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Osprey Campaign 99 : Fuentes de Onoro 1811 : Wellington's Liberation of Portugal

In the winter of 1809-10 Viscount Wellington, confronted by the prospect of facing formidable French forces in Spain without the aid of his Spanish allies, the construction of the massive defensive lines of Torres Vedras north of Lisbon. They consisted of a formidable three-line system of field earthworks and fortifications which stretched for some 30 miles from the coast to the river Tagus. Mounted in the fortifications were 600 guns. Having given the invading army of Marshal Massena a bloody nose at Bussaco in September 1810, Wellington withdrew his forces into these defenses. Marshal Massena had been completely unaware of the existence of this massive line of defenses until he found himself confronted by them. For a month he launched probing attacks trying to find a weak spot, determined to bring the war in the peninsular to an end once and for all. Unable to find the key to unlock Wellington's fortifications, running out of food and with winter approaching Massena was faced with the prospect of watching his army starve where it stood. He had no choice but to withdraw into Spain. After a bitter winter of frontier skirmishing the French again took the offensive. Soult moved to Badjoz and Massena advanced to relieve Almeida which Wellington had invested. At Fuentes de Onoro Massena and Wellington's armies clashed in a hard fought contest. The attacks of the French cavalry were thwarted by the stalwart resistance of the British infantry in square, and in an act of heroism when Norman Ramsey's battery of British horse artillery was cut off during the melee they simply limbered up their guns and charged back to British lines through the thick of the French cavalry. Wellington lost 1,800 men, Massna 2,700 but the French failed to break Wellington's siege of Almeida and were forced to withdraw. Massena was relieved of his command in disgrace to be relieved by Marshal Marmont. Text by René Chartrand with illustrations by Patrice Courcelle.

    Contents
  • Origins of the Campaign
  • Chronology
  • Opposing Commanders
  • Opposing Armies
  • Opposing Plans
  • Torres Vedras
  • The Winter fighting
  • The Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
  • Aftermath
  • Bibliography
  • Index

 

Osprey Campaign


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