The Battle of Corunna (or A Coruña, La Corunna, La Coruña, Elviña or La Corogne) took place on 16 January 1809, when a French corps under Marshal of the Empire Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult attacked a British army under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The battle took place amidst the Peninsular War, which was a part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. It was a result of a French campaign, led by Napoleon, which had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult's corps and divert the French army.
Doggedly pursued by the French under Soult, the British made a retreat across northern Spain while their rearguard fought off repeated French attacks. Both armies suffered extremely from the harsh winter conditions. Much of the British army, excluding the elite Light Brigade under Robert Craufurd, suffered from a loss of order and discipline during the retreat. When the British eventually reached the port of Corunna on the northern coast of Galicia in Spain, a few days ahead of the French, they found their transport ships had not arrived. The fleet arrived after a couple of days and the British were in the midst of embarking when the French forces launched an attack. They forced the British to fight another battle before being able to depart for England.
In the resulting action, the British held off French attacks until nightfall, when both armies disengaged. British forces resumed their embarkation overnight; the last transports left in the morning under French cannon fire. But the port cities of Corunna and Ferrol, as well as northern Spain, were captured and occupied by the French. During the battle, Sir John Moore, the British commander, was mortally wounded, dying after learning that his men had successfully repelled the French attacks.
In early October 1808, following the scandal in Britain over the Convention of Sintra and the recall of the generals Dalrymple, Burrard and Wellesley, Sir John Moore took command of the 30,000-man British force in Portugal. In addition, Sir David Baird in command of an expedition of reinforcements out of Falmouth consisting of 150 transports carrying between 12,000 and 13,000 men, convoyed by HMS Louie, HMS Amelia and HMS Champion, entered Corunna Harbour on the 13 October. By November 1808 the British army, led by Moore, advanced into Spain with orders to assist the Spanish armies in their struggle against the invading forces of Napoleon.
I see that everybody has lost their head since the infamous capitulation of Bailén. I realise that I must go there myself to get the machine working again.
The French, all but masters of Spain in June, stood with their backs to the Pyrenees, clutching at Navarre and Catalonia. They did not know if even these two footholds could be maintained in the face of a Spanish attack. By October French strength in Spain, including garrisons, was about 75,000 soldiers. They were facing 86,000 Spanish troops with Spain's 35,000 British allies en route.
However, no attack came. The Spanish social fabric, shaken by the shock of rebellion, gave way to crippling social and political tensions; the patriots stood divided on every question and their nascent war effort suffered accordingly. With the fall of the monarchy, constitutional power devolved to local juntas. These institutions interfered with the army and the business of war, undermined the tentative central government taking shape in Madrid, and in some cases proved almost as dangerous to each other as to the French.[b] The British Army in Portugal, meanwhile, was itself immobilized by logistical problems and bogged down in administrative disputes, and did not budge.
Months of inaction had passed at the front, the revolution having "temporarily crippled Patriot Spain at the very moment when decisive action could have changed the whole course of the war". While the allies inched forward, a vast consolidation of bodies and bayonets from the far reaches of the French Empire brought 100,000 veterans of the Grande Armée into Spain, led in person by Napoleon and his Marshals. With his Armée d'Espagne of 278,670 men drawn up on the Ebro, facing a scant 80,000 raw, disorganized Spanish troops, the Emperor announced to the Spanish deputies:
I am here with the soldiers who conquered at Austerlitz, at Jena, at Eylau. Who can withstand them? Certainly not your wretched Spanish troops who do not know how to fight. I shall conquer Spain in two months and acquire the rights of a conqueror.
Starting in October 1808 Napoleon led the French on a brilliant offensive involving a massive double envelopment of the Spanish lines. The attack began in November and has been described as "an avalanche of fire and steel".
For a time the British army was dangerously dispersed, with Baird's newly arrived contingent at Astorga to the north, Moore at Salamanca and Hope 70 miles (110 km) to the east near Madrid with all Moore's cavalry and artillery. The main army, under Moore, had advanced to Salamanca and were joined by Hope's detachment on 3 December when Moore received news that the Spanish forces had suffered several defeats. He considered that to avoid disaster he must give up and retreat back to Portugal.[c]
Moore, before retreating, received intelligence of Soult's 16,000 man corps' scattered and isolated position at Carrión and that the French were unaware of the British army's position. On 15 December, he seized this opportunity to advance on the French near Madrid, hoping that to defeat Soult and possibly divert Napoleon’s forces. A junction with Baird on 20 December, advancing from Corunna, raised Moore's strength to 23,500 infantry, 2,400 cavalry and 60 guns and he opened his attack with a successful raid by Lieutenant-General Paget's cavalry on the French picquets at Sahagún on 21 December. However, Moore failed to follow up against a surprised Soult. Moore halted for two days and allowed Soult to concentrate his corps.
Once Moore made his presence known Napoleon responded with customary swiftness and decisiveness. The Spanish were defeated and no longer an organized threat. His army was generally concentrated while the enemy was dispersed. With the initiative firmly in his grasp, Napoleon seized the chance to destroy Britain's only field army. When Moore realized he was in serious danger of being trapped he called off his advance and went into headlong retreat. This epic dash and chase would cover more than 250 miles (400 km), during which the British cavalry and the infantry of the Light Brigade were used to cover the movements of Moore's army after their retreat began on 25 December. This saw them engage the French in small rearguard clashes, including defeating a French cavalry force and capturing General Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes at Benavente before entering the mountains of Galicia, and another at Cacabelos where General Colbert-Chabanais was killed by a British rifleman.
The retreat of the British, closely followed by their French pursuers, took them through mountainous terrain in dreadful conditions of cold and snow and was marked by exhausting marches, privation, and suffering. Moore was joined at Astorga by General Romana leading the remnants of Blake's Spanish forces and Romana proposed they make a stand. However, with Napoleon closing in, Moore declined and continued his retreat north while Romana went west towards Portugal. On the march between Astorga and Betanzos the British army lost 3,000 men with 500 more left in hospitals at Astorga and Villafranca.
Napoleon had attempted to speedily catch the British and force them to fight. He led the French army 200 miles (320 km) over 10 days by forced marches and in spite of winter blizzard conditions reached Astorga on 1 January with 80,000 men. Napoleon manoeuvred to cut Moore off from a retreat to Portugal. Moore had already planned that he would have to be ready to make a run for the coast. On 28 November Moore had ordered his Corunna contingent under Baird to embark from Vigo while the main British army was to fall back on Portugal but by 28 December he had decided to embark the whole army at Vigo. Abandoning Astorga on 30 December, he would manage to keep ahead of the pursuing French and avoid a major battle. Moore ordered Crawford and two brigades as well as the troop transport ships to the port of Vigo. Napoleon would write to his brother Joseph on 31 December:
My vanguard is near Astorga; the English are running away as fast as they can ... they are abhorred by everybody; they have carried off everything, and then maltreated and beaten the inhabitants. There could not have been a better sedative for Spain than to send an English army.
When it was clear that he could not bring Moore to battle, Napoleon left the pursuit of the British to Soult's corps with Marshal Ney in support and took the bulk of the army, some 45,000 men, back to Madrid. Napoleon decided to leave Spain to attend to other pressing matters; the Austrians were about to declare war on France, and would soon invade Italy and Bavaria.
Several times the discipline of the British broke down, on 28 December British troops pillaged and looted Benavente, at Bembibre on 2 January, hundreds of British soldiers got so inebriated on wine, and not for the first or last time, that they had to be abandoned and were captured or cut to pieces by the pursuing French dragoons. Similar incidents took place including one in which French pursuit was so close there was not time enough for Paget, commander of the British rear guard, to complete the hanging of three British soldiers, as an example, for the pillaging a Spanish town. The French cavalry General Colbert, was killed while in close pursuit across the bridge at the village of Cacabelos by a long-range rifle shot fired by Thomas Plunket of the 95th Rifles after driving off the British 15th Hussars. Losses were about the same for the two units.
Moore made a stand before the old Roman town of Lugo on 6 January and offered battle but, initially, Soult's forces were too strung out. Over two days Soult concentrated his troops and tried to get Ney to send a division from Villa Franca del Bierzo but Ney sent few troops. By the 8th Soult was prepared for battle, but Moore, imagining Ney was outflanking him, slipped away that night, shooting 500 foundered horses and destroying artillery caissons and food stores. Now realizing he could not get to Vigo and fearing his army would disintegrate on the way, he ordered the transports to Betanzos Bay between Corunna and Ferrol and he headed for Corunna.
Rain storms and confusion caused the British main body to partially lose order and break up with thousands straggling. Some 500 British were captured by the pursuing French dragoons, with hundreds more stragglers captured by Franceschi's cavalry on the 10th and several hundred more on the 11th. The loss of troops between Lugo and Betanzos was greater than all of that of the preceding retreat. Eventually, on 11 January, the British main body reached the port of Corunna in northwest Spain, where they had hoped to find the fleet to take them back to England. They found Betanzos Bay empty and only 26 transports and two warships at Corunna. The rest of the 245 ships had been delayed by contrary winds only arriving at Vigo on the 8th and would not depart for Corunna until the 13th.
The French had also suffered severe fatigue and deprivation during their pursuit having to travel over ground already crossed by the British. The British rear guard had held off the pursuing French, allowing the rest of the British army to continue to withdraw, however the French cavalry had continually pressed them and prevented effective reconnaissance by the British cavalry. Soult's infantry had also had trouble keeping up and was badly strung out and most were well behind the cavalry which included the divisions of Armand Lebrun de La Houssaye, Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge and Jean Baptiste Marie Franceschi-Delonne. Soult's three infantry divisions, commanded by Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle, Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet and Henri François Delaborde, and his artillery would arrive at Corunna piecemeal over the next few days.
The British army arrived in Corunna on 11 January and there were found only the ships of the line, a small number of transport and hospital ships to which the many wounded were embarked. There was also a large quantity of badly needed military stores: 5,000 new muskets were issued to the troops, a vast amount of cartridges for re-equipping, numerous Spanish artillery pieces and plenty of food, shoes and other supplies.
The French army began to arrive the next day, building up strength as they arrived from the march. Soult’s artillery arrived on 14 January. The long-awaited transport ships also arrived on the 14th and that evening the British evacuated their sick, some horses and most of the remaining field guns, cavalrymen and gunners. There was no intention by the British of garrisoning and holding on to Corunna as a future base with its extensive stores and certain support from the sea.[d] The British then destroyed a portion of the enormous amount of military stores originally intended for the Spanish: nearly 12,000 barrels of powder, 300,000 cartridges in two magazines outside the town and 50 fortress guns and 20 mortars.
The British embarked nearly all their cannon and artillerists and, as the terrain was unsuitable for cavalry, all their cavalry troopers and a few healthy horses, but killed some 2,000 of the cavalry's horses. Moore now actually had the advantage in numbers in infantry, 15,000 to 12,000 and, with the rough ground much broken up by sunken roads and walls, Soult's cavalry would be of little use. The British were rearmed, well rested and well fed, in marked contrast to the oncoming French.
Moore had deployed his army to cover the evacuation by placing the main part of it on a ridge astride the road to Corunna, a mile and a half south of the harbour. A stronger position lay to the south but the British commander considered that he lacked the numbers to defend it properly and had to be content with placing outposts there to slow the approach of the French. The left flank was covered by the river Mero and the left and centre of the ridge was quite defensible. The western and lower end of this ridge was more vulnerable and could be swept by guns on the rocky heights of the loftier range opposite, and the ground further west consisted of more open terrain extending as far as Corunna which might provide the means of turning the whole position. Moore held two divisions back in reserve a little north and westwards in order to guard the right flank and to prevent a turning movement.
On 15 January French troops pushed back the British outposts on the higher range and gradually took up position there. A counterattack by British 5th Foot was repulsed with heavy loss. Soult sited his 11 heavy guns upon the rocky outcrop from where they would be able to fire upon the British right. The task was very difficult and it was night before the guns had been dragged into position. Delaborde's division was posted on the right and Merle's in the centre with Mermet on the left. The light field guns of the French were distributed across the front of their position, however the broken ground, sunken roads and walls limited them to long range support. The French cavalry was deployed to the east of the line. For the British, Baird's division formed on the right and Hope's the left, each deploying a brigade en potence with Paget as the reserve at the village Airis.
As day broke on 16 January the French were in position on the heights, and all through the morning both armies observed each across the valley between them. Moore planned to continue with the embarkation later that day if Soult did not attack. By afternoon Moore considered an attack unlikely and ordered the first divisions to make their way to the port; the rest of the army would follow at dusk, but shortly afterwards, at 2:00 pm, he learned that the French were attacking.
Soult's plan was to move against the strongly placed British infantry of the left and centre in order to contain it while the infantry division of Mermet attacked the more vulnerable British right above the village of Elviña. The cavalry was deployed further west near the more open country leading to Corunna. If the attacks succeeded they could seize the western end of the British lines and push on to cut off the bulk of the army from Corunna.
Mermet’s infantry advanced quickly and soon pushed the British picquets back, carrying the town of Elviña and attacking the heights beyond. The first French column divided into two with Gaulois' and Jardon's brigades attacking Baird front and flank, and the third French brigade pushing up the valley on the British right in an attempt to turn their flank with Lahoussaye's dragoons moving with difficulty over the broken ground and walls trying to cover the left of the French advance.
The fiercest fighting took place in and around Elviña as the possession of this village would change hands several times, and the British suffered particularly from the fire of the heavy artillery on the heights opposite. As the French attack broke through Elviña and came up the hill behind it, Moore sent in the 50th Foot and the 42nd (Black Watch) to stop the French infantry while the 4th Foot held the right flank of the British line. The ground around the village was broken up by numerous stone walls and hollow roads. Moore remained in this area to direct the battle, ordering the 4th Foot to fire down upon the flank of the second French column that was attempting the turning movement and calling up the reserve under Paget to meet it. The British advance carried beyond the village but some confusion among the British allowed Mermet's reserves to drive into and through Elviña again chasing the 50th and 42nd back up the slope. Moore called up his divisional reserve, some 800 men from two battalions of the Guards, and together with the 42nd they halted the French advance.
The British commander had just rallied the 42nd that had fallen back from Elviña and had ordered the Guards to advance on the village when he was struck by a cannonball. He fell mortally wounded, struck "on the left shoulder, carrying it away with part of the collar-bone, and leaving the arm hanging only by the flesh and muscles above the armpit". He remained conscious, and composed, throughout the several hours of his dying. The second advance again drove the French back through Elviña. Mermet now threw in his last reserves with one of Merle's brigade attacking the east side of the village. This was countered by an advance by Manningham's brigade and a long fire-fight broke out between two British: the 3/1st and the 2/81st and two French regiments: the 2nd Légere and 36th Ligne of Reynaud's brigade. The 81st was forced out of the fight and relieved by the 2/59th and the fighting petered out here late in the day with the French finally retiring.
For a time the British were without a leader until General John Hope took command as Baird was also seriously wounded. This hampered attempts at a counterattack in the crucial sector of Elviña, but the fighting continued unabated.
Further west the French cavalry pushed forward as part of the flank attack and made a few charges but they were impeded by the rough terrain. Lahoussaye dismounted some his Dragoons which fought as skirmishers but they were eventually driven back by the advance of the 95th Rifles, 28th Foot and 91st Foot of the British reserves. Franceschi's cavalry moved to flank the extreme right of the British attempting to cut them off at the gates of Corunna but were countered again by the terrain and Fraser's division drawn up on the Santa Margarita ridge which covered the neck of the peninsula and the gates. As Lahoussaye retired, Franceschi conformed with his movement.
Night brought an end to the fighting by which time the French attacks had been repulsed and they returned to their original positions; both sides holding much the same ground as before the fight.
Command of the British army had passed to General Hope who decided to continue the embarkation rather than to attempt to hold their ground or attack Soult. At around 9:00 pm the British began to silently withdraw from their lines, leaving behind strong picquets who maintained watch-fires throughout the night.
At daybreak on 17 January the picquets were withdrawn behind the rearguard and went aboard ship; by morning most of the army had embarked. When Soult perceived that the British had left the ridge, he posted six guns on the heights above the southern end of the bay and by midday the French were able to fire upon the outlying ships. This caused panic amongst some of the transports, four of which ran aground and were then burned to prevent their capture. Fire from the warships then silenced the battery.
On 18 January, the British rearguard embarked as the Spanish garrison under General Alcedo "faithfully" held the citadel until the fleet was well out to sea before surrendering.[e] The city of Corunna was taken by the French, two Spanish regiments surrendering along with 500 horses and considerable military stores captured including numerous cannon, 20,000 muskets, hundreds of thousands of cartridges and tons of gunpowder. A week later Soult's forces captured Ferrol, an even greater arsenal and a major Spanish naval base across the bay, taking eight ships of the line, three with 112 guns, two with 80, one 74, two 64s, three frigates and numerous corvettes, as well as a large arsenal with over 1,000 cannon, 20,000 new muskets from England and military stores of all kinds.
As a result of the battle the British suffered around 900 men dead or wounded and had killed all their nearly 2,000 cavalry horses and as many as 4,000 more horses of the artillery and train. The French lost around 1,000 men killed, wounded or captured. The most notable casualty was Lieutenant-General Moore, who survived long enough to learn of his success. Sir David Baird, Moore's second in command, was seriously wounded earlier in the battle and had to retire from the field. In addition two of Mermet's three brigadiers were also casualties: Gaulois was shot dead and Lefebvre badly hurt. These men were all involved in the fighting on the British right.
On the morning of the battle 4,035 British were listed sick, a few hundred of these were too sick to embark and were left behind.(Oman 1902, p. 582) Two more transports were lost with about 300 troops mostly from the King's German Legion. By the time the army returned to England four days later some 6,000 were ill, with the sick returns listed at Portsmouth and Plymouth alone as 5,000.
Within ten days the French had captured two fortresses containing an immense amount of military matériel which, with more resolution, could have been defended against the French for many months. Ney and his corps reinforced with two cavalry regiments took on the task of occupying Galicia. Soult was able to refit his corps, which had been on the march and fighting since 9 November, with the captured stores so that, with half a million cartridges and 3,000 artillery rounds carried on mules (the roads not being suitable for wheeled transport), and with his stragglers now closed up on the main body, he was able to begin his march on Portugal on 1 February with a strength of 19,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and 58 guns.
The British army had been sent into Spain to aid in expelling the French, but they had been forced into a humiliating retreat in terrible winter conditions that wrought havoc with health and morale and resulted in the army degenerating into a rabble. In his authoritative account of the battle, the English historian Christopher Hibbert states: "It was all very well to talk of the courage and endurance of the troops but of what use were these virtues alone when pitted against the genius of Napoleon? 35,000 men had crossed the Spanish frontier against him; 8000 had not returned. We were unworthy of our great past". The British of the day similarly viewed Corunna as a defeat: according to The Times, "The fact must not be disguised ... that we have suffered a shameful disaster".
The historian Charles Oman contends that Marshal Soult's attack at Corunna provided Moore and his men with the opportunity to redeem their honour and reputation through their defensive victory, by which means the army was saved though at the cost of the British general's life. Moore was buried wrapped in a military cloak in the ramparts of the town. The funeral is commemorated in a well-known poem by Charles Wolfe (1791–1823), "The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna".
Charles Esdaile, in The Peninsular War: A New History, writes: "In military terms, Moore's decision to retreat was therefore probably sensible enough but in other respects it was a disaster ... Having failed to appear in time ... then allowed Madrid to fall without a shot, the British now seemed to be abandoning Spain altogether." Also, "Even worse than the physical losses suffered by the allies was the immense damage done to Anglo-Spanish relations. ... de la Romana ... openly accusing Moore of betrayal and bad faith." Finally, "... the occupation (by the French) of the most heavily populated region in the whole of Spain".
Chandler states, the British army had been "... compelled to conduct a precipitate retreat and evacuate by sea." Also, "Madrid and the Northern half of Spain were under occupation by French troops". Fremont-Barnes, in The Napoleonic Wars: The Peninsular War 1807–1814, writes that the then British Foreign Secretary Canning: " ... privately condemned Moore's failed campaign in increasingly stronger terms," while in public he " ... in the great British tradition of characterizing defeat as victory, insisted that although Moore's army had been pushed out of Spain his triumph at the battle of Corunna had left 'fresh laurels blooming upon our brows'".
A more charitable view is offered by W. H. Fitchett in How England Saved Europe: "... it is also a dramatic justification of Moore's strategy that he had drawn a hostile force so formidable into a hilly corner of Spain, thus staying its southward rush". Napier similarly speculates: "The second sweep that [Napoleon] was preparing to make when Sir John Moore's march called off his attention from the south would undoubtedly have put him in possession of the remaining great cities of the Peninsula".
Nevertheless, back in England the reaction to news of the Battle of Corunna and the safe evacuation of the army was a storm of criticism over Moore's handling of the campaign, while back in Corunna his adversary Marshal Soult took care of Moore's grave and ordered a monument to be raised in his memory.
Events from the year 1809 in France.Augustin Gabriel d'Aboville
Augustin Gabriel d'Aboville (March 20, 1773 – August 15, 1820) was a French general de brigade (brigadier general). He was the older brother of Augustin-Marie d'Aboville. He was born in La Fère, Aisne, Picardy. He participated in the Battle of Stockach (1799), Battle of Corunna, Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Vitoria. He was made a knight of the Order of Saint Louis and a commander in the Legion of Honour (awarded June 23, 1810). Under the First French Empire, he was made a baron by emperor Napoleon on February 20, 1812. After the Bourbon Restoration, he served in the Chamber of Peers.Battle of Braga (1809)
The Battle of Braga or Battle of Póvoa de Lanhoso or Battle of Carvalho d'Este (20 March 1809) saw an Imperial French corps led by Marshal Nicolas Soult attack a Portuguese army commanded by Baron Christian Adolph Friedrich von Eben. Soult's professional soldiers slaughtered large numbers of their opponents, who were mostly badly disciplined and poorly armed militia. The action occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Braga is situated about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-northeast of Porto (Oporto).The British won a tactical victory over Soult's II Corps in the Battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809. However, the Royal Navy soon evacuated the army from northwest Spain. Freed from British interference, Soult planned to invade northern Portugal. From Ourense in Spain, the French marched south to seize Chaves, Portugal before moving west toward Braga. A short distance east of Braga the French came upon the Portuguese army, but Soult waited a few days for all his troops to arrive. During this time the mutinous Portuguese murdered their commander Bernardim Freire de Andrade, leaving Eben in charge. Once he was ready, Soult crushed his adversaries without much trouble. The next action was the First Battle of Porto.Battle of Corunna order of battle
This is the order of battle for the Battle of Corunna, 16 January 1809.Battle of Mansilla
In the Battle of Mansilla or Battle of Mansilla de las Mulas on 30 December 1808 an Imperial French corps led by Nicolas Soult caught up with a Spanish corps commanded by Pedro Caro, 3rd Marquis of la Romana. Soult's cavalry under Jean Baptiste Marie Franceschi-Delonne overran la Romana's rear guard led by General Martinengo. Mansilla de las Mulas is a town located 17 kilometres (11 mi) southeast of León, Spain. The combat occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
La Romana's Spanish corps cooperated with Sir John Moore's British army in its advance into northern Spain and in its subsequent retreat to the northwest. At Mansilla de las Mulas on the Esla River, the Spanish commander posted Martinengo's division to hold off Soult's pursuing French corps. The rear guard commander unwisely drew up his soldiers with the bridge at their backs. Franceschi's cavalry charged and cut the Spanish formation to pieces. Half of the rear guard were trapped against the river and forced to surrender, others were cut down by Imperial French sabers. La Romana abandoned León the following day. The next major action in the area was the Battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809.Corunna Downs Station
Corunna Downs Station is a pastoral lease that was once a sheep station but now operates as a cattle station in Western Australia.
It is located approximately 34 kilometres (21 mi) south of Marble Bar and 180 km (112 mi) south east of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Several watercourses run through the property, including Coongan River, Emu, Sandy, and Badgeyong Creeks, which also contain several permanent pools of water. The landscape is mostly flat spinifex country.The lease was first taken up by John Withnell and William McLean in July 1886.The Mackay brothers, along with Donald and Roderick Louden, took up a holding in 1887. The Mackays' lease consisted of three parcels of 20,000 acres (8,094 ha) each. In 1890, George Dudley and Alfred Howden Drake-Brockman took up land on what is now Mount Edgar Station. Howden selected the Corunna Downs land and named it after the Battle of Corunna. The leases of the Withnells and Mackays were registered to Dalgety & Company and worked by the Brockman brothers.In 1916 the property produced over 147 bales of wool, and 105 were produced in 1920.The 305,593-acre (123,669 ha) property was made up of 13 separate leases that were combined into a single lease in 1924 when it was acquired by Ernest Samuel Foulkes-Taylor. Taylor has previously held Glenorn Station, near Malcolm, with his younger brother Charlie. In 1924 Corunna Downs was still a fully operational sheep station carrying 20,000 head of sheep, 350 cattle, 125 horses, 175 donkeys and 8 camels.In 2015 the property occupied an area of 214,698 hectares (530,530 acres) and was stocked with 4,800 head of shorthorn and droughtmaster cattle.Francis Austen
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Francis William Austen, (23 April 1774 – 10 August 1865) was a Royal Navy officer. As commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel, he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron, and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille during the French Revolutionary Wars.
On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars Austen was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, in which he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back and then fought at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle. He later commanded the third-rate HMS St Albans and observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship before embarking British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant and captured the United States privateer Swordfish during the War of 1812.
As a senior officer Austen served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.HMS Corunna (D97)
HMS Corunna (D97) was a later or 1943 Battle-class fleet destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was named in honour of the Battle of Corunna, which took place during the Peninsular War in 1809 between British and French forces. Corunna was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited on the Tyne. She was launched on 29 May 1945 and commissioned on 6 June 1947.HMS Sir John Moore (1915)
HMS Sir John Moore was a First World War Royal Navy Lord Clive-class monitor named for Sir John Moore, a British general of the Peninsula War who was killed in action during the Battle of Corunna. Her 12" main battery was stripped from the obsolete Majestic-class battleship HMS Hannibal, which had been converted into a troopship.
The Lord Clive class monitors were built in 1915 to engage German shore artillery and positions in occupied Belgium during the First World War. Sir John Moore, with her sisters was regularly engaged in this service in the Dover Monitor Squadron, bombarding German positions along the coast and someway inland with their heavy guns.
Following the armistice in November 1918, Sir John Moore and all her sisters were put into reserve pending scrapping, as the reason for their existence had ended with the liberation of Belgium. In 1921 Sir John Moore and four of her sisters were scrapped.HMS Ville de Paris
HMS Ville de Paris was a 110-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 17 July 1795 at Chatham Dockyard. She was designed by Sir John Henslow, and was the only ship built to her draught. She was named after the French ship of the line Ville de Paris, flagship of François Joseph Paul de Grasse during the American Revolutionary War. That ship had been captured by the Royal Navy at the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782, but on the voyage to England, as a prize, she sank in a hurricane in September 1782.
She served as the flagship of John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, with the Channel Fleet.
On 17 August 1803, the boats of Ville de Paris captured the French privateer Messager from among the rocks off Ushant. Lloyd's Patriotic Fund awarded Lieutenant Watts, of Ville de Paris, with an honour sword worth £50 for his role in the cutting out expedition. Messager was pierced for eight guns but had six mounted, and had her owner and 40 men aboard when Watts arrived with his pinnace and 18 men. The British captured her before the other boats from Ville de Paris could arrive. The French put up a minimal resistance and only suffered a few men lightly wounded; the British suffered no casualties. The action occurred in sight of the hired armed cutter Nimrod. In January 1805 head and prize money from the proceeds of the French privateer Messager was due to be paid.On 18 January 1808, following the Battle of Corunna, Ville de Paris (Captain John Surman Carden) evacuated twenty-three officers of the 50th, three of the 43rd, four of the 26th, three of the 18th, one of the 76th, two of the 52nd, two of the 36th, four Royal Engineers, and two Royal Artillery - a total of 44 officers, including General Sir David Baird, his ADC Captain Hon Alexander Gordon, Sir John Colborne and Lieutenant Henry Percy. Ville de Paris also embarked several thousand soldiers.Later, Admiral Collingwood died aboard her of cancer while on service in the Mediterranean, off Port Mahón, on 7 March 1810.
On 22 July 1814, at the conclusion of the Peninsula War, Ville de Paris arrived off Portsmouth carrying the 43rd Light Infantry Battalion along with the 2nd Rifles.Ville de Paris was placed on harbour service in 1824, and she was broken up in 1845.James Fullarton
Lieut. Col. James Fullarton, C.B., K. H. (17 December 1782, Island of Arran - 8 March 1834, Halifax, Nova Scotia) was a soldier who fought in the Kandyan Wars (1803-1807). During the Peninsula War he fought in the Battle of Corunna (1809) and the Battle of Barrosa (1811). He then went to Holland and in the War of the Sixth Coalition he was sent to attack Merksem and then bombard Antwerp. During the Hundred Days, he fought in the Battle of Waterloo (1815), where he was second in command of the 3rd Battalion, 95th Regiment of Foot, and wounded at Waterloo.
He lived the last seven years of his life in Halifax, Nova Scotia.John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton
Field Marshal John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton, (16 February 1778 – 17 April 1863) was a British Army officer and Colonial Governor. After taking part as a junior officer in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, Sir Ralph Abercromby's expedition to Egypt and then the War of the Third Coalition, he served as military secretary to Sir John Moore at the Battle of Corunna. He then commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot and, later, the 52nd Regiment of Foot at many of the battles of the Peninsular War. At the Battle of Waterloo, Colborne on his own initiative brought the 52nd Regiment of Foot forward, took up a flanking position in relation to the French Imperial Guard and then, after firing repeated volleys into their flank, charged at the Guard so driving them back in disorder.
He went on to become commander-in-chief of all the armed forces in British North America, personally leading the offensive at the Battle of Saint-Eustache in Lower Canada and defeating the rebel force in December 1837. After that he was high commissioner of the Ionian Islands and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.John Moore (British Army officer)
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, (13 November 1761 – 16 January 1809) was a British Army general, also known as Moore of Corunna. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which he repulsed a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular War. After the war General Sarrazin wrote a French history of the battle, which nonetheless may have been written in light of subsequent events, stating that "Whatever Buonaparte may assert, Soult was most certainly repulsed at Corunna; and the British gained a defensive victory, though dearly purchased with the loss of their brave general Moore, who was alike distinguished for his private virtues, and his military talents."Light Division (United Kingdom)
The Light Division was a light infantry division of the British Army. Its origins lay in "Light Companies" formed during the late 18th Century, to move at speed over inhospitable terrain and protect a main force with skirmishing tactics. These units took advantage of then-new technology in the form of rifles, which allowed it to emphasise marksmanship, and were aimed primarily at disrupting and harassing enemy forces, in skirmishes before the main forces clashed.
Formed in 1803, during the Napoleonic Wars, the Light Division was raised thrice thereafter: during the Crimean War, the First World War and from 1968 to 2007. Some light infantry units remained outside the Light Division.Matthew Darby-Griffith
Matthew Chitty Darby, later Darby-Griffith, (1772–1823) was a British soldier and Major-General.
He was a son of Vice-Admiral George Darby and Mary daughter of Sir William St Quintin, 4th Baronet. He took the additional name of Griffith upon inheriting the estate of Padworth in the English county of Berkshire.
Darby's thirty years' service in the Grenadier Guards included much action during the Napoleonic Wars. He lost his leg at the Battle of Corunna in Spain in 1809, and was awarded the War Medal with one clasp for the part he played there.
He died on 7 August 1823 at Padworth House. He had married Lousia, daughter of Thomas Hankey Esq. of Fetcham Park, Surrey, and they became the parents of three sons and one daughter, including Christopher Darby-Griffith, MP and General Henry Darby-Griffith, CB.Mount Hill
Mount Hill rises from the rolling farmland about three miles north west of Cupar in North East Fife, Scotland. On its summit stands the 29-metre (95 ft) high Hopetoun Monument, which is visible for many miles around.
The Hopetoun Monument was erected by the people of Cupar in 1826 in memory of the British soldier John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun (1765–1823). The monument takes the form of a giant Roman Doric column, and is protected as a category B listed building. The inscription on the monument reads:
"To perpetuate the memory of John 4th Earl of Hopetoun who died 16 August 1823, this memorial is erected by the inhabitants of Fife MDCCCXXVI"
Prior to succeeding to the earldom, John Hope served at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801 and, later, in the Peninsular War (1808–1814) where he was knighted for his heroic deeds at the Battle of Corunna. There is another similar Hopetoun Monument on Byres Hill near Haddington in East Lothian which was built in 1824.At present the summit of Mount Hill affords an excellent panorama due to the felling of the forestry plantation around the monument. The monument is easily accessible by forest tracks.Peter Waterhouse (military officer)
Lt. Col. Peter Waterhouse (1779 - 19 May 1823) was a British military officer who commanded both battalions of the 81st Regiment who distinguished himself during the Napoleonic Wars. His burial was officiated by chief mourner General Sir James Kempt, with whom he served years earlier in the famed Battle of Maida, Battle of Corunna and the Peninsular War.Thomas Fuller-Eliott-Drake
Sir Thomas Trayton Fuller-Eliott-Drake, 1st Baronet (1785–1870) was British Army officer.
The Fuller-Eliott-Drake Baronetcy, of Nutwell Court, Devon, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 22 August 1821 for Thomas Fuller-Eliott-Drake, grandson of the first Lord Heathfield, and grand-nephew of the last Drake baronet of Buckland. Originally surnamed simply Fuller, the first baronet had adopted the additional surnames Eliott and Drake upon his inheritance of Buckland Abbey and Nutwell Court from the second Lord Heathfield in 1813. He was succeeded by his nephew Francis George Augustus Fuller.
Fuller-Elliot-Drake was an officer in the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot, joining in 1804, and serving under Sir John Moore during the 1808 expedition to Sweden, and in the Battle of Corunna. Serving in the Walcheren Expedition in 1809, Fuller-Elliot-Drake returned to the Peninsula, where he was present at the Battles of Sabugal, Fuentes d'Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, and San Munos, where he was severely wounded. He left the Peninsula in 1812.Fuller-Elliot-Drake was awarded the Military General Service Medal with two clasps.He was appointed Sheriff of Devon in 1822.Watlington House
Watlington House is a 17th-century building, with a large walled garden, in the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. The building is brick built and is reputed to be the oldest surviving secular building in the town. It is a listed building, being listed grade II*.The western or rear part of the building was built in 1688 for Samuel and Anne Watlington, whilst the eastern part, fronting onto Watlington Street, is said to date from 1763. Samuel Watlington served as mayor of Reading in 1695 and again in 1711.The first recorded occupant of the house was Captain Edward Purvis in 1794, renting the house for £25 annually. He fought at the Battle of Corunna in the Peninsular War with the 4th Regiment of Foot and trained the Berkshire Militia in Orts meadow near his home. The house is rumoured to be haunted by his ghost. After Captain Purvis, the house was variously occupied by a Mrs Stevens and then used as an office by the town clerk of Reading.In 1877 the house became the first home of the newly founded Kendrick Girls School. The school remained on the site until 1927, when they moved to their current location on the corner of Sidmouth Street and London Road. During their stay they erected a corrugated iron hall in the garden, which still stands.Since 1931, the building has been owned by local trustees. They provide accommodation for social and educational organisations, using the rents for the upkeep of Watlington House.Since 2003, the House has been the home of the Mills Archive, the national repository for documents, images and other records on mills, milling and the historical uses of traditional power sources.