Retreat to Corunna &
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, 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
- The information is intended for
short Historical Value only, far more information can be
gained from the above Publication
- © Copyright B & M Chapman
- Last revised: April 11, 2000.