May 052017

Winchesters link to the Napoleonic Wars

Although there was never ever a battle fought in Winchester itself during the Napoleonic wars period, from 1799 until 1815;  But the part that this great historical city played, (also the Crimean war from October 1853 to February 1856, WWI from July 28th  1914 to 11th November 1918 and WWII from September 1939 to September 1945 then up-to and including present day conflicts Surly Deserves Remembering…

From 1796 to 1856: Peninsula Barracks in Winchester housed 3,000 troops during the Napoleonic Wars and numerous regiments temporarily between 1815 and 1856, including the 43rd Light Infantry and the 60th Rifles (King’s Royal Rifle Corps).

The 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army. It was raised as ”Thomas Fowke’s Regiment of Foot” in 1741 with its headquarters at Winchester. The regiment was numbered 54th Foot until 1748 when it became the 43rd Foot. In 1881 it amalgamated with the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), to form the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry which in 1908 became the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry]

The 43rd Regiment of Foot sailed for North America in May 1757 arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia the following month to defend the British North American Colonies during the Seven Year’s War against France. The regiment had spent almost two years on garrison duties when in 1759 as part of General Wolfe’s force it took part in the capture of Quebec gaining its first battle honour. The next campaign was in the West Indies in 1762 where the 43rd took part in the capture of Martinique and St Lucia from the French and Havanna, Cuba from the Spanish. The regiment returned to North America in 1774 and remained there throughout the American War of Independence. The 43rd were joined by the 52nd at Boston and the two regiments fought side by side at Lexington and at Bunker Hill. The 43rd were at Siege of Yorktown during the final siege and surrender in 1781.

The 43rd became the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment in 1782. The regiment returned to the West Indies in 1794 to capture for the second time Martinique and St Lucia which following the peace treaty of 1763 had been returned to France. They were defeated at Guadaloupe in 1794 by a much larger French force after defending their position for three months.

In 1803, the 43rd, the 52nd and the 95th Rifles became the first Corps of Light Infantry and formed the Light Brigade at Shorncliffe, Kent under the command of Sir John Moore. The regiment was re-titled as the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Light Infantry. The 43rd was part of a force led by Sir Arthur Wellesley which in 1807 captured Battle of Copenhagen and the entire Danish fleet.

In August 1808 during the Peninsular War the 43rd fought in the Battle of Vimeiro which drove Napoleon’s forces out of Portugal. The campaign against the French then moved to Spain where in January 1809 the regiment took part in the retreat to Vigo and Battle of Corunna achieving fame as part of the rearguard to the army before returning to England. In May 1809 the 1st battalion of the 43rd as part of Sir Robert Craufurd’s Light Brigade sailed for Portugal to join Sir Arthur Wellesley’s army. On landing at Lisbon the 43rd moved to Spain to support Wellesley’s forces there. The battalion’s march of 250 miles from Lisbon to [[Battle of Talavera|Talavera]] included a march of fifty-two miles in twenty-six hours in the hottest season of the year. The battle of Talavera had been won before the battalion arrived however a company of the 43rd which had been at Lisbon from December 1808 fought in the battle as part of General Richard Stewart’s brigade. In 1810 the 43rd formed part of the Light Division under the command of Sir Robert Craufurd. The 43rd fought in the battles of the crossing of the Battle of the Côa, Battle of Sabugal and Battle of Bussaco. The 43rd took part in the assault on the fortress of Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812 and at the Siege of Badajoz in April 1812 when storming the breach the 43rd lost 20 officers and 335 men. Following the end of the Peninsular War in 1814 the Light Division was disbanded and the 43rd returned to England.

The 2nd battalion of the 43rd was part of the expedition to Walcheren in 1809 where many troops lost their lives to fever in the Scheldt marshes.

The 43rd returned to America in 1814 as part of an expeditionary force which initially had some success but was defeated during the Battle of New Orleans by the forces of General Jackson in 1815. The regiment then returned to Europe. The 43rd arrived in Belgium too late to fight in the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. There were however a number of 43rd officers present during the battle including Lord Fitzroy Somerset and Major James Shaw Kennedy who both served on the Duke of Wellington’s staff. The regiment formed part of the army of occupation in France until November 1818.

The King`s Royal Rifle Corps
During the Napoleonic Wars the regiment saw action in the Peninsula War. The first four battalions had been raised as regular line battalions, but in 1797 a 5th battalion had been raised and equipped entirely with the Baker rifles, and wore green jackets with red facings. The mixing of rifle troops and muskets proved so effective that eventually the line battalion light companies were replaced with rifle companies. The line battalions found themselves in several different theatres, including the West indies. The rifle battalion was soon joined by a second, and these found themselves in the Peninsula with Wellington’s army, serving along with the 95th Rifles, and the Kings German Legion rifle units

95th Rifles

Four months after its formation the Rifle Corps was judged ready for its first operation. On 25th August 1800, three companies, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William Stewart, spearheaded a British amphibious landing at Ferrol, Spain, where the Rifles helped to dislodge the Spanish defenders on the heights. Despite the Rifles acting in a valiant manner the expedition was defeated and withdrew on 26th August. In 1801, detachments of the Rifle Corps took part in the British victory at the Battle of Copenhagen, as marksmen aboard Royal Navy ships which were under the command of the legendary Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson

The 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot was a Light Infantry regiment of the British Army throughout much of the 18th and 19th centuries. The regiment first saw active service during the American War of Independence, and were posted to India during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. During the Napoleonic Wars, the 52nd were part of the Light Division, and were present at most of the major battles of the Peninsula campaign, becoming one of the most celebrated regiments, described by Sir William Napier as “a regiment never surpassed in arms since arms were first borne by men”. They had the largest British battalion at Waterloo, 1815, where they formed part of the final charge against Napoleon’s Imperial Guard.

The Peninsula War was a military conflict between France and the allied powers of  Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its ally, Spain. The war lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814.

The conflict is regarded by some historians as one of the first national wars and is also significant for the emergence of large scale guerrilla warfere (guerrilla means “little war” in Spanish, from which the English language borrowed the word). The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. In 1810, a reconstituted national government fortified itself in Cadiz and proved unable to recruit, train, or equip effective armies due to being under siege. British and Portuguese forces secured Portugal, using it as a secure position from which to launch campaigns against the French army while Spanish guerrilleros bled the occupiers. Combined, the regular and irregular allied forces prevented Napoleon’s marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces. To the Spanish the war is known as the Guerra de la Independencia Española, or Spanish war of Independence, but this name is not often used in English, as Spain had been independent for a long time before the French invasion.

The many years of fighting in Spain gradually wore down France’s famous Grande Armee. While the French armies were often victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units frequently cut off, harassed, or overwhelmed by the partisans. The Spanish armies, though repeatedly beaten and driven to the peripheries, could not be stamped out and continued to hound the French relentlessly.

The constant threatening presence of a British force under Arthur Wellesley, which became the most experienced and steady force in the British army, guarded Portugal and campaigned against the French in Spain alongside the reformed Portuguese army. Allied to the British, the demoralized Portuguese army underwent extensive reorganizing, retraining and refitting under the command of British General William Carr Beresford, appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese Royal family, and fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellington.

In 1812, as Napoleon embarked upon an invasion of Russia which ended in disaster, a combined Allied army under Arthur Wellesley pushed into Spain and took Madrid. Marshal Soult led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees and into France over the winter of 1813-14.

War and revolution against Napoleon’s occupation led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, later a cornerstone of European liberalism. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and Spain and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability and economic stagnation. Devastating civil wars between liberal and absolutist factions, led by officers trained in the Peninsular War, persisted in Iberia until 1850. The cumulative crises and disruptions of invasion, revolution and restoration led to the independence of many of Spain’s American colonies and the independence of Brazil from Portugal.


In 1806, while in Berlin, Napoleon declared the Continental Blockade, forbidding British imports into continental Europe. Of the two remaining neutral countries, Sweden and Portugal, the latter tried in vain to avoid Napoleon’s ultimatum (since 1373, it had had a treaty of alliance with the English which became an alliance with the United Kingdom). After the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, which cemented French dominance over Central and Eastern Europe, Napoleon decided to capture the Ilerian ports. The decision went against Napoleon’s own advice earlier in his career, once remarking that a conquest of Spain would be “too hard a nut to crack”

On 27th October 1807, Spain’s Prime MinisterManuel de Godoy and France signed the Treaty of Fontainbleau, splitting Portugal into three kingdoms: the new Kingdom of Northern Lusitania, the Algarve (expanded to include Alentejo), and a rump Kingdom of Portugal. In November 1807, after the refusal of Prince Regent John of Portugal to join the Continental System, Napoleon sent an army into Spain under General Jean-Andoche Junot with the task of invading Portugal. At the same time, General Dupont was sent in the direction of Cadiz and Marshal Soult towards Corunna.

Godoy initially requested Portugal’s alliance against the incoming French armies, but later secretly agreed with France that, in return for Spain’s cooperation, it would receive Portugal’s territories. Spain’s main ambition was the seizure of the Portuguese fleet, and it sent two divisions to help French troops occupy Portugal.
The Portuguese army was positioned to defend the ports and the coast from a French attack, and on 1 December Lisbon was captured with no military opposition. The escape on 29th November of Maria I of Portugal and Prince Regent John, together with the administration and the Court (around 10,000 people and 9,000 sailors aboard 23 Portuguese war ships and 31 merchant ships) was a major setback for Napoleon and enabled the Prince Regent to continue to rule over his overseas possessions, including Brazil. The Portuguese Royal Family established itself at Rio de janerio in Brazil for the next 13 years.

Pro-French sentiment

Amongst the liberal, republican and radical segments of the Spanish and Portuguese populations, there was much support for a potential French invasion, despite Napoleon having by 1807 noticeably and explicitly abandoned many liberal and republican ideals. Even before the invasion, the term “Afrancesado”, literally “turned French” was used to denote those who supported the Enlightenment and secular ideals and the French Revolution. Napoleon was to rely on the support of these “Afrancesados” both in the conduct of the war and administration of the country. But while Napoleon – through his brother Joseph who he installed as King – made good on his promises to “sweep away” all feudal and clerical privileges, soon most Spanish liberals came to oppose the occupation for the violence and brutality it brought.

French Invasion by Stealth and Spanish Uprising

Under the pretext of reinforcing the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, French Imperial troops began filing into Spain; the populace greeted them with enthusiasm in spite of growing diplomatic unease. In February 1808 Napoleon ordered the French commanders to seize key Spanish fortresses, and in doing so he had officially turned on his ally. A French column, disguised as a convoy of wounded, took Barcelona on 29th February by persuading the authorities to open the city’s gates. Many commanders were not particularly concerned about the fate of the ruling regime, nor were they in any position to fight. (When Brigadier Alvarez garrisoned the Barcelona citadel against the French, his own superiors ordered him to stand down.) (Citation needed)

The The Spanish Royal Army of 100,000 men found itself paralysed: under-equipped, frequently leaderless, confused by the turmoil in Madrid and scattered from Portugal to the  Balearic Islands. Fifteen thousand of its finest troops, (General La Romana`s Division of the North) had been lent to Napoleon in 1807 and remained stationed in Denmark under French command. Only the peripheries contained armies of any strength: Galicia, with Joaquin Blake`s troops, and Andalusia, under Castanos. The French were consequently able to seize much of northeastern Spain by coups de main, and any hope of turning back the invasion was stillborn.

To secure his gains Napoleon pursued a series of intrigues against the Spanish royal family. A coup d`etat instigated by the Spanish aristocrats forced Charles IV from his throne and replaced him with his son Ferdinand. Napoleon removed the royals to Bayonne and forced them both to abdicate on 5th May, handing the throne to his brother Joseph Bonaparte. A puppet Spanish council approved the new king, but the usurpation provoked a popular uprising that eventually spread throughout the country. The Spanish revolt was the first example of the nationalism of another country being turned against Napoleon, although it was led largely by priests and nobles who stood for the conservative values of the old regime. On 2nd May, the citizens of Madrid rose up in rebellion against the French occupation, killing some 150 French soldiers, before the uprising was put down by Murat`s elite guard and mameluk cavalry, which crashed into the city, trampling the rioters.

The next day, immortalized by Goya in his painting, The Third of May 1808, the French army shot hundreds of Madrid citizens in retaliation. Similar reprisals were repeated in other cities and continued for days, with no military effect but to strengthen the resistance; soon afterward bloody, spontaneous fighting known as guerrilla (“little war”) erupted in much of Spain; the term “guerrilla” has been used ever since to describe such combat.

The tiny province of Asturias rose up in arms, cast out its French governor on 25th May and “declared war on Napoleon at the height of his greatness.” Within weeks, all the Spanish provinces had followed its example. Mobs butchered 338 French citizens in Valencia. Every French ship of the line anchored at Cádiz was bombarded and captured. Napoleon had unwittingly provoked a total war against the Spaniards, a mistake from which the French Empire would never truly recover.

The deteriorating strategic situation forced France to increase its military commitments – in February, Napoleon had boasted that 12,000 men could conquer Spain; by 1st June, over 65,000 troops were rushing into the country in an effort to control the crisis. The main French army of 80,000 men held only a narrow strip of central Spain stretching from Pamplona and San Sebastian in the north through to Madrid and Toledo to the south. The French in Madrid took shelter behind an additional 30,000 troops under Moncey. Junot stood stranded in Portugal, cut off by 300 mi (480 km) of hostile territory.

From Murat’s optimistic reports, Napoleon believed the uprisings would die down and the country settle into order if his brother held on to the throne in Madrid while French flying columns seized and pacified Spain’s major cities. To this end, Gen. Dupont led 24,430 men south toward Seville and Cadiz; Marshalk Bessieres moved into Aragon and Old Castile with 25,000 men, aiming to capture Santander with one hand and saragossa with the other; Gen. Moncey marched toward Velencia with 29,350 men; and Gen. Duhesme marshalled 12,710 troops in Catalonia and put Gerona under siege. Historians have concluded that Napoleon, having no respect for the “insolent” Spanish militias which everywhere opposed him, tried to do too much with too little.

The signs of trouble came quickly: Catalan militia (somaten) virtually overran Barcelona, and French units attempting to break the ring were turned back the Bruc with heavy casualties. Gerona twice resisted all efforts to conquer it. At Saragossa, French overtures for an honorable capitulation met with the laconic reply, “War to the knife.” Gen. Palafox and the Spaniards defied the French for three months, fighting inch by inch, corp by corp in the streets; finally they forced Lefebvre to lift the siege in August and limp away in defeat. Moncey’s push toward the coast ended in defeat outside the walls of Valencia, where 1,000 French recruits fell trying to storm a city whipped into a frenzy by the clergy. Making short work of Spanish cunterattacks, Moncey began a long retreat, harried at every step. After storming and sacking Cordoba, Dupont, cowed by the mass hostility of the Andalusians, broke off his offensive and retired to Andujar.

Only in the north did the French find a measure of success. In June, Gen. Lasalle`s cavalry trampled Gen. Cuesta`s small, improvised army at cabezon and unbarred the road to Valladolid. When Bessières’ march on Santander was checked by a string of partisan attacks in July, the French turned back and found Blake and Cuesta with their combined army atop Medina del Rio Seco. The Spanish generals, at Cuesta’s insistence, were making a dash toward the vulnerable French supply lines at Valladolid. The two armies deployed on 14 July, Cuesta unwisely leaving a gap between his troops and Blake’s. The French poured into the hole and, after a sharp fight against Cuesta, swept the motley Spanish army from the field, putting Old Castile firmly back in Napoleon’s hands.

The Spanish Army`s shocking triumph at Bailen gave the French Empire its first major defeat.

Bessières’ victory salvaged the strategic position of the French army in northern Spain. The road to Madrid lay open to Joseph, and the failures at Girona, Valencia and Saragossa were forgotten; all that remained was to reinforce Dupont and allow him to force his way south through Andalusia. A delighted Napoleon asserted that “if Marshal Bessières has been able to beat the Army of Galicia with few casualties and small effort, General Dupont will be able to overthrow everybody he meets.” Just a few days later, Dupont was sorely defeated at Bailen and surrendered his entire Army Corps to Gen Castanos.

The catastrophe was total. With the loss of 24,000 troops, Napoleon’s military machine in Spain abruptly collapsed. Joseph and the French command panicked and ordered a general retreat to the Ebro, abandoning Madrid and undoing all of Bessières’ hard-fought gains. Europe cheered at this first check to the hitherto unbeatable Imperial armies – a Bonaparte had been chased from his throne; tales of Spanish heroism inspired Austria and showed the force of national resistance. Bailén set in motion the rise of the Fifth Coalition against Napoleon.

Retreat from Portugal (August 1808)

Before the Peninsular War, British military operations on mainland Europe had been limited to raids after several early attempts to land and keep an army in action led to failure and ultimate withdrawal. The British could not field a large enough force to operate on its own against the huge and experienced French army. On 18th June, the Portuguese uprising broke out. The popular uprisings in Portugal and Spain encouraged the British to commit substantial forces once again and British propaganda was quick to capture the novelty of the situation; for the first time, peoples, not princes, were in rebellion against the “Great Disturber”.

British intervention

In August 1808, British forces (including the king`s German legion) landed in Portugal under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Wellesley checked Delaborde`s forces at Rolica on 17th August, while the Portuguese Observation Army of Bernardino Freire contained Loison. On 20th August, the Anglo-Portuguese held their line at the Vimerio and repulsed Junot. Wellesley, however, was considered too junior an officer to command the newly-reinforced expedition to Portugal and was replaced by harry Burrard, who proceeded to grant Junot very favourable armistice terms, allowing for his unmolested evacuation from Portugal — courtesy of the Royal Navy — under the controversial Convention of sintra in August. The British commanders were ordered back to England for an inquiry into Sintra, leaving Sir John Moore to head the 30,000-strong British force, supplied, convoyed, and protected by the Royal Navy.

Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood`s Mediterranean Fleet bottled up the remaining French fleet, stationed at Toulon since its defeat at Trafalgar. In June, General La Romana orchestrated a remarkable escape from Denmark, via Gothenburg, by slipping the better part of his Division of the North aboard a British squadron, which set sail for Santander. The presence of the Royal Navy along the coast of France and Spain slowed the French entry into eastern and southern Spain and drained their military resources in the area. Frigates commanded the strategic Gulf of Roses north of Barcelona, close to the French border, and were conspicuously involved in the defence of Rosas; Lord Cochrane held a cliff-top fortress against the French for nearly a month, destroying it when the main citadel capitulated to a superior French force.

Napoleon’s campaign (October 1808 – January 1809)

Bailén and the loss of Portugal convinced Napoleon of the peril he faced in Spain. Deeply disturbed by news of Sintra, the Emperor remarked,
I see that everybody has lost their head since the infamous capitulation of Bailén. I realise that I must go there myself to get the machine working again.

The French, all but masters of Spain in June, stood with their backs to the Pyrenees clutching at Navarre and Catalonia. It was not known if even these two footholds could be maintained in the face of a Spanish attack

However, no attack was forthcoming. The Spanish social fabric, shaken by the shock of rebellion, gave way to its crippling social and political tensions; the patriots stood divided on every question and their nascent war effort suffered accordingly. With the fall of the monarchy, constitutional power devolved to local juntas. These institutions interfered with the army and the business of war, undermined the tentative central government taking shape in Madrid, and in some cases proved almost as dangerous to each other as to the French. The British army in Portugal, meanwhile, was itself immobilized by logistical problems and bogged down in administrative disputes, and did not budge.

Consequently, months of inaction passed at the front, the revolution having “temporarily crippled Patriot Spain at the very moment when decisive action could have changed the whole course of the war.” While the allies inched forward, a vast consolidation of bodies and bayonets from the far reaches of the French Empire brought 100,000 veterans of the Grande Armee into Spain, led in person by Napoleon and his Marshals. With his Armée d’Espagne of 278,670 men drawn up on the Ebro, facing a scant 80,000 raw, disorganized Spanish troops, the Emperor announced to the Spanish deputies:

I am here with the soldiers who conquered at Austertlitz, at Jena, at Eylau. Who can withstand them? Certainly not your wretched Spanish troops who do not know how to fight. I shall conquer Spain in two months and acquire the rights of a conqueror

Napoleon led the French on a brilliant offensive involving a massive double envelopment of the Spanish lines. The attack began in November and has been described as “an avalanche of fire and steel.”

In the west, however, one Spanish wing slipped the noose when Marshal Lefebvre failed to encircle the Army of Galicia after a premature and indecisive attack at Pancorbo; General Blake drew his artillery back to safety and the bloodied Spanish infantry followed in good order. Lefebvre and Victor offered a careless chase that ended in humiliation at Valmaseda where their scattered troops were roughly handled by La Romana`s newly repatriated Spanish veterans and narrowly escaped to safety.

The campaign raced to a swift conclusion in the south, where Napoleon’s main army overran the unprotected Spanish centre in a devastating attack near Burgos. The Spanish militias, untrained and unable to form infantry squares, scattered in the face of massed French cavalry, while the Spanish and Walloon Guards stood their ground in vain and were chewed up by lasalle and his sabreurs. Marshal Lannes with a powerful force then smashed through the tottering Spanish right wing at Tudela on 23rd November, routing Castanos and adding a new inscription to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Finally, Blake’s isolated army about-faced on 17th November and dug in at Espinosa. His lines shook off French attacks over a day and night of vicious fighting before cracking the next day. Blake again outmarched Soult and escaped with a rump army to Santander, but the Spanish front had been torn apart and the Imperial armies raced forward over undefended provinces. Napoleon flung 45,000 men south into the Sierra de Guadarrama which shielded Madrid.

The mountains hardly slowed Napoleon at all: at Somosierra pass on 30th November, his Polish and Guard cavalry squadrons charged up a narrow gorge through raking fire to overrun General Sal Juan`s artillery. San Juan’s militias then gave way before the relentless French infantry, while the Spanish royal artillerymen stuck to their guns and fought to the last. French patrols reached Madrid on 1 December and entered the city in triumph on 4 December. Joseph Bonaparte was restored to his throne. San Juan retreated west to Talavera, where his mutinous conscripts shot him before dispersing.

General Sir John Moore`s small British army moved from Portugal into northwestern Spain, surprising a body of French cavalry at Sahagun. Moore remained in Leon for some time after he recognised that the position of his army was perilous; this was a calculated attempt to draw the attention of the French and give the Spanish forces time to rally after their recent reverses. In this Moore was successful, alerted to his whereabouts the Imperial army forced Moore into a harrowing retreat marked by a breakdown in the discipline of many regiments. The retreat was punctuated by stubborn rearguard actions at Benavente and Cacabelos, each time the British army turned to fight the discipline of the troops showed a marked, but temporary, improvement. La Romana dutifully marched his tattered army to cover his ally’s retreat, but while the British troops managed to escape to the sea at A coruna after fending off a strong French attack, the Spaniard had no escape and was defeated by Soult at Mansilla. Some 26,000 sickly troops eventually reached Britain, 7,000 men having been lost over the course of the expedition. Moore, killed while directing the defence of Coruña, remains buried in Spain under a monument constructed by Soult.

In Catalonia, Napoleon fed his faltering army strong reinforcements as early as October 1808, ordering Marshal St. Cyr with 17,000 men to the relief of Duhesme in Barcelona. Rosas fell to the French at the end of November, opening the path south for St. Cyr, who bypassed Girona and, after a remarkable forced march, fell upon and destroyed part of the Spanish army at Cardedeu, near Barcelona (18th December). St. Cyr and Duhesme chased the retreating Spaniards under general Reding, capturing 1,200 men at Molins de Rey. In February 1809, Reding led a reconstituted army against the French right wing and, after vigorous marching and countermarching, took a stand at Valls only to be ridden down and killed by French cavalry.

Only at Saragossa, still scarred from Lefebvre’s bombardments that summer, was the Imperial charge temporarily halted once again. The French invested the city on 20th December. Lannes and Moncey committed two army corps (45,000 men) and considerable materiel to a second siege of the city, but their numbers and guns made no impression on the Spanish citizen-soldiers who, behind the walls of Saragossa, proved unmovable.

Palafox’s second epic defence brought the city enduring national and international fame. The Spaniards fought with a determination which never faltered; street by street, building by building, through pestilence and starvation; at times entrenching themselves in convents, at others putting their own homes to the torch. Nearly all who stood with Palafox met their deaths, but for two months, the Grande Armée did not set foot beyond the Ebro’s shore. On 20th February 1809, the French left behind burnt-out ruins filled with 64,000 corpses. After only a little more than two months in Spain, Napoleon returned command to his marshals and went back to France.

Portuguese frontier and Galicia (1809)

In March, Marshal Soult initiated the second invasion of Portugal through the northern corridor. On 27th March, the Spanish forces defeated the French at Vigo, and the French troops at Martin and Pontevedra were forced to retreat to Santiago de Compostela for fear of being outflanked for the Spanish advance. After of the new turn of the situation, the Spanish forces took the initiative, and most of the cities in the province of Pontevedra were recaptured. In Portugal, the French were initially repulsed in the Minho river by Portuguese militias, Soult then captured Chaves, Braga and, on 29th March 1809,Porto. However, the resistance of Silveira in Amarante and other northern cities isolated Soult in Porto. William Carr Beresford, in his capacity as commander-in-chief (he had been appointed by the Portuguese Royal family), reorganised, rebuilt and refitted the Portuguese army with the aid of senior Portuguese generals, in particular Miguel Pereira Forjaz. In a first phase, some 20,000 were called to the regular army and 30,000 to militias. Wellesley returned to Portugal in April 1809 to command the Anglo-Portuguese forces. He strengthened the British army with the recently formed Portuguese regiments trained by General Beresford and adapted to the British way of campaigning. These new forces turned Soult out of Portugal at the Battle of Grijo (10th and 11th May) and the Second Battle of Porto (12th May). All other northern cities were recaptured by General Silveira. On 7th June, the French army of Marshal Michel Ney was defeated at the Battle of Puente Sanpayo by the Spanish forces commanded by Colonel Pablo Morillo, and Ney was forced to retreat to Lugo on 9th June. The withdrawal was painful because the French army was harassed by the Spanish guerrillas. Ney’s troops met in Lugo with those of Soult, who had to leave Portugal, and they all withdrew from Galicia in July 1809. This marked the final evacuation of Galicia by the French army and the creation of a new front.

With Portugal secured, Wellesley advanced into Spain to unite with General Cuesta`s forces. The combined Allied force prepared for an assault on Victor’s I Corps at Talavera, 23rd July. Cuesta, however, was reluctant to agree, and was only persuaded to advance on the following day. The delay allowed the French to withdraw, but Cuesta sent his army headlong after Victor, and found himself faced by almost the entire French army in New Castile — Victor had been reinforced by the Toledo and Madrid garrisons. The Spanish retreated precipitously, necessitating two British divisions advancing to cover their retreat.

The next day, 27th July, at the Battle of Talavera the French advanced in three columns and were repulsed several times, but at a heavy cost to the British force. Despite the victory and ignoring the views of General Cuesta to attack the French, Wellesley, in view of the imminent arrival of Soult with his army and afraid of being cut off from his base in Portugal, decided a hasty retreat, leaving Talavera on 4th August. The British commander sent the Light Brigade on a dash to hold the bridge over the Tagus River at Almaraz, and on 8th August, Soult’s army faced the Spanish army at Puente del Arzobispo. With communications and supply from Lisbon secured for now, Wellesley considered joining with Cuesta again, but the threat of French reinforcement (including the possible inclusion of Napoleon himself) in the spring, and the considerable friction between the British and the Spanish, led to the British deciding to retreat into Portugal, leaving the Spanish alone in the fight.

Torres Vedras

Fearing a new French assault on Portugal, Wellesley brought into action his plan to create a powerful defensive position near the Portuguese capital, to which he could fall back if necessary. To protect Lisbon he ordered the construction of the Lines of torres Vedras under the supervision of Sir Richard Fletcher comprising three strong lines of forts, blockhouses, redoubts and ravelins with numerous fortified artillery positions. The various parts of the lines communicated to each other by semaphore, allowing immediate reaction to a threat. The work began in the autumn of 1809 and the first line was finished one year later. The areas immediately in front of the lines were subjected to a scorched earth policy in which they were denuded of food, forage and shelter to further hamper the enemy. Some 200,000 inhabitants of the neighbouring districts were relocated inside the lines.

Stalemate (1810–1811)

Taking the Spanish fortified town of Ciudad Rodrigo after a siege lasting from 26th April to the 9th July 1810, the French duly reinvaded Portugal in July with an army of around 65,000 led by Marshal Massena. The first significant clash on Portuguese soil was at the Battle of Coa with the French driving back the Robert Crauford`s heavily outnumbered Light Division. Masséna now moved to attack the strongly held British position on the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile long ridge), resulting in the Battle of Bucaco on 27th September. Suffering high casualties, the French failed to dislodge the Anglo-Portuguese army. Masséna now maneuvered to flank the position, at which point Wellesley fell back to the fortified Lines of Torres Vedras.

The fortifications were so impressive that, after an attack by a small force at Sobral on 14th October, a stalemate ensued. As Charles Oman wrote, “On that misty 14th Octoberth morning, at Sobral, the Napoleonic tide attained its highest watermark, then it ebbed.” The frontal zones of the lines having been subjected to a scorched earth policy, the French were eventually forced to withdraw due to sickness and lack of food and supplies. The British suffered a setback just the next day in the Battle of Fuengirola. On 15th October, a much smaller Polish garrison held off British troops under Lord Blayney, who was subsequently taken captive and held by the French until 1814. Amazingly the French intelligence never knew that the fortifications were being built, only when their scouts reached the walls did they know. It’s also rumoured that even the British government never knew about it as well because all the funds that were used to build it was paid for by the Portuguese government and captured French equipment and supplies.

The allies were reinforced by the arrival of fresh British troops in early 1811 and began an offensive. A French force was beaten at Barrosa on 5th March as part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break up the siege of Cadiz, and Masséna was forced to withdraw from Portugal after an allied victory at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro (3rd to the 5th May). Masséna had lost 25,000 men in the fighting in Portugal and was replaced by Auguste Marmont. Soult came from the South to threaten Extremadura, and captured the fortress town of Badajoz before returning to Andalusia with most of his army. An Anglo-Portuguese army led by the British Marshal William Beresford and a Spanish army led by the Spanish generals Joanquin Blake and Francisco Castanos, marched to try and retake the town; they laid siege to the French garrison Soult had left behind, but Soult regathered his army and marched to relieve the siege. Beresford moved his besieging army from Badajoz to intercept the marching French, and after the Battle of Albuera on 16th May, Soult was forced to retreat to Seville.

The war now fell into a temporary lull, the numerically superior French being unable to find an advantage and coming under increasing pressure from Spanish guerrilla activity. The French had upwards of 350,000 soldiers in L’Armée de l’Espagne, but the vast majority, over 200,000, was deployed to protect the French lines of supply, rather than as substantial fighting units. Meanwhile, the Spaniards drafted the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812.

Turning of the tide (1812)

The emperor wants me to take the offensive…but his Majesty does not realize that the smallest movement in these parts expends great quantities of resources, especially of horses… To make a requisition on even the poorest village we have to send a detachment of 200 men and, to be able to live, we have to scatter over great distances. Marshal August Marmont

In January 1812, Napoleon approved the full annexation of Catalonia into the French Empire. Its territory was divided in departements (Ter Segre, Montserrat and Bouches-de-I`Ebre). Looking for the approval of the local population, Catalan was declared the official language in those departments together with French. However, the historical aversion that the Catalans had against the French insured that guerrilla activity continued in Catalonia.

Wellington renewed the allied advance into Spain just after New Year in 1812, besieging and capturing the fortified towns of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19th January and Badajoz, after a costly assault, on 6th April. The allied army took Salamanca on 17th June, just as Marmont approached — the two forces finally met on 22nd July where Wellington inflicted a severe defeat on the French in the Battle of Salamanca, during which Marshal Marmont himself was severely wounded. Meanwhile the Spanish army defeated the French at Astorga and Guadalajara, and liberated Seville, Cordoba and Granada from the French occupation. As the French regrouped, the allies entered Madrid on 6th August and advanced towards Burgos, before retreating all the way back to Portugal when renewed French concentrations threatened to trap them. As a consequence of the Salamanca campaign the French were forced to end their long and costly siege of Cadiz and to permanently evacuate the provinces of Andalusia and Asturias.

Allied victory (1813–1814)

French hopes of recovery were stricken by Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. He had taken 30,000 soldiers from the hard-pressed Armée de l’Espagne, and, starved of reinforcements and replacements, the French position became increasingly unsustainable as the allies renewed the offensive in the May of 1813.

In a strategic move, Wellington planned to move his supply base from Lisbon to Santander. The British and Portuguese forces swept northwards in late May and seized Burgos; they then outflanked the French army, forcing Joseph Bonaparte into the valley of the River Zadorra. At the Battle of Vitoria, on 21st June, the 65,000 men of Joseph Bonaparte’s army were routed by 52,000 British, 28,000 Portuguese and 25,000 Spaniards. The Spanish army of Enrique Jose O`Donnell took Pancorbo on 3 July with the French troops capitulating. Wellington, with 18,000 men, captured the French garrisoned city of San Sebastian under Brig- Gen Louis Rey after a siege that lasted from 7th July to 8th September 1813 with large losses for the British. The city was sacked and burnt to the ground by the Anglo-Portuguese, an event that caused the fury of the Spaniards.

The allies chased the retreating French, reaching the Pyrenees in early July. Soult was given command of the French forces and began a counter-offensive, dealing the allied generals two sharp defeats at the Battle of Maya and the Battle of Roncesvalles. Yet he was severely repulsed by the allies at the Battle of Sorauren, lost momentum, and was defeated by the Spanish army of Galicia under General Manuel Freire at the Battle of San Marcail (31st August 1813).

On 7th October, after Wellington received news of the reopening of hostilities in Germany, the allies finally crossed into France, fording the Bidasoa River. On 11th December, a beleaguered and desperate Napoleon agreed to a separate peace with Spain under the Treaty of Valencay, under which he would release and recognize Ferdinand in exchange for a complete cessation of hostilities. But the Spanish had no intention of trusting Napoleon, and the fighting continued.

The Peninsular War went on through the allied victories of Bera pass, the Battle of Nivelle, and the Battle of Nive near Bayonne (10th to the 14thof December 1813), the Battle of Orthez on the (27th February 1814) and the Battle of Bayonne on the (14th April), the latter occurring after Napoleon’s abdication

Guerrilla war

The Spanish War of Independence was one of the most successful partisan wars in history and is the origin of the word guerrilla in the English language (from Spanish Guerra de guerrillas or “War of little wars”). However, this guerrilla warfare was costly to both sides. Not only did the ‘patriotic’ Spaniards trouble the French troops, they also petrified their countrymen with a combination of forced conscription and looting of towns. Many of the partisans were, in fact, either fleeing the law or trying to get rich, although later in the war the authorities tried to make the guerrillas militarily reliable, and many of them formed regular army units, like Espoz y Mina`s “Cazadores de Navarra”, among others.

The idea of forming the guerrillas into an armed force had positive and negative effects. On the one hand, uniform and stronger military discipline would stop men from running off into the streets and disappearing from the band. However, the more disciplined the unit was, the easier it was for the French troops to catch them when they sprang an ambush. Only a few partisan leaders formed up with the authorities; most did so just to lay off criminal charges and to retain the effective status of an officer in the Spanish army, so their weaponry, clothes and food would be paid for.

The guerrilla style of fighting was the Spanish military’s single most effective application. Most organized attempts on the part of regular Spanish forces to take on the French led to their defeat. However, once the battle was lost and the soldiers reverted to their guerrilla roles, they effectively tied down greater numbers of French troops over a wider area with much less expenditure of men, energy, and supplies. Wellington’s final success in the Peninsula is often said to be largely due to the collapse and demoralization of the French military structure in Spain caused by the guerrillas;

It was these obscure triumphs—a platoon shot down in an ambush, a courier and his message captured as he galloped across the plain—which made possible the orthodox victories of Wellington and his Anglo-Portuguese army and eventually the liberation of Portugal and Spain.

Mass resistance by the people of Spain prefigured the total wars of the 20th century and eventually inspired parallel struggles by the Russians and Prussians. Tsar Alexander, when threatened with war, rebuked the French ambassador:

If the Emperor Napoleon decides to make war, it is possible, even probable, that we shall be defeated … But … the Spaniards have frequently been defeated; and they are not beaten, nor have they surrendered.

Role of intelligence

Intelligence played a crucial role in the successful prosecution of the war by the Allies after 1810. Spanish and Portuguese guerrillas were asked to capture messages from French couriers. From 1811 onwards, these dispatches were often either partially or wholly enciphered.

George Scovell of Wellington’s General Staff was given the job of deciphering them. At first, the ciphers used were fairly simple and he received help from other members of the General Staff. However, beginning in 1812, a much stronger cipher, originally devised for diplomatic messages, came into use and Scovell was left to work on this himself. He steadily broke it, and the knowledge of French troop movements and deployments was used to great effect in most of the engagements described above. The French never realised that the code had been broken and continued to use it until their code tables were captured at the Battle of Vitoria.

Consequences Spain

King Joseph was cheered initially by Spanish afrancesados (“Frenchified”), who believed that collaboration with France would bring modernisation and liberty. An example was the abolition of the Spanish Inquisition. However, priesthood and patriots stirred up agitation among the populace, which became widespread after the French army’s first examples of repression (Madrid, 1808) were presented as fact to unite and enrage the people. The remaining afrancesados were exiled to France following the departure of French troops.

The pro-independence side included both traditionalists and liberals. After the war, they would clash in the Carlist Wars, as new king Ferdinand VII, “the Desired One” (later “the Traitor king”), revoked all the changes made by the independent Cortes, which were summoned in Cadiz acting on his behalf to coordinate the provincial Juntas and resist the French. He restored absolute monarchy, prosecuted and put to death everyone suspected of liberalism, and altered the laws of royal succession in favour of his daughter Isabella II, thus starting a century of civil wars against the supporters of the former legal heir to the throne.

The liberal Cortes had approved the first Spanish Constitution on 19th of March 1812, which was later nullified by the king. In Spanish America, the Spanish and Criollo officials formed Juntas that swore allegiance to King Ferdinand. This experience of self-government led the later Libertadores (Liberators) to promote the independence of the Spanish–American colonies.

French troops seized many of the extensive properties of the Catholic Church. Churches and convents were used as stables and barracks, and artworks were sent to France, leading to an impoverished Spanish cultural heritage. Allied armies also plundered Spanish towns and the countryside. These pieces can be viewed at the Duke’s London home, Aspley House, and at his country estate, Stratfield Saye House.

Another notable effect of the war was the severe damage incurred by Spain’s economy; devastated by the war, it continued to suffer in the political turbulence that followed.

Consequences Portugal

The Peninsular War signified the traumatic entry of Portugal into the modern age. The Portuguese Court`s transfer to Rio de Janeiro initiated the process of Brazil’s state-building that eventually produced its independence in 1822. The skillful evacuation by the Portuguese Navy of more than 15,000 people from the Court, Administration, and Army was a bonus for Brazil and a blessing in disguise for Portugal, as it liberated the energies of the country. The Governors of Portugal nominated by the absent king had a scant impact because of the successive French invasions and British occupation.

The role of the War Minster Miguel Pereira Forjaz was unique. Wellington held him as the ablest man in Portugal. Under Marshall Beresford he helped to build a regular army of 55,000 men and a further 50,000 as National Guard milicias and a variable number of home guard ordenanças, perhaps totalling more than 100,000. In an 1812 letter to Baron Stein, the Russian Court Minister, Forjaz recommended a “scorched earth” policy and the trading of space for time as the only way to defeat a French invasion. Alexander I, Tsar of Russia, ordered his generals to use Wellington’s Portuguese strategy and avoid battles to starve Napoleon’s Grande Armée.

The nation at arms had a similar impact on Portugal as the French Revolution on France. A new class, tried, disciplined, and experienced by war against the French Empire, would assert Portuguese independence. Marshal Beresford and 160 officers were retained after 1814 to lead Portugal’s Army while the King was still in Brazil. Portuguese politics hinged on the project of a Lusco-Brazilian United Kingdom, with the African colonies supplying slaves, Brazil manufacturing and Portugal the trade. By 1820, this became untenable: Portuguese Peninsular War officers arranged the expelling of the British and began the liberal revolution at Porto on the 24th August. Liberal institutions were only consolidated after a civil war in 1832 to 1834.

Time Line of the Napoleonic War


Napoleon involved in Corsican politics.


January: Napoleon joins the Jacobins

February: Napoleon re-joins the ‘La Fere’ (newly designated the ‘1st’) Artillery Regiment at Auxonne

June: Napoleon promoted to 1st lieutenant and re-assigned to 4th (former ‘Grenoble’) Artillery Regiment at Valence

20th June: Flight of the French Royal family.

July: French army officers required to take oath to new Constitution. Napoleon did, many Royalist officers did not.

October: Napoleon returns to Corsica.


20th April: French Assembly declares war on Austria.

26th June: First Coalition formed.

10th August: Napoleon witnesses the storming of the Tuileries.

20th September: Battle of Valmy, the revolution endures.

6th November: Battle of Jemappes, French gain Austrian Netherlands.


21st January: Louix XVI guillotined.

18th March: Battle of Neewinden, Austrians take Austrian Netherlands back.

11th June: Losers in Corsican political struggle Bonaparte family flees to Toulon.

16th September- 19 December: Napoleon distinguishes himself at the siege of Toulon.

15th-16th October: Battle of Wattignies, French relieve Maubeuge and close road to Paris.

22nd December: Napoleon appointed general of brigade.


February: Napoleon appointed commander of artillery in the Army of Italy.

26th June: Battle of Fleurus.27 July: Fall of Robespierre (Napoleons patron)

8th August: Napoleon arrested, but released after a period of imprisonment, during which he rightly feared for his life.


16th May: Peace of Basle; Prussia leaves war.

19th August: Peace with Spain.

5th October: ‘The whiff of grapeshot’; Napoleon saves the government by turning his cannon on rioters. Cavalry Major Murat retrieves the necessary artillery.


8th March: Napoleon marries Josephine.

11th March: Napoleon is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Italy.

10th-12th April: Battle of Montenotte.

13th April: “Battle” of Millesimo.

14th-15th April: Battle of Dego.

16th-17th April: Battle of Ceva.

20th April: Mondovi taken, Napoleon’s army reaches the plains of Northern Italy.

28th April: Armistice of Cherasco, Piedmont out of the war.

10th May: Action at Lodi

4th June: Battle of First Battlesof Altenkirchen

19th June: Battle of Ukerath

28th June: Battle of Kinzig (Rechen)

5th July: Battle of Rastatt

9th July: Battle of Ettlingen (Malsch)

14th July: Battle of Haslach

5th August: Battle of Castigione

7th August: Battle of Forcheim

11th August: Battle of Neresheim

24 thAugust: Battle of Friedberg

24th August: Battle of Amberg

3rd September: Battle of Wuzberg

8th September: Battle of Bassano

2nd October: Battle of Biberach

19th October: Battle of Emmendlingen (or Emmendingen)

23rd October: Battle of Schliengen

15th-17th November: Battle of Arcola


14th January: Battle of Rivoli.

18th April: Battle of Second Battle of Altenkirchen.

20th April: Battle of Diersham.

10th March – 6 April: Army of Italy engaged in operations against Archduke Charles

4th September: Coup d’etat of 18 Fructidor.

17th October: Treaty of Campo Formio with Austria ends war in Italy.


19th May: Napoleon sails from Toulon to invade Egypt.

12th June: Napoleon occupies Malta.

21st July: Battle of the Pyramids.

1st August: Battle of the Nile; Nelson destroys French fleet supporting Napoleon.

21st October: Cairo revolt suppressed.

29th December: Second Coalition formed.


5th Feburary: Napoleon invades Syria (modern Isreal/Palestine)

1st March: Russia declares war on France.

17th March: Napoleons seige of Acre begins.

5th April-15th August: Austrians and Russians retake Italy and Switzerland.

16th April: Battle of Mount Tabor; Turkish army attempting to relieve Acre is defeated.

10th May: Napoleons final assault on Acre repulsed.

20th May: Unsuccessful seige of Acre ends.

25th July: Battle of Aboukir.

22nd August: Napoleon leaves Egypt, and evading British fleet sails for France.

25th-30th September: Massena defeats Russians near Zurich.

9th October: Naploeon lands in France.

9th November: Napoleon’s coup of 18 Brumaire establishes the Consulate.

10th November: Napoleon becomes First Consul.


20th March: Battle of Heliopolis

18th April: Massena besieged in Genoa.

3rd May: Moreau victor in Battle of Stockach.

15th-21st May: Army of Reserve crosses the Alps.

9th June: Battle of Montebello.

14th June: Battle of Marengo.

19th June: Battle of Hochstadt.

5th September: French forced to surrender Malta.

5th December: Battle of Hohenlinden.


9th February: Napoleon signs the Treaty of Luneville with Austria.

20th-21st March: Night or Second Battle of Aboukir, also known as Battle of Alexandria.

21st March: French forces in Egypt capitulate.

23rd March: Tsar Paul murdered; Alexander succeeds.

2nd April: British attack Copenhagen. Nelson’s famous ‘blind eye’.

15th July: Napoleon signs Concordat with the Pope.


27th March: Treaty of Amiens signed with Great Britain.

2nd August: Napoleon made Consul for life.

15th October: France invades Switzerland.


30th April: Napoleon sells Louisiana to United States.

18th May: Britain declares war.

1st June: Napoleon begins to prepare invasion of Britain. French take Hanover.


21st March: Duc d’Enghien murdered. Promulgation of the Civil code.

18th May: Napoleon proclaimed Emperor

19th May: Marshalate created.

2nd December: Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor.

14th December: Spain declares war on Britain.


11th April: Britain and Russia ally (beginning of 3rd Coalition).

26th May: Napoleon crowned King of Italy.

9th August: Austria joins 3rd Coalition.

20th October: Battle of Ulm

21st October: Battle of Trafalgar.

15th November: Napoleon enters Vienna.

2nd December: Battle of Austerlitz.

26th December: Treaty of Pressburg between Austria and France.


1st April: Joseph Bonaparte becomes King of Naples.

20th June: Louis Bonaparte becomes King of Holland.

12th July: Confederation of the Rhine established.

6th October: Fourth Coalition (Russia, Prussia, Britain, and Sweden) formed.

14th October: Battle of Jena. Battle of Auerstadt.

26th October: Napoleon enters Berlin.

21st November: Berlin degree begins the Continental System, which attempts to reduce Britain by blockade.

16th December: French enter Warsaw.


8th February: Battle of Eylau.

18th March: Seige of Danzig begins.

27th May: Danzig falls.

14th June: Battle of Friedland.

7th July: Treaty of Tilsit between France, Prussia and Russia.

19th July: Grand Duchy of Warsaw instituted.

2nd-7th September: British attack Copenhagen destroying the Danish fleet.

27th October: Treaty of Fontainebleu; France and Spain agree to attack Portugal.

30th November: Junot occupies Lisbon.


2nd May: Murat suppresses Madrid uprising.

6th June: Joseph Bonaparte proclaimed King of Spain.

14th July: Battle of Medina del Rio Seco.

22nd July: Battle of Bailen. Significantly damages French military reputation.

21st August: Battle of Vimerio. Wellington defeats French forces in Portugal.

5th November: Napoleon assumes command in Spain.

4th December: Napoleon enters Madrid.


16th January: Battle of Corunna.

17th January: Napoleon returns to France.

9th April: Austrians invade Bavaria.

19th April: Battle of Teugn-Hausen (a.k.a Thann, Teugn or Tengen).

20th April: Battle of Abensburg.

21st April: Battle of Landshut.

22th April: Battle of Eckmuhl (or Eggmuhl).

12th May: Battle of Oporto.

21st-22nd May: Battle of Essling.

6th July: Battle of Wagram.

28th-29th July: Battle of Talavera.

14th October: Treaty of Schonbrunn between Austria and France.

15th December: Napoleon divorces Joesphine.


22nd April: Napoleon marries Marie-Louise of Austria.

9th July: Messena takes Cuidad Rodrigo.

27th September: Battle of Bussaco.

10th October: Wellington retires behind Lines of Torres Verdes.


5th March: Messena begins withdrawal from Portugal.

20th March: Marie-Louise bears Napoleon a son, who is given the title ‘King of Rome’.

3rd-5th May: Battle of Fuentes de Onoro.

15th May: Battle of Albuera.

23rd December: Napoleon begins preparations to invade Russia.


19th January: Wellington captures Ciudad Rodrigo.

6th April: Wellington captures Badajoz.

20th June: Sixth Coalition formed.

24th June: Napoleon invades Russia.

22nd July: Battle of Salamanca.

17th-19th August: Battle of Smolensk.

7th September: Battle of Borodino.

14th September: Napoleon enters Moscow.

19th October: Napoleon leaves Moscow.

21st October: Wellington repulsed at Burgos.

24th-25th October: Battle of Maloyaroslaverts.

26th-28th November: Battle of the Beresina.

30th December: Yorck signs Convention of Tauroggen by which his Prussian Corps defects from the French Grande Armee.


4th March: Russians enter Berlin.

16th March: Prussia declares war on France.

2nd May: Battle of lutzen. (Gross-Gorshcen).

20th-21st May: Battle of Bautzen.

23rd May: Wellington advances into Spain.

4th June: Armistice of Pleichwitz begins.

12th June: French evacuate Madrid.

21st June: Battle of Vitoria.

12th August: Austria declares war on France.

17th August: Armistice of Pleichwitz ends.

23rd August: Battle of Grossbeeren.

26th August: Battle of Katzbach.

26th-27th August: Battle of Dresden.

30th August: Battle of kulm.

6th September: Battle of Dennewitz.

3rd October: Battle of Wartenburg.

16th-19th October: Battle of leipzig.

30th October: Battle of Hanau.

10th November: Battle of Nivelle.


29th January: Battle of Brienne.

1st February: Battle of La Rothierre.

10th February: Battle of Champaubert.

11th February: Battle of Montmirail.

14th February: Battle of Vauchamps.

9th March: Battle of Laon.

20th-21st March: Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube.

30th March: Allies enter Paris.

6th April: Napoleon abdicates.

10th April: Battle of Toulouse. Wellington defeats Soult.


26th February: Napoleon escapes Elba.

1st March: Napoleon lands in France.

20th March: Napoleon enters Paris.

15th June: Napoleon crosses into Belgium.

16th June: Battle of Ligny. Battle of Quartre Bras.

18th June: Battle of Waterloo. Battle of Wavre.

22nd June: Napoleon abidicates.

Sourced from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia and