Battle of Majadahonda

The Battle of Majadahonda (11 August 1812) saw an Imperial French cavalry division led by Anne-François-Charles Trelliard attack two brigades of cavalry under Benjamin d'Urban and forming the advance guard of Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Wellington's army. Trelliard's leading brigade routed d'Urban's Portuguese horsemen and overran three British cannons. King's German Legion (KGL) cavalry led by Eberhardt Otto George von Bock intervened to halt the Imperial French horsemen, but were finally compelled to withdraw when Trelliard committed his second and third brigades to the contest. The Imperial French cavalry was unable to cope with a KGL infantry battalion defending a village and they withdrew at the approach of additional British cavalry and infantry. This Peninsular War action was fought near Majadahonda, which is located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) northwest of Madrid.

Battle of Majadahonda
Part of the Peninsular War
Bataille de Majadahonda Deuxième phase
Date11 August 1812
Location
Result Tactical draw[1]
Belligerents
France French Empire
Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic) Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Westphalia Kingdom of Westphalia
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Portugal Portugal
Commanders and leaders
France Gen Trelliard United Kingdom Brig-Gen D'Urban
Strength
2,000 2,300
Casualties and losses
200 casualties 176–200 killed, wounded and captured

Battle

After General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington's great victory at the Battle of Salamanca, the Anglo-Portuguese Army moved on Madrid from the northwest. On 11 August, the 1st, 11th and 12th Dragoons of D'Urban's Portuguese brigade formed Wellington's advanced guard. Behind them was Bock's brigade under Colonel de Jonquières, consisting of the 1st and 2nd King's German Legion (KGL) Dragoons. Farther back in the column, Colonel Colin Halkett led the 1st and 2nd KGL Light Infantry battalions, plus 7 companies of the Brunswick Oels battalion.

D'Urban's troopers were surprised by Trelliard's division, which included the 13th, 18th, 19th and 22nd Dragoons, plus the Westphalian Chevau-légers and the Italian Napoleone Dragoons. The Portuguese horsemen were routed and three cannons were lost. A frustrated D'Urban wrote of his troopers,

"At Salamanca they followed me into the enemy's ranks like British dragoons; yesterday they were so far from doing their duty that in the first charge they just went far enough to land me in the enemy's ranks. In the second, which (having got them rallied) I rashly attempted, I could not get them within 20 yards of the enemy – they left me alone, and vanished before the French helmets like leaves before the autumn wind."[2]

Bock's heavy dragoons soon arrived and the Portuguese horsemen rallied behind them. With the help of the 1st KGL Light Infantry battalion, the combined British-Portuguese force managed to halt the French advance. Trelliard withdrew after hearing of additional allied reinforcements. The next morning the allies entered Majadahonda and discovered the lost cannons.

Result

All told, 2,300 British-Portuguese troops were engaged against about 2,000 Frenchmen. Trelliard lost about 200 casualties, compared to 176 British-Portuguese losses. Bock lost 14 killed, 40 wounded and 7 captured. D'Urban reported 33 killed, 52 wounded and 23 captured. The KGL infantry had 7 men wounded.[3] Treilliard's report of the battle led to King Joseph Bonaparte's hasty withdrawal from Madrid the next day. The next action was the Siege of Burgos.

The British-Portuguese advance guard was severely mauled at Majalahonda. In less than an hour, they lost 200 men killed and wounded, 3 guns captured, while one of their two brigade commanders (Colonel de Jonquiéres), and two of their five regimental commanders (Visconde de Barbaçena and Colonel Lobo) were made prisoners. The French abandoned the 3 guns after burning the carriages. French casualties were probably half that, with one officer killed and 15 wounded, including Colonel Reiset.

The KGL Dragoons covered themselves with glory, while the Portuguese dishonored themselves in the eyes of the army. Their performance at Majadahonda erased the laurels they had won at Salamanca. Marshal Beresford, the commander of the Portuguese Army, thought the Portuguese dragoons should be punished and proposed the following to Wellington: "I have ordered that they should not again mount a horse or wear a sword till they may, by coming near the enemy, have an opportunity of redeeming their credit... till then, hanging their swords on their saddles, they lead their horses, marching themselves. The Portuguese have a good deal of feeling and pride, and it is the only way to work on them..."

Wellington, however, thought differently: "As for sending the cavalry to the rear that is impossible at the present. We have still a good deal upon our hands, and we are worse provided with cavalry than our neighbours; and a body commanded by such a man as D'Urban, even though they will not fight, are better than none. In fact, they behaved infamously, and they must not be employed again alone, or with our cavalry, who gallop too fast for them."

Footnotes

  1. ^ Smith, p 385
  2. ^ Oman, p 235
  3. ^ Smith, p 385

References

  • Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War 1807–1814. London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-14-139041-7
  • Jaques, Tony Dictionary of Battles and Sieges [3 volumes]: A Guide to 8,500 Battles from Antiquity through the Twenty-first Century Greenwood 2006 ISBN 978-0-313-33536-5
  • Oman, Charles. Wellington's Army, 1809–1814. London: Greenhill, (1913) 1993. ISBN 0-947898-41-7
  • Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9

Coordinates: 40°28′00″N 3°52′00″W / 40.4667°N 3.8667°W

Anglo-Portuguese Army

The Anglo-Portuguese Army was the combined British and Portuguese army that participated in the Peninsular War, under the command of Arthur Wellesley. The Army is also referred to as the British-Portuguese Army and, in Portuguese, as the Exército Anglo-Luso or the Exército Anglo-Português.

The Anglo-Portuguese Army was established with the British Army deployed to the Iberian Peninsula under the command of General Arthur Wellesley, and the Portuguese Army rebuilt under the leadership of British General William Beresford and the Portuguese War Secretary Miguel Pereira Forjaz. The new Portuguese battalions were supplied with British equipment, trained to British standards and thoroughly re-organised. Incompetent or corrupt officers were cashiered and appropriate replacements were appointed or promoted from amongst promising Non-commissioned officers.

On 22 April 1809, Wellesley became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in the Peninsula, replacing General Cradock, whose assessment of the military situation the British government found too pessimistic. At the same time he was appointed by the Portuguese Government as Commander-in-Chief of the Portuguese Army. He then came to have the two armies under his command, transforming them into a single integrated army.

The Army was organised into divisions, most of them including mixed British-Portuguese units. Usually, each one had two British and one Portuguese brigades. In the elite Light Division, the brigades themselves were mixed, each including two British light infantry and one Portuguese Caçadores battalions.

Anne-François-Charles Trelliard

Anne-François-Charles Trelliard or Treillard or Treilhard, born 7 February 1764 – died 14 May 1832, joined the cavalry of the French Royal Army as a cadet gentleman in 1780. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in Germany and Holland, eventually rising in rank to become a general officer in 1799. He led a corps cavalry brigade at Austerlitz in the 1805 campaign. In the 1806-1807 campaign he fought at Saalfeld, Jena, and Pultusk.

Transferred to Spain in 1808, Trelliard led a dragoon division and participated in the third invasion of Portugal in 1810-1811. He commanded his dragoons at Majadahonda in 1812 and at Vitoria and the Pyrenees in 1813. His division was redeployed to eastern France for Emperor Napoleon's final futile campaign in 1814. After rallying to Napoleon during the Hundred Days, the Bourbons dismissed him from the army. Trelliard is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.

August 11

August 11 is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 142 days remain until the end of the year.

Giuseppe Federico Palombini

Giuseppe Federico Palombini or Joseph Friedrich von Palombini (3 December 1774 – 25 April 1850) became an Italian division commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He joined the army of the Cispadane Republic in 1796 and fought at Faenza in 1797. He became commander of a dragoon regiment in 1798. He became commander of the Napoleone Dragoons, of the Cisalpine Republic army, in 1802. He fought as an ally of the French at Kolberg and Stralsund in 1807. He married the daughter of Jan Henryk Dąbrowski (Dombrowski) in 1806.

Transferred to Spain, he fought in Domenico Pino's division at Roses, Cardadeu, Molins de Rei, Valls and Gerona and was promoted general of brigade in 1809. He led a brigade at El Pla and Tarragona in 1811 and was promoted general of division. He led his division at Saguntum, Valencia and Castro Urdiales in 1811–1813. Transferring to Italy, he fought at Cerknica in 1813 and Peschiera del Garda in 1814. After collapse of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1814, he joined the army of the Austrian Empire, becoming a Feldmarschall-Leutnant. He became the Inhaber (proprietor) of the 36th Line Infantry Regiment in 1817. He retired in 1824 and died in 1850 at his wife's castle in Grochwitz near Herzberg (Elster).

List of battles involving France in modern history

This is a chronological list of the battles involving France in modern history.

For earlier conflicts, see List of battles involving France. These lists do not include the battles of the French civil wars (as the Wars of Religion, the Fronde, the War in the Vendée) unless a foreign country is involved; this list includes neither the peacekeeping operations (such as Operation Artemis, Operation Licorne) nor the humanitarian missions supported by the French Armed Forces.

The list gives the name, the date, the present-day location of the battles, the French allies and enemies, and the result of these conflicts following this legend:

French military victory

French military defeat

Indecisive or unclear outcome

Ongoing conflict

Marie Antoine de Reiset

Marie-Antoine, vicomte de Reiset (29 November 1775 - 25 March 1836) was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, serving from 1793 to 1830.

He was born in Colmar into a noble family. He captured Prince Augustus of Prussia at the battle of Jena in 1806 and commanded the 13th Dragoon Regiment from 1810 to 1813, including its major part in defeating the Duke of Wellington's vanguard at the Battle of Majadahonda. He forced several regiments to surrender at Dresden in 1813, defended the fortress of Mainz and commanded the French army of occupation in Catalonia. He died in Rouen.

Siege of Burgos

At the Siege of Burgos, from 19 September to 21 October 1812, the Anglo-Portuguese Army led by General Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington tried to capture the castle of Burgos from its French garrison under the command of General of Brigade Jean-Louis Dubreton. The French repulsed every attempt to seize the fortress, resulting in one of Wellington's rare withdrawals, as he went on to defeat the army sent to flank him at the Lines of Torres Vedras, pursued them and then returned to complete the siege of Burgos and capture the city. The siege took place during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Burgos is located about 210 kilometres (130 mi) north of Madrid.

After crushing Marshal Auguste Marmont's French army at the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, Wellington exploited his great victory by advancing on Madrid. King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan retreated to Valencia where they sought refuge with Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet. The magnitude of Wellington's triumph also compelled Marshal Nicolas Soult to evacuate Andalucia in the south and withdraw to Valencia. The combined armies of Soult and Joseph soon posed a serious menace to Wellington's grasp on Madrid. The recently defeated French army in the north also built up its strength. Wellington made plans to counter the southern French threat while hoping to quickly capture the strategically important Burgos position, which was an important French supply base.

Instead, Dubreton led a masterful defense, thwarting Wellington's assaults time after time. The British commander's hopes were blasted when his attempts to contain the twin French counteroffensives failed. With large French relief armies approaching Burgos from the northeast and Madrid from the southeast, the British commander withdrew to the west, abandoning large areas of Spain that had been recently liberated. That fall the French lost an opportunity to defeat Wellington's army. Nevertheless, during the withdrawal to Portugal the Anglo-Portuguese army lost many men to pursuing French cavalry and starvation.

Timeline of the British Army

This timeline covers the main wars, battles and engagements and related issues for the Scottish, English and British Army, from 1537 to the present. See also Timeline of British diplomatic history.

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