Second Siege of Badajoz (1811)
The Second Siege of Badajoz saw an Anglo-Portuguese Army, first led by William Carr Beresford and commanded by Arthur Wellesley, the Viscount Wellington, besiege a French garrison under Armand Philippon at Badajoz, Spain. After failing to force a surrender, Wellington withdrew his army when the French mounted a successful relief effort by combining the armies of Marshals Nicolas Soult and Auguste Marmont; the action was fought during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Badajoz is located 6 kilometres from the Portuguese border on the Guadiana River in western Spain. While Wellington faced Marshal André Masséna's Army of Portugal in the north, his lieutenant Beresford attempted to capture French-held Badajoz in the south. Beresford invested the city in April but Philippon's garrison fended off his attacks; the siege was lifted while the Battle of Albuera was fought on 16 May. Though both sides suffered horrific casualties, Beresford emerged the victor and Soult retreated to the east.
Wellington brought reinforcements from the north and resumed the siege, but progress was slow in the face of spirited French resistance. Meanwhile, Masséna's replacement Marmont brought large forces south to join Soult; the British commander lifted the siege after being menaced by the numerically superior French army led by Soult and Marmont. Hoping to assist Marshal André Masséna's invasion of Portugal, Emperor Napoleon ordered Marshal Nicolas Soult to act. Accordingly, Soult set out in January 1811 with 13,500 foot soldiers, 4,000 horse, 2,000 gunners and sappers to besiege Badajoz. In a preliminary operation, Soult captured Olivenza in a two-week siege; the French seized 4,161 Spanish prisoners and 18 guns for an admitted loss of only 15 killed and 40 wounded. On 27 January, Soult's army invested Badajoz. Despite the interference of a 15,000-man Spanish relief army, the results were all the French could have hoped for. On 19 February, Soult sent Marshal Édouard Mortier to deal with the Spanish army.
Mortier won a crushing victory in the Battle of the Gebora. The Spanish lost 850 killed and wounded plus 4,000 men, 17 guns, 6 colors captured. French casualties only numbered 403. Turning to the siege, Soult forced a surrender on 11 March; the 4,340-man Spanish garrison plus 2,000 fugitives from the Battle of the Gebora lost about 1,000 killed and wounded while the rest became prisoners. The French sustained 1,900 casualties in the siege. At about this time Soult received intelligence that Spanish General Francisco Ballesteros was menacing Seville and Marshal Claude Perrin Victor had been defeated by General Thomas Graham at the Battle of Barrosa. Leaving Mortier and 11,000 soldiers to hold Badajoz and environs, Soult hurried away with the remainder to deal with the twin threats. Meanwhile, Mortier captured Campo Maior on 21 March; as his subordinate General of Division Victor de Fay de Latour-Maubourg convoyed the captured cannon back to Badajoz, he was surprised by the cavalry vanguard of William Carr Beresford's approaching Anglo-Portuguese corps.
In the Battle of Campo Maior on 25 March, the British 13th Light Dragoons scored an initial success lost all control as they galloped after the defeated French dragoons. In the confusion, Latour-Maubourg kept his head and, with the help of Mortier, managed to save the artillery convoy except for one artillery piece; the appearance of Beresford and 18,000 Allied troops threw the French onto the defensive. A field marshal in the service of Portugal, Beresford had available the 2nd Division, the 4th Division, Major General John Hamilton's Portuguese Division, General Robert Ballard Long's cavalry. If he could have invested Badajoz at the end of March, Beresford might have found the defenses of the fortress in poor shape. However, problems arose to delay the operation until the French effected repairs. First, the 4th Division was immobilized by a lack of shoes and had to wait for a new shipment from Lisbon. Next, ample bridging material was supposed to be available at the Portuguese fortress of Elvas, but the number of pontoons proved inadequate to span the Guadiana River.
The military engineers improvised a bridge, but it was washed out by a flood on 4 April. A battalion was ferried across on the 5th, starting on 6 April, the Allied corps began filing across the Guadiana on a rickety structure. Luckily, for the Allies, the French did not contest the crossing. Mortier had been recalled and his replacement Latour-Maubourg lacked his strategic insight. Too late, Latour-Maubourg woke up and sent two cavalry regiments and four infantry battalions on a reconnaissance to find out what was afoot. On the night of the 6th, the French flying column gobbled up a picket of the 13th Light Dragoons; the British lost 52 horsemen captured in this misadventure. General of Brigade Michel Veilande reported that the Allies were across the Guadiana in great strength. Before withdrawing from the area, Latour-Maubourg left General of Brigade Armand Philippon with 3,000 men in Badajoz and 400 soldiers in Olivenza. Unaware that Olivenza had such a weak garrison, the Allies laid siege to it on 9 April.
The place fell on the 14th. The same week, Beresford was joined by a Spanish force numbering 3,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry under General Francisco Javier Castaños. Before investing Badajoz, Beresford thought it worthwhile to drive Latour-Maubourg's force out of Extremadura. Leaving some troops to mask Badajoz, he marched southeast toward Zafra. Long routed the French 2nd Hussars at Los Santos de Maimona on 16 April. Abandoning Llerena on the 19th, Latour-Maubourg withdrew to Guadalcanal in Andalusia. Before starting the siege
Marshal General Jean-de-Dieu Soult, 1st Duke of Dalmatia, was a French general and statesman, named Marshal of the Empire in 1804 and called Marshal Soult. Soult was one of only six officers in French history to receive the distinction of Marshal General of France; the Duke served three times as President of the Council of Ministers, or Prime Minister of France. Soult's intrigues while occupying Portugal earned him the nickname, "King Nicolas", while he was Napoleon's military governor of Andalusia, Soult looted 1.5 million francs worth of art. One historian called him "a plunderer in the world class." Soult was named after John of God. He was the son of a country notary named Jean Soult by his marriage to Brigitte de Grenier, his paternal grandparents were Jean Soult and Jeanne de Calvet, while his maternal grandparents were Pierre François de Grenier de Lapierre and Marie de Robert. His younger brother Pierre became a French general. Well-educated, Soult intended to become a lawyer, but his father's death when he was still a boy made it necessary for him to seek employment, in 1785 he enlisted as a private in the French infantry.
Soult's superior education ensured his promotion to the rank of sergeant after six years' service, in July 1791 he became instructor to the first battalion of volunteers of the Bas-Rhin. He was serving in this battalion in 1792. By 1794, he was adjutant-general. After the Battle of Fleurus of 1794, in which he distinguished himself for coolness, he was promoted to brigadier general by the representatives on mission. For the next five years Soult was employed in Germany under Jourdan, Moreau, Kléber and Lefebvre, in 1799 he was promoted general of division and ordered to proceed to Switzerland, it was at this time. He accompanied Masséna to Genoa, acted as his principal lieutenant throughout the protracted siege of that city, during which he operated with a separate force outside the city walls, he was wounded and taken prisoner at Monte Cretto on 13 April 1800. The victory of Marengo restored his freedom, Soult received the command of the southern part of the kingdom of Naples. In 1802 he was appointed one of the four generals commanding the consular guard.
Though he was one of those generals who had served under Moreau, who therefore, as a rule, disliked Napoléon Bonaparte, Soult had the wisdom to show his devotion to the ruling power. In consequence he was appointed in August 1803 as the commander-in-chief of the Camp of Boulogne, in May 1804 he was made one of the first marshals of the Empire, he commanded a corps in the advance on Ulm, at Austerlitz he led the decisive attack on the allied centre. Soult played a great part in many of the famous battles of the Grande Armée, including the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 and the Battle of Jena in 1806. However, he was not present at the Battle of Friedland because on that same day he was conquering Königsberg. After the conclusion of the Peace of Tilsit, he returned to France and in 1808 was anointed by Napoléon first Duke of Dalmatia; the awarding of this honour displeased him, for he felt that his title should have been Duke of Austerlitz, a title which Napoléon had reserved for himself. In the following year, Soult was appointed to the command of the II Corps of the army with which Napoléon intended to conquer Spain.
After winning the Battle of Gamonal, Soult was detailed by the Emperor to pursue Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore's British army. At the Battle of Coruña, at which Moore was killed, the Duke of Dalmatia failed to prevent British forces escaping by sea. For the next four years Soult remained in Spain engaged in the Peninsular War. In 1809, he invaded Portugal and took Oporto, but was isolated by General Silveira's strategy of contention. Busying himself with the political settlement of his conquests in the French interests and, as he hoped, for his own ultimate benefit as a possible candidate for the Portuguese throne, he attracted the hatred of Republican officers in his Army. Unable to move, he was driven from Portugal in the Second Battle of Porto by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, making a painful and disastrous retreat over the mountains, pursued by Beresford and Silveira. After the Battle of Talavera he was made chief-of-staff of the French troops in Spain with extended powers, on 19 November 1809, won a great victory at the Battle of Ocana.
In 1810 he invaded Andalusia, which he overran. However, because he turned to seize Seville, the capture of Cádiz eluded him, he said, "Give me Seville and I will answer for Cádiz." This led to the futile Siege of Cadiz, a strategic disaster for the French. In 1811 he took Badajoz; when the Anglo-Portuguese army laid siege to the city he marched to its rescue, fought and nearly won the famous and bloody Battle of Albuera on 16 May. In 1812, after Wellington's great victory of Salamanca, Soult was obliged to evacuate Andalusia. In the subsequent Siege of Burgos campaign, Soult was able to drive Wellington's Anglo-Allied army back to Salamanca. There, the Duke of Dalmatia, as Soult was now known, failed to attack Lord Wellington despite an 80,000 to 65,000 superiority of numbers, the British army retired to the Portuguese frontier. Soon after, he was recalled fr
Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos
The Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos took place on 28 October 1811 during the Peninsular War. An allied force under General Rowland Hill trapped and defeated a French force under General Jean-Baptiste Girard, forcing the latter's dismissal by the Emperor Napoleon. A whole French infantry division and a brigade of cavalry were destroyed as viable fighting formations. In the middle of October, 1811 a French division under the command of Jean-Baptiste Girard crossed the River Guadiana at Mérida and campaigned in Northern Extremadura. Major-General Rowland Hill consulted with General Wellington and received permission to pursue Girard with his Second Division. Upon learning that the French had halted at the village of Arroyo dos Molinos, near Alcuéscar, Hill force-marched his troops for three days in poor weather so as to catch the French before they moved on. By the evening of the 27 October, Hill's forces had reached a point four miles from the French at Arroyo dos Molinos, had the area around the enemy surrounded.
The 71st Regiment of Foot was ordered to occupy the village of Alcuéscar, three miles from Arroyo. During the night there was a violent hail-storm, on the following morning the weather was still so foul that the French pickets on duty had their backs turned so as to gain some reprieve from the wind and rain - it was from this direction that Hill's forces attacked at dawn on the 28th; the French 34th and 40th Regiments suffered heavy losses during the battle, although to Marshal Soult's relief the eagle standards of the two regiments were not lost to the British. He wrote to Napoleon: L'honneur des armes est sauvé. Long's cavalry charged, the 2nd Hussars King's German Legion distinguishing themselves, broke the French cavalry. Over 200 of them were captured plus three pieces of artillery. On 5 November a jubilant Hill wrote to his sister. Included in the haul was the French grenadier company drum, the shell of, emblazoned with three'flaming grenade' emblems; the drums and drum majors staff are on display in Carlisle Castle.
In no order.
Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, fortifications during sieges, led to heavy immobile siege engines; as technology improved, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today. In its earliest sense, the word artillery referred to any group of soldiers armed with some form of manufactured weapon or armour. Since the introduction of gunpowder and cannon, the word "artillery" has meant cannon, in contemporary usage, it refers to shell-firing guns, howitzers and rocket artillery. In common speech, the word artillery is used to refer to individual devices, along with their accessories and fittings, although these assemblages are more properly called "equipments". However, there is no recognised generic term for a gun, mortar, so forth: the United States uses "artillery piece", but most English-speaking armies use "gun" and "mortar".
The projectiles fired are either "shot" or "shell". "Shell" is a used generic term for a projectile, a component of munitions. By association, artillery may refer to the arm of service that customarily operates such engines. In some armies one arm has operated field, anti-aircraft artillery and anti-tank artillery, in others these have been separate arms and in some nations coastal has been a naval or marine responsibility. In the 20th century technology based target acquisition devices, such as radar, systems, such as sound ranging and flash spotting, emerged to acquire targets for artillery; these are operated by one or more of the artillery arms. The widespread adoption of indirect fire in the early 20th century introduced the need for specialist data for field artillery, notably survey and meteorological, in some armies provision of these are the responsibility of the artillery arm. Artillery originated for use against ground targets—against infantry and other artillery. An early specialist development was coastal artillery for use against enemy ships.
The early 20th century saw the development of a new class of artillery for use against aircraft: anti-aircraft guns. Artillery is arguably the most lethal form of land-based armament employed, has been since at least the early Industrial Revolution; the majority of combat deaths in the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II were caused by artillery. In 1944, Joseph Stalin said in a speech that artillery was "the God of War". Although not called as such, machines performing the role recognizable as artillery have been employed in warfare since antiquity. Historical references show artillery was first employed by the Roman legions at Syracuse in 399 BC; until the introduction of gunpowder into western warfare, artillery was dependent upon mechanical energy which not only limited the kinetic energy of the projectiles, it required the construction of large engines to store sufficient energy. A 1st-century BC Roman catapult launching 6.55 kg stones achieved a kinetic energy of 16,000 joules, compared to a mid-19th-century 12-pounder gun, which fired a 4.1 kg round, with a kinetic energy of 240,000 joules, or a late 20th century US battleship that fired a 1,225 kg projectile from its main battery with an energy level surpassing 350,000,000 joules.
From the Middle Ages through most of the modern era, artillery pieces on land were moved by horse-drawn gun carriages. In the contemporary era, artillery pieces and their crew relied on wheeled or tracked vehicles as transportation; these land versions of artillery were dwarfed by railway guns, which includes the largest super-gun conceived, theoretically capable of putting a satellite into orbit. Artillery used by naval forces has changed with missiles replacing guns in surface warfare. Over the course of military history, projectiles were manufactured from a wide variety of materials, into a wide variety of shapes, using many different methods in which to target structural/defensive works and inflict enemy casualties; the engineering applications for ordnance delivery have changed over time, encompassing some of the most complex and advanced technologies in use today. In some armies, the weapon of artillery is the projectile, not the equipment; the process of delivering fire onto the target is called gunnery.
The actions involved in operating an artillery piece are collectively called "serving the gun" by the "detachment" or gun crew, constituting either direct or indirect artillery fire. The manner in which gunnery crews are employed is called artillery support. At different periods in history this may refer to weapons designed to be fired from ground-, sea-, air-based weapons platforms; the term "gunner" is used in some armed forces for the soldiers and sailors with the primary function of using artillery. The gunners and their guns are grouped in teams called either "crews" or "detachments". Several such crews and teams with other functions are combined into a unit of artillery called a battery, although sometimes called a company. In gun detachments, each role is numbered, starting with "1" the Detachment Commander, the highest number being the Coverer, the second-in-command. "Gunner" is the lowest rank and junior non-commissioned officers are "Bombardiers" in some artillery arms. Batteries are equivalent to a company in the infantry
Battle of El Bodón
The Battle of El Bodón was fought on 25 September 1811 by elements of the Anglo-Portuguese army and elements of the French army during the Peninsular War. Soon after the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, the French army withdrew from the northern frontier of Portugal, the Duke of Wellington, with three divisions of the British Army and a corps of cavalry, blockaded Ciudad Rodrigo. In September 1811, Marshal Marmont assembled the army of the north, consisting of 60,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry, in the neighbourhood of Salamanca, moved on Ciudad Rodrigo, for the purpose of raising the blockade. On the approach of the French force, the British outposts were withdrawn, Ciudad Rodrigo was relieved; the headquarters of the Duke of Wellington were at that time established at Fuente Guinaldo, a village about 9 miles in the rear of Ciudad Rodrigo. The 2nd battalion of the 5th Foot, guarding Wellington's headquarters, was ordered to march to the front and reinforce two brigades of Portuguese artillery and a squadron of cavalry positioned about 3 miles from Ciudad Rodrigo.
About 3 miles to the east of that location was the village of El Bodón, occupied by the Third Division, under Sir Thomas Picton. The Light Division occupied the ground between the village of El Bodón and the river Águeda, on which its right rested; the fourth and only remaining division was in rear of Fuente Guinaldo, occupying different villages, not brought into position. Major Henry Ridge of the 2nd/5th Foot recalled: In consequence of guns being attached to us, I became the senior officer, having received no orders, whether to retire if attacked, or to defend our post to the last extremity, I thought it prudent, in the first instance, to take the best means in my power to prevent a surprise, planted the pickets accordingly. Feeling myself in a responsible situation, I visited the pickets at daybreak, when I discovered large bodies of the enemy's cavalry coming out of Ciudad Rodrigo, crossing the Agueda. There were two roads leading from Ciudad Rodrigo, it was some time before it became clear to the allies along which of the two roads the French would advance as the undulating ground masked the French movements.
Major Ridge ordered the guns to be unlimbered and the mules harnessed, ready to move at a moment's warning and deployed the 2nd/5th along an elevated ridge, with its right protected by a deep defile. As the French cavalry approached the allied position it became clear what their objective was, the Portugeese guns opened fire against the French columns. At this moment the Duke of Wellington arrived, after a few minutes of reconnoitring, told Major Ridge that he approved of the arrangements he had made, would order up a brigade of cavalry in support. However, the Duke had hardly time to move to the rear before the allies were charged by a large body of cavalry, which for a moment succeeded in capturing the guns. By well-directed running fire from the 2nd/5th, followed by a charge of bayonets, the guns were retaken, the French repulsed. Major General Charles Colville arrived with allied reinforcements, took command for the allied force; this force, now of about 1,500 men, maintained the post for three hours, although charged by French cavalry, exposed to heavy fire from the guns of a division of infantry in reserve.
The position was abandoned when the French infantry moved forward, the allies were forced to retire. As the ground over which the allies retreated was favourable for cavalry, the allies were forced retired in squares of regiments, were charged, but the French were unable to break into them. During these operations, the French pushed forward a strong body of infantry, which succeeded in cutting off the light division, but by a judicious movement of Major General Craufurd, who crossed the Agueda, that division was saved, managed a retreat in good order; the Duke of Wellington took up a position in front of Guinaldo, with the three divisions named above, from which, not being tenable, he retired on the following day and posted himself behind the Cob. The French only having supplies for ten days, were obliged to fall back, the Anglo-Portuguese army reoccupied nearly the same ground it did before this attack; the following is a copy of the General Order issued by Wellington after the encounter: Richosa, 2d Oct. 1811.
The Commander of the Forces is desirous of drawing the attention of the army to the conduct of the second battalion 5th, 77th regiments, 21st Portuguese regiment, Major Arenschild's Portuguese artillery, under the command of the Hon. Major General Colville, of the 11th Light Dragoons and 1st Hussars, under Major General Alten, in the affair with the enemy on the 25th ult; these troops were attacked by between thirty and forty squadrons of cavalry, with six pieces of cannon, supported by a division consisting of fourteen battalions of infantry with cannon. The Portuguese artillery-men were cut down at the guns before they quitted them, but the second battalion 5th regiment attacked the cavalry which had taken the guns, retook them. While these actions were performed, Major General. Alten's brigade, of which there were only three squadrons on the ground, were engaged on the left with numbers infinitely superior to themselves; these squadrons charged supporting each other, took above twe
A grenade is an explosive weapon thrown by hand, but can refer to projectiles shot out of grenade launchers. A grenade consists of an explosive charge, a detonating mechanism, firing pin inside the grenade to trigger the detonating mechanism. Once the soldier throws the grenade, the safety lever releases, the striker throws the safety lever away from the grenade body as it rotates to detonate the primer; the primer ignites the fuze. The fuze burns down to the detonator. There are several types of grenades like the fragmentation, high explosive concussion and smoke grenades. Fragmentation grenades are the most common in modern armies, they are missiles designed to disperse shrapnel on detonation. The body is made of a hard synthetic material or steel, which will provide limited fragmentation through sharding and splintering, though in modern grenades a pre-formed fragmentation matrix inside the grenade is used; the pre-formed fragmentation may be spherical, wire or notched wire. Most anti-personnel grenades are designed to detonate either on impact.
When the word grenade is used colloquially, it is assumed to refer to a fragmentation grenade. Stick grenades have a long handle attached to the grenade directly, providing leverage for longer throwing distance, at the cost of additional weight and length; the term "stick grenade" refers to the German Stielhandgranate style stick grenade introduced in 1915 and developed throughout World War I. A friction igniter was used. Grenades are round-shaped with a "pineapple" or "baseball"-style design, or an explosive charge on a handle, referred to as a "stick grenade"; the stick grenade design has been considered obsolete since the Cold War period. They saw extensive use in World War I and in World War II; the WWI and WWII era "stick grenade" was used in trench and built-up warfare by the Central Powers and Nazi Germany, while the Triple Entente and Allied powers would use some improvised earlier grenades or round-shaped fragmentation grenades. The word "grenade" is derived from Old French pomegranate and influenced by Spanish granada, as the bomb is reminiscent of the many-seeded fruit, together with its size and shape.
Its first use in English dates from the 1590s. Rudimentary incendiary grenades appeared in the Eastern Roman Empire, not long after the reign of Leo III. Byzantine soldiers learned that Greek fire, a Byzantine invention of the previous century, could not only be thrown by flamethrowers at the enemy but in stone and ceramic jars. Glass containers were employed; the use of Greek fire spread to Muslim armies in the Near East, from where it reached China by the 10th century. In China, during the Song Dynasty, weapons known as Zhen Tian Lei were created when Chinese soldiers packed gunpowder into ceramic or metal containers. In 1044, a military book Wujing Zongyao described various gunpowder recipes in which one can find, according to Joseph Needham, the prototype of the modern hand grenade; the mid-14th-century book Huolongjing, written by Jiao Yu, recorded an earlier Song-era cast iron cannon known as the "flying-cloud thunderclap cannon". The manuscript stated that: The shells are made of cast iron, as large as a bowl and shaped like a ball.
Inside they contain half a pound of'divine fire'. They are sent flying towards the enemy camp from an eruptor, when they get there a sound like a thunder-clap is heard, flashes of light appear. If ten of these shells are fired into the enemy camp, the whole place will be set ablaze... The first cast iron bombshells and grenades did not appear in Europe until 1467. A hoard of several hundred ceramic hand grenades was discovered during construction in front of a bastion of the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, Germany dated to the 17th century. Many of the grenades igniters. Most the grenades were intentionally dumped in the moat of the bastion prior to 1723. In 1643, it is possible that "Grenados" were thrown amongst the Welsh at Holt Bridge during the English Civil War; the word "grenade" originated during the events surrounding the Glorious Revolution in 1688, where cricket ball-sized iron spheres packed with gunpowder and fitted with slow-burning wicks were first used against the Jacobites in the battles of Killiecrankie and Glen Shiel.
These grenades were not effective and, as a result, saw little use. Grenades were used during the Golden Age of Piracy: pirate Captain Thompson used "vast numbers of powder flasks, grenade shells, stinkpots" to defeat two pirate-hunters sent by the Governor of Jamaica in 1721. Improvised grenades were used from the mid-19th century, being useful in trench warfare. In a letter to his sister, Colonel Hugh Robert Hibbert described an improvised grenade, employed by British troops during the Crimean War: We have a new invention to annoy our friends in their pits, it consists in filling empty soda water bottles full of powder, old twisted nails and any other sharp or cutting thing we can find at the time, sticking a bit of tow-in for a fuse lighting it and throwing it into our neighbors’ pit where it bursts, to their great annoyance. You may
Battle of Campo Maior
In the Battle of Campo Maior, or Campo Mayor, on 25 March 1811, Brigadier General Robert Ballard Long with a force of Anglo-Portuguese cavalry, the advance-guard of the army commanded by William Beresford, clashed with a French force commanded by General of Division Marie Victor de Fay, marquis de Latour-Maubourg. Successful, some of the Allied horsemen indulged in a reckless pursuit of the French. An erroneous report was given. In consequence, Beresford halted his forces and the French were able to escape and recover a convoy of artillery pieces. During the winter of 1810–1811, the French army of Marshal André Masséna maintained its futile siege of Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army, sheltered behind the Lines of Torres Vedras near Lisbon. Masséna ran out of supplies and withdrew toward Almeida in March. Meanwhile, farther to the south, Marshal Nicolas Soult laid siege to Badajoz on 26 January; the fortress fell to the French on 11 March. On 15 March, Marshal Édouard Mortier and 4,500 troops belonging to the V Corps laid siege to Campo Maior Castle.
Major José Talaya with 800 Portuguese militia and 50 old cannon stoutly defended the ancient Portuguese fortress, located 18 km northwest of Badajoz. The castle held out until 21 March. Wellington despatched Marshal William Beresford with an 18,000 strong army to relieve Badajoz. Mortier assigned Latour-Maubourg to escort a convoy of French siege cannons from Campo Maior, which the French were abandoning, to Badajoz; the French force included three battalions of the 100th Line Infantry Regiment, half a battery of horse artillery and eight squadrons of cavalry: the 2nd and 10th Hussars, the 26th Dragoons, one squadron of the 4th Chasseurs a juramentado Spanish light cavalry regiment. In order to interfere with the French operation Beresford sent Brigadier-General Robert Long ahead with a force of cavalry fifteen and a half squadrons strong: a British heavy cavalry brigade, a Portuguese light cavalry brigade and an unbrigaded British light cavalry regiment; the only units to see action were the 13th Light Dragoons, the 1st and 7th Portuguese Cavalry Regiments, part of Cleeves' KGL artillery battery, a total of 700 sabres and two cannon.
On 25 March, Long hurled the 13th Light Dragoons at the 26th Dragoons, with the Portuguese 7th Dragoons covering their left flank. The French dragoons were broken and their commanding officer, General Chamorin, was killed; the whole French cavalry covering force of six squadrons - two remained in support of the infantry - was routed and fled in the direction of Badajoz. The historian Sir John Fortescue wrote, "Of the performance of Thirteenth, who did not exceed two hundred men, in defeating twice or thrice their numbers single-handed, it is difficult to speak too highly." The British horsemen, followed by the 7th Portuguese Dragoons under Loftus Otway, embarked on a wild pursuit of the defeated Frenchmen. They came upon the convoy of 18 siege guns, overran it, continued on for 11 kilometres; some of the Light Dragoons charged onto the glacis of the Badajoz fortress and were repulsed by its fire. French cavalry emerged from the city to drive away the allied horsemen. Beresford, given an erroneous report that the 13th LD had been captured in its entirety, called off the action when two of his cannon had just opened fire on the French column, the British heavy cavalry were within striking distance and British infantry were coming up.
Beresford's decision to call off his troops when they appeared to be in a position to destroy or force the surrender of the entire French column was taken by his detractors as an early sign of the lack of military insight he was to show in the campaign at the Battle of Albuera. Following Beresford's halting of his troops the French infantry continued unmolested along the road and, having been passed by the returning allied light cavalry recaptured the convoy and escorted it into Badajoz. However, the allied cavalry managed to carry off one captured cannon. Out of 2,400 engaged, the French suffered 200 casualties, including 108 from the 26th Dragoons, plus one cannon. Total Allied losses were 168; the 13th Light Dragoons lost 10 killed, 27 wounded, 22 captured. The Portuguese regiments lost 14 killed, 40 wounded, 55 captured; the Allies recovered Campo Maior. The pursuit of Latour-Maubourg's force faltered despite the British and Portuguese outnumbering them greatly; the reason behind this failure was subsequently disputed between supporters of Brigadier Long and Marshal Beresford.
The cavalry clash at Campo Maior was to become a controversial action. Beresford considered. Beresford claimed that his taking personal command of the heavy dragoon brigade had prevented Long from ordering them to attempt a suicidal charge against French infantry squares. Long was of the opinion, was subsequently supported in this by the historian Sir William Napier, that if Beresford had released the British brigade of heavy dragoons he would have been able to drive off the remaining French cavalry, who were in close support of their infantry, force the French infantry to surrender. Three other incidents where Wellington's cavalry charged out of control were the 20th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Vimeiro, the 23rd Light Dragoons at the Battle of Talavera, John S