Saturday, 22 January 2011

Barrosa/Chiclana for Lasalle

The refighting of the Gévora has been a very rewarding issue, so I have decided to try another Peninsular battle to celebrate the bicenntenial, the battle of Chiclana, also knwon as Barrosa (Barrossa/Barossa) in the English-speaking world, that taken place the 5 March 1811.
Cádiz had been invested by the French in January 1810 by a 25,000-strong French army commanded by Victor, but in March of 1811 a reduction in the besieging army (caused by the march of almost a third of Victor's troops accompanying Soult in his assault on Badajoz) gave its garrison of Anglo-Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. Their plan was to ship an expeditionary force 100 km south along the coast from Cádiz so as to launch an attack against Victor from inland.
The force comprised 4,000 men British under Graham, 8,000 men of two Spanish divisions led by Lardizabal and the Prince of Anglona, four squadrons of cavalry under Col. Samuel Ford Whittingham - an English officer serving with the Spanish army - 1,000 infantry from Gibraltar and 1,600 Spaniards from an irregular force led by Beguines. The overall command was given to Lapeña, the senior officer at Cádiz.

After several chaotic night marches, Lapeña diverted from his original intention deciding instead to march by the coast road towards Cádiz. Victor prepared a trap in the plain between the town of Chiclana and Barrosa Hill (known now as the Loma de Sancti-Petri). Using one division under Villatte to block the road into Cádiz, Victor kept two divisions under Leval and Ruffin out-of-sight in readiness to make a surprise flank attack that fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.
Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. Although some Spanish units also participated in the fight, Lapeña does not supported his ally and thus prevented a smashing French defeat.
The French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines so the Graham's tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect and the siege remained until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.

- Lipscombe Nick (2010), 'The Peninsular War Atlas', Osprey
- Napier, W.F.P. (1833) 'History of the war in the Peninsula and in the south of France, from the year 1807 to the year 1814', Volume 3
- Oman, Charles (1911), 'A History of the Peninsular War: Volume IV', Greenhill Books 2004
- Queipo de Llano y Ruiz de Saravia, José María, Conde de Toreno (1835), 'Historia del levantamiento, guerra y revolucion de España,
Volumen 4
- Sañudo, J.J. 'Base de Datos sobre las Unidades Militares en la Guerra de la Independencia', Ministerio de defensa, Madrid, 2007

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