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The Battle of Pancorbo (or Zornoza), fought on 31 October 1808, was one of the opening engagements in Napoleon's invasion of Spain.
Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands and a peninsula bordering Morocco in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with British dependency Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
On October 31, 1808, Marshal François Lefebvre bloodied the Army of Galicia under Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake but failed to encircle or destroy it, upsetting both the Emperor and the French strategic situation.
François Joseph Lefebvre, Duc de Dantzig, was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.
The Army of Galicia was a Spanish military unit that took part in the Peninsular War against Napoleon’s French Grande Armée.
Emperor of the French was the monarch of the First French Empire and the Second French Empire.
Under Napoleon's guidance, the French had made meticulous preparations to annihilate Blake's position and thereby crush the left wing of the Spanish front that stretched from Cantabria to the Mediterranean Sea. Owing to friction with the Spanish authorities and a lack of coordination by the Central Junta, Blake, for his part, had no confidence in the Spanish deployment and could do little but conduct a cautious advance in the direction of Bilbao.
Cantabria is an autonomous community in northern Spain with Santander as its capital city. It is recognized as a historic community and is bordered on the east by the Basque Autonomous Community, on the south by Castile and León, on the west by the Principality of Asturias, and on the north by the Cantabrian Sea.
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually identified as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years, the Messinian salinity crisis, before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders. The juntas were usually formed by adding prominent members of society, such as prelates, to the already-existing ayuntamientos. The juntas of the capitals of the traditional peninsular kingdoms of Spain styled themselves "Supreme Juntas", to differentiate themselves from, and claim authority over, provincial juntas. Juntas were also formed in Spanish America during this period in reaction to the developments in Spain.
Lefebvre's IV Corps included three infantry divisions and 36 cannon. Major-General Horace Sébastiani's 1st Division contained the 28th Light and 75th Line (3 battalions) and the 32nd and 58th Line (2 bns.). Maj-Gen Leval's 2nd Division was made up of the Dutch brigade and 2 bns. each of the 2nd Nassau, 4th Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt Gross-und-Erbprinz Regiments, and the Paris National Guard and Frankfurt battalions. Maj-Gen Eugene-Casimir Villatte's 3rd Division included 3 bns. each of the 27th Light, 63rd, 94th and 95th Line.
Horace François Bastien Sébastiani de La Porta was a French soldier, diplomat, and politician, who served as Naval Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of State under the July Monarchy.
The Dutch Brigade was a unit of the Royal Army of the Kingdom of Holland. It was sent out in September 1808, by King Louis Bonaparte at the request of his brother Emperor Napoleon of France, to take part in the Peninsular War on the French side. The brigade, under the command of Major-General David Hendrik Chassé, was made part of the so-called "German Division". The Division also consisted of units from the Nassau, the Baden and other German allies of the French empire under command of the French general Leval. It was, in turn, part of the IVth French Corps under command of Marshals Lefebvre and Sébastiani, and was later part of the Ist Corps of Marshal Victor. The brigade distinguished itself initially in several major battles, and was later employed mainly in counter-guerrilla warfare. After the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland by the French empire in 1810, the brigade was formally decommissioned and its personnel, now French subjects, absorbed into the French 123rd Line Infantry Regiment, and later into the 130th Line Infantry Regiment, the other battalions of the 123rd back home being reassigned to the Russian campaign of 1812.
Blake's Army of Galicia contained three infantry divisions, a vanguard and a reserve. General Figueroa commanded the 1st Division (4,000), Gen Riquelme the 3rd Division (4,800), Gen Carbajal the 4th Division (3,500), Gen Mendizabal (2,900) the Vanguard and Gen Mahy the Reserve (3,000). Only six of Blake's guns came into action.
On October 31, Lefebvre disobeyed Napoleon's orders and launched his IV Corps into a premature attack against Blake at Pancorbo. Blake was deeply disturbed by the appearance of French forces and took immediate measures to withdraw his troops and guns. The Spanish infantry, fighting without artillery support, was swiftly thrown back but escaped in good order.
Corps is a term used for several different kinds of organisation.
Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.
Lefebvre lost 200 casualties and Blake 600. Although the French had managed something of a tactical victory, the battle was a definite strategic blunder: Blake escaped the French trap and conducted a crafty withdrawal, checked his pursuers at Valmaseda, and was not caught until November 10. Ultimately, however, the overwhelming strength of Napoleon's Grande Armée allowed the French to sweep past the tottering Spanish defences and capture Madrid by year's end.
The Battle of Uclés saw an Imperial French corps led by Marshal Claude Perrin Victor attack a Spanish force under Francisco Javier Venegas. The French easily crushed their outnumbered foes, capturing over half of the Spanish infantry. Uclés is located in the province of Cuenca 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of Tarancón and 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of Madrid. The action occurred during what is called the Peninsular War in English-speaking countries and the Spanish War of Independence in Spain. The war was part of a larger struggle known as the Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Ocaña was fought on 19 November 1809 between French forces under Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, Duke of Dalmatia and King Joseph Bonaparte and the Spanish army under Juan Carlos de Aréizaga, which suffered its greatest single defeat in the Peninsular War. General Juan Carlos de Aréizaga's Spanish army of 51,000 lost nearly 19,000 killed, wounded, prisoners and deserters, mostly due to the French use of their cavalry. Tactically, the battle was a Cannae-like encirclement of the Spanish army. The strategic consequences were also devastating, as it destroyed the only force capable of defending southern Spain; the area was overrun over the winter in the Andalusia campaign.
Joaquín Blake y Joyes was a Spanish military officer who served with distinction in the French Revolutionary and Peninsular wars.
The Battle of Valmaseda took place on 5 November 1808, during Lieutenant-General Blake's retreat from superior French armies in northern Spain. Reinforced by veteran regular infantry from General La Romana's Division of the North, Blake's force suddenly turned on its pursuers and ambushed General Victor's errant vanguard under Général de division Villatte.
The Battle of Medina de Rioseco, also known as the Battle of Moclín, was fought during the Peninsular War on 14 July 1808 when a combined body of Spanish militia and regulars moved to rupture the French line of communications to Madrid. General Joaquín Blake's Army of Galicia, under joint command with General Gregorio de la Cuesta, was routed by Marshal Bessières after a badly coordinated but stubborn fight against the French corps north of Valladolid.
The Battle of Tamames was a sharp reversal suffered by part of Marshal Michel Ney's French army under Major-General Jean Marchand in the Peninsular War. The French, advancing out of Salamanca, were met and defeated in battle by a Spanish army on 18 October 1809.
The Battle of Teugen-Hausen or the Battle of Thann was an engagement that occurred during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. The battle was fought on 19 April 1809 between the French III Corps led by Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout and the Austrian III Armeekorps commanded by Prince Friedrich Franz Xaver of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The French won a hard-fought victory over their opponents when the Austrians withdrew that evening. The site of the battle is a wooded height approximately halfway between the villages of Teugn and Hausen in Lower Bavaria, part of modern-day Germany.
The Battle of Montebello was fought on 9 June 1800 near Montebello in Lombardy. During the lead-up to the Battle of Marengo, the vanguard of the French army in Italy engaged and defeated an Austrian force in a "glorious victory".
Jean Gabriel Marchand, 1st Count Marchand went from being an attorney to a company commander in the army of the First French Republic in 1791. He fought almost exclusively in Italy throughout the French Revolutionary Wars and served on the staffs of a number of generals. He participated in Napoleon Bonaparte's celebrated 1796-1797 Italian campaign. In 1799, he was with army commander Barthélemy Catherine Joubert when that general was killed at Novi. Promoted to general officer soon after, he transferred to the Rhine theater in 1800.
In the Battle of Castalla on 13 April 1813, an Anglo-Spanish-Sicilian force commanded by Lieutenant General Sir John Murray fought Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet's French Army of Valencia and Aragon. Murray's troops successfully repelled a series of French attacks on their hilltop position, causing Suchet to retreat. The action took place during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Castalla is located 35 kilometers north-northwest of Alicante, Spain.
In the Battle of Fleurus Jean-Baptiste Jourdan's French army repulsed an attack by the combined Austro-Dutch army led by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Tactically the battle was a draw but strategically it was a decisive French victory. The battle led to the collapse of the Coalition position in the Austrian Netherlands.
Anne Gilbert de Laval or Anne-Gilbert Laval or Anne Guilbert de La Val became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and led a division in the Napoleonic Wars. Like many other officers, he saw rapid promotion during the French Revolution. He commanded a demi brigade beginning in 1794. He fought in numerous actions during the 1796 campaign in Germany, including the battles of Ettlingen and Neresheim.
The Battle of Verona was fought on 18 October 1805 between the French Army of Italy under the command of André Masséna and an Austrian army led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. By the end of the day, Massena seized a bridgehead on the east bank of the Adige River, driving back the defending troops under Josef Philipp Vukassovich. The action took place near the city of Verona in northern Italy during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit on 24 April 1809 saw a Franco-Bavarian force led by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières face an Austrian Empire army commanded by Johann von Hiller. Hiller's numerically superior force won a victory over the Allied troops, forcing Bessières to retreat to the west. Neumarkt-Sankt Veit is located ten kilometers north of Mühldorf and 33 kilometers southeast of Landshut in Bavaria.
The Siege of Valencia from 3 November 1811 to 9 January 1812, saw Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet's French Army of Aragon besiege Captain General Joaquín Blake y Joyes' forces in the city of Valencia, Spain during the Peninsular War. The 20,000 to 30,000 French troops compelled 16,000 Spanish soldiers to surrender at the conclusion of the siege, although another 7,000 Spaniards escaped from the trap. Suchet quickly converted Valencia into an important base of operations after this Napoleonic Wars action. Valencia, modern-day capital of the Valencian Community, is located on the east coast of Spain.
The VI Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. It was formed at the Camp de Boulogne and assigned to Marshal Michel Ney. From 1805 through 1811, the army corps fought under Ney's command in the War of the Third Coalition, the War of the Fourth Coalition, and the Peninsular War. Jean Gabriel Marchand was in charge of the corps for a period when Ney went on leave. In early 1811, Ney was dismissed by Marshal André Masséna for disobedience and the corps was briefly led by Louis Henri Loison until the corps was dissolved in May 1811. The VI Corps was revived in 1812 for the French invasion of Russia and placed under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr. It entirely consisted of Bavarian soldiers at that time. After the disastrous winter retreat the corps was virtually destroyed. In 1813 during the War of the Sixth Coalition it was recreated with reorganized French troops. Marshal Auguste Marmont took command of the corps and managed it until Emperor Napoleon's abdication in 1814. It took part in many battles including Dresden and Leipzig in 1813. During the Hundred Days, Georges Mouton, Count de Lobau commanded the VI Corps at the Battle of Waterloo.
The Evacuation of La Romana's division in August 1808 was a military operation in which a division of troops belonging to the Kingdom of Spain and commanded by Pedro Caro, 3rd Marquis of la Romana defected from the armies of the First French Empire. The Spanish troops were part of the Imperial forces in Denmark, which were under the leadership of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Most of the Spanish troops were successfully spirited away by the British navy and shipped to Santander, Spain to fight against France in the Peninsular War.
The VIII Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. Emperor Napoleon formed it in 1805 by borrowing divisions from other corps and assigned it to Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier. Marshal André Masséna's Army of Italy was also reorganized as the VIII Corps at the end of the 1805 campaign. The corps was reformed for the 1806 campaign under Mortier and spent the rest of the year mopping up Prussian garrisons in western Germany.
The Invasion of Portugal saw an Imperial French corps under Jean-Andoche Junot and Spanish military troops invade the Kingdom of Portugal, which was headed by its Prince Regent João of Bragança. The military operation resulted in the almost bloodless occupation of Portugal. The French and Spanish presence was challenged by the Portuguese people and by the United Kingdom in 1808. The invasion marked the start of the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.