A History Of The Peninsular War Vol 2 Of 7

Author: Charles Oman
Publisher: AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
ISBN:
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The second volume of this work has swelled to an even greater bulk than its predecessor. Its size must be attributed to two main causes: the first is the fact that a much greater number of original sources, both printed and unprinted, are available for the campaigns of 1809 than for those of 1808. The second is that the war in its second year had lost the character of comparative unity which it had possessed in its first. Napoleon, on quitting Spain in January, left behind him as a legacy to his brother a comprehensive plan for the conquest of the whole Peninsula. But that plan was, from the first, impracticable: and when it had miscarried, the fighting in every region of the theatre of war became local and isolated. Neither the harassed and distracted French King at Madrid, nor the impotent Spanish Junta at Seville, knew how to combine and co-ordinate the operations of their various armies into a single logical scheme. Ere long, six or seven campaigns were taking place simultaneously in different corners of the Peninsula, each of which was practically independent of the others. Every French and Spanish general fought for his own hand, with little care for what his colleagues were doing: their only unanimity was that all alike kept urging on their central governments the plea that their own particular section of the war was more critical and important than any other. If we look at the month of May, 1809, we find that the following six disconnected series of operations were all in progress at once, and that each has to be treated as a separate unit, rather than as a part of one great general scheme of strategy—(1) Soult’s campaign against Wellesley in Northern Portugal, (2) Ney’s invasion of the Asturias, (3) Victor’s and Cuesta’s movements in Estremadura, (4) Sebastiani’s demonstrations against Venegas in La Mancha, (5) Suchet’s contest with Blake in Aragon, (6) St. Cyr’s attempt to subdue Catalonia. When a war has broken up into so many fractions, it becomes not only hard to follow but very lengthy to narrate. Fortunately for the historian and the student, a certain amount of unity is restored in July, mainly owing to the fact that the master-mind of Wellesley has been brought to bear upon the situation. When the British general attempted to combine with the Spanish armies of Estremadura and La Mancha for a common march upon Madrid, the whole of the hostile forces in the Peninsula [with the exception of those in Aragon and Catalonia] were once more drawn into a single scheme of operations. Hence the Talavera campaign is the central fact in the annals of the Peninsular War for the year 1809. I trust that it will not be considered that I have devoted a disproportionate amount of space to the setting forth and discussion of the various problems which it involved. The details of the battle of Talavera itself have engaged my special attention. I thought it worth while to go very carefully over the battle-field, which fortunately remains much as it was in 1809. A walk around it explained many difficulties, but suggested certain others, which I have done my best to solve. To be continue in this ebook...

A History Of The Peninsular War Vol 3 Of 7

Author: Charles Oman
Publisher: AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
ISBN:
Size: 77.66 MB
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This, the third volume of the History of the Peninsular War, covers a longer period than either of its predecessors, extending over the sixteen months from Wellington’s arrival at Badajoz on his retreat from Talavera (Sept. 3, 1809) to the deadlock in front of Santarem (Dec. 1810), which marked the end of Masséna’s offensive campaign in Portugal. It thus embraces the central crisis of the whole war, the arrival of the French in front of the Lines of Torres Vedras and their first short retreat, after they had realized the impossibility of forcing that impregnable barrier to their advance. The retreat that began at Sobral on the night of Nov. 14, 1810, was to end at Toulouse on April 11, 1814. The armies of the Emperor were never able to repeat the experiment of 1810, and to assume a general and vigorous offensive against Wellington and Portugal. In 1811 they were on the defensive, despite of certain local and partial attempts to recover their lost initiative. In 1812 they had to abandon half Spain—Andalusia, Estremadura, Asturias, La Mancha, and much more,—despite of Wellington’s temporary check before Burgos. In 1813 they were swept across the Pyrenees and the Bidassoa; in 1814 they were fighting a losing game in their own land. Rightly then may Masséna’s retreat to Santarem be called the beginning of the end—though it was not for a full year more that Wellington’s final offensive commenced, with the investment of Ciudad Rodrigo on Jan. 8, 1812. The campaign of Bussaco and Torres Vedras, therefore, marked the turning-point of the whole war, and I have endeavoured to set forth its meaning in full detail, devoting special care to the explanation of Wellington’s triple device for arresting the French advance—his combination of the system of devastation, of the raising of the levée en masse in Portugal, and of the construction of great defensive lines in front of Lisbon. Each of these three measures would have been incomplete without the other two. For the Lines of Torres Vedras might not have saved Portugal and Europe from the domination of Napoleon, if the invading army had not been surrounded on all sides by the light screen of irregular troops, which cut its communications, and prevented it from foraging far afield. Nor would Masséna have been turned back, if the land through which he had advanced had been left unravaged, and if every large village had contained enough food to subsist a brigade for a day or a battalion for a week. The preparations, the advance, and the retreat of Masséna cover about half of this volume. The rest of it is occupied with the operations of the French in Northern, Eastern, and Southern Spain—operations which seemed decisive at the moment, but which turned out to be mere side-issues in the great contest. For Soult’s conquest of Andalusia, and Suchet’s victories in Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia only distracted the imperial generals from their central task—the expulsion of Wellington and his army from the Peninsula. Most readers will, I think, find a good deal of new information in the accounts of the siege of Gerona and the battle of Ocaña. The credit due to Alvarez for the defence of the Catalonian city has never been properly set forth before in any English history, nor have the details of Areizaga’s miserable campaign in La Mancha been fully studied. In particular, the composition and strength of his army have never before been elucidated, and Appendices V, VI of this volume consist of absolutely unpublished documents. To be continue in this ebook...

A History Of The Peninsular War Vol 4 Of 7

Author: Charles Oman
Publisher: AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
ISBN:
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In this volume are contained the annals of all the many campaigns of 1811, with the exception of those of Suchet’s Valencian expedition in the later months of the year, which for reasons of space have to be relegated to Volume V. It was impossible to exceed the bulk of 660 pages, and the operations on the Mediterranean coast of Spain can be dealt with separately without any grave breach of continuity in the narrative, though this particular Valencian campaign affected the general course of the war far more closely than any other series of operations on the Eastern side of the Peninsula, as I have been careful to point out in the concluding chapters of Section XXIX. The main interest of 1811, however, centres in the operations of Wellington and his opponents, Masséna, Soult, and Marmont. In the previous year the tide of French conquest reached its high-water mark, when Soult appeared before the walls of Cadiz, and Masséna forced his way to the foot of the long chain of redoubts that formed the Lines of Torres Vedras. Already, before 1810 was over, Masséna’s baffled army had fallen back a few miles, and this first short retreat to Santarem marked the commencement of a never-ceasing ebb of the wave of conquest on the Western side of the Peninsula. Matters went otherwise on the Eastern coast in 1811, but all Suchet’s campaigns were, after all, a side issue. The decisive point lay not in Catalonia or Valencia, but in Portugal. When Masséna finally evacuated Portugal in March 1811, forced out of his cantonments by Wellington’s skilful use of the sword of famine, a new stage in the war began. The French had lost the advantage of the offensive, and were never to regain it on the Western theatre of war. All through the remainder of 1811 it was the British general who dealt the strokes, and the enemy who had to parry them. The strokes were feeble, because of Wellington’s very limited resources, and for the most part were warded off. Though Almeida fell in May, the siege of Badajoz in June, and the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo in August and September, were both brought to an end by the concentration of French armies which Wellington was too weak to attack. But the masses of men which Soult and Marmont gathered on the Guadiana in June, and Dorsenne and Marmont gathered on the Agueda in September, had only been collected by a dangerous disgarnishing of the whole of those provinces of Spain which lay beneath the French yoke. They could not remain long assembled, firstly because they could not feed themselves, and secondly because of the peril to which their concentration exposed the abandoned regions in their rear. Hence, in each case, the French commanders, satisfied with having parried Wellington’s stroke for the moment, refused to attack him, and dispersed their armies. That the spirit of the offensive was lost on the French side is sufficiently shown by the fact that when their adversary stood on the defensive upon the Caya in June, and at Alfayates in September, they refused to assail his positions. We leave the allied and the French armies at the end of the autumn campaign of 1811 still in this state of equipoise. Wellington had made two successive attempts to strike, and had failed, though without any grave loss or disaster, because the forces opposed to him were still too great. His third stroke in January 1812 was to be successful and decisive, but its history belongs to our next volume. The main bulk of the seven sections herewith presented consists of a narrative of the successive phases of the long deadlock between Wellington and his enemies along the Portuguese frontier: but I have endeavoured to give as clear a narrative as I can compile of all the side-campaigns of the year, in Andalusia, Murcia, Estremadura, Galicia, the Asturias, and Catalonia, and to show their bearings on the general history of the great Peninsular struggle. To be continue in this ebook...

Wellington Against Soult

Author: David Buttery
Publisher: Pen and Sword
ISBN: 1473875153
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At the heart of David Buttery’s third book on the Peninsular War lies the comparison between two great commanders of enormous experience and reputation – Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, and Jean de Dieu Soult. In Soult, Wellesley met one of his most formidable opponents and they confronted each other during one of the most remarkable, and neglected, of the Peninsular campaigns. Soult’s invasion of Portugal is rarely studied in great depth and, likewise, the offensive Wellesley launched, which defeated and expelled the French, has also received scant coverage. As well as giving a fresh insight into the contrasting characters of the two generals, the narrative offers a gripping and detailed, reconstruction of the organization and experience of a military campaign 200 years ago.

Spanish Guerrillas In The Peninsular War 1808 14

Author: René Chartrand
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1472803167
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Constant Spanish guerrilla activity so drained the resources and diverted the attention of the French military that Wellington was able to advance against and overcome a numerically superior enemy. So many French soldiers were being used to counter the guerrillas and the threat that they posed that less than a third of the French army could be tasked with confronting Wellington. This book brings to life, for the first time, the formation, tactics and experiences of the Spanish guerrilla forces that fought Napoleon's army. Using much previously unpublished material, it offers a vivid description of the guerrilla and his lifestyle.

The Peninsular War

Author: Charles Esdaile
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1466892366
Size: 53.69 MB
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At the end of the 18th century Spain remained one of the world's most powerful empires. Portugal, too, was prosperous at the time. By 1808, everything had changed. Portugal was under occupation and ravaged by famine, disease, economic problems and political instability. Spain had imploded and worse was to come. For the next six years, the peninsula was the helpless victim of others, suffering perhaps over a million deaths while troops from all over Europe tore it to pieces. Charles Esdaile's brilliant new history of the conflict makes plain the scope of the tragedy and its far-reaching effects, especially the poisonous legacy that produced the Spanish civil war of 1936-9.

A History Of The Peninsular War

Author: Mr Paddy Griffith
Publisher: Andesite Press
ISBN: 9781296826536
Size: 26.83 MB
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