The Battle of San Marcial was a battle fought during the Peninsular War on 31 August 1813. The Spanish Army of Galicia, led by Manuel Freire, turned back Marshal Nicolas Soult's last major offensive against the army of Britain's Marquess of Wellington.
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.
The Army of Galicia was a Spanish military unit that took part in the Peninsular War against Napoleon’s French Grande Armée.
Marshal General Jean-de-Dieu Soult, 1st Duke of Dalmatia, was a French general and statesman, named Marshal of the Empire in 1804 and often called Marshal Soult. Soult was one of only six officers in French history to receive the distinction of Marshal General of France. The Duke also served three times as President of the Council of Ministers, or Prime Minister of France.
Wellington approached San Sebastián in the aftermath of the Vitoria campaign and put the city under siege in July 1813, aiming to reduce the important coastal fortress while the French army retired east, nursing its wounds from Vitoria. San Sebastián and Pamplona sat on Wellington's flanks, guarding the approaches to the French border, and needed to be pried from French hands before the allies could pursue operations into France. However, it appears Wellington misjudged the resourcefulness and determination of the French garrison and its talented commander, General of Brigade Louis Rey. British assaults sustained very bloody repulses, losing 600 killed in a 26 July attack.Before Wellington could organize a new effort, news reached him that Soult had rebuilt the French field army and reappeared to the east—weeks earlier than Wellington had believed possible—and the allies broke off the siege to confront him.
San Sebastián or Donostia is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km from the French border. The capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality's population is 186,095 as of 2015, with its metropolitan area reaching 436,500 in 2010. Locals call themselves donostiarra (singular), both in Spanish and Basque.
At the Battle of Vitoria a British, Portuguese and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, eventually leading to victory in the Peninsular War.
In the Siege of San Sebastián Allied forces under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington captured the city of San Sebastián in northern Basque Country from its French garrison under Louis Emmanuel Rey. The attack resulted in the ransacking and devastation of the town by fire.
While Wellington faced off against Soult in the Battle of the Pyrenees, Lieutenant General Graham maintained a blockade of San Sebastián and prepared for the resumption of the siege on 26 August. A line of light fortifications was put up to guard against a relief effort by Soult, and a strong cordon was established up to the banks of the Bidasoa. In addition to the Anglo-Portuguese divisions at Vera, Lesaca, and Irun, this screen included the Spanish 3rd, 5th, and 7th divisions on the San Marcial heights, as well as two brigades of the 4th division in reserve (forming Freire's Fourth Spanish Army, or Army of Galicia). After four weeks of rest Soult was, in fact, preparing one last push toward San Sebastián, concentrating all his nine divisions at Ainhoue for an attack in the vicinity of San Marcial. Neither the French nor the Spanish troops were in perfect spirits; the French were demoralized by their recent retreats and their heart was not in the coming fight, while Freire's ragged troops, neglected by the Spanish commissariat, had not enjoyed full rations in several days.Behind them, the allied army was locked in a terrible struggle for San Sebastián that would cost it 2,376 dead and wounded on 31 August alone.
The Battle of the Pyrenees was a large-scale offensive launched on 25 July 1813 by Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult from the Pyrénées region on Emperor Napoleon’s order, in the hope of relieving French garrisons under siege at Pamplona and San Sebastián. After initial success the offensive ground to a halt in face of increased allied resistance under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington. Soult abandoned the offensive on 30 July and headed toward France, having failed to relieve either garrison.
General Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch was a Scottish aristocrat, politician and British Army officer. After his education at Oxford, he inherited a substantial estate in Scotland was married and settled down to a quiet career as a landowning gentleman. However, with the death of his wife, when he was aged 42, he immersed himself in a military career, during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from the Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.
In an early morning mist, seven French divisions crept toward the Bidassoa on August 31, fording the river under cover of their guns. The allied positions at Vera and Irun were surprised and overrun but not before alerting Freire, who drew his troops into a line on the heights. The Imperial columns lost all cohesion as they climbed over the difficult terrain, reaching Freire in a confused mass. [ citation needed ]The Spaniards welcomed them with a scathing volley and, advancing with fixed bayonets, rolled Soult's leading divisions back down the hill.
Soult rallied the broken units at noon and committed fresh troops to a second assault on the heights, but the line of Spanish bayonets held firm against his final assault and the faltering French were badly beaten. Unable to keep his men from retreating back over the river, Soult ordered a withdrawal back to Irun and called off his offensive without having met a single red coat: When, in the last laps of battle, Freire requested reinforcements from the British to shore up his battered line, Wellington replied, "As he has already won his victory, he should keep the honour of it for his countrymen alone." [ citation needed ]San Sebastián fell after a fearful battle later that day, and Soult retreated into French soil.
During the afternoon, a violent thunderstorm struck the area and brought in torrents of rain. By the time General of Division Bertrand Clausel's rearguard reached the fords over the Bidassoa, there were six feet of water over them. The rearguard commander, General of Division Edmé-Martin Vandermaesen, led 10,000 men upstream to Vera (Bera). The 50-yard-long (46 m) bridge at Vera would only admit a column three or four men wide, but it was the only possible escape route. A 70-man company of the green-jacketed, rifle-armed British 95th Regiment under Captain Daniel Cadoux held the village with two sentries posted at the bridge. At 2:00 am on 1 September, the French successfully rushed the bridge, but could go no farther. In the heavy rain, the muskets of the French would not fire so they had to resort to the bayonet. Meanwhile, the British riflemen were secure with dry gunpowder in loopholed buildings. Over and over, the French tried to rush the buildings at the end of the bridge, but they were mown down in heaps by rifle fire.[ citation needed ]
Edmé-Martin Vandermaesen was a French general of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was killed in action while leading his troops to safety after the Battle of San Marcial in the Peninsular War.
Bera is a town and municipality located in the province and autonomous community of Navarre, northern Spain. The river Bidasoa crosses the town before entering Gipuzkoa at Endarlatsa, and joining the Cantabrian Sea between the towns of Hendaye and Hondarribia.
Cadoux sent for assistance from a brigade of the Light Division that was camped a mile away. Incredibly, Major General John Byrne Skerrett refused to send help. Instead, he ordered Cadoux to withdraw. The captain refused to obey and held his post against repeated attacks. At length, Skerret repeated his order to withdraw. Cadoux, who had only lost his two sentries, reluctantly prepared to obey. However, it was now dawn, the rain had stopped and the gunpowder of the French was now dry. As the green-jackets abandoned the buildings, the French opened a terrific fire. Cadoux and 16 of his men were killed and more wounded. Abandoning their artillery, the French filed over the now-undefended span to escape from the trap. Vandermaesen lay among the dead.
The battle marked the end of Soult's once redoubtable fighting force: "war-weary and despondent, Soult's divisions had lost all heart and, except in a few inspired flashes, were never again to fight with their once customary skill and zeal". [ citation needed ]The Spanish performance at San Marcial, together with that of General José Zayas's Division at the Battle of Albuera and General Francisco Castaños's army at the Battle of Bailén, were among their best efforts of the Peninsular War. The next action would be the Battle of the Bidassoa on 7 October.
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.
The Battle of Toulouse was one of the final battles of the Napoleonic Wars, four days after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the nations of the Sixth Coalition. Having pushed the demoralised and disintegrating French Imperial armies out of Spain in a difficult campaign the previous autumn, the Allied British-Portuguese and Spanish army under the Marquess of Wellington pursued the war into southern France in the spring of 1814.
Maximilien Sébastien Foy was a French military leader, statesman and writer.
The Battle of Orthez saw the Anglo-Portuguese Army under Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington attack an Imperial French army led by Marshal Nicolas Soult in southern France. The outnumbered French repelled several Allied assaults on their right flank, but their center and left flank were overcome and Soult was compelled to retreat. At first the withdrawal was conducted in good order, but it eventually ended in a scramble for safety and many French soldiers became prisoners. The engagement occurred near the end of the Peninsular War.
The Battle of Nivelle took place in front of the River Nivelle near the end of the Peninsular War (1808–1814). After the Allied siege of San Sebastian, Wellington's 80,000 British, Portuguese and Spanish troops were in hot pursuit of Marshal Soult who had 60,000 men to place in a 20-mile perimeter. After the Light Division, the main British army was ordered to attack and the 3rd Division split Soult's army into two. By 2 o'clock, Soult was in retreat and the British in a strong offensive position. Soult had lost 4,351 men to Wellington's 2,450.
The Battles of the Nive were fought towards the end of the Peninsular War. Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish army defeated Marshal Nicolas Soult's French army in a series of battles near the city of Bayonne.
Manuel Alberto Freire de Andrade y Armijo was a Spanish cavalry officer and general officer during the Peninsular War, and later Defense Minister.
The Battle of the Gebora was a battle of the Peninsular War between Spanish and French armies. It took place on 19 February 1811, northwest of Badajoz, Spain, where an outnumbered French force routed and nearly destroyed the Spanish Army of Extremadura.
At the Siege of Burgos, from 19 September to 21 October 1812, the Anglo-Portuguese Army led by General Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington tried to capture the castle of Burgos from its French garrison under the command of General of Brigade Jean-Louis Dubreton. The French repulsed every attempt to seize the fortress, resulting in one of Wellington's rare withdrawals, as he went on to defeat the army sent to flank him at the Lines of Torres Vedras, pursued them and then returned to complete the siege of Burgos and capture the city. The siege took place during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Burgos is located about 210 kilometres (130 mi) north of Madrid.
In the Battle of the Bidasoa on 7 October 1813 the Allied army of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington wrested a foothold on French soil from Nicolas Soult's French army. The Allied troops overran the French lines behind the Bidassoa River on the coast and along the Pyrenees crest between the Bidasoa and La Rhune (Larrun). The nearest towns to the fighting are Irun on the lower Bidassoa and Bera on the middle Bidasoa. The battle occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the wider Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Bayonne of 14 April 1814 was a sortie by General Thouvenot's French garrison of Bayonne during the siege of that city conducted by Allied forces under Lieutenant General John Hope. The battle was the last of the Peninsular War and occurred as news of Napoleon's abdication was beginning to reach the opposing forces.
The Battle of Garris or Battle of Saint-Palais saw an Allied force under the direct command of General Arthur Wellesley, Marquess Wellington attack General of Division Jean Harispe's French division. The French defenders were driven back into the town of Saint-Palais in confusion. Because of this minor victory, the Allies were able to secure a crossing over the Bidouze River during this clash from the final stages of the Peninsular War.
Toulouse 1814 Order of Battle
In the Siege of Pamplona a Spanish force led by Captain General Henry O'Donnell and later Major General Carlos de España blockaded an Imperial French garrison under the command of General of Brigade Louis Pierre Jean Cassan. At first, troops under Arthur Wellesley, Marquess Wellington surrounded the city, but they were soon replaced by Spanish units. In late July 1813, Marshal Nicolas Soult attempted to relieve the city but his operation failed in the Battle of the Pyrenees. Cassan capitulated to the Spanish after the French troops in the city were reduced to starvation. The surrender negotiations were marred by French bluffs to blow up the fortifications and Spanish threats to massacre the garrison, neither of which occurred. Pamplona is located on the Arga River in the province of Navarre in northern Spain. The siege occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The campaign in south-west France in late 1813 and early 1814 was the final campaign of the Peninsular War. An allied army of British, Portuguese and Spanish soldiers under the command of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington fought a string of battles against French forces under the command of Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult, from the Iberian Peninsula across the Pyrenees and into south-west France ending with the capture of Toulouse and the besieging of Bayonne.
The Battle of Orthez saw the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington attack a Imperial French army under Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult. Soult's army was posted on a ridge to the north of the town of Orthez in southern France and in the town itself. For over two hours the outnumbered French repulsed repeated Allied assaults on their right flank, forcing Wellington to order a general assault. After a struggle, the Allies overcame the French defenses and Soult was compelled to order a retreat. At first, the French divisions withdrew in good order, but as they approached the bridge over the Luy de Béarn at Sault-de-Navailles, many soldiers began to panic. The next day Soult decided that his army was too demoralized to resist more attacks and continued his retreat. Allied casualties were about 2,200 while the French lost about 4,000 killed, wounded and captured. The battle was fought near the end of the Peninsular War.