The Siege of Cádiz was a siege of the large Spanish naval base of Cádizby a French army from 5 February 1810 to 24 August 1812 during the Peninsular War. Following the occupation of Seville, Cádiz became the Spanish seat of power, and was targeted by 70,000 French troops under the command of the Marshals Claude Victor and Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult for one of the most important sieges of the war. Defending the city were 2,000 Spanish troops who, as the siege progressed, received aid from 10,000 Spanish reinforcements as well as British and Portuguese troops.
Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.
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.
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.
During the siege, which lasted two and a half years, the Cortes Generales government in Cadiz (the Cádiz Cortes) drew up a new constitution to reduce the strength of the monarchy, which was eventually revoked by Fernando VII.
The Cortes Generales are the bicameral legislative chambers of Spain, consisting of two chambers: the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The members of the Cortes are the representatives of the Spanish people.
The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, also known as the Constitution of Cádiz and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. It was established on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature. With the notable exception of proclaiming Roman Catholicism as the official and sole legal religion in Spain, the constitution was one of the most liberal of its time: it affirmed national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, free enterprise, abolished feudalism, and established a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It was one of the first constitutions that allowed universal male suffrage, through a complex indirect electoral system. It was repealed by King Ferdinand VII in 1814 in Valencia, who re-established absolute monarchy.
In October 1810 a mixed Anglo-Spanish relief force embarked on a disastrous landing at Fuengirola. A second relief attempt was made at Tarifa in 1811. However, despite defeating a detached French force of 15,000–20,000 under Marshal Victor at the Battle of Barrosa, the siege was not lifted.
The Battle of Fuengirola was an engagement between a small Army of the Duchy of Warsaw garrison of a medieval Moorish fortress in Fuengirola against a much larger Anglo-Spanish expeditionary corps under Andrew Blayney. Blayney led an amphibious assault on Sohail Castle under heavy bombardment. The defenders, fighting with the First French Empire, were men from the 4th Regiment of the Duchy of Warsaw. Under ferocious attack from sea and on land from the British and Spanish forces from the inland, about 300 Polish troops ultimately routed the assaulting forces, inflicting heavy losses on the highly reputed British 89th Regiment of Foot among others and even captured Blayney himself, who was a very distinguished general. Several of the Polish officers were awarded the Legion of Honour by Napoleon himself.
Tarifa is a small town in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, on the southernmost coast of mainland Spain. It is primarily known as one of the world's most popular destinations for wind sports. The town is located on the Costa de la Luz and across the Strait of Gibraltar facing Morocco.
The Battle of Barrosa was part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break the siege of Cádiz in Spain during the Peninsular War. During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle.
In 1812 the Battle of Salamanca eventually forced the French troops to retreat from Andalusia, for fear of being cut off by the Coalition armies.The French defeat contributed decisively to the liberation of Spain from French occupation, due to the survival of the Spanish government and the use of Cádiz as a jump-off point for the Coalition forces.
In Battle of Salamanca an Anglo-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeated Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain on 22 July 1812 during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.
Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville.
In the early 19th century, war was brewing between French emperor Napoleon and the Russian Tsar Alexander I, and Napoleon saw the shared interests of Britain and Russia in defeating him as a threat. Napoleon's advisor, the Duke of Cadore, recommended that the ports of Europe be closed to the British, stating that "Once in Cadiz, Sire, you will be in a position either to break or strengthen the bonds with Russia".
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 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 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.
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.
Soult and his French army invaded Portugal in 1809 but were beaten by Wellesley at Oporto on 12 May. The British and Spanish armies advanced into mainland Spain, however the difficulties that the Spanish army bore forced Arthur Wellesley to retreat into Portugal after Spanish defeats in the battles of Ocaña and Alba de Tormes. By 1810 the war had reached a stalemate. Wellesley strengthened Portuguese and Spanish positions with the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras, and the remainder of the Spanish forces fell back to defend the Spanish government at Cádiz against Soult's Army of Andalusia.
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.
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 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 port of Cádiz was surrounded on land by the armies of Soult and Victor, in three entrenched positions at Chiclana, Puerto Real and Santa Maria, positioned in a semicircle around the city.In the case of the former position, only an area of marshland separated the forces. The French initially sent an envoy with a demand for surrender, which was refused. The fortress of Matagorda, north of Cadiz, was bombarded by the French. When the fort became untenable, it was evacuated by the defending 94th Regiment of Foot. The last person to leave was to be Maj Lefebure of the Royal Engineers, whose job was to fire a mine to destroy the fort, but he was killed by a cannon shot. The French forces now had access to the coast close to Cadiz. The ensuing bombardment of the Spanish coastal city involved some of the largest artillery pieces in existence at the time, including Grand Mortars, which were so large they had to be abandoned when the French eventually retreated, and fired projectiles to distances previously thought impossible, some up to 3 miles in range. (The Grand Mortar was placed in St. James's Park in London as a gift to the British in honour of the Duke of Wellington. ) The French continued to bombard Cadiz until the end of 1810, but the extreme distance lessened their effect.
The terrain surrounding the strong fortifications of Cádiz proved difficult for the French to attack, and the French also suffered from a lack of supplies, particularly ammunition, and from continuous guerrilla raiding parties attacking the rear of their siege lines and their internal communications with Andalusia.On many occasions, the French were forced to send escorts of 150–200 men to guard couriers and supply convoys in the hinterland. So great were the difficulties that one historian judges that:
The French siege of Cadiz was largely illusory. There was no real hope that they would ever take the place. Far more real was the siege of the French army in Andalusia. Spanish forces from the mountains of Murcia constantly harried the eastern part of the province. They were frequently defeated but always reformed. A ragged army under General Ballesteros usually operated within Andalusia itself. Soult repeatedly sent columns against it. It always escaped ... French dominion was secure only in the plains of the Guadalquivir and in Seville.
French reinforcements continued to arrive through to 20 April, and the capture of an outer Spanish fort guarding the road through to the Puerto Real helped to facilitate the arrival of these forces. This captured fort also provided the French with a vantage point from which to shell ships coming in and out of the besieged Spanish port.
During 1811 Victor's force was continually diminished by requests for reinforcement from Soult to aid his siege of Badajoz.This reduction in men, which brought the French numbers down to between 20,000–15,000, encouraged the defenders of Cádiz to attempt a breakout. A sortie of 4,000 Spanish troops, under the command of General José de Zayas, was arranged in conjunction with the arrival of an Anglo-Spanish relief army of around 16,000 troops that landed 50 miles to the south in Tarifa. This Anglo-Spanish force was under the overall command of Spanish General Manuel la Peña, with the British contingent being led by Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham. On 21 February 1811 the force set sail for Tarifa, and eventually landed at Algeciras on 23 February. Eventually marching towards Cádiz on 28 February, the force met a detachment of two French divisions under Victor at Barrosa. The battle was a tactical victory for the Coalition force, with a French regimental eagle captured, but it was strategically indecisive.
Smaller sorties of 2,000–3,000 men continued to operate out of Cadiz from April to August 1811.On 26 October British naval gunboats from Gibraltar destroyed French positions at St. Mary's, killing French artillery commander Alexandre-Antoine Hureau de Sénarmont. An attempt by Victor to crush the small Anglo-Spanish garrison at Tarifa over the winter of 1811–1812 was frustrated by torrential rains and an obstinate defence, marking an end to French operations against the city's outer works.
On 22 July 1812, Wellesley won a tactical victory over Auguste Marmont at Salamanca. The Spanish, British and Portuguese then entered Madrid on 6 August and advanced towards Burgos. Realising that his army was in danger of being cut off, Soult ordered a retreat from Cádiz set for 24 August. After an overnight artillery barrage, the French intentionally burst most of their 600 guns by overcharging and detonating them. The Coalition forces captured many guns, 30 gunboats and a large quantity of stores.
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.
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.
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 Talavera was fought just outside the town of Talavera de la Reina, Spain some 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Madrid, during the Peninsular War. At Talavera, an Anglo-Spanish army under Sir Arthur Wellesley combined with a Spanish army under General Cuesta in operations against French-occupied Madrid. The French army withdrew at night after several of its attacks had been repulsed.
General William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and politician. A general in the British Army and a Marshal in the Portuguese Army, he fought alongside The Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War and held the office of Master-General of the Ordnance in 1828 in Wellington's first ministry.
Sharpe's Fury is the eleventh historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, published in 2006. The story is set in 1811 during Wellington's campaign in the Iberian peninsula.
The I Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was composed of troops in Imperial French service.
Manuel Lapeña Rodríguez y Ruiz de Sotillo, sometimes referred to as Lapeña, was a Spanish military officer who served during the Peninsular War. He rose through the Spanish army's ranks to become Captain General of Andalusia. He is primarily known for commanding an Anglo–Spanish expedition from Cádiz, with the intention of raising the siege on that city, which led to the Battle of Barrosa.
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 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.
Armand Philippon, sometimes called Phillipon, was a French soldier during the French Revolution and the subsequent First French Empire.
The Siege of Astorga was an attempt by French forces to capture Astorga, Spain in a campaign of the Peninsular War. Astorga was located on the flank of the French invasion of Spain and Portugal, and was meant to be used as a headquarters during the campaign. For several weeks no attack took place, as neither side had artillery enough to fight well. Shortly after the French guns arrived, however, a hole was made in the wall and the city fell shortly thereafter. The French overpowered the Spanish garrison inside and took the city on April 20, 1810; with a loss of 160 men.
The First siege of Badajoz was a siege carried out during the Peninsular War on the Spanish town of Badajoz, by the French general Soult.
In the Battle of Baza on 4 November 1810 an Imperial French force commanded by General Milhaud fought a Spanish corps led by General Blake. When the Spanish commander allowed his forces to get spread out, Milhaud attacked with his cavalry and crushed Blake's vanguard with heavy losses. The Spanish force retreated into the province of Murcia. Baza is located on Route 342 about 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Almería. The battle occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Battle of Bornos on 5 November 1811 saw a Spanish force led by Francisco Ballesteros attack an Imperial French column under Jean-Baptiste Pierre de Semellé. The action was part of a larger operation in which the French tried to trap Ballesteros but failed. Instead, the Spanish general lashed out at one of the French columns. The French escaped disaster when they fought their way out, but a French-allied Spanish battalion either surrendered or switched sides. Bornos is about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Jerez de la Frontera on Route 342. The battle occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Second Siege of Badajoz saw an Anglo-Portuguese Army, first led by William Carr Beresford and later commanded by Arthur Wellesley,The Viscount Wellington, besiege a French garrison under Armand Philippon at Badajoz, Spain. After failing to force a surrender, Wellington withdrew his army when the French mounted a successful relief effort by combining the armies of Marshals Nicolas Soult and Auguste Marmont. The action was fought during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Badajoz is located 6 kilometres (4 mi) from the Portuguese border on the Guadiana River in western Spain.
The battle of Navas de Membrillo took place on 29 December 1811 near Mérida, Spain, and saw the British light cavalry of General Rowland Hill assault a small Imperial French force led par Captain Neveux. During the action, the French soldiers formed in square inflicted a sharp defeat to the British cavalrymen. This engagement is considered by historian Ian Fletcher as "one of the more disappointing cavalry episodes in the Peninsula".