Siege of Almeida (1810)

In the Siege of Almeida, the French corps of Marshal Michel Ney captured the border fortress from Brigadier General William Cox's Portuguese garrison. This action was fought in the summer of 1810 during the Peninsular War portion of the Napoleonic Wars. Almeida is located in eastern Portugal, near the border with Spain.

Siege of Almeida 1810
Part of Peninsular War
Fortress of Almeida

The Fortress of Almeida
Date25 July – 27 August 1810
Location
Result French victory
Belligerents
France French Empire United Kingdom United Kingdom
Portugal Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Marshal Michel Ney Brig-Gen William Cox
Strength
16,000 men
100 cannons
5,000 men
100 cannons
Casualties and losses
58 dead
320 wounded
600 dead
300 wounded
4,100 captured

Background

Lying on a main invasion route from Ciudad Rodrigo to Lisbon, the Castle Fortress of Almeida was invested by a 65,000-man army under Marshal André Masséna in the third French invasion of Portugal. The previous day the French forces had pushed back the British Portuguese army at the Battle of the Côa. The 50,000-man British-Portuguese army of General Lord Wellington now held the far bank of the Coa. However, the river's banks were steep, with only two bridges, and the French 6th Corps guarded the crossings, so the British were unable to retake the crossings to relieve Almeida.

Siege

Fresh from the successful Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, the French army laid siege to Almeida on July 25, 1810. Brigadier-General William Cox commanded a 4,000-man Portuguese garrison of three battalions of militia, from Arganil, Trancoso and Vizeu. Some regular British forces were also present, including 1,200 men of the 24th Line Regiment, a squadron of the 11th Cavalry Regiment and over 400 gunners. The defences of Almeida were in better repair and stronger than Ciudad Rodrigo which the French had recently taken. In particular, there were over 100 artillery pieces, of which 40 were 18-pounders or heavier, and most were in protected casemates. The siege was conducted by the 14,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, 1,000 artillerists and 100 cannon of the VI Corps under the command of Marshal Michel Ney. In addition, General Jean-Andoche Junot lay in reserve nearby with his VIII Corps .

The French received siege supplies from Ciudad Rodrigo on August 15, and started to dig trench lines to the south-east of the town, facing the San Pedro bastion. The siege train was well supplied with guns; as well as the existing French ones, it also included captured Spanish guns from Ciudad Rodrigo. By August 24, the French lines had eleven batteries in place, with over 50 guns. Throughout, the Portuguese defenders had fired upon the French, with little effect. When the French bombardment opened on August 26 at 6 AM, several quarters of the town were quickly set on fire, and the defending guns of the nearest three batteries overwhelmed. However, the defences held. The governor was confident in withstanding the assault, until a shell made a freak hit. The great magazine in the castle had been used through the day to supply the defenders, and at some point a leaky powder keg had left a trail of powder leading up to the courtyard. At around 7 PM, one French shell landed in the courtyard, igniting a gunpowder trail that led through the still open door, and set off a chain reaction into the magazine. The ensuing explosion killed 600 defenders and wounded 300 more. The castle that housed the gunpowder was razed and sections of the defenses were damaged, leaving a crater still visible today. Unable to reply to the French cannonade without gunpowder, Cox was forced to capitulate the following day with the survivors of the blast and 100 cannon. The French lost 58 killed and 320 wounded during the operation. The next action was the Battle of Bussaco.

Cultural reference

The siege forms the climax of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Gold, in which Richard Sharpe is credited with the destruction of the ammunition magazine, an act intended to deliberately cut short the siege so that he could leave the city and bring Lord Wellington the finances needed to complete the Lines of Torres Vedras.

See also

References

  • Glover, Michael, The Peninsular War 1807-1814. Penguin, 1974.
  • Oman, Sir Charles, A History of the Peninsula War Volume III. Greenhill Books, 1996.
  • Smith, Digby, The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill, 1998.
  • Weller, Jac, Wellington in the Peninsula. Nicolas Vane, 1962.
  • Zimmermann, Dick, "The Battle of Fuentes de Onoro" Wargamer's Digest magazine, March 1979.

Coordinates: 40°43′34″N 6°54′22″W / 40.7261°N 6.9061°W

Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune

Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune (21 February 1772 – 18 February 1824) led a French division against the British in 1811–1813 during the Peninsular War. He is referred to as Maucune in English-language sources. He joined the pioneer corps of the French army in 1786 and was a lieutenant by the time the French Revolutionary Wars broke out. He fought in the north in 1792 and in the Alps in 1793. Afterward he served in Italy through 1801. During this period, he fought at Arcole in 1796 and at the Trebbia, Novi and Genola in 1799. He was appointed to command the 39th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade and led it in the 1800 campaign.

During the Napoleonic Wars Maucune led the 39th in Marshal Michel Ney's VI Corps at Elchingen in the 1805 campaign and at Jena, Magdeburg, Soldau, and Eylau in the 1806–1807 campaign. Promoted to general officer, he led a brigade at Friedland in 1807. In Spain from 1808 and 1811, he commanded a brigade at Gallegos, Tamames, Alba de Tormes, Ciudad Rodrigo, Almeida, Bussaco, Casal Novo, and Fuentes de Onoro.

In May 1811, the army was reorganized and Maucune was promoted to lead a division. This started a period of remarkable bad luck. At Salamanca in July 1812, his isolated division was wrecked by a combination of British infantry and cavalry attacks led by Lieutenant-general Stapleton Cotton, (later Viscount Combermere). In June 1813, the British surprised his troops at San Millán de la Cogolla. The division missed the Battle of Vitoria but helped fight off the Allied pursuit at Tolosa. His division was scattered at Sorauren in late July 1813 and at the Bidassoa in October. After these defeats, Marshal Nicolas Soult replaced him with Jean François Leval. Sent to Italy, he was defeated at the Taro River in April 1814 while defending against three-to-one odds. Maucune is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe on Column 35.

François Nicolas Fririon

François Nicolas Mathus Fririon (7 February 1766 – 25 September 1840) joined the French army and rose through the ranks during the French Revolutionary Wars to become a general officer by 1800. After commanding a brigade with distinction during the War of the Fifth Coalition at Aspern-Essling and Wagram he was promoted and made chief of staff to Marshal André Masséna. He served in this role during Masséna's 1810–1811 invasion of Portugal. His history of that campaign was published posthumously by his son. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.

Jean-Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau

Jean-Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau (15 July 1777 – 20 December 1858) became a French general in the Napoleonic Wars and later was a politician and historian. He joined the French army in 1800 and became a topographic engineer. He joined the staff of Marshal André Masséna and was wounded at Caldiero in 1805. He served in southern Italy in 1806 and Poland in 1807. He was wounded at Ebelsberg and fought at Aspern-Essling and Wagram in 1809.

When Emperor Napoleon ordered Masséna to take command of the Army of Portugal, Pelet went with him as his first aide-de-camp. Though Pelet was a relatively low-ranking officer, the marshal relied heavily on his advice during the unsuccessful 1810–1811 invasion of Portugal. Pelet fought in the French invasion of Russia, including during Marshal Michel Ney's epic retreat at Krasnoi where he was wounded again. Promoted to general officer, he led troops in the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, including a brief stint as acting division commander. He led a regiment of the Old Guard at Waterloo.

Placed on the army's inactive list, Pelet nevertheless worked in the military archives while publishing books and articles about the wars. In 1830, he was appointed director of the army staff school. Though nearly killed in an assassination attempt in 1835, he continued to publish military histories. Under the Second French Empire he engaged in diplomacy and politics. Pelet is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 19.

Largest artificial non-nuclear explosions

There have been many extremely large explosions, accidental and intentional, caused by modern high explosives, boiling liquid expanding vapour explosions (BLEVEs), older explosives such as gunpowder, volatile petroleum-based fuels such as petrol, and other chemical reactions. This list contains the largest known examples, sorted by date. An unambiguous ranking in order of severity is not possible; a 1994 study by historian Jay White of 130 large explosions suggested that they need to be ranked by an overall effect of power, quantity, radius, loss of life and property destruction, but concluded that such rankings are difficult to assess.

The weight of an explosive does not directly correlate with the energy or destructive impact of an explosion, as these can depend upon many other factors such as containment, proximity, purity, preheating, and external oxygenation (in the case of thermobaric weapons, gas leaks and BLEVEs).

In this article, explosion means "the sudden conversion of potential energy (chemical or mechanical) into kinetic energy", as defined by the US National Fire Protection Association, or the common dictionary meaning, "a violent and destructive shattering or blowing apart of something". No distinction is made as to whether it is a deflagration with subsonic propagation or a detonation with supersonic propagation.

List of accidents and incidents involving transport or storage of ammunition

Accidents and incidents involving transport or storage of ammunition include:

1634 Valletta explosion, Malta

An Ottoman ammunition dump inside the Parthenon was ignited by Venetian bombardment in 1687

1806 Birgu polverista explosion, Malta

Siege of Almeida (1810), a chance shell ignited a line of black powder which set off a chain reaction in the magazine

City Point, Virginia, Union army supply depot sabotaged in 1864 by Confederate Secret Service

Black Tom explosion, 1916 act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents during World War I

Kingsland explosion, American munitions factory in 1917

Halifax Explosion, 1917 ammunition ship explosion that killed over 2,000 people

Morgan Depot Explosion, American munitions factory in 1918

Lake Denmark explosion, July 10 1926 detonation of millions of pounds of stored explosives at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey

Joliet Army Ammunition Plant explosion, a 1942 explosion that was felt 100 miles away

Air raid on Bari, a port disaster in Italy in 1943

SS El Estero, ammunition ship that caught fire in New York Harbor in 1943 during World War II

Naval Station Norfolk, September 17, 1943 accidental truckload explosion of 24 aerial depth charges -killing 40 and injuring 386

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown VA November 1943 explosion-6 killed

USS Turner (DD-648), 1943 naval explosion in Lower New York Bay

Bombay Explosion (1944), explosion on a ship in Bombay Harbour

SS Paul Hamilton, 20 April 1944, liberty ship carrying cargo of high explosives and bombs-sunk by Luftwaffe

Soham rail disaster, June 2 1944, fire and subsequent explosion of a freight wagon carrying high explosives.

West Loch disaster, ammunition explosion in Pearl Harbor, two months before Port Chicago

Port Chicago disaster, a deadly munitions explosion that occurred in 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California

Naval Ammunition Depot,27 September 1944 munitions explosions causing nine deaths and extensive damage.

USS Mount Hood (AE-11), 10 November 1944 explosion of Navy ammunition ship

RAF Fauld explosion, UK underground munitions storage depot in 1944, one of largest non-nuclear explosions in history

SS John Burke, A Liberty Ship carrying ammunition was hit by a kamikaze pilot and disintegrated in an enormous explosion on December 28, 1944.

SS Charles Henderson, unloading accident in Bari, Italy, 9 April 1945

SS Canada Victory, SS Logan Victory and SS Hobbs Victory each with 6,000 pounds of ammunition sank after kamikaze attacks caused an explosion near Okinawa in 1945.

SS Greenhill Park, 1945 incident in Vancouver similar to El Estero

Cádiz Explosion, 18 August 1947, in mines and torpedoes depot, ca. 150 killed and large part of the city destroyed

South Amboy powder pier explosion, New Jersey, 1950

Explosion of the RFA Bedenham, 27 April 1951 explosion of an ammunition ship in the Port of Gibraltar

Cali explosion, 1956 explosion of seven army ammunition trucks loaded with 1053 boxes of dynamite, which were parked overnight in Cali, Colombia.

SS Richard Montgomery, explosive-filled liberty ship wreck, off the UK's Kent coast

1973 Roseville Yard Disaster, high-explosive aircraft ammunition and ordnance in military boxcars in a Southern Pacific train consist in its Roseville, California railyard.

2008 Gërdec explosions, Albania

Evangelos Florakis Naval Base explosion, Cyprus, 2011

List of battles (geographic)

This list of battles is organized geographically, by country in its present territory.

List of sieges

A siege is a prolonged military assault and blockade on a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition. A chronological list of sieges follows.

Michel Ney

Marshal of the Empire Michel Ney (French pronunciation: ​[miʃɛl ˈnɛ]), 1st Duke of Elchingen, 1st Prince of the Moskva (10 January 1769 – 7 December 1815), popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander of German origin who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud ("red-faced" or "ruddy") by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves ("the bravest of the brave") by Napoleon.

Siege of Almeida

The Siege of Almeida may refer to one of a number of historical events including:

Siege of Almeida (1762), during the Seven Years' War

Siege of Almeida (1810), during the Peninsular War

Siege of Almeida (1811), during the Peninsular War

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.

Vincent Martel Deconchy

Vincent Martel Deconchy (21 January 1768 – 26 August 1823) commanded a French brigade in Spain and Italy during the Napoleonic Wars. He joined the army in 1792 during the French Revolution and fought in several battles in the north. After being part of the force occupying the Batavian Republic, he gained promotion for heroism at the Battle of Castricum in 1799. He served as an aide-de-camp during the battles of Marengo and the Mincio in 1800.

Deconchy fought in several actions during the War of the Third Coalition. Transferred to Spain, he was acting commander of a light infantry regiment in the VI Corps for a time before being elevated to colonel in September 1810. He participated in the 1810 French invasion of Portugal and led his regiment at Redinha during the retreat. He was promoted general officer in February 1813 and fought against the Spanish guerillas. In August 1813 he transferred to Italy where he led a brigade in the army of Eugène de Beauharnais until the end of the fighting in 1814. He stayed in favor with the Bourbons and was elevated to the rank of lieutenant general in 1821. He led a division in the 1823 French intervention in Spain and died during the blockade of Pamplona.

Peninsular War
Invasion of Portugal, 1810–1811
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