The Battle of Venta del Pozo, also known as the Battle of Villodrigo by the French, was a rear-guard action fought as part of the Peninsular War on 23 October 1812 between an Anglo-German force led by Major-General Stapleton Cotton against French cavalry under Major-Generals Jean-Baptiste Curto and Pierre François Xavier Boyer. The result was a French tactical victory.
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.
Pierre François Xavier Boyer became a French division commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He joined a volunteer regiment in 1792. He fought in the Italian campaign of 1796 and participated in the French invasion of Egypt in 1798. He became a general of brigade in 1801 and took part in the Expedition to Saint-Domingue in 1802. While sailing back to France he was captured by the British. After being exchanged, he fought at Jena and Pultusk in 1806, Friedland in 1807 and Wagram in 1809. Transferred to Spain, Boyer led a dragoon division at Salamanca and Battle of Venta del Pozo in 1812 and Vitoria in 1813. He earned the nickname "Pedro the Cruel" for brutal actions against Spanish partisans. He led an infantry division at the Nivelle and the Nive in late 1813. His division was transferred to the fighting near Paris and he was promoted general of division in February 1814. He led his troops at Mormant, Craonne, Laon and Arcis-sur-Aube.
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The Duke of Wellington's Anglo and Portuguese army gave up its unsuccessful Siege of Burgos on 21 October 1812 and withdrew southwest toward Torquemada. Wellington's 35,000-man army was pursued by Maj-Gen Joseph Souham's reinforced Army of Portugal of 53,000 soldiers.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. His victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 puts him in the first rank of Britain's military heroes.
The Anglo-Portuguese Army was the combined British and Portuguese army that participated in the Peninsular War, under the command of Arthur Wellesley. The Army is also referred to as the British-Portuguese Army and, in Portuguese, as the Exército Anglo-Luso or the Exército Anglo-Português.
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.
Major-General Stapleton Cotton's rearguard included Colonel Colin Halkett's King's German Legion (KGL) brigade (1st and 2nd KGL Light battalions), Major-General George Anson's light cavalry brigade (11th, 12th, and 16th Light Dragoons), Major-General Eberhardt von Bock's heavy cavalry brigade (1st and 2nd King's German Legion Dragoons), and Norman Ramsay's RHA troop of six cannons. The total strength was 2,800 men.
General Sir Colin Halkett (1774–1856) was a British Army officer who became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey.
The King's German Legion (KGL) was a British Army unit of mostly expatriate German personnel during the period 1803–16. The Legion achieved the distinction of being the only German force to fight without interruption against the French during the Napoleonic Wars.
Baron Eberhardt Otto George von Bock was a Hanoverian born major-general in the British army during the Napoleonic Wars.
Curto's light cavalry brigade was made up of the 3rd Hussars and the remnants of the 13th, 14th, 22nd, 26th, and 28th Chasseurs. Boyer's dragoon brigade included the 6th, 11th, 15th, and 25th Dragoons. Colonel Faverot, in charge of the 15th Chasseurs and Duchy of Berg Light Horse Lancers, and Colonel Béteille, head of the élite Gendarmes, also rode with the advanced guard. The French force numbered 3,200 men.
On 23 October, Cotton drew up his cavalry in front of a stone bridge where the main highway crossed a deep, dry streambed. He planned to ambush the French advanced guard. As the French approached, Anson's cavalry would file across the bridge and presumably the French would closely follow. After the French had crossed, Ramsay's guns would open fire on them and Bock's dragoons would then charge them.
Meanwhile, on the British left flank, Curto's hussars had crossed the dry stream bed further upstream and attacked mounted Spaniards under the command of Marquinez posted on the hills overlooking the battlefield. As the Spaniards came pouring down the hills, closely pursued by the French hussars, the whole mass fell upon the 16th Light Dragoon, which was simultaneously charged by French dragoons that had crossed the bridge.
The 16th Light Dragoon fell back in complete confusion and turned the wrong way, blocking both Ramsay's guns and Bock's intended charge zone. The Lancers of Berg, 15th Chasseurs, and Gendarmes then arrived in line towards the stream bed, which they found impassable. They quickly turned right, trotted over the bridge, turned left, and formed a line in front of Bock's heavy cavalry brigade. The Berg lancer squadron posted itself closest to the bridge, followed by the five squadrons of the 15th Hussars, and finally the four Gendarme squadrons.
At 17:00, before the last two Gendarme squadrons had finished positioning themselves, Bock's Dragoons attacked in two lines. The first line of three squadrons was reeling back when the second line entered the melee. Just before this charge, the last two Gendarme squadrons had managed to place themselves in such a way as to attack both Dragoon lines on their right flank. Eight to ten minutes of bitter fighting ensued, overlooked by both armies on the surrounding heights.
Bock's men retreated in disorder, followed by Anson's brigade. They soon became outflanked on both sides as more French dragoons came racing down upon them, causing the British cavalry to break in complete confusion. They finally rallied behind Halkett's two KGL infantry battalions as the Gendarmes, 15th Chasseurs, and Berg Lancers halted to also rally themselves. Boyer's Dragoons charged and broke Bock's dragoons a second time. Wellington, arriving on the field, then directed Halkett's squares to fire at the French Dragoons, which unsuccessfully charged the squares three times before pulling away. The arrival of French infantry then forced the Anglo-German force to retreat, but in good order. Cotton greatly distinguished himself by his "coolness, judgment, and gallantry."
The Allies lost 165 killed and wounded and 65 captured. The French lost between 200and 300 casualties. Other sources state 250 killed and wounded for the Allies and 85 prisoners, five of which were officers, while the French had 7 killed and 134 wounded. One of them was Colonel Jean-Alexis Béteille, who was left for dead on the field after receiving twelve sword wounds (eight to the head, one of which cracked his skull open, and four to his left hand). French surgeons managed to save him. Several months later he was made brigadier general and officer of the Légion d'honneur by Napoleon himself.
The German 1st and 2nd KGL Light battalions wore the "Venta del Pozo" battle honour until 1918 in their subsequent service with the Hanoverian and Prussian armies.
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 Light Dragoons (LD) is a cavalry regiment in the British Army. The regiment is a light cavalry regiment with a history in the reconnaissance role which dates back to the early eighteenth century. It is currently based in Catterick Garrison North Yorkshire.
Jacques Gervais, baron Subervie was a French general and politician.
The Combat of the Côa was a skirmish that occurred during the Peninsular War period of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place in the valley of the Côa River and it was the first significant battle for the new army of 65,000 men controlled by Marshal André Masséna, as the French prepared for their third invasion of Portugal.
The 1st Cavalry Division was a regular Division of the British Army during the First World War where it fought on the Western Front. During the Second World War it was a first line formation, formed from Yeomanry Regiments. It fought in the Middle East before being converted to the 10th Armoured Division.
The Battle of Sahagún 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.
Lieutenant-General Robert Ballard Long was an officer of the British and Hanoverian Armies who despite extensive service during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars never managed to achieve high command due to his abrasive manner with his superiors and his alleged tactical ineptitude. Although he remained a cavalry commander in the Peninsular War between 1811 and 1813, the British commander Wellington became disillusioned with Long's abilities. Wellington's opinion was never expressed directly, though when the Prince Regent manoeuvred his favourite, Colquhoun Grant into replacing Long as a cavalry brigade commander, Wellington conspicuously made no effort to retain Long. Other senior officers, including Sir William Beresford and the Duke of Cumberland, expressed their dissatisfaction with Long's abilities. The celebrated historian, and Peninsula veteran, Sir William Napier was a severe critic of Beresford's record as army commander during the Albuera Campaign; in criticising Beresford he involved Long's opinions as part of his argument. The publication of Napier's history led to a long running and acrimonious argument in print between Beresford and his partisans on one side, with Napier and Long's nephew Charles Edward Long on the other. Recently Long's performance as a cavalry general has received more favourable comment in Ian Fletcher's revisionist account of the British cavalry in the Napoleonic period.
The Battle of Majadahonda saw an Imperial French cavalry division led by Anne-François-Charles Trelliard attack two brigades of cavalry under Benjamin d'Urban and forming the advance guard of Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Wellington's army. Trelliard's leading brigade routed d'Urban's Portuguese horsemen and overran three British cannons. King's German Legion (KGL) cavalry led by Eberhardt Otto George von Bock intervened to halt the Imperial French horsemen, but were finally compelled to withdraw when Trelliard committed his second and third brigades to the contest. The Imperial French cavalry was unable to cope with a KGL infantry battalion defending a village and they withdrew at the approach of additional British cavalry and infantry. This Peninsular War action was fought near Majadahonda, which is located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) northwest of Madrid.
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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.
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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.
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