Saturday, 26 February 2011

Where the hell is Villanueva de los Castillejos?

The combat of Villanueva de los Castillejos, the next Lasalle battle, was a very secondary affaire, taking place on 25 january, 1811 during the Soult's invasion of Extremadura.
During that expedition, the main column of Soult's army containig the artillery and following the main route from Seville to Merida, arrived to Monesterio, the pass between Andalusia and Estremadura, discovering a column of Spanish infantry only four miles to the west.
This column was made up of General Ballesteros’s infantry division, 5,000 strong, which had just been sent south from Estremadura to to the Condado de Niebla, with orders to expel the weak French garrison from that area, and then to threaten Seville. Its presence disrupted Soult’s plans and after the Spanish escaped to a first attempt by Mortier, Soult sent the Gazan’s infantry division to catch Ballesteros.
Ballesteros conducted a skilful retreat across the mountains towards the lower Guadiana valley, finally standing and fighting at Villanueva de los Castillejos on 25 January 1811. The combat was a resounding French victory (French sources) or a skillful Spanish retreat (Spanish sources) and Ballesteros fled towards Portugal crossing the Guadiana River at Sanlucar de Guadiana.
In the long run it resulted a Spanish minor strategical victory, since Ballesteros had kept Gazan occupied for nearly a month, and forced him to march over 100 miles out of his way across mountain roads thus weaking the Soult's main army and delaying the siege and capture of Badajoz (See the related posts about the battle of the Gevora)
I must confess humbly that I had never heard speak of Villanueva de los Castillejos until now, and that therefore did not have nor idea of where it was that village. Wargaming it does not only consist of painting and moving toy soldiers, but also aids to increasing the own's culture!

The map is taken from the Military History Encyclopedia on the Web, really a wonderful site.

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