Battle of Barrosa

The Battle of Barrosa took place during the Peninsular War. A single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle. Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea. A reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of British and Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege.

About Battle of Barrosa in brief

Summary Battle of BarrosaThe Battle of Barrosa took place during the Peninsular War. A single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle. Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea. In March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of British and Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. However, a lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. The siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812. It was widely regarded as a political accommodation since General Manuel la Peña ceded overall command to the Spanish General José Pascual de Zayas y Chayas, who would lead a force of 4,000 troops in a southeasterly assault on the city. The Anglo-Spanish expedition was sent by sea from Cá diz south to Tarifa, with the intention of marching north to engage the French rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to CáDiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under thecommand of Sir Thomas Graham.

The battle proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the battle remained in place until the end of the war in July 1812, when the siege was finally lifted. The city of Cá diz, a major Allied harbour and the effective seat of Spanish government since the occupation of Madrid, was besieged by French troops of Marshal Soult’s I Corps under theCommand. By May, the garrison was 26,000 strong, while the French forces had risen to 25,000. By mid-February, five Anglo- Portuguese battalions had landed, bringing the garrison up to 17,000 men and making the city effectively impregnable. Although the siege tied up a large number of Spanish, British and Portuguese troops, Wellington accepted this as part of his strategy since a similar number of French troops were also engaged. In January 1811, Victor’s position began to deteriorate. He ordered Victor to send almost a third of his troops to support Soult’s assault on Badajoz, reducing the besieges French army to around 15,000Men. The British contingent was unable to land at Tarifa due to bad weather and were forced to sail to Algeciras on February 23, where they disembarked on a pontoon bridge from the Isla de Lela de León, commanded by Lieutenant General Thomas Graham—General Sir Thomas Grahamsailed on 21 February 1811.