The Battle of Sahagún (21 December 1808) was a cavalry clash at Sahagún, Spain, in which the British 15th Light Dragoons (Hussars) defeated two regiments of French cavalry during the Corunna Campaign of the Peninsular War.Losses to one of the French regiments were so heavy that it was subsequently disbanded. The action marked the final phase of the British army's advance into the interior of Spain, before they began their harrowing retreat to the coast and ultimate evacuation by sea.
Sahagún is a town in the province of León, Spain. It is the main town of the Leonese section of the Tierra de Campos district.
The Battle of Corunna took place on 16 January 1809, when a French corps under Marshal of the Empire Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult attacked a British army under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The battle took place amidst the Peninsular War, which was a part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. It was a result of a French campaign, led by Napoleon, which had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult's corps and divert the French army.
The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.
Sir John Moore led a British army into the heart of northwestern Spain with the aim of aiding the Spanish in their struggle against French occupation. However, Napoleon had entered Spain at the head of a large army intending to reestablish French interests. This, together with the fall of the Spanish capital Madrid to the French, made the position of the British army untenable. Moore, whose headquarters was at Mayorga, was aware that he must retreat towards the coast in the face of the overwhelming odds ranged against him. However, he was also aware that Marshal Soult's apparently unsupported corps was nearby, on the Carrión River, and before beginning his retreat he wished to make a strike against Soult. As part of this design the cavalry under Henry, Lord Paget were sent towards Soult, as a reconnaissance in force, ahead of the infantry.
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, was a British Army general, also known as Moore of Corunna. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which he repulsed a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular War. After the war General Sarrazin wrote a French history of the battle, which nonetheless may have been written in light of subsequent events, stating that "Whatever Buonaparte may assert, Soult was most certainly repulsed at Corunna; and the British gained a defensive victory, though dearly purchased with the loss of their brave general Moore, who was alike distinguished for his private virtues, and his military talents."
Napoleonic Spain was the part of Spain loyal to Joseph I during the Peninsular War (1808–1813) after the country was partially occupied by French forces. During this period, the country was considered a client state of the First French Empire.
Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest municipality in both the Community of Madrid and Spain as a whole. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), smaller than only London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).
The French fielded a brigade under César Alexandre Debelle composed of the 1st Provisional Chasseurs à cheval and the 8th Dragoons.
César Alexandre Debelle was a French general. He was created a baron of the Empire in 1808. He was the cavalry brigade commander at the Battle of Sahagún, where his force was heavily defeated by British hussars under Henry, Lord Paget. His name is inscribed on the north side of the Arc de Triomphe. His brother Jean-François Joseph Debelle was also a general.
The British force was the 15th Light Dragoons (Hussars) from the brigade of Charles Stewart and the 10th Light Dragoons (Hussars) of John Slade's brigade, however, the latter regiment did not come into direct combat.
The 15th The King's Hussars was a cavalry regiment in the British Army. First raised in 1759, it saw service over two centuries, including the First World War, before being amalgamated with the 19th Royal Hussars into the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars in 1922.
Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry was an Irish soldier in the British army, a politician, and a nobleman. As a soldier he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars, in the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and in the Napoleonic wars. He excelled as a cavalry commander on the Iberian Peninsula under John Moore and Arthur Wellesley.
General Sir John "Black Jack" Slade, 1st Baronet, served as a general officer in the British Army during the Peninsular War. He lacked talent as a combat leader. Though Slade was praised in official reports, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington criticized his actions privately and finally replaced him with a more efficient officer. Despite this, he attained high rank after the war. His descendants include two admirals.
On a bitterly cold night Lord Paget ordered the 10th Hussars to move through the town of Sahagún, then occupied by a French cavalry force, whilst he made a sweep around Sahagún with the 15th Hussars in order that the French might be trapped.Unfortunately General John Slade was tardy in moving off with the 10th Hussars; the French cavalry became aware of the proximity of the British cavalry and exited from the town to the east unmolested. In the dawn light the French regiments, catching sight of the 15th Hussars to the south, formed up in two lines with the 1st Provisional Chasseurs (commanded by Colonel Tascher, a relative of the Empress Josephine - though he may not have been present) in front and the 8th Dragoons behind them. Unusually, the French cavalry received the charge of the British hussars whilst stationary and tried to halt it with carbine fire.
Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey,, styled Lord Paget between 1784 and 1812 and known as the Earl of Uxbridge between 1812 and 1815, was a British Army officer and politician. After serving as a Member of Parliament for Carnarvon and then for Milborne Port, he took part in the Flanders Campaign and then commanded the cavalry for Sir John Moore's army in Spain during the Peninsular War; his cavalry showed distinct superiority over their French counterparts at the Battle of Sahagún and at the Battle of Benavente, where he defeated the elite chasseurs of the French Imperial Guard. During the Hundred Days he led the charge of the heavy cavalry against Comte d'Erlon's column at the Battle of Waterloo. At the end of the battle he lost part of one leg to a cannonball. In later life he served twice as Master-General of the Ordnance and twice as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
A carbine, from French carabine, is a long gun firearm but with a shorter barrel than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full-length rifles, shooting the same ammunition, while others fire lower-powered ammunition, including types designed for pistols.
The 15th Hussars charged, over about 400 yards (370 m) of snowy, frozen ground, shouting "Emsdorf and Victory!" It was so cold the hussars wore their pelisses, rather than having them slung over their shoulders, and many had cloaks over all. Eyewitnesses also spoke of numbed hands hardly able to grasp reins and sabres. The impact when the hussars met the chasseurs was terrible, as one British officer recorded: "horses and men were overthrown and a shriek of terror, intermixed with oaths, groans and prayers for mercy issued from the whole extent of their front." The impetus of the British hussars carried them through the ranks of the chasseurs and into those of the dragoons behind. The French force was broken, and it routed eastwards with the British in pursuit. Many French cavalrymen (though the chasseurs were largely of German origin) were taken prisoner at very little cost to the 15th Hussars. Two French lieutenant colonels were captured and the chasseurs, who lost many men captured, ceased to exist as a viable regiment. The 10th Hussars came up during the pursuit, however, they were initially mistaken for French cavalry. This caused the 15th Hussars to break off their pursuit to re-form, ending the action.
A pelisse was originally a short fur trimmed jacket that was usually worn hanging loose over the left shoulder of hussar light cavalry soldiers, ostensibly to prevent sword cuts. The name was also applied to a fashionable style of woman's coat worn in the early 19th century.
News reached Moore that the main French forces were much closer to him than he had thought; therefore the attack against Soult was abandoned. The cavalry action at Sahagun marked the final advance before the British began their long, painful and almost disastrous retreat towards the port of Corunna on the Galician coast.The presence of the British army had, as Moore intended, focussed Napoleon's attention upon it allowing the Spanish forces some time to reorganise and regroup after the defeats they had suffered.
The 15th Hussars' charge and subsequent victory meant that the French cavalry were reluctant to fight the British cavalry for the remainder of the campaign. The French 1st Provisional Chasseurs were so depleted by their losses at Sahagun that they were disbanded.The British Hussars were to gain one more victory over their French counterparts during the campaign when, on 29 December 1808, at Benavente they drove Napoleon's elite Chasseurs à cheval of the Imperial Guard into the River Esla, capturing their commanding general, Lefebvre-Desnouettes.
The 15th Hussars were awarded "Sahagun" as a Battle Honour, which is still celebrated today by The Light Dragoons and B Battery 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.
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.
Jacques Gervais, baron Subervie was a French general and politician.
In the First Battle of Porto the French under Marshal Soult defeated the Portuguese, under General Parreiras, outside the city of Porto during the Peninsular War. Soult followed up his success by storming the city.
In the Battle of Maguilla a British cavalry brigade led by Major General John Slade attacked a similar-sized French cavalry brigade commanded by General of Brigade Charles Lallemand. The British dragoons scored an initial success, routing the French dragoons and capturing a number of them. The British troopers recklessly galloped after their foes, losing all order. At length, the French reserve squadron charged into the British, followed by the French main body which rallied. With the tables turned, the French dragoons chased the British until the horses of both sides were too exhausted for the battle to continue. The action took place during the Peninsular War, near Maguilla, Spain, a distance of 17 kilometres (11 mi) northeast of Llerena.
In the Battle of Villagarcia on 11 April 1812, British cavalry commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Stapleton Cotton routed a French cavalry force led by General de Brigade Charles Lallemand at the village of Villagarcia in the Peninsular War. Cotton intended to trap the French cavalry, which was separated by a number of miles from the main body of the French army, by executing simultaneous frontal and flank attacks. The plan came close to disaster when the forces making the frontal assault pushed forward prematurely. The situation was saved by the timely arrival of John Le Marchant's force on the French left flank.
The Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos took place on 28 October 1811 during the Peninsular War. An allied force under General Rowland Hill trapped and defeated a French force under General Jean-Baptiste Girard, forcing the latter's dismissal by the Emperor Napoleon. A whole French infantry division and a brigade of cavalry were destroyed as viable fighting formations.
The Battle of Benavente was a cavalry clash in which the British cavalry of Lord Paget defeated the elite Chasseurs à cheval of the French Imperial Guard during the Corunna Campaign of the Peninsular War. The French chasseurs were broken and forced into the River Esla; their commanding officer, General Lefebvre-Desnouettes, was captured. The action was the first major incident in the British army's harrowing retreat to the coast and ultimate evacuation by sea.
In the Battle of Campo Maior, or Campo Mayor, on 25 March 1811, Brigadier General Robert Ballard Long with a force of Anglo-Portuguese cavalry, the advance-guard of the army commanded by William Beresford, clashed with a French force commanded by General of Division Marie Victor de Fay, marquis de Latour-Maubourg. Initially successful, some of the Allied horsemen indulged in a reckless pursuit of the French. An erroneous report was given that they had been captured wholesale. In consequence, Beresford halted his forces and the French were able to escape and recover a convoy of artillery pieces.
The 4th Hussar Regiment is a hussar regiment in the French Army, raised and embodied in 1783 and still in existence.
Louis-Michel-Antoine Sahuc, born 7 January 1755 – died 24 October 1813, joined the French Royal Army and spent 20 years there before fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars. He rose to command a French cavalry regiment and later became a general officer. During the Napoleonic Wars he held important cavalry commands in three of Emperor Napoleon I of France's wars.
The Battle of Waren-Nossentin on 1 November 1806 saw soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia led by August Wilhelm von Pletz and Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg fight a rear guard action against troops of the First French Empire commanded by Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. Though forced to give ground, the Prussians successfully kept the French from inflicting serious loss or cutting off any units in this War of the Fourth Coalition action. Waren lies on the northern end of Lake Müritz, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Rostock. Nossentin is a small village on the Fleesen See about 15 kilometres (9 mi) due west of Waren.
Anne-François-Charles Trelliard or Treillard or Treilhard, born 7 February 1764 – died 14 May 1832, joined the cavalry of the French Royal Army as a cadet gentleman in 1780. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in Germany and Holland, eventually rising in rank to become a general officer in 1799. He led a corps cavalry brigade at Austerlitz in the 1805 campaign. In the 1806-1807 campaign he fought at Saalfeld, Jena, and Pultusk.
II Cavalry Corps was a French military formation during the Napoleonic Wars. It was first formed in December 1806, but only enjoyed a brief existence under Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. The II Cavalry Corps was reconstituted for the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and commanded by General of Division Louis-Pierre Montbrun who was killed in battle, as was his successor a few hours later. In the War of the Sixth Coalition, General of Division Horace François Bastien Sébastiani de La Porta led the corps in 1813. General of Division Antoine-Louis Decrest de Saint-Germain directed the corps in 1814. During the Hundred Days, Napoleon raised the corps again and entrusted it to General of Division Rémi Joseph Isidore Exelmans.
In the Battle of Mansilla or Battle of Mansilla de las Mulas on 30 December 1808 an Imperial French corps led by Nicolas Soult caught up with a Spanish corps commanded by Pedro Caro, 3rd Marquis of la Romana. Soult's cavalry under Jean Baptiste Marie Franceschi-Delonne overran la Romana's rear guard led by General Martinengo. Mansilla de las Mulas is a town located 17 kilometres (11 mi) southeast of León, Spain. The combat occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The VI Cavalry Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that had an ephemeral existence during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created on 9 February 1814 and François Étienne de Kellermann was appointed as its commander. The corps was formed by combining a newly arrived dragoon division from the Spanish front, a second dragoon division and a light cavalry division made up of hussars and chasseurs à cheval. The latter two divisions included units from the former III Cavalry Corps. Kellermann led the VI Cavalry Corps in actions at Mormant, Troyes, Second Bar-sur-Aube, Laubressel and Saint-Dizier. After Emperor Napoleon abdicated in early April 1814, the corps ceased to exist.
The Reserve Cavalry Corps or Cavalry Reserve of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805, Emperor Napoleon appointed Marshal Joachim Murat to command all the cavalry divisions that were not directly attached to the Army Corps. During the Ulm Campaign, Murat led his horsemen in successfully hunting down many Austrian Empire units that escaped the Capitulation of Ulm. Murat's horsemen fought at Austerlitz in December 1805. Under Murat, the Cavalry Reserve played a prominent role in the destruction of the Kingdom of Prussia's armies after the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt in 1806. Five dragoon divisions of the corps were employed in the Peninsular War starting in 1808 and placed under the overall command of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. The Cavalry Reserve was reassembled in 1809 to fight Austria with Bessières still in command. In 1812 the Reserve Cavalry Corps was split up into the I, II, III, and IV Cavalry Corps for the French invasion of Russia.
Pierre Margaron led the French cavalry at the Battle of Vimeiro in 1808. He joined a volunteer battalion in 1792. He rose in rank during the French Revolutionary Wars until he commanded a heavy cavalry regiment in 1798. He led his horsemen at the Trebbia, Novi and Genola in 1799 and Pozzolo and San Massimo in 1800. He became a general of brigade in 1803 and led a corps light cavalry brigade at Austerlitz, Jena and Lübeck. He participated in the 1807 invasion of Portugal and fought at Évora and Vimeiro. From 1810 to 1812 he held a post in the interior. He became a general of division in 1813 and led troops at the Battle of Leipzig. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 2.