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|First Battle of Porto|
|Part of the Peninsular War|
Marshall Soult surveys the broken bridge as Oporto falls to the French on 29 March 1809. In the foreground a grenadier rescues an orphaned baby.
|Commanders and leaders|
About 24,000 men:
|21,500 men including 3,100 cavalry|
|Casualties and losses|
|10,000||2,100 killed and wounded|
In the First Battle of Porto (28 March 1809) the French under Marshal Soult defeated the Portuguese, under General Parreiras, outside the city of Portoduring the Peninsular War. Soult followed up his success by storming the city.
The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe. It is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon and one of the major urban areas of the Iberian Peninsula. The city proper has a population of 287,591 and the metropolitan area of Porto, which extends beyond the administrative limits of the city, has a population of 2.3 million (2011) in an area of 2,395 km2 (925 sq mi), making it the second-largest urban area in Portugal. It is recognized as a gamma-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Study Group, the only Portuguese city besides Lisbon to be recognised as a global city.
It is estimated that 8,000 soldiers perished in the attack and that a great number of civilians were killed.
After the Battle of Corunna, Napoleon ordered Marshal Nicolas Soult to invade Portugal from the north. He was to seize Porto by 1 February and Lisbon by 10 February. Napoleon failed to take into account both the wretched condition and the roads or the fact that a full-scale guerrilla war had broken out in Northern Portugal and Spain.
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.
Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Its urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, including the Portuguese Riviera,. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost areas of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.
Soult's II Corps had four infantry divisions, commanded by Generals of Division Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle, Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet, Étienne Heudelet de Bierre, and Henri François Delaborde. Merle had four battalions each of the 2nd Light, 4th Light and 15th Line Infantry Regiments and three battalions of the 36th Line. Mermet's division included four battalions each of the 31st Light, 47th Line, and 122nd Line, and one battalion each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Swiss Regiments. Heudelet led two battalions each of the 22nd Line and 66th Line, one battalion each of the 15th Light, 32nd Light, 82nd Line, Légion du Midi, Paris Guard, and Hanoverian Legion. Delaborde's command comprised three battalions each of the 17th Light, 70th Line, and 86th Line. General of Division Jean Baptiste Marie Franceschi-Delonne led Soult's corps cavalry, the 1st Hussar, 8th Dragoon, 22nd Chasseur à Cheval, and Hanoverian Chasseur Regiments. Attached were General of Division Armand Lebrun de La Houssaye's 3rd Dragoon Division and General of Division Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge's 4th Dragoon Division. The 3rd Dragoon Division was made up of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 27th Dragoon Regiments. The 4th Dragoon Division consisted of the 13th, 15th, 22nd and 25th Dragoon Regiments.In all, Soult had 23,500 men, including 3,100 cavalry.
The II Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars.
Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle was a French general during the First French Empire of Napoleon. He joined the French army as a private in 1781 but after the French Revolution, the pace of promotion quickened. He was appointed a general officer in 1794 for distinguishing himself during the War of the Pyrenees. After leading a brigade at Austerlitz in December 1805, he was promoted again. His division was in the first wave of the 1808 invasion of Spain, which precipitated the Peninsular War. In Spain, he led his division at Medina de Rioseco, Corunna, First and Second Porto, Bussaco, Sabugal, and Fuentes de Onoro. After being sent home from Spain, Merle was assigned to lead a division in the French invasion of Russia. He led his troops at First and Second Polotsk. He embraced the Bourbon cause in 1814, retired from the army in 1816, and died at Marseilles in 1830. Merle is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe on Column 35.
General Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet fought in the Napoleonic Wars as a division commander in Italy and in the Peninsular War.
Soult's first attempt to invade Portugal was stopped by the local militia on 16 February. The French then moved northeast to Ourense in Spain, seized an unguarded bridge and marched south. On the way, Franceschi's cavalry overran Major General Nicolas Mahy's Spanish brigade at La Trepa on March 6, inflicting 700 casualties. The French crossed into Portugal and occupied Chaves on 9 March.
Ourense is a city in northwestern Spain, the capital of the province of the same name in Galicia. It is on the Portuguese Way path of the Road of St James, the Camino de Santiago.
The Siege of Chaves refers to the French siege and capture of Chaves, Portugal from 10 to 12 March 1809, and the subsequent siege and recapture of the town by Portuguese forces from 21 to 25 March 1809, during the second invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War.
From Chaves, Soult moved west to Póvoa de Lanhoso where he was confronted by Baron Christian Adolph Friedrich von Eben's 25,000-man army composed mostly of Portuguese militia armed with muskets, pikes, and agricultural implements. After waiting several days for all his troops to arrive, Soult went over to the attack. On 20 March 1809 in the Battle of Braga the French veterans butchered their adversaries. The outmatched Portuguese lost 4,000 killed and 400 captured. The French, who lost 40 killed and 160 wounded, also seized 17 Portuguese cannons.
Póvoa de Lanhoso is a municipality in the district of Braga, Portugal. The population in 2011 was 21,886, in an area of 134.65 km².
The Battle of Braga or Battle of Póvoa de Lanhoso or Battle of Carvalho d'Este saw an Imperial French corps led by Marshal Nicolas Soult attack a Portuguese army commanded by Baron Christian Adolph Friedrich von Eben. Soult's professional soldiers slaughtered large numbers of their opponents, who were mostly badly disciplined and poorly armed militia. The action occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Braga is situated about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-northeast of Porto (Oporto).
Bishop Castro organized an army of 24,000 men to defend Porto.
Generals Lima and Parreiras commanded two battalions, each of the 6th, 18th and 21st Infantry Regiments, and one battalion of the 9th and other units. The 4,500 Portuguese regulars were supported by 10,000 ordenanças (militia) and 9,000 armed citizens. When Soult hurled Merle, Mermet, Heudelet, Franceschi and Lahoussaye at the Portuguese deployed north of the city, on the weakest part of the Portuguese line of defence, Castro's force soon dissolved and the battle became a massacre. The Portuguese tried to escape from the French in the city but were chased by the French cavalry throughout the streets, and their regular units were annihilated.
Thousands of fleeing civilians drowned when a bridge of boats across the Douro River (as soon as some Portuguese units started to sabotage the bridge to prevent the French from crossing the river) collapsed because of their weight and of Portuguese artillery fire (coming from the left side of the Douro) who were aiming at the French cavalry behind the Portuguese soldiers and citizens.
In the roadstead, Soult captured a squadron of Spanish naval vessels and 30 merchant ships. The French also found large stockpiles of British military stores. In the battle and storming of the city, the French lost 72 officers and 2,000 rank and file casualties. The Portuguese lost about 8,000 killed and 197 cannons captured.
Soult did not have very long to enjoy his success. Almost at once, the ordenanças cut his communications with Spain and a 1,800-man garrison was gobbled up by Francisco Silveira's Portuguese force in the Siege of Chaves. The French marshal started planning a retreat. The next action was the Battle of Grijó. The city was retaken on 12 May by the British and Portuguese under Wellesley in the Second Battle of Porto.
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 Albuera was a battle during the Peninsular War. A mixed British, Spanish and Portuguese corps engaged elements of the French Armée du Midi at the small Spanish village of Albuera, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the frontier fortress-town of Badajoz, Spain.
The Battle of Grijó was a battle that ended in victory for the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley over the French army commanded by Marshal Nicolas Soult during the second French invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War. The next day, Wellesley drove Soult from Porto in the Second Battle of Porto.
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 Second Battle of Porto, also known as the Battle of the Douro, was a battle in which General Arthur Wellesley's Anglo-Portuguese Army defeated Marshal Nicolas Soult's French troops on 12 May 1809 and took back the city of Porto. After taking command of the British troops in Portugal on 22 April, Wellesley immediately advanced on Porto and made a surprise crossing of the Douro River, approaching Porto where its defences were weak. Soult's late attempts to muster a defence were in vain. The French quickly abandoned the city in a disorderly retreat.
The Battle of Golymin took place on 26 December 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars at Gołymin, Poland, between around 17,000 Russian soldiers with 28 guns under Prince Golitsyn and 38,000 French soldiers under Marshal Murat. The Russian forces disengaged successfully from the superior French forces. The battle took place on the same day as the Battle of Pułtusk.
Louis Henri Loison briefly joined the French Army in 1787 and after the French Revolution became a junior officer. Blessed with military talent and courage, he rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He also got into difficulties because of his fondness for plundering. In late 1795 he helped Napoleon Bonaparte crush a revolt against the government. After a hiatus, he returned in 1799 to fight in Switzerland where he earned another promotion. In 1800 he commanded a division under Napoleon in the Marengo Campaign.
The Battle of Lübeck took place on 6 November 1806 in Lübeck, Germany between soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia led by Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who were retreating from defeat at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt, and troops of the First French Empire under Marshals Murat, Bernadotte, and Soult, who were pursuing them. In this War of the Fourth Coalition action, the French inflicted a severe defeat on the Prussians, driving them from the neutral city. Lübeck is an old Baltic Sea port approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) northeast of Hamburg.
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.
Jean-Pierre-Antoine Rey commanded a famous French infantry regiment during the Napoleonic Wars and became a general officer in 1808. He led an infantry brigade in a number of actions in Spain. His brother Louis Emmanuel Rey was a French general of brigade who also served in Spain during the Peninsular War. Since most sources do not distinguish between the generals named Rey, the two are easily confused.
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.
The Battle of Czarnowo on the night of 23–24 December 1806 saw troops of the First French Empire under the eye of Emperor Napoleon I launch an evening assault crossing of the Wkra River against Lieutenant General Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy's defending Russian Empire forces. The attackers, part of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout's III Corps, succeeded in crossing the Wkra at its mouth and pressed eastward to the village of Czarnowo. After an all-night struggle, the Russian commander withdrew his troops to the east, ending this War of the Fourth Coalition action. Czarnowo is located on the north bank of the Narew River 33 kilometres (21 mi) north-northwest of Warsaw, Poland.
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 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.
The Battle of Alcantara saw an Imperial French division led by Marshal Claude Perrin Victor attack a Portuguese detachment under Colonel William Mayne. After a three hours skirmish, the French stormed across the Alcántara Bridge and forced the Portuguese to retreat. The clash happened during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Alcántara, Spain is situated on the Tagus river near the Portuguese border, 285 kilometres (177 mi) west-southwest of Madrid.
The Battle of Arzobispo on 8 August 1809 saw two Imperial French corps commanded by Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult launch an assault crossing of the Tagus River against a Spanish force under José María de la Cueva, 14th Duke of Alburquerque. Alburquerque's troops rapidly retreated after suffering disproportionate losses, including 30 artillery pieces. El Puente del Arzobispo is located 36 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Talavera de la Reina, Spain. The action occurred during the Peninsular War, part of a larger conflict known as the Napoleonic Wars.
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.