Siege of Astorga
The Siege of Astorga was an attempt by French forces to capture Astorga, Spain in a campaign of the Peninsular War. Astorga was located on the flank of the French invasion of Spain and Portugal, for several weeks no attack took place, as neither side had artillery enough to fight well. Shortly after the French guns arrived, however, a hole was made in the wall, the French overpowered the Spanish garrison inside and took the city on April 20,1810, with a loss of 160 men. Astorga is located in the province of León, in northwest Spain, because of its location, it sat on the flank of the French army as they advanced into Spain, and invaded Portugal. The city was built into a hill, part of the Manzanal mountains, the French had already been defeated once trying to take the city, in September 1809, after which General La Romana repaired the walls of the city and built up its defenses. The French forces, part of André Massénas army, were led by Jean-Andoche Junot, Junot arrived at Astorga on March 21 with Napoleons 8th corps, consisting of 12,000 men, including 1,200 cavalry forces.
Junots forces included the Irish Legion, they had joined earlier that month, Astorga would be the first action for the Second Battalion of the Legion. Junot placed Bertrand Clausels division in the position Loison had held, with Solignac in support, junots troops came to assist Loison, but brought no siege guns with them, It took Junot weeks to gather enough artillery to assault the town. In the mean time, the French forces dug trenches to besiege the town, the English and Spanish troops under Wellington had the same troubles when they recaptured the city in 1812. The garrison in Astorga had no guns, for several weeks there was a standoff. During these weeks, Santocildes emptied the town of 3,000 of its residents and stocked up on supplies for the siege, the Spanish could expect no hope from Wellingtons forces, which remained in Portugal. Until the siege guns arrived, there was no action except nuisance fire from what little artillery Junot had, junots 18 siege guns arrived on April 15 from Valladolid, and by the 20th, the wall of the city was breached.
The French stormed the city the next evening, their first attack was repulsed at the cost of 300 men and those of the storming company who were not killed holed up just inside the wall and held the position for the night. The next morning, Santocildes surrendered as the French were preparing for another attack, Santocildes was almost out of ammunition when he surrendered, he had fewer than 30 rounds of ammunition left per man, and only 8 rounds of artillery. He gave the French 2,500 prisoners and the city and his garrison lost only 51 dead and 109 wounded. Most of the French casualties came in the assault on the breach
Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)
In the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French Marshal Michel Ney took the fortified city from Field Marshal Don Andrés Perez de Herrasti on 10 July 1810 after a siege that began on 26 April. Neys VI Corps made up part of a 65, 000-strong army commanded by André Masséna, Herrasti commanded 3 regular battalions from the Avila, Segovia and 1st Majorca Infantry Regiments,375 artillerymen and 60 sappers. These troops were supplemented by 3 battalions of the Volunteers of Ciudad Rodrigo and 1 battalion of the Urban Guard. Viscount Wellington was not however prepared to meet the French in open battle, as he was greatly outnumbered, Herrasti met Ney at the foot of the breach and having been offered the chance of an honourable capitulation, accepted. Ney promised that the people and property of the inhabitants of the city would be respected, all the men who had participated in the defence, and the members of the Central Junta who had encouraged it, would be taken as prisoners to France. The Spanish suffered 461 killed and 994 wounded, while 4,000 men and 118 cannon were captured, Neys VI Corps lost 180 killed and over 1,000 wounded during the siege.
The French soldiery pillaged the city, breaking Neys promise, the siege delayed Massénas invasion of Portugal by over a month. French troops advanced, following up the retreating British fought the Battle of the Côa soon after, the Siege of Almeida was started and ended suddenly with a massive explosion of the fortress magazine on 26 August. With all obstacles cleared from their path, the French could march on Lisbon in strength, the lines were designed to enable a successful defence of Lisbon and avoid a British evacuation of the peninsular, as had happened after the Battle of Corunna in January 1809. A second Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo occurred in January 1812, with the French being besieged this time, the French Campaign in Portugal 1810–1811, An Account by Jean Jacques Pelet. History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Vol I, The Institution of Royal Engineers
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was a monarchy on the Iberian Peninsula and the predecessor of modern Portugal. It was in existence from 1139 until 1910, after 1248, it was known as the Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves and between 1815 and 1822, it was known as the United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves. The name is often applied to the Portuguese Empire, the realms extensive overseas colonies. The nucleus of the Portuguese state was the County of Portugal, established in the 9th century as part of the Reconquista, by Vímara Peres, a vassal of the King of Asturias. The county became part of the Kingdom of León in 1097, the kingdom was ruled by the Alfonsine Dynasty until the 1383–85 Crisis, after which the monarchy passed to the House of Aviz. During the 15th and 16th century, Portuguese exploration established a vast colonial empire, from 1580 to 1640, the kingdom of Portugal was in personal union with Habsburg Spain. After the Portuguese Restoration War of 1640–1668, the passed to the House of Braganza and after to the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg.
From this time, the influence of Portugal declined, but it remained a major due to its most valuable colony. Portugal was an absolute monarchy before 1822. It rotated between absolute and constitutional monarchy from 1822 until 1834, and was a constitutional monarchy after 1834. The Kingdom of Portugal finds its origins in the County of Portugal, the Portuguese County was a semi-autonomous county of the Kingdom of León. Independence from León took place in three stages, The first on 26 July 1139 when Afonso Henriques was acclaimed King of the Portuguese internally, the second was on 5 October 1143, when Alfonso VII of León and Castile recognized Afonso Henriques as king through the Treaty of Zamora. The third, in 1179, was the Papal Bull Manifestis Probatum, once Portugal was independent, D. Afonso Is descendants, members of the Portuguese House of Burgundy, would rule Portugal until 1383. Even after the change in houses, all the monarchs of Portugal were descended from Afonso I, one way or another.
With the start of the 20th century, Republicanism grew in numbers and support in Lisbon among progressive politicians, however a minority with regard to the rest of the country, this height of republicanism would benefit politically from the Lisbon Regicide on 1 February 1908. When returning from the Ducal Palace at Vila Viçosa, King Carlos I, with the death of the king and his heir, Carlos Is second son would become king as King Manuel II of Portugal. Manuels reign, would be short-lived, ending by force with the 5 October 1910 revolution, sending Manuel into exile in England, on 19 January 1919, the Monarchy of the North was proclaimed in Porto. The monarchy would be deposed a month and no other monarchist counterrevolution in Portugal has happened since, after centuries of Portuguese dominion in Angola, the Kingdom of Kongo was made a vassal state of the Portuguese kingdom, its king pledging allegiance to the King of Portugal
Battle of Pombal
The Battle of Pombal was a sharp skirmish during Marshal Massénas retreat from the Lines of Torres Vedras, the first in a series of lauded rearguard actions fought by Michel Ney. At the Battle of Pombal, Ney turned to face the larger Anglo-Portuguese forces, unable to break the Lines of Torres Vedras, Ney was given charge of the rear-guard while the main body of the French army withdrew from Portugal. The rear-guard consisted of Mermets and Marchands divisions, when it became clear to Wellington that he had been deceived, the British-Portuguese left Torres Vedras and began a pursuit. The British caught up with Ney at the town of Pombal, a British advanced-guard much larger than that of the French, the latter consisting of only two battalions of the 6th Light Infantry, attacked the town of Pombal. The two French battalions were overwhelmed by numbers and, after a struggle, the French were forced out of Pombal. It was that Ney rushed in and spoke to the six th Light Infantry, “Chasseurs, ” he said, “you are losing your beautiful reputation, and you will dishonour yourselves forever if you do not drive the enemy out of Pombal.
Those who are brave, with me. ”With these words he galloped towards Pombal, the Anglo-Portuguese driven out, all the way to the river Arunca. Despite success, Ney promptly set fire to the town of Pombal, the next action would be the Battle of Redinha. General Picton was very impressed by Ney’s actions, as the former was able to observe the latter’s deceiving movements, historic Doubts as to the Execution of Marshal Ney 1895. Victoires, conquêtes, désastres, revers et guerres civiles des francais, volume 20
Battle of Sabugal
In poor weather, with heavy rain and fog, Allied forces succeeded in forcing the demoralized French force into retreat. By October 1810, Marshal Massena’s French army had halted by the Lines of Torres Vedras. Having survived the winter, Massena order a retreat on 3 March 1811. By the onset of April, the French forces were just inside Portugal, jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte dErlons 9th Corps defended to the north, Louis Henri Loisons 6th Corps was in the centre and Jean Reyniers 2nd Corps held the south flank at Sabugal. Resting in the areas was Jean-Andoche Junots 8th Corps. It was at Sabugal that Wellesley attempted to crush the French flank by attacking forces of the isolated 2nd Corps, with the leading British units cut off, and poor weather approaching, the British situation became increasingly difficult. The 1st Brigade of the British-Portuguese Light Division crossed the Côa at 10.00 hrs on the morning of 3 April, the French 4th Légére from Pierre Hugues Victoire Merles 1st Division was alerted by musket fire as the 1st Brigade drove off a small number of French pickets.
The French formed a column and advanced on the British, while making good progress initially, the concentrated French force was driven back by British artillery. The 1st Brigade followed the retreating French forces up a hill, however it was quickly ousted by the remaining French forces. The British were forced back into cover behind some stone walls. Heavy rain had begun to interfere with the muskets of both sides. An attempted counter-attack by the 1st Brigade ended in failure, together with further French reinforcements, Reynier forced the British back to the cover of the stone walls at the foot of the hill. The crest was attacked for a time by the 1st Brigade, now supported by the 2nd Brigade. While the French were initially pushed back, Reynier sent in a stream of French units to meet the arriving British 16th Light Dragoons, with the rain clearing, Reynier could see the British divisions beginning a frontal assault. Sources differ in the number of French prisoners taken, ranging from 186 to over 1,500, major-General William Erskine commanded the Light Division during the battle.
Wellington planned to have the Light Division and two brigades of cavalry circle behind Reyniers open left flank while the four divisions attacked in front. When the day dawned with heavy fog, the commanders decided to wait until visibility improved. Undeterred, Erskine peremptorily ordered Lieut-Colonel Thomas Sydney Beckwiths 1st Brigade forward, instead of crossing the Côa beyond Reyniers flank, the brigade drifted to the left in the fog, crossed at the wrong location and struck the French left flank
France, officially the French Republic, is a country with territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European, or metropolitan, area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, Overseas France include French Guiana on the South American continent and several island territories in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. France spans 643,801 square kilometres and had a population of almost 67 million people as of January 2017. It is a unitary republic with the capital in Paris. Other major urban centres include Marseille, Lille, Toulouse, during the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. The area was annexed in 51 BC by Rome, which held Gaul until 486, France emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, with its victory in the Hundred Years War strengthening state-building and political centralisation. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a colonial empire was established.
The 16th century was dominated by civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. France became Europes dominant cultural and military power under Louis XIV, in the 19th century Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire, whose subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War, the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all the colonies became independent in the 1960s with minimal controversy and typically retained close economic. France has long been a centre of art, science. It hosts Europes fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, France is a developed country with the worlds sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity.
In terms of household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, France remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. It is a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name France comes from the Latin Francia, or country of the Franks
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km². Its urban area extends beyond the administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and it is continental Europes westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean, the westernmost areas of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe. Lisbon is recognised as a city because of its importance in finance, media, arts, international trade, education. It is one of the economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector. Humberto Delgado Airport serves over 20 million passengers annually, as of 2015, and the motorway network, the city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Barcelona, Madrid and Milan, with 1,740,000 tourists in 2009. The Lisbon region contributes with a higher GDP PPP per capita than any region in Portugal.
Its GDP amounts to 96.3 billion USD and thus $32,434 per capita, the city occupies 32nd place of highest gross earnings in the world. Most of the headquarters of multinationals in the country are located in the Lisbon area and it is the political centre of the country, as its seat of Government and residence of the Head of State. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, in 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since it has been a major political and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbons status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal. It has one of the warmest winters of any metropolis in Europe, the typical summer season lasts about four months, from June to September, although in April temperatures sometimes reach around 25 °C.
Although modern archaeological excavations show a Phoenician presence at this location since 1200 BC, another conjecture based on ancient hydronymy suggests that the name of the settlement derived from the pre-Roman appellation for the Tagus, Lisso or Lucio. Lisbons name was written Ulyssippo in Latin by the geographer Pomponius Mela and it was referred to as Olisippo by Pliny the Elder and by the Greeks as Olissipo or Olissipona. The Indo-European Celts invaded in the 1st millennium BC, mixing with the Pre-Indo-European population and this indigenous settlement maintained commercial relations with the Phoenicians, which would account for the recent findings of Phoenician pottery and other material objects
Jean Louis Ebénézer Reynier rose in rank to become a French army general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division under Napoleon Bonaparte in the French Campaign in Egypt, Reynier joined the French army as a gunner in 1792 and fought at the Battle of Jemappes that year. He received promotion to general of brigade in January 1795 and he was General Jean Moreaus chief-of-staff in 1796 and soon became a general of division. He went on Napoleons Egyptian expedition in 1798 and commanded a division at the Battle of the Pyramids, the Siege of El Arish, under the command of General Jacques-Francois Menou he defended against the British counter-invasion of Egypt in 1801. His division was present but not engaged in the Battle of Alexandria, after returning to France, Reynier killed a fellow general in a duel and was under a cloud for a time. Reynier fought with the army of Marshal André Masséna in the 1805 Italian theater, on 24 November, his 2nd Division helped capture Prince Louis Victor Rohan-Guéménés 4,400 Austrians at the Battle of Castelfranco Veneto.
Reyniers 6,000 Frenchmen routed the 10, 000-man army of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples and this victory helped Napoleon to install his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne of the newly created Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples. On 4 July of that year, a British raiding force inflicted a severe drubbing on an overconfident Reynier at the Battle of Maida in southern Italy. Reynier was able to reassert French control of the area via the French victory at Mileto and served under King Joseph as his Minister of War, during the Battle of Wagram in 1809, Reynier commanded 129 artillery pieces and 8,475 soldiers on the Island of Lobau. This impressive array of cannon helped stop a dangerous flanking attack by Johann von Klenaus Austrian VI Armeekorps. Sent to the Iberian Peninsula in 1810, he commanded the II Corps under Masséna at the Battle of Bussaco, the Lines of Torres Vedras, before Bussaco and other generals urged Masséna to order the assault which turned out to be unsuccessful. His corps was not seriously engaged at the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro in Spain, in 1811, Napoleon named him a Count of the Empire.
During the Russian campaign of 1812, Reynier led the VII Corps which was composed of Saxons, together with an allied Austrian force under Karl Schwarzenberg, he operated well to the south of the major fighting. After fighting inconclusive battles with the Russians at Gorodeczna and Wolkowysk, leading the Saxon corps plus an attached French division, Reynier fought at the battles of Bautzen and Dennewitz in 1813. During the climactic Battle of Leipzig, his Saxon troops suddenly changed sides, when a key bridge was blown up too quickly, Reynier was trapped and captured with his remaining French soldiers. He returned to France after an exchange in February 1814. Arlington, Empire Games Press,1980, the French Campaign in Portugal 1810-1811. ISBN 1-85367-276-9 Works by Jean Reynier at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Jean Reynier at Internet Archive Jean Reynier at Find a Grave
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, one of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleons political and cultural legacy has ensured his status as one of the most celebrated and he was born Napoleone di Buonaparte in Corsica to a relatively modest family from the minor nobility. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon was serving as an officer in the French army. Seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution, he rose through the ranks of the military. The Directory eventually gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents, in 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power.
He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic and his ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and in 1804 he became the first Emperor of the French. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805, in 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, marched the Grand Army deep into Eastern Europe, France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support, the Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies.
The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia, unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System and enticed Napoleon into another war. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse of the Grand Army, the destruction of Russian cities, in 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, the Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June, the British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years at the age of 51
Siege of Almeida (1810)
In the Siege of Almeida, the French corps of Marshal Michel Ney captured the border fortress from Brigadier General William Coxs Portuguese garrison. This action was fought in the summer of 1810 during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars, Almeida is located in eastern Portugal, near the border with Spain. Lying on an invasion route from Ciudad Rodrigo to Lisbon. The previous day the French forces had pushed back the British Portuguese army at the Battle of the Côa, the 50, 000-man British-Portuguese army of General Lord Wellington now held the far bank of the Coa. However, the banks were steep, with only two bridges, and the French 6th Corps guarded the crossings, so the British were unable to retake the crossings to relieve Almeida. Fresh from the successful Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French army laid siege to Almeida on July 25,1810, brigadier-General William Cox commanded a 4, 000-man Portuguese garrison of three battalions of militia, from Arganil and Vizeu. Some regular British forces were present, including 1,200 men of the 24th Line Regiment.
The defences of Almeida were in repair and stronger than Ciudad Rodrigo which the French had recently taken. In particular, there were over 100 artillery pieces, of which 40 were 18-pounders or heavier, and most were in protected casemates. The siege was conducted by the 14,000 infantry,1,000 cavalry,1,000 artillerists and 100 cannon of the VI Corps under the command of Marshal Michel Ney, in addition, General Jean-Andoche Junot lay in reserve nearby with his VIII Corps. The French received siege supplies from Ciudad Rodrigo on August 15, the siege train was well supplied with guns, as well as the existing French ones, it included captured Spanish guns from Ciudad Rodrigo. By August 24, the French lines had eleven batteries in place, the Portuguese defenders had fired upon the French, with little effect. When the French bombardment opened on August 26 at 6 AM, several quarters of the town were set on fire. The governor was confident in withstanding the assault, until a shell made a freak hit.
The great magazine in the castle had been used through the day to supply the defenders, at around 7 PM, one French shell landed in the courtyard, igniting a gunpowder trail that led through the still open door, and set off a chain reaction into the magazine. The ensuing explosion killed 600 defenders and wounded 300 more, the castle that housed the gunpowder was razed and sections of the defenses were damaged, leaving a crater still visible today. Unable to reply to the French cannonade without gunpowder, Cox was forced to capitulate the following day with the survivors of the blast and 100 cannon, the French lost 58 killed and 320 wounded during the operation. The next action was the Battle of Bussaco, list of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions Glover, The Peninsular War 1807-1814