Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The battle of Sagunto (October 25, 1811)

The Battle of Saguntum (Sagunto) was fought on 25 October 1811 between the French Army of Aragon under Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet and a Spanish army led by Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake y Joyes composed by his own 2nd Army as well as reinforcements from the 3rd and 4th Spanish armies.
Suchet, under orders from Napoleon, had invaded Valencia in September 1811 following his victorious siege of Tarragona in June. The castle of Saguntum lied in his road towards Valencia at a distance of 30 km (19 mi) and he tried to quickly seize it by a coup of main. However, the Spanish garrison repulsed two attacks and the French-Allied army was forced to lay siege to the ancient fortress. On the other side, Blake had planned to defend a line of fortifications closer to Valencia than Saguntum, but as the French siege dragged on, Blake came under increasing pressure to make an attempt to lift the siege. In mid-October he yielded to that pressure, called up all of his reserves and prepared to leave his lines around Valencia to attack the French.
Blake split his army into two unequal wings. The left wing (17,700 strong) was sent on a long march around the French right to outflank the French on the battlefield. The Spanish right under Blake (10,500 men) was to engage Suchet’s army directly, pinning it in place to give the left time to complete its outflanking move. This wing contained the most experienced of Blake’s troops – the 5,500 men in the divisions of Zayas and Lardizabal.
Suchet was only able to bring 14,000 men into his line, for he had to detach a force in the trenches outside Saguntum and another force to protect his lines of communication to the north. Despite this he was still in the belief that the Spanish troops would perform badly so he took up position on the plain south of Saguntum, on a terrain well suited to cavalry. Suchet posted his men on either side of the high road from Valencia, and left a reserve to the right rear to protect again the very out-flanking manoeuvre that Blake was planning. 

The Spanish left outflanking force outnumbered the French by two to one, but they were completed routed by the French-Italians units composing the French right that forced them to flight. After only just over ten minutes of fighting the Spanish had lost 2,000 prisoners and 400 dead and wounded. The Spanish right performed much better led by the Laridizabal's division, that became entangled with French infantry and cavalry. Blake attempted to break this deadlock with his cavalry, and for once the Spanish cavalry performed well and the Spanish riders were in the edge to break the French infantry when the arrival of the 13th Cuirassiers saved the day for the French, routing the Spanish cavalry and exposing the Lardizabal’s flanks. Suchet attacked with his Italian reserve and Lardizabal was forced to retreat. The Zayas's division, the only intact part of the Spanish army, was now also forced to retreat.
The Spanish lost 1,000 killed and wounded during the battle itself, and 4,641 prisoners during the rout that followed. The divisions on the left suffered very few casualties, but lost half of the prisoners. Suchet reported his own losses as 130 dead and 590 wounded, although other estimates give a total of nearer 1,000 casualties. Saguntum itself surrendered on the following day, the garrison having watched the defeat of the relief army from the walls of the citadel.
Despite this victory, Suchet was now not strong enough to risk an immediate attack on Valencia: He had to place a garrison in Saguntum itself, and another force was detached to escort the prisoners back to Tortosa, so his disposable force was down to only 15,000 men, and he was forced to ask for reinforcements before to move.

Más información en Wikipedia / History of war

Share |


  1. Hi Rafa,

    Is this a scenario you're going to play? I love your Spanish vs. French scenarios even if the French usually come out on top!

    The Spanish army historically still played an important role by tying down so many French armies even if they were performance in the field wasn't great.

  2. Hi
    Maybe in the future I'll play Sagunto with Lasalle. Playing the Spanish army in Lasalle is funny because most of the units are Unpredictable until they fight in close combat!
    Tha next battle in the pipeline would be Altenburg
    Best regards