Siege of Almeida (1810)

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Siege of Almeida 1810
Part of Peninsular War
Fortress of Almeida.jpg
The Fortress of Almeida
Date25 July – 27 August 1810
Location Almeida, Portugal
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Empire Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Flag of Portugal (1750).svg Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Marshal Michel Ney Brig-Gen William Cox
Strength
16,000 men
100 cannons
5,000 men
100 cannons
Casualties and losses
58 dead
320 wounded
600 dead
300 wounded
4,100 captured

In the Siege of Almeida, the French corps of Marshal Michel Ney captured the border fortress from Brigadier General William Cox's Portuguese garrison. This action was fought in the summer of 1810 during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars. Almeida is located in eastern Portugal, near the border with Spain.

Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.

Michel Ney French soldier and military commander

Marshal of the Empire Michel Ney, 1st Duke of Elchingen, 1st Prince of the Moskva, popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves by Napoleon.

Castle Fortress of Almeida

The Castle/Fortress of Almeida is a castle situated in the civil parish of Almeida, in the municipality of Almeida in the Portuguese district of Guarda, in the former-northwestern province of Beira Alta. It was constructed in this region due to its significant strategic importance, due to its close proximity to the border between Portugal and Spain. It is classified as a National Monument.

Contents

Background

Lying on a main invasion route from Ciudad Rodrigo to Lisbon, the Castle Fortress of Almeida was invested by a 65,000-man army under Marshal André Masséna in the third French invasion of Portugal. The previous day the French forces had pushed back the British Portuguese army at the Battle of the Côa. The 50,000-man British-Portuguese army of General Lord Wellington now held the far bank of the Coa. However, the river's banks were steep, with only two bridges, and the French 6th Corps guarded the crossings, so the British were unable to retake the crossings to relieve Almeida.

Ciudad Rodrigo municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Ciudad Rodrigo is a small cathedral city in the province of Salamanca, in western Spain, with a population in 2016 of 12,896. It is also the seat of a judicial district.

Lisbon Capital city in Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal

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. 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.

André Masséna French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

André Masséna, 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d'Essling was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon, with the nickname l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire.

Siege

Fresh from the successful Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French army laid siege to Almeida on July 25, 1810. Brigadier-General William Cox commanded a 4,000-man Portuguese garrison of three battalions of militia, from Arganil, Trancoso and Vizeu. Some regular British forces were also present, including 1,200 men of the 24th Line Regiment, a squadron of the 11th Cavalry Regiment and over 400 gunners. The defences of Almeida were in better repair and stronger than Ciudad Rodrigo which the French had recently taken. In particular, there were over 100 artillery pieces, of which 40 were 18-pounders or heavier, and most were in protected casemates. The siege was conducted by the 14,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, 1,000 artillerists and 100 cannon of the VI Corps under the command of Marshal Michel Ney. In addition, General Jean-Andoche Junot lay in reserve nearby with his VIII Corps .

Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810) siege

In the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French Marshal Michel Ney took the fortified city from Field Marshal Don Andrés Perez de Herrasti on 10 July 1810 after a siege that began on 26 April. Ney's VI Corps made up part of a 65,000-strong army commanded by André Masséna, who was bent on a third French invasion of Portugal.

The VI Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. It was formed at the Camp de Boulogne and assigned to Marshal Michel Ney. From 1805 through 1811, the army corps fought under Ney's command in the War of the Third Coalition, the War of the Fourth Coalition, and the Peninsular War. Jean Gabriel Marchand was in charge of the corps for a period when Ney went on leave. In early 1811, Ney was dismissed by Marshal André Masséna for disobedience and the corps was briefly led by Louis Henri Loison until the corps was dissolved in May 1811. The VI Corps was revived in 1812 for the French invasion of Russia and placed under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr. It entirely consisted of Bavarian soldiers at that time. After the disastrous winter retreat the corps was virtually destroyed. In 1813 during the War of the Sixth Coalition it was recreated with reorganized French troops. Marshal Auguste Marmont took command of the corps and managed it until Emperor Napoleon's abdication in 1814. It took part in many battles including Dresden and Leipzig in 1813. During the Hundred Days, Georges Mouton, Count de Lobau commanded the VI Corps at the Battle of Waterloo.

Jean-Andoche Junot French general

Jean-Andoche Junot, 1st Duke of Abrantès was a French general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The French received siege supplies from Ciudad Rodrigo on August 15, and started to dig trench lines to the south-east of the town, facing the San Pedro bastion. The siege train was well supplied with guns; as well as the existing French ones, it also included captured Spanish guns from Ciudad Rodrigo. By August 24, the French lines had eleven batteries in place, with over 50 guns. Throughout, the Portuguese defenders had fired upon the French, with little effect. When the French bombardment opened on August 26 at 6 AM, several quarters of the town were quickly set on fire, and the defending guns of the nearest three batteries overwhelmed. However, the defences held. The governor was confident in withstanding the assault, until a shell made a freak hit. The great magazine in the castle had been used through the day to supply the defenders, and at some point a leaky powder keg had left a trail of powder leading up to the courtyard. At around 7 PM, one French shell landed in the courtyard, igniting a gunpowder trail that led through the still open door, and set off a chain reaction into the magazine. The ensuing explosion killed 600 defenders and wounded 300 more. The castle that housed the gunpowder was razed and sections of the defenses were damaged, leaving a crater still visible today. Unable to reply to the French cannonade without gunpowder, Cox was forced to capitulate the following day with the survivors of the blast and 100 cannon. The French lost 58 killed and 320 wounded during the operation. The next action was the Battle of Bussaco.

Battle of Bussaco battle

The Battle of Buçaco or Bussaco, fought on 27 September 1810 during the Peninsular War in the Portuguese mountain range of Serra do Buçaco, resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army.

Cultural reference

The siege forms the climax of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Gold , in which Richard Sharpe is credited with the destruction of the ammunition magazine, an act intended to deliberately cut short the siege so that he could leave the city and bring Lord Wellington the finances needed to complete the Lines of Torres Vedras.

Bernard Cornwell British writer

Bernard Cornwell, is an English author of historical novels and a history of the Waterloo Campaign. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe. He has written historical novels primarily on English history in five series, and one series of contemporary thriller novels. A feature of his historical novels is an end note on how they match or differ from history, and what one might see at the modern site of the battles described. One series is set in the American Civil War. He wrote a nonfiction book on the battle of Waterloo, in addition to the fictional story of the famous battle in the Sharpe Series. Two of the historical novel series have been adapted for television: the Sharpe television series by ITV and The Last Kingdom by BBC. He lives in the US with his wife, alternating between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Charleston, South Carolina.

Lines of Torres Vedras

The Lines of Torres Vedras were lines of forts built in secrecy to defend Lisbon during the Peninsular War. Named after the nearby town of Torres Vedras, they were ordered by Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Wellington, constructed by Sir Richard Fletcher, 1st Baronet, and his Portuguese workers between November 1809 and September 1810, and used to stop Masséna's 1810 offensive.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Jean Gabriel Marchand French general

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Blockade of Almeida

In the Blockade of Almeida a French garrison under Antoine François Brenier de Montmorand was surrounded by approximately 13,000 Anglo-Allied soldiers led by Generals Sir Alexander Campbell, 1st Baronet and Sir William Erskine, 2nd Baronet. After a French relief attempt failed, Brenier and his troops broke out at night after blowing up portions of the fortress. To the fury of the British army commander Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Wellington, most of the French escaped due to their commander's single-minded determination, British fumbling, and remarkably good luck. The action took place during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars. Almeida, Portugal is located near the Spanish border about 300 kilometres (186 mi) northeast of Lisbon. The town was originally captured from a Portuguese garrison during the 1810 Siege of Almeida.

Events from the year 1810 in France.

Siege of Almeida (1762)

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The Combat of Barquilla was a minor skirmish between British and French forces two days after the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, in which Robert Craufurd attacked French grenadiers covering a foraging party. The French grenadiers, formed in a single square, made a fighting withdrawal, fending off British cavalry and escaping unscathed.

Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune led a French division against the British in 1811–1813 during the Peninsular War. He is referred to as Maucune in English-language sources. He joined the pioneer corps of the French army in 1786 and was a lieutenant by the time the French Revolutionary Wars broke out. He fought in the north in 1792 and in the Alps in 1793. Afterward he served in Italy through 1801. During this period, he fought at Arcole in 1796 and at the Trebbia, Novi and Genola in 1799. He was appointed to command the 39th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade and led it in the 1800 campaign.

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Royal Fortress of the Concepcion cultural property in Aldea del Obispo, Spain

The fortress of Real Fuerte de la Concepción is a star fortress built in the Vaubanesque style. It is located 0.6 miles (0.97 km) west of the village of Aldea del Obispo in the province of Salamanca, western Spain, part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. The fortress was constructed there because of its position of great strategic significance due to its proximity to the border between Spain and Portugal which lies 0.4 miles (0.64 km) to the west of the fortress. The Fortress of the Concepcion is also opposite the Portuguese castle fortress of Almeida which lies 5.5 miles (8.9 km) west-north-west of the fortress. In 2006, the derelict fortress was sold privately and the site was renovated into a luxury hotel which opened in 2012.

References

Coordinates: 40°43′34″N6°54′22″W / 40.7261°N 6.9061°W / 40.7261; -6.9061