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Retreat to Corunna & Vigo 16/1/1809

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Start page , North Hamptonshire Regiment (48th Regiment of Foot) , John Waddington
Moore,s troops landed in Spain poorly equiped by the government as they believed it would cause
delays. Moore believed that the Spanish would equip his Army and with that belief he marched to the interior.The supplies from the Spanish did not eventuate.
Moore left Lisbon on the 26th October 1808. On the 5th of November Napoleon arrived to take personel
charge of the Spanish war. He intended to end this war in one stroke. Moore halted his march for a few days at Salamanka to await his artillery and cavalry under the command of Sir John Hope ,as well as the Corunna force under Baird. Napoleon had routed the Spanish on the 28th of November. With this Moore intended to end the exercise, believing that the Sapnish were either unwilling or incapable to collaborate.
On the 6th of December, Moore decided to advance on the French. The Spanish had not
informed Moore that they had already surrendered Madrid to the French. On arriving at Madrid, Moore found nothing but French troops, part of Marshal Nicholal Soult (1769-1808) corps. Moore attacked on the 21st of December 1808 with Lord Henry Williams cavalry (1768-1854) and one of Soults cavalry brigades was routed. On the 22nd of December 1808 news arrived that 150,000 French troops had landed and were moving on Moore. Moore decided to retreat to Corunna, not Portugal. On the 29th of December Lord Paget fought a rear guard action at Benevente, this was successful in slowing the French advance . During this engagement the commander of Napoleons Imperial Guard Cavalry, Charles Lefebure Des-Nouettes (1773-1822) was captured by trooper Levi Grinstal of the 10th Hussers.This did nothing to improve morale of Moores troops which was failing badly, they were retreating without a fight. Many of his Army were freezeing to death because of the Spanish winter . Only Pagats cavalry held together, constantly fighting rear guard actions against the French to protect the main Army.This consisted of the vanguard containing the best element of the Light Brigade 0f the1/43rd, 2/52nd and 2/95th commanded by Robert "Black Bob" Caufield (1764-1812). Some other brigades held together especially the Guards and the Highlanders. Sgt William Newman of the 43rd organised a mish mash brigade that defied and fought of the persuing French . Believing the war won, Napoleon left Spain for France on 1st of January 1808.
19,000 starving and weary troops staggered into Corunna on the 11th January 1808. The very next day
Soult attacked with 20,000 fresh french troops . The British Army formed in ranks and began the defensive battle. As the Army ran out of ammunition Moore called to his men " you still have the Bayonet" The British soldiers used this with deadly results to the French . As Moore consoled a wounded Highlander he was shot in the shoulder which two days later proved fatal . He was buried on the ramparts the following day . Eventually the French Army was held at bay long enough for the British Navy to evacuate the remaining troops. This one campaign cost the lives of 7,000 British troops and 9,000 French troops,but bought valuable time for the British to regroup and re supply.
Excerpt from Philip J. Haythornthaite's book WELLINGTON'S MILITARY MACHINE published 1995
The information is intended for short Historical Value only, far more information can be gained from the above Publication
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Last revised: 03/04/2017.