Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)

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Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo
Part of Peninsular War
Torre del Homenaje del Castillo de Enrique II desde la Plaza del Castillo, con barrera de 1507 en primer plano.jpg
Date26 April – 10 July 1810
Location Ciudad Rodrigo, Castile and León, Spain
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Empire Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Marshal Michel Ney Field Marshal Don Andrés Perez de Herrasti
Strength
42,000, 60 cannons 5,500, 118 cannons
Casualties and losses
180 killed, over 1,000 wounded 461 killed, 994 wounded, 4,000 captured

In the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French Marshal Michel Ney took the fortified city from Field Marshal Don Andrés Perez de Herrasti [1] 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.

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.

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.

Contents

Forces

Ney's VI Corps included Jean Marchand's 1st Division (6,500), Julien Mermet's 2nd Division (7,400), Louis Loison's 3rd Division (6,600), Auguste Lamotte's corps light cavalry brigade (900), Charles Gardanne's mounted dragoon brigade (1,300) and 60 cannon.

Jean Gabriel Marchand French general

Jean Gabriel Marchand, 1st Count Marchand went from being an attorney to a company commander in the army of the First French Republic in 1791. He fought almost exclusively in Italy throughout the French Revolutionary Wars and served on the staffs of a number of generals. He participated in Napoleon Bonaparte's celebrated 1796-1797 Italian campaign. In 1799, he was with army commander Barthélemy Catherine Joubert when that general was killed at Novi. Promoted to general officer soon after, he transferred to the Rhine theater in 1800.

Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet French army commander

General Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet fought in the Napoleonic Wars as a division commander in Italy and in the Peninsular War.

Louis Henri Loison French general

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.

Herrasti commanded 3 regular battalions from the Avila, Segovia and 1st Majorca Infantry Regiments, 375 artillerymen and 60 sappers. These troops were supplemented by 3 battalions of the Volunteers of Ciudad Rodrigo and 1 battalion of the Urban Guard.

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.

Siege

Initially hoping to be relieved by the British Light under Brigadier General Robert Craufurd, which was nearby, in accordance with the aid that had been promised, Herrasti refused the initial offer to surrender. [2] Viscount Wellington was not however prepared to meet the French in open battle, as he was greatly outnumbered, resting on the Portuguese frontier to await the outcome of the siege.

Robert Craufurd Scottish soldier

Major-General Robert Craufurd was a British soldier. After a military career which took him from India to the Netherlands, he was given command of the Light Division in the Napoleonic Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington. Craufurd was a strict disciplinarian and somewhat prone to violent mood swings which earned him the nickname "Black Bob". He was mortally wounded storming the lesser breach in the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19 January 1812 and died four days later.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington British soldier and statesman

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.

Herrasti's 5,500-man Spanish garrison put up a gallant and sustained defence, [2] for over 10 weeks, surrendering only after the counterscarp had been blown in, Ney's artillery opened practical breachs in the walls and the French infantry were poised for an assault. [3] :277 Herrasti met Ney at the foot of the breach and having been offered the chance of an honourable capitulation, accepted. "Ney promised that the people and property of the inhabitants of the city would be respected. However, all the men who had participated in the defence, and the members of the Central Junta who had encouraged it, would be taken as prisoners to France." [2]

The Spanish suffered 461 killed and 994 wounded, while 4,000 men and 118 cannon were captured. Ney's VI Corps lost 180 killed and over 1,000 wounded during the siege. The French soldiery then pillaged the city, breaking Ney's promise. The siege delayed Masséna's invasion of Portugal by over a month.

Aftermath

French troops advanced, following up the retreating British fought the Battle of the Côa soon after. The Siege of Almeida was started and ended suddenly with a massive explosion of the fortress magazine on 26 August. With all obstacles cleared from their path, the French could march on Lisbon in strength.

Siege of Almeida (1810)

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.

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.

A defensive battle, the Battle of Bussaco, was fought, which gave the French a bloody nose, before the British and Portuguese fell back on the Lines of Torres Vedras which were completed as the troops arrived. The lines were designed to enable a successful defence of Lisbon and avoid a British evacuation of the peninsular, as had happened after the Battle of Corunna in January 1809.

The delay in capturing Cuidad Rodrigo gave many precious weeks of time to enable the Lines of Torres Vedras to be completed and therefore contributed greatly to the Allied victory of the Peninsular War.

A second Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo occurred in January 1812, with the French being besieged this time, losing the town after a short two-week siege.

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References

Notes

  1. Perez de Herrasti, Governor of Ciudad Rodrigo
  2. 1 2 3 "Perez de Herrasti, Governor of Ciudad Rodrigo: "the thumb breaks but does not bend"". napoleon-series.org.
  3. Porter, Maj Gen Whitworth (1889). History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Vol I. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers.

Bibliography

Coordinates: 40°36′00″N6°32′00″W / 40.6000°N 6.5333°W / 40.6000; -6.5333