Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Piece of History: The Battle of Busaco

The Battle of Busaco

Peninsular War
Date: 27th September 1810
Place: Central Portugal
Combatants: British against the French
Generals: Lieutenant General Viscount Wellington against Marshal André Massena, Prince of Essling and Duke of Rivoli.

The Battle of Busaco
In May 1810 Marshal Massena took command of the Army of Portugal with orders from the Emperor Napoleon to capture Lisbon and drive Wellington and his British army out of the Peninsular. During the winter of 1809/10 Wellington’s engineers had built fortifications across the Lisbon isthmus, known as the Lines of Torres Vedras. As Massena began his advance into Portugal the British and Portuguese Army fell back towards the capital.
Massena captured the Spanish town of Ciudad Rodrigo on the border and on 26th August 1810 he took the Portuguese fortress of Almeida. On 15th September 1810 Massena resumed his advance through Portugal towards Lisbon, harassed by Brigadier General Robert Craufurd’s Light Division. Wellington, intending to fight a delaying battle, positioned his army at the convent of Busaco. The convent lay on a long high ridge that stretched from the Mondego River for some ten miles to the North. Busaco was a victory for Wellington. While immediately after the battle Wellington’s army continued its retreat to Lisbon, the French casualties were significantly larger than Wellington’s and all their attacks on the Busaco ridge failed.

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