisable clothes in battle – a black cocked hat, a dark tunic with white trousers and his famous boots that inspired the humble Wellington Boot (or welly). Rather than reserved in style, Wellington was noted for his discipline and organisation – respected by his men rather than loved, but his composure in the heat of battle provided confidence at critical moments.

While Napoleon enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame and glory, Wellington was something of a slow starter. His time at Eton was entirely unremarkable (he is thus very unlikely ever to have said that “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”) and his mother fretted that “I don’t know what I shall do with my awkward son Arthur”. His army career was going nowhere and his only apparent ability was in music, but he determined to change his ways after his proposal to Kitty Pakenham was rejected by her family. He burnt his violins and determined to make a success of his army career. It was in India that Wellington first made his name, playing a vital role in extending British rule (via the East India Company) from 1798-1805. He had been a sickly and shy young man but emerged from India physically robust and totally assured of himself. He was almost sent to America until being diverted to Portugal and Spain in what became known as the Peninsula Wars. Wellington secured Portugal in 1809 and slowly progressed into Spain, with 1812 seeing the capture of the fort of Badajoz and then a brilliant victory at Salamanca resulting in the liberation of Madrid. Napoleon had a worthy adversary.

Gerbhard Leberecht von Blucher

Blucher was the eldest of the three commanders – born on 16/12/1742, he was the oldest man at Waterloo at the ripe old age of 72. Like his companions, he was technically born in a foreign territory (Rostock in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) and initially fought for Sweden against Prussia until he was captured and switched sides. Blucher was most notable for his magnificent moustache and was often seen with a pipe in his mouth, but unlike Napoleon and Wellington showed little concern for his appearance. Instead, with his limited formal education and love of war, gambling and drinking, he had a much more natural rapport with his soldiers and became a very popular figure in Europe. While Napoleon and Wellington were acclaimed as strategists, Blucher’s style was much more direct, preferring to lead (and fight) from the front (he was nicknamed Marshal Forwards by the Russians for his customary war-cry “Vorwarts!”), launching into cavalry charges with little concern for how this might fit into the wider context of the battle. As Wellington remarked, “whenever there was any question of fighting, always ready and eager – if anything, too eager.”

Blucher joined the (Swedish) army at just 16 during the Seven Years War. Although a natural soldier, his career stalled under Frederick the Great in Prussia due to various excesses such as gambling, drinking, womanizing, engaging in (illegal) duels, trading in stolen horses and conducting the mock execution of a priest. After Frederick’s death in 1786, Blucher was quickly promoted and became a leading figure at court advocating war against France whilst Prussia remained a neutral country. Unfortunately, when war did come, it did not go well for Prussia or Blucher. He was present at the defeat at Auerstedt and his impatience proved costly when he decided to lead a cavalry attack without waiting for reinforcements. He provided an impressive rearguard action to cover the Prussian defeat but was captured by the French, resulting in a meeting with Napeolon in which he found himself rather charmed by his great enemy. He was soon released in a prisoner exchange but despaired at Prussia’s subjection, with much of its territory occupied. He slipped into alcoholism and paranoia, believing at one point that the French had bribed his servants to heat his floors so as to make him burn his feet!

Napoleon’s First Defeat

While Napoleon’s position in 1810 seemed strong, he was in fact dangerously close to overstretching himself. This danger became a stark reality when he invaded Russia in 1812. Having raised a huge army of c. 450,000 men (most of whom were foreign born) he hoped for a quick victory that forced Russia to terms. Instead, the Russians avoided the fight, dragging Napoleon deeper and deeper into the country, stretching the supply lines to the limit as winter approached. After a brutal battle at Borodino, France occupied Moscow but were forced to retreat in a horrific winter, resulting in only 40,000 men making it back.

Napoleon’s expansion was halted by Russia in 1812

Heartened by Napoleon’s misfortune, a sixth coalition of the major powers was formed, the most cohesive and organised yet established. Wellington led his troops through the mountains, winning a decisive victory against the French at Vitoria before pushing into southern France. Meanwhile, the other European allies (including some forces led by Blucher) defeated Napoleon at Leipzig in the biggest battle of the period (over 600,000 soldiers took part across two days) and gradually forced him back into France. Napoleon won successive victories in France during February 1814 but Paris surrendered in March, the army leaders turned against him and he was forced to abdicate and exiled to the island of Elba. Finally, the menace of Europe was defeated, but the victory would prove short-lived. Elba proved to be an incredibly bad choice for containing Napoleon, particularly as he was provided with a small army and a navy! While the allied leaders were distracted at the Congress of Vienna, in February 1815 Napoleon sailed to France, won back the support of the army and marched back into Paris.

Napoleon escapes from Elba

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The Waterloo Campaign

The allied leaders at Vienna determined to remove Napoleon as soon as possible, with Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia each pledging to mobilise 150,000 men to stop him. Realistically, however, it would be Britain and Prussia who would face him Napoleon first. Together, they outnumbered Napoleon, with around 93,000 troops under Wellington and 117,000 under Blucher facing 124,000 for Napoleon. However, Napoleon’s army was larger than Wellington’s or Blucher’s alone and so his tactics were to keep the two armies apart, defeating one and then the other before the Austrians and the Russians could arrive.

A map detailing the movements of the three armies from 15-18 June

Napoleon continued to hoodwink his rivals, leaving France much earlier than Wellington or Blucher expected. While their troops were spread across modern-day Belgium (unsure by what means he would attempt to travel), Napoleon marched towards Charleroi on 15 June, looking to capture a crossroads at Quatre Bras which would separate Wellington from Blucher (based on Ligny). When Wellington was told of Napoleon’s of advance at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels, he exclaimed “Napoleon has humbugged me, by God! He has gained twenty-four hours march on me!”

From this point on, however, Napoleon and the French made crucial mistakes and missed big opportunities to press home their advantage. Napoleon planned to focus his main effort on defeating Blucher at Ligny, leaving Marshal Ney to capture Quatre Bras and then coming down the road to outflank Blucher and deliver a knock-out blow. Instead, Ney delayed his attack when he had numerical advantage, fearing that Wellington was repeating his Peninsula tactics of concealing his troops. Consequently, when he finally did attack, Wellington had arrived in number and was able to fight out a stalemate. Napoleon was victorious at Ligny but failed to deliver a knock-out blow, not least because 20,000 men under Count d’Erlon spent the whole day marching between the two battles – initially sent to support Ney, Napoleon ordered him to come to Ligny only for Ney to demand him at Quatre Bras!

The position of the forces on 16 June for the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras

Still, on 17 June the allied position was still very tenuous. Blucher had fallen from his horse whilst leading a cavalry charge and had been trapped for hours until it was safe to retreat. The Prussians retreated north to Wavre and so Wellington (to maintain contact) retreated to a ridge at Mont St Jean, near the village of Waterloo. Had Napoleon launched early assaults on the two armies, perhaps they would have been broken (or at least permanently separated). Instead, he spent the morning writing letters and observing the Ligny battlefield and then sent 30,000 troops under Marshal Grouchy to pursue the Prussians far too late to prevent their retreat (or indeed to really know where they were!) Meanwhile, Blucher recovered from his wounds by liberally applying brandy (both to his wounds and to his stomach!) and against the advice of his chief of staff, sent a message to Wellington pledging that he would join him in the event of Napoleon attacking. Wellington now knew that when Napoleon attacked the following day, Blucher would come to his aid. Crucially, Napoleon did not.

The Battle of Waterloo

Wellington had chosen an excellent position, blocking the main road to Brussels. He was positioned on a ridge, concealing the bulk of his forces, whilst ahead of him the ridge was flanked by three farms garrisoned with troops and protected by walls – Hougoumont to the east, La Haye Sainte in the centre and Papelotte to the west. Napoleon would therefore have to attack uphill, unable to see the troops beyond the ridge and unable to engage in flanking manoeuvres without first capturing the farmsteads. This was made much more difficult by a night of torrential rain, making the ground muddy and difficult to traverse for troops and artillery. Despite this, Napoleon was confident before battle, convinced that Blucher could not possibly play a role and declaring that “this will be a picnic”.

The battlefield of Waterloo

Because of the rain, Napoleon delayed attacking until around 11:00 to 11:30, waiting for the ground to dry. This two hour delay was crucial as it gave Blucher and the Prussians more time to arrive to the battle. Napoleon’s plan was to launch a diversionary attack on Hougoumont in order to draw out Wellington’s reserves, before then launching a heavy artillery and infantry attack on his centre, which he hoped to capture and then split the army in two whilst capturing control of the road. Unfortunately, his brother, Jerome, decided to prove his worth by actually capturing Hougoumont, resulting in thousands and thousands of French troops being dragged in all day in an attempt to capture the farm. It nearly fell at 12:30 when a large Frenchman with an axe led 30 men inside, but thankfully the gates were closed and the invaders killed (save a young French drummer boy).

The closing of the gates at Hougoumont

The first proper attack was led by d’Erlon (keen to make amends for his no-show at Ligny/Quatre Bras), with around 14K troops marching up the ridge at Wellington’s centre. Despite some dubious formations by d’Erlon, the attack threatened to overawe the British troops, which could have been a fatal early blow, but at the crucial moment the British cavalry led by Lord Uxbridge charged into d’Erlon’s lines and inflicted heavy casualties. Unfortunately, the British cavalry lacked the discipline to return to their lines and pursued the French troops until they themselves were charged by the French cavalry and also suffered heavy losses.

The charge of the Scots Greys against d’Erlon

At about 16:00, Ney launched a cavalry attack at Wellington’s centre hoping to take advantage of what he thought was a mass of troops retreating. In fact, the retreating troops were wounded soldiers and his spur-of-the-moment attack (without sufficient infantry or artillery support) was a costly failure. Wave upon wave of French charges failed to break the ‘square’ formation of the British infantry, whereby two ranks of troops formed a wall of steel with their bayonets while behind them soldiers shot at the French. The British were well enough trained (and indeed led, with Wellington himself at times giving the orders) that they did not buckle and Ney was unable to make a breakthrough.

Meanwhile, Blucher and the Prussians were making their way to the battle. Although Napoleon had effectively given them a two hour headstart by delaying his attack at Waterloo, the Prussians were also hampered by the mud. The route from Wavre was on winding and muddy country roads and a fire at a bakery in Wavre delayed their advance as they were unable to get passed until the fire was out for fear it would blow up their ammunition carriages! However, Blucher inspired his troops and from 15:00, the Prussians started to arrive at Waterloo. Napoleon was hoping that he would see Grouchy emerging instead, but he had rejected the pleas of his subordinates to head towards the sound of the French Grand Battery and instead followed his orders to the letter, pursuing the Prussians to Wavre where he fought a pointless battle against their rearguard. His 30,000 men and 96 guns would be sorely missed at Waterloo.

The situation was now looking rather perilous for Napoleon. The Prussians arrived in force from 16:30 and began a battle for the village of Plancenoit, situated near the French back lines and threatening the splitting of his forces. However, Wellington was yet to feel the benefit of the Prussians arriving and his centre was struggling under heavy attacks. At about 18:15, Ney succeeded in capturing the central farmstead of La Haye Sainte, allowing unrestricted attacks on Wellington’s centre. Ney made a call for reinforcements to launch a potential knock-out blow but Napoleon refused to send in the Imperial Guard (his elite veteran troops). This was, perhaps, a last missed opportunity, but in reality the French were involved in heavy fighting across the battlefield. Napoleon was forced to send in all 8 battalions of the Young Guard to relieve Plancenoit and then 2 battalions of the Old Guard to recapture it as growing Prussian forces fought back.

The Prussians attack Plancenoit

At this point, with the Prussians increasing in number, the sensible decision would have been for Napoleon to retreat, regroup and hope to link up with Grouchy and other French forces to fight another day. Instead, he gambled and sent in the rest of the Imperial Guard to break Wellington’s centre. Under heavy fire, they made it up the ridge but unknown to them there were various regiments hiding in the long grass for protection from artillery. When they marched close enough, Wellington gave the order “Up guards, ready!” and they launched a devastating volley of fire into the Guard and forcing their retreat. The sight of the previously invincible Imperial Guard in retreat was the final straw and the French fell into panic. Wellington, sensing the moment, muttered “Oh damn it! In for a penny, in for a pound!” before waving his hat three times to signal a general advance across the battlefield. Napoleon had been defeated for the last time.

The Aftermath

Wellington and Blucher met and embraced at the appropriately named La Belle Alliance, an inn down the centre of the ridge. Blucher hoped that this would be the name of the battle but Wellington, aware that this would not trip easily off the English tongue, insisted on Waterloo. Blucher and the Prussians led the pursuit of Napoleon into Paris, where he abdicated almost a week later, leading to the restoration of Louis XVIII. Napoleon attempted to escape to America but found British ships blocking all the ports. Aware that the Prussians would probably have him executed, he surrendered to the British and hoped to live out his retirement as an English country gentleman but was instead sent into a second exile, this time on the remote island of Saint Helena. This time, he would not escape and the Napoleonic Wars were finally at an end.

However, they came at a great cost, with Waterloo a brutal and horrifying battle for those who were involved. The Prussians suffered casualties of around 7,000 compared to 17,000 for the Anglo-Allies and 41,000 for the French (around 65,000 in all). Soon after the battle, Belgian peasants looted the dead and wounded, taking their valuables which included their teeth (sold for years afterwards as “Waterloo Ivory” and highly valued as good quality replacement teeth). Wellington showed unusual emotion after the battle, having lost many of his friends and officers, and wrote afterwards that “I hope to God I have fought my last battle…I always say that, next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”

After Waterloo, Blucher spent some time sulking in Paris, grumpy that Napoleon was not to be exiled and the French not more severely punished. However, he was cheered by the crowds of London when he visited soon afterwards and when he died in 1819 at 76 years old, he was the most decorated soldier in Prussian-German history (Hindenburg would later equal him). Napoleon never escaped Saint Helena, which situated 2,500 miles from Brazil and 1,000 miles from Namibia is about as remote a place as he could have been placed. He spent his final days complaining about his shoddy accommodation and writing his memoirs, before dying of stomach cancer (despite rumours of poisoning) in 1821 at 51 years old. Initially he was buried on the island but in 1840 he was returned to France and given a state funeral and since 1861 has been buried under an elaborate tomb under the dome at Les Invalides. Blucher’s remains were less fortunate, being dug up by Soviet soldiers in 1945 and scattered, with his skull allegedly used as a football.

Napoleon, permanently exiled on Saint Helena

Wellington, however, had a rather more protracted career after Waterloo. In 1828, he became Prime Minister and oversaw Catholic Emancipation, liberalising draconian laws against Catholics in the UK. He became an unpopular figure for a time, particular when opposing the Great Reform Act of 1832 during which time his windows were smashed by protesters, leading to him putting up iron shutters and giving him the nickname The Iron Duke. However, he became an esteemed elder statesman in the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign and when he died in 1852 (aged 83) he was given a state funeral and buried next to Lord Nelson (Britain’s naval hero of Trafalgar) in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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