Battle of Valls

Last updated
Battle of Valls
Part of the Peninsular War
Date25 February 1809
Location
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Empire Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr Theodor von Reding   (DOW)
Strength
13,350 10,540 infantry,
700 cavalry,
8 guns [1]
Casualties and losses
1,000 killed or wounded 1,400 killed or wounded,
1,600 captured

The Battle of Valls was fought on 25 February 1809, during the Peninsular War, between a French force under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr and a Spanish force under Theodor von Reding. Fought near the town of Valls in Catalonia Spain, the battle ended in a French victory. General Reding was fatally wounded during a cavalry charge against French cavalry.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

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.

Theodor von Reding Spanish general

Theodor von Reding was a Spanish general born and raised in Switzerland, where he commenced his military career. He served in Spain as a governor and general, leading Swiss and Spanish troops against Napoleonic forces and was admired for his leadership and bravery.

Catalonia Autonomous area of northeastern Spain

Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.

Contents

Battle

During actions on 15 February 1809, Reding's left wing was cut off from reinforcement by a French attack. Reding decided to retrieve this cut-off army, instead of counter striking at Souham. Planning to meet up with his northern units, Reding left Tarragona with only 2,000 men and most of his cavalry. On his way, he successfully met with units standing guard over the pass to Santa Cristina and another unit at Santas Cruces. Having sufficient strength, he continued to the town of Santa Coloma, whereupon he met with his previously cut-off left wing. With the combined left wing and the forces he took with him, Reding then had a total of almost 20,000 troops at his disposal. Deciding to defend Tarragona, he dispatched 4–5,000 of his men to watch Igualada and pressed home with his remaining men. St. Cyr, aware of Reding's movements, moved to block the two direct routes of returning to Tarragona. Reding, aware that Souham had moved and taken position in the town of Valls, still decided to take the route. Committing his forces to a march at night, Reding got his army to a bridge only two miles out of the town before daybreak.

Upon arriving at the bridge, Reding's vanguard was involved in a skirmish with men of Souham's division. Both commanders, realizing that the time for battle had arrived, rushed to get their men into position. Souham brought the rest of his division out of Valls and set them into position north of town. Reding, deciding this division to be insignificant, pushed his advanced line and most of his center across the river, continuing to send more across until the French division finally broke and fell back to Valls. At this point, most of his men and baggage train had crossed the bridge, but he nonetheless decided to give his men a long break. St. Cyr, learning of the attack later in the day, rushed to Valls with the 7th Italian Dragoons, also bringing the Italian division which would be delayed for six hours before joining the French line at Valls. Having seen the French line rallying when St. Cyr arrived with the Italian Cavalry, Reding pulled his forces back across the river in a defensive position. After three hours had passed, the Italian division had finally caught up to St. Cyr, who formed the French line of battle and crossed the river under constant bombardment. The Spanish forces poured fire onto the French attackers but as the columned French grew close to the Spanish line, the Spaniards began to rout. The only point of hand-to-hand combat came when Reding took his staff and cavalry and attacked the left column, only to be met by the Italian dragoons. in the ensuing melee, Reding himself took three fatal wounds. [2]

French order of battle

VII Corps of General Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr on 1 February 1809 [3]
CorpsDivisionStrengthUnits
VII Corps
General of Division
Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr
Gouvion-saint-cyr.jpg
1st Division
General of Division
Joseph Souham
General Joseph Souham.jpg
6,220 Flag of France.svg 1st Light Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of France.svg 3rd Light Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 7th Line Infantry Regiment, 2 battalions
Flag of France.svg 42nd Line Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of France.svg 67th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
2nd Division
General of Division
Joseph Chabran
Joseph Chabran.jpg
4,037 Flag of France.svg 2nd Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 10th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 37th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 56th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 93rd Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of Switzerland.svg 2nd Swiss Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
3rd Division
General of Division
Louis François Jean Chabot
Louis Francois Jean Chabot.jpg
1,633 Flag of France.svg Chasseurs des Montagnes, 1 battalion
Flag of the Kingdom of Naples (1811).svg 2nd Neapolitan Infantry Regiment, 2 battalions
4th Division
General of Division
Honoré Charles Reille
General Honore Charles Michel Joseph Reille.jpg
3,980 Flag of France.svg 32nd Light Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 2nd Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 16th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 56th Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of France.svg 113th Line Infantry Regiment, 2 battalions
Flag of Switzerland.svg Valais Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
5th Division
General of Division
Domenico Pino
Domenico Pino.jpg
8,008 Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 1st Italian Light Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 2nd Italian Light Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 4th Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 6th Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 3 battalions
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 7th Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
6th Division
General of Division
Giuseppe Lechi
Giuseppe Lechi.jpg
3,941 Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 2nd Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 4th Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 5th Italian Line Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Italian Velites Infantry Regiment, 1 battalion
Flag of the Kingdom of Naples (1811).svg 1st Neapolitan Infantry Regiment, 2 battalions
German Division
General of Brigade
Annet Morio de L'Isle
5,321 Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg 1st Westphalian Light Infantry Regiment
Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg 2nd Westphalian Line Infantry Regiment
Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg 3rd Westphalian Line Infantry Regiment
Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg 4th Westphalian Line Infantry Regiment
French Cavalry1,730 Flag of France.svg 24th Dragoon Regiment
Flag of France.svg 3rd Provisional Cuirassier Regiment
Flag of France.svg 3rd Provisional Chasseur Regiment
Italian Cavalry1,862 Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Napoleone Dragoon Regiment
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Royal Chasseur Regiment
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Prince Royal Chasseur Regiment
Flag of the Kingdom of Naples (1811).svg Neapolitan Chasseur Regiment
French Artillery2,050 Flag of France.svg Various artillery companies
Italian Artillery585 Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Various artillery companies
German Artillery48 Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg Artillery company
Corps Total39,415 Flag of France.svg Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Flag of the Kingdom of Westphalia.svg Flag of the Kingdom of Naples (1811).svg Flag of Switzerland.svg

Notes

  1. Gates, p. 69
  2. Oman, Charles; Hall, John A. (1903). A History of the Peninsular War. 2. Clarendon Press. pp. 76–.
  3. Oman 1995, p. 626.

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References

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Charles Oman 19th/20th-century British military historian

Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, was a British military historian. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering. Occasionally his interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents by firepower alone. Paddy Griffith, among modern historians, claims that the British infantry's discipline and willingness to attack were equally important.

Coordinates: 41°17′00″N1°15′00″E / 41.2833°N 1.2500°E / 41.2833; 1.2500

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