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Osprey Campaign 97 : Bussaco 1810 : Wellington defeats Napoleon's Marshals

Despite having repulsed the attacks of Marshal Victor and King Joseph Bonaparte at Talavera in July 1809, by 1810 Viscount Wellington had been forced onto the defensive. Napoleon was not about to give up and ordered a third massive invasion of Portugal. Wellington now faced by 80,000 men of the Army of Portugal under Marshal Massena. When Massena advanced towards the Portuguese frontier, Wellington advanced to meet him with 32,000 men of which only 18,000 were British (the rest being Portuguese). Massena besieged and captured the key frontier fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo and then invaded Portugal itself. In August, the French invested the key Portuguese frontier fortress of Almeida, one of the two largest fortifications in the. On 26 August a disastrous explosion wiped out half of the city, which surrendered. Wellington withdrew slowly in the face of Massena's advance. But he wanted to inflict a defeat on Massena to slow his advance and allow the Anglo-Portuguese army to withdraw unmolested into the defensive lines of Torres Vedras north of Lisbon. At Bussaco on 27 September the British/Portuguese force offered battle. They had taken up a strong defensive position on high ground. Massna was perhaps too confident; the determined attacks of the French were all repulsed with the loss of 4,500 French casualties against less than 1,300 for the Anglo-Portuguese. Knowing his position would be turned, Wellington then withdrew into the defence lines around Lisbon of which the French had been completely unaware. Bussaco, a stinging defeat for the French army, also demonstrated the courage and quality of the newly reorganised Portuguese army. Text by René Chartrand with illustrations by Patrice Courcelle.

    Contents
  • Origins of the Campaign
  • Chronology
  • Opposing Commanders
  • Opposing Armies
  • Opposing Plans
  • Massna Invades Northern Portugal
  • The Siege of Almeida
  • Wellington on the Defensive
  • The Battle of Bussaco
  • Aftermath
  • The Battlefield Today
  • Bibliography
  • Index

 

Osprey Campaign


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