Today guest blogger Arthur Wellesley has written a battle report on Fuentes de Onoro:
Lieut. General Viscount
Wellington, K.B., to the Earl of Liverpool, Secretary of State.
' Villa Fermosa, 8th May, 1811.
' My LORD,
' The enemy's whole army, consisting of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th corps, and all
the cavalry which could be collected in Castille and Leon, including about 900
of the Imperial Guard, crossed the Agueda at Ciudad Rodrigo on the 2nd instant.
Yeah, we know it was really Massena that was there!
' The battalions of the 9th corps had been joined to the regiments to which
they belonged in the other three corps; excepting a division consisting of
battalions belonging to regiments in the corps doing duty in Andalusia; which
division likewise formed part of the army.
' As my object in maintaining a position between the Coa and the Agueda,
after the enemy had retired from the former, was to blockade Almeida, which
place I had learned from intercepted letters, and other information) was ill
supplied with provisions for its garrison, and as the enemy were infinitely
superior to us in cavalry, I did not give any opposition to their march, and
they passed the Azava on that evening, in the neighbourhood of Espeja, Carpio,
' They continued their march on the 3rd, in the morning, towards the Dos
Casas, in three columns; two of them, consisting of the 2nd and 8th corps, to
the neighbourhood of Almeida and Fort Concepcion, and the third column,
consisting of the whole of the cavalry, and the 6th and that part of the 9th
corps which had not already been drafted into the other three.
' The allied army had been cantoned along the river Dos Casas, and on the
Sources of the Azava, the Light division at Gallegos and Espeja. This last fell
back upon Fuentes de Oñoro, on the DOS Casas, with the British cavalry, in
proportion as the enemy advanced, and the 1st, 3rd, and 7th divisions were
collected at that place; the 6th division, under Major General Campbell,
observed the bridge at Alameda; and Major General Sir William Erskine, with the
5th division, the passages of the DOS Casas at Fort Concepcion and Aldea del
Brigadier General Pack's brigade, with the Queen's regiment from the
6th division, kept the blockade of Almeida; and I had prevailed upon Don Julian
Sanchez to occupy Nave d'Aver with his corps of Spanish cavalry and infantry.
' The Light division were moved in the evening to join Major General
Campbell, upon' finding that the enemy were in strength in that quarter ; and
they were brought back again to Fuentes de Onoro on the morning of the 5th,
when it was found that the 8th corps had joined the 6th on the enemy's left.
' Shortly after the enemy had formed on the ground on the right of the Dos
Casas, on the afternoon of the 3rd, they attacked, with a large force, the
village of Fuentes de Oñoro, which was defended in a most gallant manner by
Lieut. Colonel Williams of the 5th battalion 60th regiment, in command of the
light infantry battalion belonging to Major General Picton"s division,
supported by the light infantry battalion in Major General Nightingall's
brigade, commanded by Major Dick of the 42nd regiment, and the light infantry
battalion in Major General Howard's brigade, commanded by Major M'Donnell of
the 92nd, and the light infantry battalion of the King's German legion, commanded
by Major Aly of the 5th battalion of the line, and by the 2nd battalion 83rd
regiment under Major Carr.
' The troops maintained their position ; but having observed the repeated
efforts which the enemy were making to obtain possession of the village, and
being aware of the advantage which they would derive from the possession in
their subsequent operations, I reinforced the village successively with the
71st regiment under Lieut. Colonel the Hon. H. Cadogan, and the 79th under
Lieut. Colonel Cameron, and the 24th under Major Chamberlain. The former, at
the head of the 71st regiment, charged the enemy, and drove them from a part of
the village of which they had obtained a momentary possession.
' Nearly at this time Lieut. Colonel Williams was unfortunately wounded, but
I hope not dangerously; and the command devolved upon Lieut. Colonel Cameron of
' The contest continued till night, when our troops remained in possession
of the whole.
' I then withdrew the light infantry battalions, and the 83rd regiment,
leaving the 71st and 79th regiments only in the village, and the 2nd battalion
24th regiment to support them.
' On the 4th, the enemy reconnoitred the position which we had occupied on
the Dos Casas river ; and during that night they moved the Due d'Abrantes'
corps from Alameda to the left of the position occupied by the 6th corps,
opposite to Fuentes de Oñoro.
' From the course of the reconnaissance on the 4th, I had imagined that the
enemy would endeavor to obtain possession of Fuentes de Oñoro, and of the
ground occupied by the troops behind that village, by crossing the Dos Casas at
Pozo Velho; and in the evening I moved the 7th division, under Major General
Houstoun, to the right, in order, if possible, to protect that passage.
' On the morning of the 5th, the 8th corps appeared in two columns, with all
the cavalry, on the opposite side of the valley of the Dos Casas and Pozo Velho
; and as the 6th and 9th corps also made a movement to their left , the Light
division, which had been brought back from the neighbourhood of Alameda, were
sent with the cavalry, under Sir Stapleton Cotton, to support Major General
Houstoun ; while the 1st and 3rd divisions made a movement to their right,
along the ridge between the Turon and Dos Casas rivers, corresponding to that
of the 6th and 9th corps on the right of the Dos Casas.
' The 8th corps attacked Major General Houstoun's advanced . guard,
consisting of the 85th regiment under Major Macintosh, and the 2nd Portuguese
Caçadores under Lieut.. Colonel Nixon, and obliged them to retire ; and they
retired in good order, although with some loss.
The 8th corps being thus
established in Pozo Velho, the enemy's cavalry turned the right of the 7th
division, between Pozo Velho and Nave d'Aver, from which last place Don Julian
Sanchez had been obliged to retire ; and the cavalry charged.
' The charge of the advanced guard of the enemy's cavalry was met by two or
three squadrons of the different regiments of British dragoons, and the enemy
were driven back; and Colonel La Motte, of the 13th Chasseurs, and some
' The main body were checked and obliged to retire by the fire of Major
General Hougtoun's division ; and I particularly observed the Chasseurs
Britanniques under Lieut. Colonel Eustace, as behaving in the most steady
manner; and Major General Houstoun mentions in high terms the conduct of a
detachment of the Duke of Brunswick's light infantry.
' Notwithstanding that this charge was repulsed, I determined to concentrate
our force towards the left, and to move the 7th and Light, divisions and the
cavalry from Pozo Velho towards Fuentes de Oñoro, and the other two divisions.
' I had occupied Pozo Velho and that neighbourhood in hopes that I should be
able to maintain the communication across the Coa by Sabugal, as well as
provide for the blockade, which objects it was now obvious were incompatible
with each other; and I therefore abandoned that which was the least important,
and placed the Light division in reserve in the rear of the left of the 1st
division, and the 7th division on some commanding ground beyond the Turon,
which protected the right flank and rear of the 1st division, and covered the
communication with the Coa, and prevented that of the enemy with Almeida by the
roads between the Turon and that river.
' The movement of the troops upon this occasion was well conducted, although
under very critical circumstances, by Major General Houstoun, Brig. General
Craufurd, and Lieut. General Sir Stapleton Cotton. The 7th division was covered
in its passage of the Turon by the Light division under Brig. General Craufurd
; and this last, in its march to join the 1st division, by the British cavalry.
' Our position thus extended on the high ground from the Turon to the Dos
Casas. The 7th division, on the left of the Turon, covered the rear of the
right; the 1st division, in two lines, were on the right ; Colonel Ashworth's
brigade, in two lines, in the centre; and the 3rd division, in two lines, on
the left ; the Light division and British artillery in reserve ; and the
village of Fuentes in front of the left. Don Julian's infantry joined the 7th
division in Freneda; and I sent him with his cavalry to endeavor to intercept
the enemy's communication with Ciudad Rodrigo.
' The enemy's efforts on the right part of our position, after it was
occupied as I have above described, were confined to a cannonade, and to some
charges with his cavalry, upon the advanced posts.
The regiments of the 1st
division, under Lieut. Colonel Hill of the 3rd regiment of Guards, repulsed one
of these; but as they were falling back, they did not see the direction of
another in sufficient time to form to oppose it, and Lieut. Colonel Hill was
taken prisoner, and many men were wounded, and some taken, before a detachment
of the British cavalry could move up to their support.
' The 2nd battalion 42nd regiment, under Lord Blantyre, also repulsed a
charge of the cavalry directed against them.
' They likewise attempted to push a body of light infantry upon the ravine
of the Turon, to the right of the 1st division, which were repulsed by the
light infantry of the Guards under Lieut. Colonel Guise, aided by five
companies of the 95th under Captain O'Hare. Major General Nightingall was
wounded in the course of the cannonade, but I hope not severely.
' The enemy's principal effort was throughout this day again directed
against Fuentes de Oñoro ; and notwithstanding that the whole of the 6th corps
were at different periods of the day employed to attack this village, they
could never gain more than a temporary possession of it. It was defended by the
24th, 71st, and 79th regiments, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Cameron;
and these troops were supported by the light infantry battalions of the 3rd
division commanded by Major Woodgate; the light infantry battalions of the 1st
division commanded by Major Dick, Major M'Donald, and Major Aly; the 6th
Portuguese Cacadores commanded by Major Pinto; by the light companies in
Colonel Champlemond's Portuguese brigade under Colonel Sutton; and those in
Colonel Ashworth's Portuguese brigade under Lieut. Colonel Pynn, and by the
piquets of the 3rd division under the command of Colonel the Hon. R. Trench.
Lieut. Colonel Cameron was severely [Mortally] wounded in the afternoon, and the
command in the village devolved upon Lieut.Colonel the Hon. H. Cadogan.
' The troops in Fuentes were besides supported, when pressed by the enemy,
by the 74th regiment under Major Russell Manners, and the 1st batt. 88th
regiment under Lieut. Colonel Wallace, belonging to Colonel Mackinnon's
brigade; and on one of these occasions, the 88th, with the 71st and 79th under
the command of Colonel Mackinnon, charged the enemy, and drove them through the
village; and Colonel Mackinnon has reported particularly the conduct of Lieut.
Colonel Wallace, Brigade Major Wilde, and Lieut. and Adjutant Stewart.
' The contest again lasted in this quarter till night, when our troops still
held their post ; and from that time the enemy have made no fresh attempt on
any part of our position.
' The enemy manifested an intention to attack Major General Sir William
Erskine's post at Aldea del Obispo on the same morning, with a part of the 2nd
corps, but the Major General sent the 2nd batt. Lusitanian Legion across the
ford of the Dos Casas, which obliged them to retire.
' In the course of last night the enemy commenced retiring from their
position on the Dos Casas; and this morning, at daylight, the whole was in
motion. I cannot yet decide whether this movement is preparatory to some fresh
attempt to raise the blockade of Almeida, or is one of decided retreat; but I
have every reason to hope that they will not succeed in the first, and that
they will be obliged to have recourse to the last.
Their superiority in cavalry
is very great, owing to the weak state of our horses, from recent fatigue and
scarcity of forage, and the reduction of numbers in the Portuguese brigade of
cavalry with this part of the army, in exchange for a British brigade sent into
Estremadura with Marshal Sir William Beresford, owing to the failure of the
measures reported to have been adopted to supply horses and men with food on
' The result of a general action, brought on by an attack upon the enemy by
us, might, under those circumstances, have been doubtful; and if the enemy had
chosen to avoid it, or if they had met it, they would have taken advantage of
the collection of our troops to fight this action, and throw relief into
' From the great superiority of force to which we have been opposed upon
this occasion, your Lordship will judge of the conduct of the Officers and
troops. The actions were partial, but very severe, and our loss has been great.
The enemy's loss has also been very great, and they left 400 killed in the
village of Fuentes, and we have many prisoners. I particularly request your
attention to the conduct of Lieut. Colonel Williams, and Lieut. Colonel
Cameron, and Lieut. Colonel the Hon. H. Cadogan; and to that of Colonel
Mackinnon and Lieut. Colonel Kelly, 24th regiment, of the several officers
commanding battalions of the line, and of light infantry, which supported the
troops in Fuentes de Oñoro. Likewise to that of Major Macintosh of the 85th,
and of Lieut. Colonel Nixon of the 2nd Cacadores, and of Lieut. Colonel Eustace
of the Chasseurs Britanniques, and of Lord Blantyre.
' Throughout these operations I have received the greatest assistance from
Lieut. General Sir Brent Spencer, and all the General Officers of the army; and
from the Adjutant and Quarter Master General, and the Officers of their several
departments, and those of my personal staff.
' By intelligence from Sir William Beresford, I learn that he has invested
Badajoz, on the left of the Guadiana, and is moving there stores for the attack
of the place.
' I have the honor to inform you that the intelligence which I transmitted
in my last dispatch has since been confirmed, and that King Joseph passed
Valladolid, on his way to Paris, on the 27th of April. It is not denied by the
French officers that he is gone to Paris.
' I have the honor to be, &c, '