|Part of the Napoleonic Wars|
The Second of May 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes by Francisco Goya, 1814
|Commanders and leaders|
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (May 2013)|
The Peninsular 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 was set in motion when French and Spanish armies occupied Portugal in 1807 and began in earnest in 1808, when France turned on its ally, Spain. It lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814. In the Spanish-speaking world the war is known as the Guerra de la Independencia Española, or the Spanish War of Independence.
The conflict is regarded by many historians as one of the first national wars and is significant for the emergence of large scale guerrilla warfare (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 Cádiz but proved unable to recruit, train, or equip effective armies due to being under siege. British and Portuguese forces secured Portugal, using it as a safe position from which to launch campaigns against the French army while Spanish guerrilleros bled the occupiers. Combined regular and irregular allied forces prevented Napoleon's marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces, and the war dragged on through years of bloody stalemate.
The many years of fighting in Spain gradually wore down France's Grande Armée. While the French armies were often victorious in battle, their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units were 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 relentlessly hound the French. This drain on French resources led to the conflict being termed the Spanish Ulcer.
The British force under Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, which became the most experienced and steady force in the British army and a constant threatening presence, 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, who had been 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 his disastrous invasion of Russia, a combined Allied army under Wellesley pushed into Spain and took Madrid. Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a fighting withdrawal across the Pyrenees and into France during the winter of 1813–1814.
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 most of Spain's American colonies and the independence of Brazil from Portugal.
Subdued by its defeat in the Pyrenees War, Spain became an ally of France. In 1806, while in Berlin, Napoleon Bonaparte declared a 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 Iberian ports. The decision went against Napoleon's own advice from earlier in his career, as he had once remarked that the conquest of Spain would be "too hard a nut to crack".
On 27 October 1807, Spain's prime minister Manuel de Godoy signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau with France, agreeing that after Spain and France had defeated Portugal, it would be split 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.
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 against a French attack, and Lisbon was captured with no military opposition on December first. The escape on 29 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 would remain in Rio de Janeiro for the next 13 years.
In 1807, Spain was experiencing corruption on the political scene: Charles IV was considered to be incompetent to run the country. Napoleon, now Emperor of the French, decided to take advantage of the dissensions in the Spanish court. Feigning sympathy with their situation, he lent a listening ear to Charles and his son Ferdinand, inviting them to Paris. Ferdinand responded favourably to Napoleon's advice and asked for the hand of a Bonaparte princess. Napoleon played the part of an ally, and coaxed the two Spaniards into believing he had friendly and peaceful intentions. In the absence of both Charles and Ferdinand, Napoleon used the opportunity to invade Spain.
Under the pretext of reinforcing the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, French imperial troops entered Spain, where they were greeted with enthusiasm by the populace despite growing diplomatic unease. In February 1808 Napoleon ordered the French commanders to seize key Spanish fortresses, officially turning on his ally. A French column, disguised as a convoy of wounded, took Barcelona on 29 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 Mariano Alvarez de Castro garrisoned the Barcelona citadel against the French, his own superiors ordered him to stand down.)
The Spanish Royal Army of 100,000 men found itself paralysed: it was under-equipped, frequently leaderless, confused by the turmoil in Madrid, and scattered from Portugal to the Balearic Islands. Fifteen thousand of its finest troops (Pedro Caro, 3rd Marquis of 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 Joaquín Blake y Joyes's troops, and Andalusia, under Francisco Javier Castaños. 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.
Riots and a popular revolt at the winter palace Aranjuez in 1808 forced the king to abdicate on 19 March, in favor of his son. Though the rebellion seemed popular, and was inspired outside the military, it was in effect a coup d'état by the Royal Guard. Challenged by this call to arms, Godoy and his royal patrons found they had few defenders. The officer corps as a whole was disgruntled by the failure of the favorite's reforms to make any difference in its situation and his orders to resist the French were already being widely disobeyed. Much of the upper nobility and the Church were hostile. Reformist circles had lost faith in Godoy's political credentials and the common people were in a state of open revolt. Spain's political leaders had lost faith in Godoy and Ferdinand was hailed as a savior when he entered Madrid on 24 March.
Though he was popular, Ferdinand's future was not certain. Joachim Murat had occupied Madrid only the day before, and despite increasingly abject attempts to win France's favor, he refused to recognize Fernando. Carlos IV was persuaded to protest against his abdication and appeal to Napoleon for assistance. Both the new king and the old appealed to Napoleon for mediation, giving the Emperor a chance to seize Spain. Carlos, María Luisa, and Fernando were summoned to meet Napoleon for a conference at Bayonne (as a sop to the former king and queen, Godoy was rescued from captivity and whisked to safety in France). With all the protagonists in the drama united in his presence, Napoleon exploded the waiting bombshell: the rival kings were both to renounce the throne and hand it to the emperor. Napoleon forced both the former king and his son to abdicate, declared the Bourbon dynasty of Spain deposed, and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte as King Joseph I of Spain.Carlos did not resist this demand and on 5 May, after some days of unedifying squabbles, he eventually ceded the throne, despite some protest from Ferdinand, in exchange for pensions for the royal family and promises of religious and territorial contiguity for Spain.
With the whole of the Peninsula now apparently subjugated, Napoleon appeared to have achieved his every objective. Even as the Bourbons departed to a decorous exile - Carlos, María Luisa and Godoy to Italy, and Fernando, his brother, Carlos, and uncle, Antonio, To Talleyrand's chateau at Valençay — however, the Peninsula was astir.
Setting this aside, however, opportunism was the key. Napoleon had been motivated neither by an altruistic desire to spread the benefits of freedom and enlightenment, nor by a gigantic strategic combination, nor by an overwhelming clan loyalty that made the creation of family courts the centrepiece of French foreign policy. Strategic, ideological and historical factors were present in his thinking, certainly, but in the last resort what mattered was, first, the emperor's character, and, second, the force of circumstance. Forever eager to demonstrate his prowess, impose his stamp upon affairs, and demonstrate his contempt for diplomacy, the emperor was confronted with a situation in which nothing seemed to stand between him and the stroke that was more audacious than anything that he had yet attempted.
Amongst the liberal, republican, and radical segments of the Spanish and Portuguese populations there was much support for a potential French invasion, despite Napoleon's 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, 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, installed as king – made good on his promises to "sweep away" all feudal and clerical privileges, most Spanish liberals soon came to oppose the occupation because of the violence and brutality it brought.
A puppet Spanish council approved the new king, but the usurpation provoked a popular uprising that eventually spread throughout the country. Led largely by priests and nobles who stood for the conservative values of the old regime, the Spanish revolt was the first example of nationalism turning a country against Napoleon. On 2 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 Joachim Murat's elite Imperial Guard and Mamluk cavalry, which crashed into the city, trampling the rioters.
The next day, as immortalized by Francisco 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, the military effect being 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 25 May, and "declared war on Napoleon at the height of his greatness." Within weeks, all the Spanish provinces followed this course. Mobs butchered 338 French citizens in Valencia. Every French ship of the line anchored at Cádiz was seized in the Capture of the Rosily Squadron. 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 1 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 Sebastián in the north to Madrid and Toledo in the south. The French in Madrid took shelter behind an additional 30,000 troops under Marshal Bon Adrien Jeannot de Moncey. Jean-Andoche Junot's corps were stranded in Portugal, cut off by 300 miles (480 km) of hostile territory.
Within a matter of days of the outbreak of revolt, in Old Castile, New Castile, Aragón and Catalonia, French columns were striking out for the nearest insurgent forces. In the event it was the Spaniards who fired the first shots. On 5 June 1808 two squadrons of French dragoons under a Captain Bouzat were attacked by insurgents at the northern entrance to the pass of Despenaperros in the Sierra Morena and forced to retreat to the nearby town of Almuradiel, leaving behind a number of dead. Spain was at war.
Spain in revolt
From Murat's optimistic reports, Napoleon believed the uprisings would die down and the country become peaceful if his brother held on to the throne while French flying columns seized and pacified Spain's major cities. To this end, Pierre-Antoine, comte Dupont de l'Étang led 24,430 men south toward Seville and Cádiz; Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières moved into Aragón and Old Castile with 25,000 men, aiming to capture Santander and Saragossa; Moncey marched toward Valencia with 29,350 men; and Guillaume Philibert Duhesme marshalled 12,710 troops in Catalonia and moved against Gerona. As a result of these delusions, having no respect for the "insolent" Spanish militias which everywhere opposed him, the first Army of Spain was remarkably weak in numerical terms - at only 90,000 men, indeed, it was heavily outnumbered by the 114,000 regular troops available to the insurgents, let alone anything else that they might raise — whilst it was also largely composed of second-line forces of a distinctly unimpressive character.
Thus, on 6 June troops of Bessieres' corps stormed insurgent Logrono and Torquemada, whose only defenders were a few armed civilians, whilst on 7 June it was the turn of Segovia, strengthened though the inhabitants were by the cannons and cadets of the artillery academy situated in the castle. Also on 7 June Dupont defeated a small force of regulars supported by a mass of levies before storming and sacking Córdoba. On 12 June Antoine Lasalle's cavalry trampled Gregorio de la Cuesta's small, improvised army at the Battle of Cabezón and opened the road to Valladolid, and on 13 and 14 June Palafox was defeated at Mallen and then again at Alagon, where he was lightly wounded. Finally, slightly delayed by the fact that some of the forces involved were recalled so as to assist in the defeat of Cuesta, on 21 June two more French columns stormed the passes of the Cantabrian mountains that led to Santander. The raw levies that formed the bulk of the Spanish forces proved incapable of manoeuvring in the face of the enemy, whilst many of them barely knew how to use their weapons, having sometimes only been issued with muskets the day before they went into action. These untrained recruits typically broke ranks when assaulted by the French regulars, to flee in panic, throwing away their arms, accusing their commanders of treason and leaving the few regulars involved to fend for themselves as best they could. Having run away, meanwhile, the levies invariably exposed themselves to the French cavalry, which were unleashed amongst them with terrible effect, sabring them unmercifully and taking hundreds of them prisoner. French casualties, meanwhile, in no case numbered more than a few dozen.
Catalan militia (somatén) virtually overrunning Barcelona and French units attempting to break the ring were turned back at the Battle of El Bruc with heavy casualties. Gerona repulsed one attack, then , Duhesme, leaving Chabran's brigade to hold Mataro, sullenly retraced his steps to Barcelona. In Aragon the commander of the 6,000-strong French force bearing down on Saragossa, Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes, had decided to rush the city. French overtures for an honourable capitulation met with the laconic reply "War to the knife."José de Palafox y Melzi and the Spaniards defied the French for three months, fighting inch by inch, corps à corps in the streets; 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 counterattacks, Moncey began a long retreat, harried at every step.
Only in the north did the French find a measure of success. When Bessières's march on Santander was checked by a string of partisan attacks in July, the French turned back and encountered Blake and Cuesta with their combined army. In the Battle of Medina del Rio Seco the Spanish generals, at Cuesta's insistence, made 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 Spanish army from the field, putting Old Castile firmly back in Napoleon's hands. Blake, too, escaped, but the Spaniards had lost at least one thousand dead or wounded, twelve hundred prisoners and thirteen guns. French losses had been minimal — perhaps 400 men — whilst it was still relatively early in the day.
Bessières's victory salvaged the strategic position of the French army in northern Spain. The road to Madrid lay open to Joseph, and the failures at Gerona, 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 Bessiéres has been able to beat the Army of Galicia with few casualties and small effort, less than 8,000 troops being engaged, there can be no doubt that with 20,000 men General Dupont will be able to overthrow everybody he meets.” With the Spanish threat scattered, Joseph entered Madrid on 20 July; and on 25 July Joseph was formally acclaimed King of Spain. Just a few days earlier, much alarmed, Dupont was disturbed enough first to curtail his march at Cordoba, and then on 16 June to fall back as far as Andujar. Dupont, cowed by the mass hostility of the Andalusians, broke off his offensive and was sorely defeated at the Battle of Bailén and surrendered his entire Army Corps to Castaños.
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's hard-fought gains. Verdier, the new commander of Zaragoza, finally lifted the siege in August and limped away in defeat. Gerona resisted a second siege. 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.
British military operations on mainland Europe had been limited to raids, after several early attempts to land and keep an army in action had 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 18 June, the Portuguese revolt broke out, and the popular uprisings in Portugal and Spain encouraged the British to commit substantial forces once again. 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".
In August 1808, a British army (including the King's German Legion) landed in Portugal under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Wellesley drove back Henri François Delaborde's forces at the Battle of Roliça on 17 August, as the Portuguese Observation Army of Bernardim Freire de Andrade shadowed Louis Henri Loison's division. On 21 August, Wellesley, who had turned to the mouth of the Maceira river to protect landing reinforcements, came under attack by Jean-Andoche Junot at Vimeiro Hill. The Battle of Vimeiro was the first occasion on which Napoleonic offensive tactics combining skirmishers, columns, and supporting artillery fire failed against the British infantry line and Wellesley's superb defensive skills. Considered too junior an officer to command the newly reinforced expedition to Portugal, Wellesley was replaced first by Sir Harry Burrard and then Sir Hew Dalrymple. The new British commander granted Junot favourable armistice terms, allowing for his unmolested evacuation from Portugal – courtesy of the Royal Navy – in the controversial Convention of Sintra in August. In early October 1808, following the scandal in Britain over the Convention of Sintra and the recall of the generals Dalrymple, Burrard and Wellesley, Sir John Moore took command of the 30,000 man British force in Portugal. In addition, Sir David Baird in command of an expedition of reinforcements out of Falmouth consisting of 150 transports carrying between 12,000 and 13,000 men, convoyed by H.M.S. Louie, Amelia and Champion, entered Corunna Harbour on the 13 October.
In August, the British Baltic fleet and the Spanish officers of the Division of the North orchestrated the evacuation of the La Romana Division. In this escape, 9,000 Spanish soldiers seized Danish ports and shipping in order to make their way to a rendezvous with Admiral Richard Goodwin Keats' British squadron on Langeland island. The soldiers were then transferred to Gothenburg, Sweden, before setting sail for Santander, where they arrived in October. In practice, however, the situation was by no means so rosy. The dispatch of so many troops to Portugal had ensured that there would be a considerable delay before operations could commence in Spain. There were also serious problems with the Spaniards: inherent in the sudden Spanish interest in British troops, for example, lay the desire not just to receive assistance but also to obtain command over them. Equally a desire was beginning to emerge amongst the British to further their influence in Spain or even to impose their own political solutions. With the British army in the hands of an officer who was not only highly ambitious but deeply frustrated, at odds with the ministry, notoriously suspicious of the government's representatives abroad, and possessed of a prickly disposition, trouble was certain, and all the more so given the thunderbolt that was in preparations across the river Ebro.
Napoleon's invasion of Spain
|“||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. By October French strength in Spain, including garrisons, was about 75,000 soldiers. They were facing 86,000 Spanish troops with Spain's 35,000 British allies en route.
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 Armée 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 Austerlitz, 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 Lefebvre-Desnouettes failed to encircle the Army of Galicia after a premature and indecisive attack at the Battle of Pancorbo; Blake drew his artillery back to safety and the bloodied Spanish infantry followed in good order. Lefebvre and Marshal Claude Victor-Perrin offered a careless chase that ended in humiliation at the Battle of 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 overcome by Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle and his sabreurs. Marshal Jean Lannes with a powerful force then smashed through the tottering Spanish right wing at the Battle of Tudela on 23 November, routing Castaños and prompting a new inscription on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Blake's isolated army finally about-faced on 17 November and dug in at the Battle of Espinosa. His lines shook off French attacks over a day and night of vicious fighting before giving up the next day. Blake again managed to outmarch 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 the Battle of Somosierra on 30 November, his Polish and Guard cavalry squadrons charged up a narrow gorge through raking fire to overrun Benito de San Juan's artillery. San Juan's militias then gave way before the relentless French infantry, while the Spanish royal artillerymen held their positions 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.
In Catalonia, Napoleon fed his faltering army strong reinforcements as early as October 1808, ordering Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr with 17,000 men to the relief of Duhesme in Barcelona. 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 Siege of Roses. Lord Thomas 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. The successful Siege of Roses opened the path south for Saint-Cyr, who bypassed Gerona and, after a forced march, fell upon and destroyed part of Juan Miguel de Vives y Feliu's Spanish army at the Battle of Cardadeu near Barcelona on 16 December. Five days later, Saint-Cyr beat the Spaniards under Conde de Caldagues and Theodor von Reding, capturing 1,200 men at the Battle of Molins de Rey.
Moore's failed campaign
By November 1808 the British army, led by Moore, advanced into Spain with orders to assist the Spanish armies in their struggle against the invading forces of Napoleon. For a time the British army was dangerously dispersed with Baird's newly arrived contingent at Astorga to the north, Moore at Salamanca and Hope 70 miles (110 km) to the east near Madrid with all Moore's cavalry and artillery. The main army, under Moore, had advanced to Salamanca and were joined by Hope's detachment on 3 December when Moore received news that the Spanish forces had suffered several defeats. He considered that to avoid disaster he must give up and retreat back to Portugal.
Moore, before retreating, received intelligence of Soult's 16,000 man corps' scattered and isolated position at Carrión and that the French were unaware of the British army's position. On 15 December he seized at this opportunity to advance on the French near Madrid hoping that he might defeat Soult and possibly divert Napoleon’s forces. A junction with Baird on 20 December, advancing from Corunna, raised Moore's strength to 23,500 infantry, 2,400 cavalry and 60 guns and he opened his attack with a successful raid by Lieutenant-General Paget's cavalry on the French picquets at Sahagún on 21 December. However, Moore failed to follow up against a surprised Soult, halting for two days and allowing Soult to concentrate his corps.
Moore remained in León 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 which 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 was defeated by Soult at the Battle of Mansilla. Yet no stand was attempted, both armies rather, on 30 December, getting under way for Galicia. In military terms, Moore's decision to retreat was therefore probably sensible enough, but in other respects it was a disaster. Having first failed to appear in time to meet Napoleon's counter-offensive and then allowed Madrid to fall without firing a shot, the British now seemed to be abandoning Spain altogether. Meanwhile the British troops managed to escape to the sea at A Coruña, after fending off a strong French attack at the Battle of Corunna. Some 26,000 sickly troops eventually reached Britain, 7,000 men having been lost over the course of the expedition.
At first sight, then, British intervention had ended in humiliation and disaster. At La Coruna, true, a reverse had been inflicted on the French. However, Sir John Moore was dead, over one fifth of his army were missing, and several thousand more sick or wounded, whilst the retreat had had all the appearances of a rout; if the army had saved all its guns, it had lost much of its baggage and been forced to destroy almost all the horses that had managed to reach La Coruna. Hundreds more men, meanwhile, were lost in winter storms in the Bay of Biscay and the Channel. Added to all this must be the loss or destruction of immense quantities of materiel, including, most spectacularly of all, 4,000 barrels of powder blown up in a great explosion on 13 January, as well as the occupation of the most heavily populated region in the whole of Spain, and in addition such important towns as Lugo and La Coruna.
Even worse than the physical losses suffered by the Allied cause was the immense damage that had been done to Anglo-Spanish relations. Misled by propagandistic journalists who had consistently claimed that Moore's army was much larger than it actually was and represented Sahagun as a great victory, Spanish opinion was genuinely shocked by the British departure, whilst fuel was added to the flames by the angry accounts of the Marques de la Romana and other observers, the marquess openly accusing Moore of betrayal and bad faith.
Saragossa, still scarred from Lefebvre's bombardments that summer, was invested by the French on 20 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 proved unmovable behind the walls.
Palafox's second 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, even 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 20 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.
Second invasion of Portugal
After the Battle of Corunna and the British evacuation of Spain, Marshal Nicolas Soult turned his attention to the invasion of Portugal. In the grand strategy he had drawn up in late 1808, Napoleon had envisaged a three-pronged offensive into that country, consisting of Soult's corps from the north, Lapisse's 9,000 men from the east and Claude Victor's forces from the south. On paper, Soult had 40,000 men at his disposal, but after the rigorous campaign in Galicia thousands of his troops were sick and he could only muster some 20,000 men. Although he experienced great difficulties in equipping all of these, and a chronic shortage of horses and transport vehicles compounded his problems, the Duke of Dalmatia persevered. As an opening move he took the Spanish naval base at Ferrol on 26 January, capturing eight battleships, three frigates and several thousand prisoners. Of more immediate value were the enormous equipment stockpiles, including 20,000 Brown Bess muskets. This windfall enabled Soult to make good some of his army's material deficiencies and to proceed with the projected invasion of Portugal.
In March Marshal Soult initiated the second invasion of Portugal, through the northern corridor. Initially blocked at the Minho River by Portuguese militia, Soult crossed at Orense, then moved south to capture Chaves. Swinging west, the French found themselves confronted by 25,000 poorly armed and badly disciplined Portuguese. While waiting for Soult's army to arrive, the Portuguese militia lynched their own commander, Bernardim Freire de Andrade, who wished to retreat. On 20 March 1809, 16,000 of Soult's professional troops of the II Corps advanced and butchered 4,000 of their amateur opponents in the Battle of Braga. On 27 March the Spanish forces defeated the French at Vigo, and the French troops at Marín and Pontevedra were forced to retreat to Santiago de Compostela for fear of being outflanked. Spanish forces took the initiative and most of the cities in the province of Pontevedra were recaptured. A similar mismatch occurred when the French reached Porto (Oporto). In the First Battle of Porto on 29 March 1809, the Portuguese defenders panicked, and thousands drowned trying to flee across the Douro River. It was a major French victory. At a cost of fewer than 500 casualties, Soult had secured Portugal's second city with its valuable dockyards and arsenals intact. Moreover, the Portuguese had sustained appalling losses; some 200 guns had been taken and between 6,000 and 20,000 men had been slain, wounded or captured, whilst the booty included immense stocks of food and munitions, and 30 shiploads of wine. Soult occupied northern Portugal, but halted at Oporto to refit his army before advancing on Lisbon.
By May 1809, the French armies were victorious almost everywhere in Spain. Victor advanced on Badajoz, defeating Cuesta at Medellín. The whole Spanish army now fled south across the plain in hopeless disorder and the French cavalry raced after them, inflicting appalling casualties. Lasalle claimed that the 'disgusting Spaniards' lost 14,000 men at Medellin. Certainly, by the time a thunder-storm brought an end to the carnage, at least 8,000 Spanish lay dead, with another 2,000 taken prisoner. Victor's soldiers also carried off nine standards and twenty guns. Estimates of the French losses range between 300 and 2,000 men, although 1,000 would seem to be more credible.
In February 1809, Reding led a reconstituted army against the French right wing and, after vigorous marching and countermarching, took a stand at the Battle of Valls, only to be ridden down and fatally wounded by French cavalry.
However, the resistance of Francisco Silveira in Amarante and other northern cities isolated Soult in Porto. William Carr Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief 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 helped them adapt to the British campaign style. These new forces turned Soult out of Portugal at the Battle of Grijó (10–11 May) and the Second Battle of Porto (12 May). All other northern cities were recaptured by General Silveira. With Portugal in revolt all around him, Soult seemed doomed, but escaped by a daring march through the mountains to Orense. On 7 June, the French army of Marshal Michel Ney was defeated at the Battle of Puente Sanpayo by Spanish forces under the command of Colonel Pablo Morillo, and Ney and his forces retreated to Lugo on 9 June while being harassed by Spanish guerrillas. In Lugo, Ney's troops joined up with those of Soult, who had to leave Portugal, and these forces withdrew from Galicia in July 1809. This marked the final evacuation of Galicia by the French army and the creation of a new front.
Setting aside La Coruna, Talavera was the only occasion in 1809 when British troops had to face a full-scale French assault in a set-piece battle, whilst victory was followed by a fresh retreat and new setbacks. Despite a summer and autumn of bitter fighting, hopes of Allied recovery were therefore revealed to be illusory. At the time that Talavera was fought, however, it must have seemed to many observers that the Allied cause was on the rise.
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 on 23 July. Cuesta, however, was reluctant to agree, and was only persuaded to advance on the following day. This delay gave the French time to withdraw. Cuesta sent his army headlong after Victor, only to find himself faced by the entire French army in New Castile, Victor having in the meantime been reinforced by the Toledo and Madrid garrisons. The Spanish retreated precipitously, while two British divisions advanced to cover their retreat.
On 27 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. Wellesley, ignoring the urgings of Cuesta to proceed to a general attack, decided on a gradual retreat, leaving Talavera on 4 August. He was concerned about the imminent arrival of Soult with his army and was also afraid of being cut off from his base in Portugal. The British commander sent the Light Brigade on a dash to hold the bridge over the Tagus River at Almaraz and, on 8 August, Soult's army faced the Spanish army at Puente del Arzobispo. With communications and supply from Lisbon secured, Wellesley considered rejoining Cuesta, but considerable friction had developed between the British and the Spanish (after Talevera the Spanish had abandoned the British wounded to the French), and actions taken by the Spanish forces resulted in Wellesley's strategic position being compromised. The Spanish had also promised to provide supplies for the British if they advanced into Spain, but this was not done. The ensuing lack of supplies, coupled with the threat of French reinforcement (possibly including Napoleon himself) in the spring, led to the British decision to retreat into Portugal.
Rise and fall of the Junta Central
The Supreme Central Junta grew out of political confusion that followed the abdication of the House of Bourbon. The Spanish government, including the Council of Castile, initially accepted Napoleon's decision to grant the Spanish crown to his brother Joseph. The Spanish population, however, rejected Napoleon's plans and expressed this opposition through the local municipal and provincial governments. Following traditional Spanish political theories, which held that the monarchy was a contract between the monarch and the people (see the legal philosophy of Francisco Suárez), local governments responded to the crisis by transforming themselves into ad hoc governmental juntas (Spanish for "council", "committee", or "board").
This transformation, nevertheless, led to more confusion, since there was no central authority and most juntas did not recognize the presumptuous claim of some to represent the monarchy as a whole. The Junta of Seville, in particular, claimed authority over the overseas empire, because of the province's historic role as the exclusive entrepôt of the empire. Realizing that unity was needed to coordinate efforts against the French and to deal with British aid, several Supreme Juntas – Murcia, Valencia, Seville, and Castile and León – called for the formation of a central junta. After a series of negotiations between the juntas and the discredited Council of Castile, which initially had supported Joseph I, a "Supreme Central and Governmental Junta of Spain and the Indies" met in Aranjuez on 25 September 1808, with the Conde de Floridablanca as its president. Serving as surrogate for the absent king and royal government, it called on representatives from the Iberian provinces and the overseas possessions to meet in an "Extraordinary and General Cortes of the Spanish Nation", so called because it would be both the single legislative body for the whole empire and the body which would write a constitution for it.
As agreed to in the negotiations, the Supreme Central Junta was composed of two representatives chosen by the juntas of the capitals of the peninsular kingdoms of the Spanish Monarchy. Early on, the Junta rejected the idea of establishing a regency, which would have meant the concentration of executive power in a small number of persons, and assumed that role itself, claiming the style of "Majesty". The Junta was forced to abandon Madrid in November 1808, and resided in the Alcázar of Seville from 16 December 1808 until 23 January 1810. (Hence the appellation of "Junta of Seville", not to be confused with the earlier provincial junta.)
The Junta took over direction of the war effort and established war taxes, organized an Army of La Mancha, and signed a treaty of alliance with the United Kingdom on 14 January 1809. As it became apparent that the war would last longer than initially thought, the Junta again took up the issue of convening a Cortes in April 1809, issuing a royal decree to the effect on 22 May. A committee presided by Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos organized the legal and logistical efforts to carry this out.
The Junta also agreed that the "overseas kingdoms" would send one representative. These "kingdoms" were defined as "the viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, New Kingdom of Granada, and Buenos Aires, and the independent captaincies general of the island of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Chile, Province of Venezuela, and Philippines" in the Junta's royal order of 22 January 1809. This scheme was criticized in America for providing unequal representation to the overseas territories. Several important and large cities were left without direct representation in the Supreme Central Junta. In particular Quito and Charcas, which saw themselves as the capitals of kingdoms, resented being subsumed in the larger "kingdom" of Peru. This unrest led to the establishment of juntas in these cities in 1809, which were eventually quashed by the authorities within the year. (See Luz de América and Bolivian War of Independence.) Nevertheless, throughout early 1809 the governments of the capitals of the viceroyalties and captaincies general elected representatives to the Junta, although none arrived in time to serve on it. By the beginning of 1810, the forces under the Supreme Central Junta's command had suffered serious military reverses – the Battle of Ocaña and the Battle of Alba de Tormes – in which the French inflicted heavy losses on the Spanish.
By the end of November, Patriot Spain was in a bad shape. In Catalonia, Gerona was in its last moments; Spain's two largest armies had been shattered; and the British army was preparing to leave the Guadiana. Intelligence reports were received of large masses of fresh enemy troops crossing the frontier from France. Scattered as they were along the length of the Sierra Morena, the defenders had no way of stopping the flood that burst upon them on 19 January 1810. In all, some 60,000 French troops – the corps of Victor, Mortier and Sebastiani together with a number of other formations – poured southwards to assault the Spanish positions. Overwhelmed at every point, Aréizaga's men fled eastwards and southwards, leaving town after town to fall into the hands of the enemy. The result was revolution. Abandoning last-minute efforts to turn Seville into another Zaragossa, on 23 January the Junta Central decided to flee to the safety of Cádiz. In light of this situation, the Central Junta dissolved itself on 29 January 1810 and set up a five-person Regency Council of Spain and the Indies, charged with convening the Cortes. The system of juntas was replaced by a regency and the Cádiz Cortes, which established a permanent government under the Constitution of 1812. In 1810 Soult rapidly cleared all of southern Spain except Cádiz, which he left Victor to blockade.
Emergence of the guerrilla
The Peninsular War is regarded as one of the first national wars, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare. It is from this conflict that the English language borrowed the word. The Spanish War of Independence was one of the most successful partisan wars in history. This guerrilla warfare was costly for both sides, however: not only did the guerrillas trouble the French troops, but they also petrified their own countrymen with a combination of forced conscription and looting. Many of the partisans were either fleeing the law or trying to get rich. Later in the war the authorities tried to make the guerrillas militarily reliable, and many of them formed such regular army units as Espoz y Mina's "Cazadores de Navarra".
The idea of turning the guerrillas into an armed force had both positive and negative effects. Uniform and strict military discipline would stop men from running off into the streets and disappearing from the band; however, the more disciplined the unit, the easier it was for French troops to catch them when they sprang an ambush. Only a few partisan leaders joined up with the military authorities; most did so to avoid criminal charges, to retain their effective status of an officer in the Spanish army, or to receive weaponry, clothes, and food.
The guerrilla style of fighting was the Spanish military's single most effective tactic. Most organized attempts on the part of regular Spanish forces to take on the French led to their defeat. However, once a battle was lost and the soldiers reverted to their guerrilla roles, they effectively tied down large numbers of French troops over a wide area with a much lower expenditure of men, energy, and supplies.
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.
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. 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 future engagements. The French, not realising the code had been broken, continued to use it until their code tables were captured at the Battle of Vitoria.
Revolution under siege
In the early 19th century, war was brewing between Napoleon I and the Russian Tsar Alexander I, and Napoleon saw the shared interests of Britain and Russia in defeating him as a threat. Napoleon's advisor the Duke of Cadore recommended that the ports of Europe be closed to the British: "Once in Cadiz, Sire, you will be in a position either to break or strengthen the bonds with Russia."
Following the occupation of Seville, Cádiz became the Spanish seat of power, and was targeted by 70,000 French troops under the command of the Marshals Claude Victor and Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult for one of the most important sieges of the war. Defending the city were 2,000 Spanish troops who received aid from 10,000 Spanish reinforcements, as well as British and Portuguese troops, as the siege progressed.
The port of Cádiz was surrounded on land by the armies of Soult and Victor, in three entrenched positions situated in a semicircle around the city. The terrain surrounding the port's strong fortifications proved difficult for the French, who also suffered from a lack of supplies and from attacks by guerrilla raiding parties.
During the siege, which lasted two and a half years, the Cortes Generales government in Cadiz (the Cádiz Cortes) drew up a new constitution to reduce the strength of the monarchy (a constitution eventually revoked by Ferdinand VII).
Once Cádiz was secured, all eyes could focus on the political situation. In essence, it was dominated by three factors: the instructions that had been left by the Junta Suprema Central y Gubernativa del Reino concerning the convocation of the Cortes Generales; the installation of a new Consejo de Regencia de España e Indias; and the emergence of Cádiz itself as a major player in the political process. Insofar as the first is concerned, the members of the Junta Suprema Central, known as the Consejo Reunido, were opposed to all forms of political progress. The Junta's leading figure, Francisco Javier Castaños, was much given to dissemblance and compromise, and forswore a second chamber in favour of restoring the various councils brought together in the Consejo Reunido, in the hope that such a move would clip the wings of the new assembly in a fashion that, whilst more subtle, was no less effective. With this matter out of the way, the Consejo de Regencia reserved its energies for matters more related to the war effort. Over the course of the next few months, a series of decrees appeared that limited the power of the Juntas Provinciales still further, established a permanent general staff, formed a new artillery academy in place of an earlier one that had been destroyed when the French captured Seville, and gave the Spanish infantry a new organisational structure that would have eliminated many surplus regiments. At the same time, such aid as was possible was funnelled to the struggling Spanish armies, whilst a conscious attempt was made to improve relations with the British, whose interests in Patriot Spain were now represented (after a brief interregnum in which the embassy had been occupied by John Hookham Frere's brother Bartholomew Frere) by Arthur Wellesley's youngest brother, Henry Wellesley.
Third invasion of Portugal
Fearing a new French assault on Portugal, Wellesley created a powerful defensive position near Lisbon, to which he could fall back if necessary. To protect the city, he ordered the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras – three strong lines of forts, blockhouses, redoubts, and ravelins with numerous fortified artillery positions – under the supervision of Sir Richard Fletcher. The various parts of the lines communicated with each other by semaphore, allowing immediate response to any threat. The work began in the autumn of 1809 and the first line was finished one year later. To further hamper the enemy, the areas immediately in front of the lines were subjected to a scorched earth policy: they were denuded of food, forage, and shelter. Some 200,000 inhabitants of neighbouring districts were relocated inside the lines.
Taking the Spanish fortified town of Ciudad Rodrigo after a siege lasting from 26 April to 9 July 1810, the French reinvaded Portugal with an army of around 65,000, led by Marshal Masséna, and forced Wellington back through Almeida to Busaco. The first significant clash on Portuguese soil was at the Battle of the Côa, with the French driving back Robert Crauford's heavily-outnumbered Light Division. Masséna moved to attack the strongly held British position on the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile-long ridge), resulting in the Battle of Buçaco on 27 September. Suffering high casualties, the French failed to dislodge the Anglo-Portuguese army. The next day, Masséna turned Wellington's flank, and the latter thereupon retired – devastating the countryside as he went – into a previously fortified position called the "Lines of Torres Vedras".
By 10 October 1810, only the British light division and some cavalry patrols remained outside the "Lines". Wellington manned the fortifications with "secondary troops"—25,000 Portuguese militia, 8,000 Spaniards and 2,500 British marines and artillerymen—keeping his main field army of British and Portuguese regulars dispersed in order to rapidly meet a French assault on any point of the Lines.
Masséna's Army of Portugal concentrated around Sobral, apparently in preparation to attack. However, after a fierce skirmish on 14 October in which the strength of the Lines became apparent, the French dug themselves in rather than launch a costly full-scale assault. The British suffered a setback the next day in the Battle of Fuengirola. On 15 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.
However, when obliged to live off the land the Imperial troops demonstrated a quite remarkable ability to do so, and in this sense were vastly superior to their opponents. Staggered by the resilience of the French army in the desert-like conditions of Portugal, Wellington wrote to Lord Liverpool on 21 December 1810:
It is certainly astonishing that the enemy have been able to remain in this country so long; and it is an extraordinary instance of what a French army can do. It is positively a fact that they brought no provisions with them, and they have not received even a letter since they entered Portugal. With all our money and having in our favour the good inclinations of the country, I assure you that I could not maintain one division in the district in which they have maintained not less than 60,000 men and 20,000 animals for more than two months.
In late October, after Massena held his starving army before Lisbon for a month, he fell back to a position between Santarém and Rio Maior., where Wellington did not choose to attack him. In March, with supplies exhausted, Massena managed a skillful retreat on Salamanca, with Ney again displaying a savage talent for rear-guard fighting. Following Masséna's withdrawal, Wellington moved the 2nd Division under Lieutenant General Hill, along with two Portuguese brigades and an attachment of Dragoons, across the Tagus to protect the plains of Alentejo—both from Masséna and a possible attack from Andalusia by the French Army of the South.
A bloody stalemate was not the sort of battle that had been expected to follow Masséna's expulsion from Portugal. His confidence and moral authority having been much boosted by Torres Vedras, the spring of 1811 found Wellington intending to move over to the offensive, for which policy he had received de facto authorization from his political masters in London, where talks of major reductions in the size of the army employed in Portugal had been replaced by promises of major reinforcements. In the event, however, success was limited, the story of the rest of 1811 essentially being one of failure and frustration. In March 1811, however, such a prospect would have been hard to envisage. In Cadiz, true, there had been fresh trouble in that, beguiled by serviles eager to engineer British discontent with the Regency, Henry Wellesley had been tricked into putting forward a plan much favoured by both himself and his eldest brother, the marquess, whereby Wellington would be given the command of the Spanish army and British officers posts in its ranks, in exchange for which Britain would grant the enormous loan which the Spaniards had for some time since seen as the only way out of their penury. In political and financial terms alike, this was utterly impractical - gaditano opinion was hostile, whilst Lord Wellesley's enthusiasm failed to win over his Cabinet colleagues. Only slightly less maladroit, meanwhile, was a follow-up suggestion that the provinces bordering on Portugal should be placed under British authority, this idea, too, being rejected out of hand. However, with the French still ensconced in Almeida, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, the problems which the measures were designed to combat - essentially, a repetition of the troubles of the Talavera campaign - remained wholly academic.
The allies, reinforced by the arrival of fresh British troops in early 1811, began an offensive. During 1811, Victor's force was continually diminished because of requests for reinforcement from Soult to aid his siege of Badajoz. This reduction in men, which brought the French numbers down to between 20,000 and 15,000, encouraged the defenders of Cádiz to attempt a breakout, in conjunction with the arrival of an Anglo-Spanish relief army of around 16,000 troops under the overall command of Spanish General Manuel La Peña, with the British contingent being led by Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham. Marching towards Cádiz on February 28, this force met a French detachment of two French divisions under Victor at Barrosa. Strategically indecisive, the Battle of Barrosa on 5 March was part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break the siege of Cádiz, but the cowardice of La Peña made it a fruitless success, and Victor soon renewed the blockade. Soult came from the south to threaten Extremadura. He captured the fortress town of Badajoz before returning to Andalusia with most of his army. This timid surrender contrasted with the resistance mounted at Gerona and Saragossa: Badadoz's garrison still numbered 8,000 effectives, had a month's ammunition and food, and was expecting a relief column under Beresford. The city's fall crowned a campaign in which, with only 20,000 men, Soult had seized two fortress, taken 16,000 prisoners and annihilated the Spanish army in Estremadura. Above all, he was relieved at the operation's speedy conclusion, for three pieces of disturbing information had reached him on 8 March and his presence was required elsewhere.
In April, Wellington besieged Almeida. Masséna advanced to its relief, attacking Wellington at Fuentes de Onoro. The French claimed victory, because they won the passage at Poco Velho, cleared the wood, turned the British right flank, obliged the cavalry to retire, and forced Wellington to relinquish three miles of ground. The British also claimed victory, because the village of Fuentes was in their hands and their object (covering the blockade of Almeida) was attained. The French, without being in any manner molested, retired. The innate toughness of Wellington's troops and Bessières's failure to support Masséna assisted the Allied effort more than any grand plan. Bessières led the cavalry of the Imperial Guard and refused to obey orders from Massena. After this battle, the Almeida garrison escaped through the British lines by a night march. An infuriated Wellington wrote, "I have never been so much distressed by any military event as by the escape of even a man of them." Napier writes of the events of the events that: "In the battle of Fuentes Onoro, more errors than skill were observable on both sides ..." Masséna, forced to withdraw after an allied victory at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro (3–5 May), had lost a total of 25,000 men in Portugal and was replaced by Auguste Marmont.
An Anglo-Portuguese army led by the British Marshal William Beresford and a Spanish army led by the Spanish generals Joaquín Blake and Francisco Castaños, attempted to retake Badajoz, laying siege to the French garrison Soult had left behind. Soult regathered his army and marched to relieve the siege. Beresford lifted the siege and his army intercepted the marching French. Part of Wellington's army had besieged Badajoz, until Soult forced it to retire on Albuera, where was fought the Battle of Albuera. Soult outmaneuvered Beresford, but could not win the battle, writing later that he had never seen "so desperate and bloody a conflict" and commenting on the steadfastness of the British troops: "There is no beating these troops ... I had turned their right, pierced their centre and everywhere victory was mine – but they did not know how to run!" He then retired his army to Seville. Wellington joined Beresford and renewed the siege of Badajoz. Marmont (who had replaced Masséna) joined Soult, and Wellington retired – but soon appeared before Ciudad Rodrigo. In September, Marmont crowded him back and re-provisioned that fortress.
Sorties continued to be made out of Cádiz from April to August 1811, and British naval gunboats also destroyed French positions at St. Mary's. An attempt by Victor to crush the small Anglo-Spanish garrison at Tarifa over the winter of 1811–1812 was frustrated by torrential rains and an obstinate defence, marking an end to French operations against the city's outer works. The war now fell into a temporary lull, with the vast, numerically superior French 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, were deployed to protect the French lines of supply, rather than as substantial fighting units.
Allied Campaign in Western Spain
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 the early autumn of 1811 the French had still been in a position to take the initiative in the Kingdom of Spain, given that they had sufficient resources simultaneously to contain the Anglo-Portuguese, hold their own in la guerrilla, and embark on the conquest of still more Patriot territory. There having been no major challenge to Napoleon since the War of the Fifth Coalition, for some considerable time this had been no problem, the troops already in Spain having been kept up to strength, and many fresh units sent to join them. Implicit in this situation was the absence of any other employment that would require an overwhelming effort on the part of the emperor's soldiers, but in the autumn of 1811 just such a demand suddenly emerged. In January 1812 Napoleon approved the annexation of Catalonia into the French Empire. Its territory was divided into the départements of Ter, Sègre, Montserrat, and Bouches-de-l'Èbre. Seeking the approval of the local population, Catalan was declared the official language in those departments (together with French). However, the Catalans' historical aversion to the French ensured that guerrilla activity continued in Catalonia. Very soon, then, orders were going out for the grande armée to concentrate in East Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. For josefino Spain the implications were very serious. Thus, by January 1812 all troops of the Imperial Guard (Napoleon I) and units of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw serving across the Pyrenees were called back to France. Troops, amounting to well over 25,000, were then withdrawn from the Peninsula by Napoleon for the planned summer Invasion of Russia. Worst hit was Jean-Marie Dorsenne, who lost two full infantry divisions and the best part of his cavalry, whilst Louis-Gabriel Suchet and Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult each lost some 6,000.
Wellington renewed the allied advance into Spain in early 1812, besieging and capturing the essential border fortress towns of Ciudad Rodrigo (on 19 January) and, after a bloody and costly assault, Badajoz (on 6 April). The allied army took Salamanca on 17 June, just as Marshal Marmont approached. The two forces finally met on 22 July, when Wellington inflicted a severe defeat on the French in the Battle of Salamanca, during which Marmont himself was severely wounded. The French were then forced to abandon Andalusia permanently, for fear of being cut off by the allied armies.
Meanwhile Spanish armies defeated the French garrisons at Astorga and Guadalajara. After the victory at Salamanca, on 22 July 1812 caused King Joseph Bonaparte to abandon Madrid on 11 August. Soult, realising he was soon to be cut off from his supply, ordered a retreat from Cádiz set for August 24, finally ending the near two and a half year Siege of Cádiz. After a long artillery barrage, the French placed together the muzzles of over 600 cannons, to destroy them. While these guns were rendered unusable to the Spanish and British, the Allied forces captured 30 gunboats and a large quantity of vital stores. Because Suchet had a secure base at Valencia, Joseph and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan retreated there and were joined by Marshals Suchet and Nicolas Soult. Together, Joseph and the three marshals worked out a plan to recapture Madrid and drive Wellington from central Spain. Their subsequent counteroffensive caused the British general to lift the Siege of Burgos and retreat to Portugal in the autumn of 1812.
French autumn counterattack
The Allied liberation of Madrid on 12 August 1812 was the culmination of a series of triumphs that had turned the tide of the war in Spain. Whereas early 1812 had seen the French armies winning fresh conquests, within eight months they had been expelled from as much as half the territory they had managed to occupy since 1808. As for the future, all seemed set for further victories and a continued thaw in British–Spanish relations. Yet, as so often before, appearances were deceptive, the next three months bringing failure and humiliation to British and Spaniards alike. In theory the Spaniards could put at least 100,000 more men into the ﬁeld, whilst the liberated territories offered the prospect of fresh troops. The inability of the Allies to capitalize on this additional contribution tipped the balance; Spanish affairs took precedence in the autumn of 1812. On 6 August, then, the victors of Salamanca set off for Madrid from Valladolid. Facing them were Joseph and Jourdan, but, with only 22.00o troops, many of them juramentados of little reliability, they were in no position to defend the capital. Covered by a screen of cavalry which succeeded in inflicting a sharp reverse on some Portuguese dragoons at Majadahonda, on 10 August a great convoy consisting of Joseph's troops, the royal household, 2,000 wagons and perhaps 15,000 civilian refugees set off along the highway that led through Aranjuez and Albacete and thence to Valencia. In Andalucia, meanwhile, so bad had communications become between his Viceroyalty and central Spain that Soult did not get certain news of Salamanca until 12 August. On 25 August the siege of Cadiz was abandoned, and on 27 August Seville (with the exception of a small rearguard that was ejected the next day by a hastily improvised Anglo-Spanish division which had been sent up from Cadiz).
As the French regrouped, the allies advanced towards Burgos. (One of several acts that soured relations between the British and the Spanish during the Peninsulas War was the destruction of the famous ceramic factory in Madrid, and the wool factory and Roman bridge at Alcantara, by Wellington's troops.) Between September 19 and October 21 Wellington besieged Burgos but failed to capture it, then retreating to Portugal pursued by the enemy, losing several thousands of men. Napier writes: "The French gathered a good spoil of baggage ... According to muster-rolls, about 1,000 Anglo-Portuguese were killed, wounded and missing ... but this only refers to loss in action; Hill's loss between the Tagus and the Tormes was, including stragglers, 400, and the defence of Alba de Tormes cost one hundred. If the Spanish regulars and partidas marching with the two armies be reckoned to have lost a 1,000 which considering their want of discipline is not exaggerated, the whole loss previous to the French passage of the Tormes will amount perhaps to 3,000 men. But the loss between the Tormes and the Agueda was certainly greater, for nearly 300 were killed and wounded at the Huebra; many stragglers died in the woods, and Jourdan said the prisoners, Spanish, Portuguese and English, brought to Salamanca up to the 20th Nov, were 3,520. The whole loss of the double retreat cannot therefore be set down at less than 9,000, including the loss in the siege. Some French writers have spoken of 10,000 being taken between the Tormes and the Agueda, and Souham estimated the previous loss, incl. the siege of Burgos, at 7,000. But the King in his dispatches called the whole loss 12,000, including therein the garrison of Chinchilla, and he observed that if the cavalry generals, Soult [not the marshal] and Tilley, had followed the allies vigorously from Salamanca the loss would have been much greater. ... On the other hand English authors have most unaccountably reduced the British loss to as many hundreds." As a consequence of the Salamanca campaign, the French were forced to end their long and costly siege of Cádiz and to permanently evacuate the provinces of Andalusia and Asturias. For Napoleon, however, losing in Spain in 1812 or 1813 would have meant little had there been a decisive victory in Germany or Russia.
Defeat of King Joseph
By the end of 1812 the Grande Armée that had invaded the Russian Empire had ceased to exist. Unable to resist the oncoming Russians, the French also had to evacuate East Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. With both the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia likely to join his opponents, Napoleon responded by withdrawing more troops from Spain. Also taken were a few more foreign units, together with three battalions of sailors who had been sent to assist with the Siege of Cádiz. At some 20,000 men, the numbers were not overwhelming, but even so the occupying forces were left in a difficult position. In much of the area that was under their control – the Basque provinces, Navarre, Aragon, Old Castile, La Mancha, the Levante, and parts of Catalonia and León – their only presence was a few scattered garrisons, and even these forces were spread thin. Trying to hold a front line that stretched in a great arc from Bilbao to Valencia, they were clearly as vulnerable to an assault as they had been in 1812, and, with hopes of victory abandoned, the best policy would therefore have been to have fallen back to the Ebro. But such a course of action was more than Napoleon could have stomached. If imperial prestige had always made retrenchment very difficult, in 1813 the political situation rendered it out of the question. With dozens of German princes nervously eyeing the oncoming Russian armies and wondering whether they ought to change sides, the last thing that was needed was a confession of weakness. At the same time, of course, their prestige had suffered a great blow, for on 17 March el rey intruso duly left Madrid in the company of another vast caravan of refugees.
The following year, Wellington marched 121,000 troops (53,749 British, 39,608 Spanish, and 27,569 Portuguese) from northern Portugal across the mountains of northern Spain and the Esla River, around Marshal Jourdan's army of 68,000 strung out between the Douro and the Tagus. 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 21 June, the 65,000 men of Joseph Bonaparte's army were routed by 52,000 British, 28,000 Portuguese, and 25,000 Spaniards. After Vittoria Wellington failed to pursue effectively and the French recovered. He now shortened his communications by shifting his base of operations to the northern Spanish coast, and began operations against San Sebastian and Pampeluna, at first unsuccessfully. Soult was given command of all French troops in Spain and advanced through the western Pyrenees, but was finally repulsed. The Spanish army of Enrique José O'Donnell took Pancorbo on 3 July, with the French troops capitulating. With 18,000 men, Wellington captured the French-garrisoned city of San Sebastián under Brigadier-General Louis Emmanuel Rey after a siege that lasted from 7 July to 8 September 1813 and incurred heavy British losses. The city was sacked and burnt to the ground by the Anglo-Portuguese, an event that infuriated the Spaniards.
Invasion of France
Though heartened by the news that Austria had entered the war and, further, that the Allied armies had at least succeeded in avoiding a decisive defeat in a major clash with Napoleon at Dresden the previous month, British headquarters was filled with misgiving with regard to the eastern powers. As Wellington's brother-in-law, Edward Pakenham, wrote, "I should think that much must depend upon proceedings in the north: I really begin to apprehend ... that Boney may avail himself of the jealousy of the Allies to the material injury of the cause." But the defeat or defection of Austria, Russia and Prussia was not the only danger. It was by no means clear that Wellington could continue to count on Spanish support. Invasion seemed likely to be a rough ride even if Napoleon remained tied up in the east.
Things were not well in the British Army. Summer in the Basque provinces and Navarre is not the season of blazing heat to be found in the rest of the Peninsula, and in 1813 the weather appears to have been particularly bad. With the army drenched by incessant rain, the decision to strip the men of their greatcoats was looking unwise. Sickness was widespread — at one point no fewer than one third of Wellington British troops had been hors de combat — whilst there were also many fears as to the army's discipline and general reliability. Straggling had by 9 July become so general that Wellington reported that fully 12,500 men were absent without leave, whilst plundering had gone on without cease: "We paint the conduct of the French in this country in very ... harsh colours," said Major General Sir F.P Robinson, "but be assured we injure the people much more than they do ... Wherever we move devastation marks our steps." Finally, with the army established on the bords of France, desertion had became a problem. Had the units affected only been those recruited from deserters and prisoners of war, this would have been bad enough: the nominally French Chasseurs Britanniques, for example, lost 150 men in a single night. But the problem was clearly much more general. Thus: "The desertion is terrible, and is quite unaccountable, particularly among the British troops. I am not astonished that the foreigners should go ... but, unless they entice away the British soldiers, there is no accounting for their going away in such numbers as they do."
The allies chased the retreating French, reaching the Pyrenees in early July. Soult, given command of the French forces, began a counter-offensive, dealing the allied generals two sharp defeats at the Battle of Maya and the Battle of Roncesvalles. Pushing on into Spain, the Roncesvalles wing of Soult's army, which was led by the marshal himself, had by 27 July got to within ten miles of Pamplona, only to find its way blocked by a substantial Allied force that had taken post on a high ridge in between the villages of Sorauren and Zabaldica. 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 Marcial (31 August 1813).
On 7 October, after Wellington received news of the reopening of hostilities in Germany, the allies finally crossed into France, fording the Bidasoa river. On 11 December, a beleaguered and desperate Napoleon agreed to a separate peace with Spain under the Treaty of Valençay, 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 continued with the allied victories of Bera pass, the Battle of Nivelle, the Battle of Nive near Bayonne (10–14 December 1813), the Battle of Orthez (27 February 1814), and the Battle of Bayonne (14 April), this last occurring after Napoleon's abdication.
Peace and thereafter
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, priests and patriots stirred up agitation, which became widespread after the French army's first examples of repression (such as that in Madrid in 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 the new king Ferdinand VII, "the Desired One" (later "the Traitor king"), revoked all the changes made by the independent Cortes, which had been summoned in Cádiz to act on his behalf, coordinating the provincial Juntas and resisting 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 19 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 in self-government led the later Libertadores (Liberators) to promote the independence of Spain’s American colonies.
Not only had many officers perished in the uprising of May 1808, but the authority of the army had been severely reduced and the autonomy of the military estate invaded in an unprecedented manner. Following the uprising, meanwhile, new officers and old had found themselves waging a desperate war against a powerful aggressor in the most unfavourable circumstances. Hostile to military discipline, the troops had been prone to riot and desertion, just as the populace had done all that it could to resist the draft. Meanwhile, unscrupulous and irresponsible propagandists had created false expectations of victory, whilst equally unscrupulous and irresponsible politicians had interfered in the conduct of military operations, failed to supply the army with the sinews of war, fomented alternative structures of military organisation that hindered the war effort as much as they assisted it, and made general after general scapegoats for disasters which were often none of their making.
The countryside had been pillaged unmercifully, subjected to a process of destabilising social change and plunged into anarchy. And, to cap it all, such means as existed of palliating the situation in humans terms — above all, the Church — had been stripped both of their resources and, in many cases, their very capacity to operate. The Peninsular War, then, gave birth to the violence and popular antagonism that, along with military intervention in politics, were to be nineteenth- century Spain's most pronounced characteristics. As for Portugal her position was only marginally more favorable. Revolt having failed to spread to Brazil, there was no colonial struggle to be waged, whilst there had been no attempt at political revolution. Cruelly exposing the limitations of eighteenth-century enlightened absolutism, it also dealt a heavy blown to the pretensions of the Church and the nobility. Thus, the former had suffered appalling losses in terms of its personnel — as many as one third of the clergy may have died or been killed in the struggle — and been stripped of a considerable part of its physical presence in much of Spain, whilst desamortización, hostility to the tihes and the demands of French and Patriots alike for money had left it denuded of resources.
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 scant influence because of the successive French invasions and British occupation.
The role of the War Minister Miguel Pereira Forjaz was unique. Wellington held him to be the ablest man in Portugal. Under Marshal William Carr Beresford he helped to build a regular army of 55,000 men with 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.
Goya's series of 82 prints The Disasters of War (1810–20) remains the most famous and powerful depiction of the war and its effects on the civilian population. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki (1814) is narrated from the time of the Peninsular War. Prosper Mérimée's Carmen (1845), on which Bizet's opera (1875) was based, is set during the war. The Spanish zarzuela La Viejecita (1897), set in 1812, celebrates the entry of the joint forces into Madrid. The C. S. Forester novel Death to the French (1932) concerns a private in a British rifle regiment who is cut off from his unit and joins a group of Portuguese guerrillas. The 1957 motion picture The Pride and the Passion, also set during the war, was based on Forester's The Gun (1933). F. L. Lucas's novel The English Agent – A Tale of the Peninsular War (1969), about the Battle of Bailén and its aftermath, is the account of a British Army officer who, gathering information before the first British landings, buys a Frenchwoman at auction to save her from the Spanish mob. Lucas's poem "Spain 1809" (in From Many Times and Lands, 1953), the story of a Spanish village woman's courage during the French occupation, was turned into the play A Kind of Justice by Margaret Wood (1966). Curro Jiménez was a successful Spanish TV series (1976–79) about a generous bandit fighting against the French in the Sierra Morena. The series of Sharpe novels (1981–2007) by Bernard Cornwell follow a British Army officer's adventures, some of which are set during the Peninsular War. The stories were later made into a series of television movies featuring actor Sean Bean as Sharpe. A short but dramatic episode from the war is given in Gary Jennings's Aztec Rage. A board wargame called Wellington – The Peninsular War 1812–1814 was produced by GMT Games in 2005.
The Peninsular War saw the first use of medal bars. Also known as "devices", these are clasps affixed to the ribbons from which medals are suspended. The Peninsular Medal, more properly known as the Army Gold Medal, was issued to senior officers in Wellington's army. Added clasps give the name of a major battle in which the holder participated. Once four clasps had been earned, a Peninsular Cross was awarded, each arm being inscribed with one of the battles named on an earned clasp. Subsequent clasps were then added to the ribbon. Wellington's Peninsular Cross, featuring a unique nine clasps (thirteen battles), can be seen on his uniform in the basement of Apsley House. In 1847, the surviving lower-ranked officers and enlisted men received the Military General Service Medal, with battle clasps, for service in this conflict.
- Glover, p. 45. Some accounts mark the Franco-Spanish invasion of Portugal as the beginning of the war.
- Glover, p 335. Denotes the date of the general armistice between France and the Sixth Coalition.
- Known in French as Guerre d'Espagne et du Portugal ("War in Spain and in Portugal"); it is also known as Guerra del Francès ("the War of the Frenchmen") in Catalonia and Invasões Francesas ("French Invasions") in Portugal.
- Peña,Lorenzo. Un puente jurídico entre Iberoamérica y Europa: la Constitución española de 1812. Instituto de Filosofía del CSIC. "The first thing there is to understand is that in a good measure, the Courts of Cadiz created a new state, the Spanish state. [...] there had never been a proclamation of a Kingdom of Spain, so that difficulties always arose upon the legal value of the very frequent references to 'Spain' in the legal texts of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Spanish sovereigns had always refused the advice [...] in the sense of establishing a United Kingdom of Spain, preferring to see themselves as vertices of converging scattered kingdoms, at least in theory. Even the Napoleonic Bayonne Constitution of 1808 did not proclaime a kingdom of Spain, but a 'Crown of Spain and the Indies'. On the other hand, 'Spain' was merely a geographical name, a simple romance version of 'Hispania',whereby its use, in principle, should not have to go beyond the designations 'Galia', 'Germania' [...]
- Churchill, p. 258. "Nothing like this universal uprising of a numerous, ancient race and nation, all animated by one thought, had been seen before ... For the first time the forces unchained by the French Revolution, which Napoleon had disciplined and directed, met not kings or Old World hierarchies, but a whole population inspired by the religion and patriotism which ... Spain was to teach to Europe."
- Laqueur, p. 350. Laqueur notes that the war was "one of the first occasions when guerrilla warfare had been waged on a large scale in modern times."
- Gates, pp. 33–34. Gates notes that much of the French army "was rendered unavailable for operations against Wellington because innumerable Spanish contingents kept materialising all over the country. In 1810, for example, when Massena invaded Portugal, the Imperial forces in the Peninsula totaled a massive 325,000 men, but only about one quarter of these could be spared for the offensive—the rest were required to contain the Spanish insurgents and regulars. This was the greatest single contribution that the Spaniards were to make and, without it, Wellington could not have maintained himself on the continent for long—let alone emerge victorious from the conflict."
- Chandler, The Art of Warfare on Land, p. 164
- Glover, p. 52. Glover notes that "the Spanish troops were no match for the French. They were ill-equipped and sketchily supplied. Their ranks were filled with untrained recruits. Their generals bickered among themselves. They lost heavily but their armies were not destroyed. Time and time again Spanish armies lost their artillery, their colours, their baggage. They suffered casualties on a scale that would have crippled a French or a British army. They never disintegrated. They would retire to some inaccessible fastness, reorganise themselves and reappear to plague the French as they had never been plagued before."
- Guerrero Acosta, José Manuel. "Ejército y pueblo durante la Guerra de la Independencia. Notas para el estudio de una simbiosis histórica", Revista de historia militar. Núm. extr. 2 (2009), dedicado a "La Guerra de la Independencia: una visión militar", pp. 239–279
- Guerrero Acosta, José Manuel, "La Guerra de la Independencia en los archivos del Ejército de Tierra", Fuentes documentales para el estudio de la Guerra de la Independencia. Congreso internacional: Pamplona, 1–3 de febrero de 2001, coord. Francisco Miranda Rubio, Pamplona: Ediciones Eunate, 2002, pp. 203–212
- David Gates (1986). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. Allen and Unwin
- Fletcher, Ian (2003). The Lines of Torres Vedras 1809–11, Osprey Publishing
- Payne, Stanley G. (1973). A History of Spain and Portugal: Eighteenth Century to Franco 2. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 432–433. ISBN 978-0-299-06270-5. "The Spanish pattern of conspiracy and revolt by liberal army officers ... was emulated in both Portugal and Italy. In the wake of Riego's successful rebellion, the first and only pronunciamiento in Italian history was carried out by liberal officers in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Spanish-style military conspiracy also helped to inspire the beginning of the Russian revolutionary movement with the revolt of the Decembrist army officers in 1825. Italian liberalism in 1820–1821 relied on junior officers and the provincial middle classes, essentially the same social base as in Spain. It even used a Hispanized political vocabulary, led by giunte (juntas), appointed local capi politici (jefes políticos), used the terms liberali and servili (emulating the Spanish word serviles applied to supporters of absolutism), and in the end, talked of resisting by means of a guerrilla. For both Portuguese and Italian liberals of these years, the Spanish constitution of 1812 remained the standard document of reference."
- Esdaile, p. 2
- Gates, pp. 5–7 and Esdaile, pp. 2–5
- McLynn, Frank. Napoleon: A Biography, Pimlico, London, 1997. p. 396
- Esdaile, pp. 7–8 and Gates, p. 8
- Carr, Raymond. Spain, A History". Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 194–195
- Esdaille, p. 166
- Chandler, p. 605
- Gates, p. 35. For example, the Army's 26 cavalry regiments of 15,000 men possessed only 9,000 horses.
- Stanley G. Payne, History of Spain of Portugal, Vol 2,University of Wisconsin Press., 1973, ISBN 978-0299062842, page 420
- Charles Esdaile (14 June 2003). The Peninsular War: A New History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-4039-6231-7. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Griffin, Julia Ortiz; Griffin, William D. (2007). Spain and Portugal:A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Facts on File. p. 151. ISBN 978-0816045921.
- McLynn, Frank. "Napoleon: A Biography", Pimlico, London, 1997. pp. 396–406
- McLynn, Frank. "Napoleon: A biography", Pimlico, London, 1997. p. 406
- Chandler, p. 610
- Esdaile, pp. 302–303. Rebel groups that sprang up on a local basis were unaware of the resistance being prepared elsewhere in Spain. Esdaile asserts that the partisans were as committed to driving the ancien regime out of Spain as they were to fighting foreign armies, noting that the Patriots had no scruples about liquidating officials skeptical of their revolutionary program.
- Churchill, p. 259
- Gates, p. 12
- Glover, p. 53
- Chandler, p. 608. Chandler notes that Napoleon "never appreciated how independent the Spanish people were of their government; he misjudged the extent of their pride, of the tenacity of their religious faith and of their loyalty to Ferdinand. He anticipated that they would accept the change of regime without demur; instead he soon found himself with a war of truly national proportions on his hands."
- Chandler, p. 611
- Gates, p. 162
- Esdaile 2003, p. 61.
- Chandler, p. 611. Gates, pp. 181–182
- Chandler, p. 614
- Esdaile 2003, p. 63.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 65.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 66.
- Gates, p. 61
- Esdaile 2003, p. 67.
- Gates, p. 77
- Esdaile 2003, p. 73.
- Chandler, p. 616
- Esdaile 2003, p. 74.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 77.
- Chandler, p. 617. "This was an historic occasion; news of it spread like wildfire throughout Spain and then all Europe. It was the first time since 1801 that a sizable French force had laid down its arms, and the legend of French invincibility underwent a severe shaking. Everywhere anti-French elements drew fresh inspiration from the tidings. The Pope published an open denunciation of Napoleon; Prussian patriots were heartened; and, most significantly of all, the Austrian war party began to secure the support of the Emperor Francis for a renewed challenge to the French Empire."
- Richardson, p. 343.
- Gay, Susan E. Old Falmouth, London, 1903, p. 231.
- Oman (2010), I, pp. 367–375
- Chandler, p. 617. "This was an historic occasion; news of it spread like wildfire throughout Spain and then all Europe. It was the first time since 1801 that a sizable French force had laid down its arms, and the legend of French invincibility underwent a severe shaking. Everywhere anti-French elements drew fresh inspiration from the tidings. The Pope published an open denunciation of Napoleon; Prussian patriots were heartened; and, most significantly of all, the Austrian war party began to secure the support of the Emperor Francis for a renewed challenge to the French Empire.".
- Chandler, p. 620.
- Oman, p. 648.
- Chandler, p. 625. Chandler notes that "the particular interests of the provincial delegates made even the pretense of centralised government a travesty."
- Chandler, p. 621. John Lawrence Tone has questioned this assessment of the Spanish juntas on the grounds that it relies too much on the accounts of British officers and elites; these sources being patently unfair to the revolutionaries, "whom they despised for being Jacobins, Catholics, and Spaniards, not necessarily in that order."
- Chandler, p. 628.
- Esdaille, pp. 304–305. Esdaille notes that the Junta of Seville declared itself the supreme government of Spain and tried to annex neighbouring juntas by force.
- Gates, p. 487
- Glover, p. 55.
- Chandler, p. 631
- Churchill, p. 262
- James, pp. 131–132
- Oman, p. 492.
- Haythornthwaite, p. 27.
- Oman, p. 598.
- Chandler (London) p.645, in which he quotes from Moore's diary: "I have determined to give this thing up and retire" – Sir J.Moore, Diaries, Major General Sir J.F.Maurice, ed. (London:190), Vol II, p.358. Neale, pp.100–104, shows that letters from both Moore and Berthier on 10 December 1808 indicate that both sides were aware that the allies were defeated and that the British were prepared to retreat. Moore stated, "I had no time to lose to secure my retreat", while Berthier was quoted as writing, "...everything inclines us to think that they (the British) are in full retreat..." .
- Fortescue, pp. 326–327.
- Fremont-Barnes, p. 35.
- Neale, Letters from Dec.10, 1808 p. 104, Moore: "I have made the movement against Soult; as a diversion it has answered completely, but as there is nothing to take advantage of it, I have risked the loss of my army for no purpose."
- Haythornthwaite, p.45.
- Hamilton, p. 385. Neale, Adam, et al. Memorials of the Late War Vol.I, Edinburgh 1831, gives: 28,900 men (2450 cavalry) and 50 guns, p.171.
- Gates, p. 108.
- Chandler, p. 648.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 151.
- Gates, p. 114
- Esdaile 2003, p. 155.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 156.
- Glover, p. 89
- Gates, p. 128. Gates notes that the siege "was a demonstration the French army was never to forget and ... it was to inspire Spaniards to maintain replica struggles that have few parallels in the history of war."
- Gates, p. 127. The military garrison of 44,000 left 8,000 survivors, 1,500 of them ill.
- Glover, p. 89. 10,000 of these were French.
- David A. Bell, Napoleon's Total War, TheHistoryNet.com
- David Gates (29 October 2001). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of Peninsular War. Da Capo Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7867-4732-0. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 179.
- "The Cruel War in Spain : Napoleonic Wars : Peninsula Campaign : Wellington". Napolun.com. 2002-10-03. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- Gates 2009, p. 123.
- Later on, this number would grow to 50,000 in the army and another 50,000 in militias, in addition to 120,000 ordenanças and volunteer units.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 192.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 193.
- Gates, p. 177
- P. Guedalla, p. 186
- Documents of the Junta Era at the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (in Spanish).
- Martínez de Velasco, Ángel (1999). Historia de España: La España de Fernando VII. Barcelona: Espasa. ISBN 84-239-9723-5.
- Churchill, p. 258. "Nothing like this universal uprising of a numerous, ancient race and nation, all animated by one thought, had been seen before ... For the first time the forces unchained by the French Revolution, which Napoleon had disciplined and directed, met not kings or Old World hierarchies, but a whole population inspired by the religion and patriotism which ... Spain was to teach to Europe."
- Laqueur, Walter (July 1975), "The Origins of Guerrilla Doctrine", Journal of Contemporary History (Society for Military History)
- Glover, p. 10
- Chandler, p. 746
- Napoleonic Guides Franco-Russian Diplomacy, 1810–1812 retrieved July 21, 2007.
- Russell p. 433.
- Fremont-Barnes p. 26.
- Edmund Burke p. 169.
- Noble p. 30.
- Grehan, John. The Lines of Torres Vedras: The Cornerstone of Wellington's Strategy in the Peninsular War 1809–1812. Spellmount
- Weller 1962, pp. 141–142.
- Weller 1962, p. 144.
- Wellington to Liverpool, 21 December 1810, The Dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington during his various Campaigns in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries and France from 1789 to 1815, ed. J. Gurwood (London, 1852), vol. VII, p. 54.
- Weller 1962, pp. 145–146.
- Oman 1911, p. 4.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 340.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 341.
- Southey p. 165.
- Southey p. 167.
- Glover, p.156
- Napier - Vol III, p 87
- Southey 1837, p. 241.
- Edmund Burke p. 172.
- Edmund-Burke p. 174.
- Grant, p. 209
- Esdaile 2003, p. 369.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 370.
- Napoleonic Guide Cadiz 5 February, 1810 – 24 August, 1812 retrieved July 21, 2007.
- Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War 1807-1814. London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-14-139041-7. pp 207-208
- Southey p. 68.
- Glover, pp 210-212
- Esdaile 2003, p. 399.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 400.
- Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814" Vol IV, p 155
- "The Spanish Ulcer: Napoleon, Britain, and the Siege of Cádiz". Humanities, January/February 2010, Volume 31/Number 1. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 428.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 429.
- Gates p. 521
- Arthur Wellesley, The Dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington: Volume 13
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- C. Atkinson (ed.), 'A Peninsular brigadier: letters of Major General Sir F. P. Robinson, K.C.B., dealing with the campaign of 1813', JSAHR, vol. XXXIV, No. 140, p. 165.
- Wellington to Bathurst, 8 August 1813, The Dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington during his various Campaigns in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries and France from 1789 to 1815, vol. VI, pp. 663-4.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 462.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 489.
- Esdaile 2003, p. 505.
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- Esdaile 2003, p. 508.
- Oman (1908), Vol. III, p. 418
- GMT Games – Wellington: The Peninsula War 1812–1814
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Spanish War of Independence|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article Peninsular War.|
- Chandler, David G. (1995). The Campaigns of Napoleon. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-02-523660-1
- Esdaile, Charles (2002). The Peninsular War. Palgrave Macmillan (published 2003). ISBN 1-4039-6231-6
- Gates, David (1986). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. Pimlico (published 2002). ISBN 0-7126-9730-6
- Glover, Michael (1974). The Peninsular War 1807–1814: A Concise Military History. Penguin Classic Military History (published 2001). ISBN 0-14-139041-7
- Grant, Reg (2005). Battle: A Visual Journey Through 5,000 Years of Combat. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7566-1360-4
- Guedalla, Philip (2005). The Duke. Hodder & Stoughton (published 1931). ISBN 0-340-17817-5
- James, William (1826). The Naval History of Great Britain V. Harding, Lepard and Co. Retrieved 11 January 2008
- Laqueur, Walter (July 1975). "The Origins of Guerrilla Doctrine". Journal of Contemporary History (Society for Military History) 10 (3): 341–382. doi:10.1177/002200947501000301.
- Oman, Sir Charles (1908). A History of the Peninsular War: Volume III, September 1809 to December 1810. Greenhill Books (published 2004). ISBN 1-85367-617-9
- Esdaile, Charles J. Fighting Napoleon Yale University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-300-10112-0.
- Esdaile, Charles J. The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War Manchester University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-7190-2538-9.
- Fletcher, Ian Peninsular War; Aspects of the Struggle for the Iberian Peninsula Spellmount Publishers, 2003, ISBN 1-873376-82-0.
- Fletcher, Ian (ed.) The Campaigns of Wellington, (3 vols), Vol 1. The Peninsular War 1808–1811; Vol. 2. The Peninsular War 1812–1814, The Folio Society, 2007.
- Fraser, Ronald. Napoleon's Cursed War: Spanish Popular Resistance in the Peninsular War, 1808–1814 (Brooklyn Verso, 2008) 624pp ISBN 978-1-84467-082-6
- Goya, Francisco The Disasters of War Dover Publications, 1967, ISBN 0-486-21872-4.
- Griffith, Paddy A History of the Peninsular War: Modern Studies of the War in Spain and Portugal, 1808–14 v. 9 Greenhill Books, 1999, ISBN 1-85367-348-X.
- Lovett, Gabriel H. Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain New York UP, 1965, ISBN 0-8147-0267-8.
- Napier, William. The War in the Peninsula (6 vols), London: John Murray (Vol 1), and private (Vols 2–6), 1828–40.
- Oman, Charles. The History of the Peninsular War (7 vols), Oxford, 1903–30.
- Rathbone, Julian Wellington's War, Michael Joseph, 1984, ISBN 0-7181-2396-4
- Suchet, Marshal Duke D'Albufera Memoirs of the War in Spain Pete Kautz, 2007, 2 volumes: ISBN 1-85818-477-0 & ISBN 1-85818-476-2.
- Urban, Mark. Rifles: Six years with Wellington's legendary sharpshooters Pub Faber & Faber, 2003. ISBN 0-571-21681-1
- Urban, Mark. The Man who Broke Napoleon's Codes. Faber and Faber Ltd, London 2001. ISBN 0-571-20513-5
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