Siege of Cádiz

The Siege of Cádiz was a siege of the large Spanish naval base of Cádiz[6] by a French army from 5 February 1810 to 24 August 1812[7] during the Peninsular War. Following the occupation of Seville, Cádiz became the Spanish seat of power,[8] and was targeted by 70,000 French troops under the command of the Marshals Claude Victor and Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult for one of the most important sieges of the war.[9] Defending the city were 2,000 Spanish troops who, as the siege progressed, received aid from 10,000 Spanish reinforcements as well as British and Portuguese troops.

During the siege, which lasted two and a half years, the Cortes Generales government in Cadiz (the Cádiz Cortes) drew up a new constitution to reduce the strength of the monarchy, which was eventually revoked by Fernando VII.[10]

In October 1810 a mixed Anglo-Spanish relief force embarked on a disastrous landing at Fuengirola. A second relief attempt was made at Tarifa in 1811. However, despite defeating a detached French force of 15,000–20,000 under Marshal Victor at the Battle of Barrosa, the siege was not lifted.

In 1812 the Battle of Salamanca eventually forced the French troops to retreat from Andalusia, for fear of being cut off by the Coalition armies.[11] The French defeat contributed decisively to the liberation of Spain from French occupation, due to the survival of the Spanish government and the use of Cádiz as a jump-off point for the Coalition forces.[1]


In the early 19th century, war was brewing between French emperor Napoleon and the Russian Tsar Alexander I, and Napoleon saw the shared interests of Britain and Russia in defeating him as a threat. Napoleon's advisor, the Duke of Cadore, recommended that the ports of Europe be closed to the British, stating that "Once in Cadiz, Sire, you will be in a position either to break or strengthen the bonds with Russia".[12]

Soult and his French army invaded Portugal in 1809 but were beaten by Wellesley at Oporto on 12 May. The British and Spanish armies advanced into mainland Spain, however the difficulties that the Spanish army bore forced Arthur Wellesley to retreat into Portugal after Spanish defeats in the battles of Ocaña and Alba de Tormes. By 1810 the war had reached a stalemate. Wellesley strengthened Portuguese and Spanish positions with the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras, and the remainder of the Spanish forces fell back to defend the Spanish government at Cádiz against Soult's Army of Andalusia.


Manuel Lapeña, Marquis of Bondad Real by Goya
Portrait of General Manuel la Peña, commander of the Coalition forces that attempted to relieve the siege

The port of Cádiz was surrounded on land by the armies of Soult and Victor, in three entrenched positions at Chiclana, Puerto Real and Santa Maria, positioned in a semicircle around the city.[13] In the case of the former position, only an area of marshland separated the forces.[14] The French initially sent an envoy with a demand for surrender, which was refused.[8] The fortress of Matagorda, north of Cadiz, was bombarded by the French. When the fort became untenable, it was evacuated by the defending 94th Regiment of Foot. The last person to leave was to be Maj Lefebure of the Royal Engineers, whose job was to fire a mine to destroy the fort, but he was killed by a cannon shot.[15] The French forces now had access to the coast close to Cadiz. The ensuing bombardment of the Spanish coastal city involved some of the largest artillery pieces in existence at the time, including Grand Mortars, which were so large they had to be abandoned when the French eventually retreated, and fired projectiles to distances previously thought impossible, some up to 3 miles in range.[5] (The Grand Mortar was placed in St. James's Park in London as a gift to the British in honour of the Duke of Wellington.[16]) The French continued to bombard Cadiz until the end of 1810, but the extreme distance lessened their effect.[17]

Thomas Graham Lord Lynedoch
Portrait of Thomas Graham.

The terrain surrounding the strong fortifications of Cádiz proved difficult for the French to attack, and the French also suffered from a lack of supplies, particularly ammunition, and from continuous guerrilla raiding parties attacking the rear of their siege lines and their internal communications with Andalusia.[13] On many occasions, the French were forced to send escorts of 150–200 men to guard couriers and supply convoys in the hinterland. So great were the difficulties that one historian judges that:

The French siege of Cadiz was largely illusory. There was no real hope that they would ever take the place. Far more real was the siege of the French army in Andalusia. Spanish forces from the mountains of Murcia constantly harried the eastern part of the province. They were frequently defeated but always reformed. A ragged army under General Ballesteros usually operated within Andalusia itself. Soult repeatedly sent columns against it. It always escaped ... French dominion was secure only in the plains of the Guadalquivir and in Seville.[18]

French reinforcements continued to arrive through to 20 April, and the capture of an outer Spanish fort guarding the road through to the Puerto Real helped to facilitate the arrival of these forces. This captured fort also provided the French with a vantage point from which to shell ships coming in and out of the besieged Spanish port.[13]

During 1811 Victor's force was continually diminished by requests for reinforcement from Soult to aid his siege of Badajoz.[19] This reduction in men, which brought the French numbers down to between 20,000–15,000, encouraged the defenders of Cádiz to attempt a breakout.[20] A sortie of 4,000 Spanish troops, under the command of General José de Zayas, was arranged in conjunction with the arrival of an Anglo-Spanish relief army of around 16,000 troops that landed 50 miles to the south in Tarifa. This Anglo-Spanish force was under the overall command of Spanish General Manuel la Peña, with the British contingent being led by Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham. On 21 February 1811 the force set sail for Tarifa, and eventually landed at Algeciras on 23 February.[20] Eventually marching towards Cádiz on 28 February, the force met a detachment of two French divisions under Victor at Barrosa. The battle was a tactical victory for the Coalition force,[21] with a French regimental eagle captured,[22] but it was strategically indecisive.[23]

Smaller sorties of 2,000–3,000 men continued to operate out of Cadiz from April to August 1811.[24] On 26 October British naval gunboats from Gibraltar destroyed French positions at St. Mary's,[25] killing French artillery commander Alexandre-Antoine Hureau de Sénarmont. An attempt by Victor to crush the small Anglo-Spanish garrison at Tarifa over the winter of 1811–1812 was frustrated by torrential rains and an obstinate defence, marking an end to French operations against the city's outer works.

On 22 July 1812, Wellesley won a tactical victory over Auguste Marmont at Salamanca. The Spanish, British and Portuguese then entered Madrid on 6 August and advanced towards Burgos. Realising that his army was in danger of being cut off, Soult ordered a retreat from Cádiz set for 24 August. After an overnight artillery barrage, the French intentionally burst most of their 600 guns by overcharging and detonating them. The Coalition forces captured many guns, 30 gunboats and a large quantity of stores.[5]

In literature

See also


  1. ^ a b Rasor 2004, p. 148.
  2. ^ Payne 1973, p. 432.
  3. ^ Clodfelter 2002, p. 174.
  4. ^ Napier 1840, p. 100.
  5. ^ a b c Southey 1837b, p. 68.
  6. ^ "The Spanish Ulcer: Napoleon, Britain, and the Siege of Cádiz". Humanities, January/February 2010, Volume 31/Number 1. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  7. ^ Fremont-Barnes 2002, p. 12–13.
  8. ^ a b Russell 1818, p. 306.
  9. ^ Fremont-Barnes 2002, p. 26.
  10. ^ Noble 2007, p. 30.
  11. ^ Napoleonic Guide Cadiz 5 February, 1810 – 24 August, 1812 retrieved 21 July 2007.
  12. ^ Napoleonic Guides Franco-Russian Diplomacy, 1810–1812 retrieved 21 July 2007.
  13. ^ a b c Burke 1825, p. 169.
  14. ^ Napier 1840, p. 169.
  15. ^ Porter, Whitworth (1889). History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. London: Longmans. p. 270.
  16. ^ St. James's Park, London Ancestor, retrieved July 21, 2007.
  17. ^ Burke 1825, p. 170.
  18. ^ Glover p. 120.
  19. ^ Southey 1837, p. 165.
  20. ^ a b Southey 1837, p. 167.
  21. ^ Southey 1837, p. 179.
  22. ^ History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Volume I by Maj Gen Porter |page=272
  23. ^ Southey 1837, p. 180.
  24. ^ Burke 1825, p. 172.
  25. ^ Burke 1825, p. 174.
  26. ^ Sharpe's Fury summary for the British Council. Retrieved July 23, 2007.


A monument in Cádiz to the Cortes and the constitution drawn up during the siege.

Printed Sources

  • Burke, Edmund (1825), The Annual Register, for the year 1810 (2nd ed.), London, pp. 169–174
  • Clay, Henry (1963), Papers of Henry Clay: Presidential Candidate, 1821–1824, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 978-0-8131-0053-1
  • Clodfelter, Michael (2002), Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000, N.C.: Jefferson & London: McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-1204-4
  • Fremont-Barnes, Gregory (2002), The Napoleonic Wars: The Peninsular War 1807–1814, Osprey Publishing ISBN 978-1-84176-370-5
  • Napier, William Francis P. (1840), History of the war in the Peninsula, and in the south of France from 1807 to 1814
  • Noble, John (2007), Andalucía, London: Lonely Planet, ISBN 978-1-74059-973-3
  • Payne, Stanley G. (1973), A History of Spain and Portugal: Eighteenth Century to Franco. Volume 2. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press .
  • Rasor, Eugene L. (2004), British Naval History to 1815: A Guide to the Literature, Westport, Conn.: Praeger, ISBN 978-0-313-30547-4
  • Russell, William (1818), "Letter XVI: Progress of the War in various Scenes of Action", The History of Modern Europe:... with a continuation terminating at the pacification of Paris, 1815, 7, London, p. 306
  • Southey, Robert (1837), History of the Peninsular War, V, J. Murray, pp. 167
  • Southey, Robert (1837b), History of the Peninsular War, VI, J. Murray, pp. 68


Coordinates: 36°31′54″N 06°18′07″W / 36.53167°N 6.30194°W


1811 (MDCCCXI)

was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1811th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 811th year of the 2nd millennium, the 11th year of the 19th century, and the 2nd year of the 1810s decade. As of the start of 1811, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Agnes Reston

Agnes Reston (nee Harkness, 1771 – 24 December 1856) was a Scottish wartime nurse during the Peninsular War. She has become known as the Heroine of Matagorda, for her outstanding bravery in an early phase of the Siege of Cádiz.

Alexander Hamilton (British Army officer)

Alexander Hamilton CB (1765 – 4 June 1838) was a British Army officer of the Napoleonic Wars who was injured at the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815 but recovered sufficiently to command a battalion at the Battle of Waterloo two days later.

Armand Philippon

Armand Philippon (27 August 1761 – 4 May 1836), sometimes called Phillipon, was a French soldier during the French Revolution and the subsequent First French Empire.

Despite enlisting in the army as a private soldier, Philippon rose to the rank of Général de Division during the Peninsular War, and was created Baron in 1809. He was Governor of Badajoz between 1811 and 1812, when he was captured by the British following the Battle of Badajoz. After his capture, Philippon was taken to the UK, but he broke his parole and returned to France and the Grande Armée before retiring from military service on 15 January 1814.

Battle of Barrosa

The Battle of Barrosa (Chiclana, 5 March 1811, also known as the Battle of Chiclana or Battle of Cerro del Puerco) was part of an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break the siege of Cádiz in Spain during the Peninsular War. During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle.

Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of British and Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.

Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham's tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.

Cádiz Memorial

The Cádiz Memorial, also known as the "Prince Regent's Bomb", is an early 19th-century French mortar mounted on a brass monster, located in Horse Guards Parade in Westminster, London. It was first "exposed to public view" on 12 August 1816 and has been classified as a Grade II listed building since 1 December 1987. The monument was a feature of many satirical verses and cartoons in the early 19th century, mainly because the word "bomb" – pronounced "bum" – gave it an immediate association with the notoriously profligate Prince Regent's sizeable backside.

De Watteville's Regiment

De Watteville's Regiment was a Swiss regiment founded by Louis de Watteville and recruited from regiments that served between 1799 and 1801 in the Austrian army but in British pay. The troops then signed on as mercenaries, to be paid by the British. They fought in the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), mainly around the Mediterranean, and were based in Malta and then in Egypt from 1801 to 1803, fighting in Sicily and Naples. The regiment fought and won the Battle of Maida, in Italy in July 1806. From 1811 to 1813 the unit served under Wellington in the Peninsular War in Spain, and defending Cadiz in the Siege of Cádiz. The regiment sailed to Canada in 1813 to fight in the War of 1812. The unit was retired at the end of the war and soldiers were given tracts of land in Canada.

I Corps (Grande Armée)

The I Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was composed of troops in Imperial French service.

Isla de León

Isla de León is a historical name for the piece of land between the city of Cádiz and the Iberian peninsula, in Spain.

In 1813 it was renamed San Fernando in honour of King Fernando VII of Spain for his courage in the defense of the city during the Siege of Cádiz by the French.

Junta (Peninsular War)

In the Napoleonic era, junta (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxunta] or [ˈhunta]) was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders. The juntas were usually formed by adding prominent members of society, such as prelates, to the already-existing ayuntamientos (municipal councils). The juntas of the capitals of the traditional peninsular kingdoms of Spain styled themselves "Supreme Juntas", to differentiate themselves from, and claim authority over, provincial juntas. Juntas were also formed in Spanish America during this period in reaction to the developments in Spain.

The juntas were not necessarily revolutionary, least of all anti-monarchy or democratically elected. By way of example, the junta in Murcia, comprised the bishop, an archdeacon, two priors, seven members of the old city council, two magistrates, five prominent local aristocrats, including the Conde de Floridablanca (Charles III's prime minister) and five high-ranking officers (either retired or still serving). Likewise, the junta of Ciudad Rodrigo, a strategic town near the border with Portugal, comprised "nine serving officers, including the pre-war governor and the commanders of all the units that had made up the garrison; five retired officers, of whom two were brigadiers" and, among others, the bishop, and seventeen members of the clergy.

List of Napoleonic battles

This list includes all those battles which were fought throughout the Napoleonic era, April 1796 – 3 July 1815.

List of Portuguese general officers (Peninsular War)

The following list of Portuguese general officers (Peninsular War) lists the generals who served in the Portuguese forces in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War (1808–1814). The rank given refers to the ones held until the end of the war, in 1814. The list includes foreign nationals who fought in Portuguese military units.

It includes members of the Portuguese Legion (Legião Portuguesa), created by Napoleon in November 1807 and mobilized by Junot on occupying Portugal in 1807, as well as those that would later be incorporated into the Anglo-Portuguese Army, under Wellington, created on 22 April 1809.

Lola the Coalgirl

Lola the Coalgirl (Spanish: Lola, la piconera) is a 1952 Spanish historical musical film directed by Luis Lucia and starring Juanita Reina, Virgilio Teixeira and Manuel Luna.

It was part of a series of patriotic historical films produced by CIFESA, Spain's biggest film company of the era. Other examples include Madness for Love (1948) and Agustina of Aragon. The film's sets were designed by the German-born art director Sigfrido Burmann. Shooting began in June 1950, with filming at a Madrid studio and on location in Cadiz.

On release the film was a moderate hit but because of its large budget it had not returned all of its cost several years later.

London Pride (sculpture)

London Pride is a sculpture by the British artist Frank Dobson located on Queen's Walk on London's South Bank. The sculpture was given Grade II listed status in January 2016. The sculpture depicts two nude women, it sits on a slate platform, with an inscription carved by David Kindersley in front of the piece that reads:

'LONDON PRIDE / FRANK DOBSON CBE RA / 1886–1963 / Commissioned for / THE FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN 1951 / GIVEN BY MARY DOBSON 1987 / AND PLACED ON THE SOUTH BANK / Assisted generously by Lynton Property & Revisionary Plc and / The Henry Moore Foundation / ARTS COUNCIL OF GREAT BRITAIN'.

Richard Downes Jackson

Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Downes Jackson KCB (1777 – June 9, 1845), born at Petersfield in the English county of Hampshire, was Administrator of Canada West and Canada East (1841–1842) until the arrival of Sir Charles Bagot who took the position of Governor General of the Province of Canada.

Statue of Nelson Mandela, Parliament Square

The statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, London, is a bronze sculpture of former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. Originally proposed to Mandela by Donald Woods in 2001, a fund was set up and led by Woods's wife and Lord Richard Attenborough after the death of Woods. The Mayor of London fought for permission from Westminster City Council to locate the statue on the north terrace of Trafalgar Square, but after an appeal it was located in Parliament Square instead where it was unveiled on 29 August 2007.

Statue of Robert Peel, Parliament Square

The statue of Robert Peel in Parliament Square, London, is a bronze sculpture of Sir Robert Peel, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was sculpted by Matthew Noble and was one of the first three statues to be placed in the square.

Timeline of Cádiz

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Cádiz, Spain.

William Hotham (Royal Navy officer, born 1794)

Admiral William Hotham, KH (30 July 1794 – 22 February 1873) was a British Royal Navy officer.

He was born in Yorkshire, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel George Hotham and Caroline Gee. He joined the navy at the age of 10, initially serving under the command of his uncle, Admiral William Hotham, GCB.

From 1805 to 1814 he served on the Mediterranean Station and was present at the capture of Capri and the Siege of Gaeta in 1806. He was then involved in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign of 1809 and the Siege of Cádiz in 1810, taking part in the defence of the nearby Fort Matagorda. In 1811 he was posted to the Adriatic and promoted Lieutenant the following year. There he took part in the capture of Fiume on 3 July 1813, the storming and capture of the fortress of Farasina, and the capture of the arsenal at Trieste. For the next year he commanded a small fleet which operated on the River Po assisting the Austrian Army and was promoted commander in 1814. In January 1836 he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order (KH) and retired in October 1846. He was advanced on the Retired List to the rank of retired vice-admiral in 1858 and retired admiral in 1863. .

He died unmarried in York in 1873 and is buried in York cemetery.

Peninsular War
Castile & Andalusia, 1809–1810
Peninsular War
Siege of Cádiz, 1810–1812

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.