Peninsula Years: Britains Red Coats in Spain and Portugal: Britains Redcoats in Spain and Portugal

Spain–United Kingdom relations
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Moore obeyed the directives with alacrity, but soon bogged down in a logistical nightmare of epic proportions. The army lacked the necessary vehicles for the transportation of its light baggage, military stores, and other equipment and supplies. Wagons, horses, and oxen were supposed to come from the Portuguese, but initially the British had no money to pay for such assistance. It took time to sort things out and plan for the coming campaign. It was hard to get adequate intelligence from the Spanish, who were more interested in squabbling among themselves than in fighting for a common cause.

Spanish power was dangerously fragmented, making it almost impossible to plan a unified strategy. On paper there were several Spanish armies in the field, but the quality of the troops varied greatly. Some were good soldiers, others merely uniformed rabble. To make matters worse, the Spanish officer corps was riddled with incompetents and fossilized relics from another generation. There were a few relatively bright spots in the gloom. General Joachim Blake his ancestors were Irish had the makings of a competent if not overly brilliant commander.

General Pedro Surada, Marques de la Romana, was also a good soldier, efficient and courageous, but was probably at his best when supporting someone else. Independent command was another matter. The Supreme Junta nominally controlled the destiny of Spain, but local and regional juntas were for all practical purposes autonomous. Half a dozen Spanish armies were holding the Ebro River line, but only three were of any substantial size. There was no central commander, however, to give the Spanish defenders unity and purpose. Moore finally left Lisbon for Spain on October Bad planning and advice further hampered British operations.

Visual Identity: History of the British Army Uniform – Redcoats

Moore accepted the verdict and split his command. The red-coated infantry would march to Spain via the Coimbra road, while the guns, transport vehicles, and cavalry under General John Hope would take a more circuitous mile route through Elvas, Badajos, Talavera, and Escurial. This meant that the artillery and cavalry had to travel miles farther than their infantry comrades. In the meantime, Baird was having his own troubles.

His transports arrived off Corunna on October 13, but Spanish authorities refused permission to land until October It was hard on the redcoats, who were increasingly seasick and packed like sardines into transport holds. Spanish authorities gave him lavish promises of support each day, but provided nothing. Baird needed carts for transportation of supplies, but none was forthcoming.

Finally the Spanish relented, but only if their putative allies would pay prices that bordered on extortion.

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For instance, army surgeon John Bell noted in that speed was important in "procuring adhesion," a necessary component in successful operations. Refresh and try again. New York: Rodopi, Jac Weller covers all the battles with the French in which Wellington was involved. In the modern era, the typical interpretation for men is black tie for evening wear and black lounge suit for day wear, correspended by evening dress or cocktail dress for women. Your time is precious and it's in the best hands.

The British had no choice—they paid. Baird finally left Corunna to rendezvous with Moore, but it was clear from the outset that his progress would be painfully slow. Moore was also experiencing continued difficulties. Autumn rains began to fall, and thousands of marching feet pummeled and churned the wet dirt into a glutinous muck. Local guides were indifferent, untrustworthy, or just plain ignorant. Marching columns probed their way through Portugal and into Spain by means of sending their own scouting officers ahead on horseback.

They continued on to the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo, where the redcoats received a warm and tumultuous welcome. Moore and his 20, men reached Salamanca on November The great university city was to be his new concentration point because Burgos, the original rendezvous, was in French hands. The next two weeks found Moore ensconced in Salamanca, waiting for Hope and Baird to join him. He had little choice, because he badly needed the cavalry, guns, and reinforcements his two subordinates would supply.

There was also another concern—lack of reliable intelligence. The Supreme Junta urged the British forward, but the Spanish were vague when it came to discussing what was happening in the rest of the country. The British general knew that Napoleon was personally in Spain, but little else filtered through. While Moore waited, the Spanish seemed to stumble from disaster to disaster. Blake, in some ways the best of a bad lot, was defeated at Espinosa on November , but he managed somehow to escape destruction. The Army of Galicia was scattered, though some 10, men managed to stay with the colors.

Blake escaped, but he was finished as a fighting force. Spanish resistance was collapsing like a house of cards.

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Moore was still at Salamanca, waiting for Baird and Hope to join him before resuming the offensive. When he finally received word of the Spanish rout at Tudela, he decided it was time for the British Army to extricate itself from an increasingly perilous situation. Moore made preparations to retreat, but then changed his mind when new intelligence reached him. The French were threatening Madrid, and the Spanish were ready to resist. Moore was becoming more bellicose, but his enthusiasm was tempered by a hard-headed realism.

The bubble soon burst—Napoleon took Madrid on December 4, although Moore was not aware of the fact for several days. On December 11, 22, British infantry, 2, cavalry, and 66 guns departed Salamanca and headed northeast. He thought that Madrid was holding out and that Napoleon had no more than 80, troops at his disposal.

In reality, the Grand Armee had some , troops operating on the peninsula. Moore finally got the news that Madrid had fallen, but he was not deterred from his course.

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If Moore could rapidly march north toward Sahagun, he might catch the unsuspecting Soult in the flank and heavily defeat him. Napoleon had known since at least November 21 that there was a British army in Spain, but he concentrated his efforts on defeating the Spanish armies, taking Madrid and restoring his brother Joseph to his shaky throne. Napoleon assumed that the British were in full retreat to Portugal, and he gave them little thought. On December 20, Moore and Baird linked up at Mayorga; the British expeditionary force was finally united. Chances seemed good for a surprise victory since Soult was still unaware of the British advance.

The British horsemen managed to overwhelm the French cavalry pickets outside of town, but one or two Gallic troopers escaped to give warning. Seeing this, Paget ordered his subordinate General John Slade to take the 10th Hussars and attack the town directly. While French attention was distracted, Paget planned to sweep around Sahagun and trap them. But Slade was slow in obeying his orders, allowing the French to exit the town unmolested.

The pompous general had delayed the attack while he regaled his men with a long-winded and wholly unnecessary speech. Dawn broke and the French cavalry—the 8th Dragoons and 1st Provisional Chasseurs—sighted Paget and the 15th Hussars just to the south. Thinking them to be Spanish cavalry, the French horsemen were utterly contemptuous of the new threat. Paget decided to charge at once, a decision his men greeted with a sense of relief. The cold was so intense that the troopers were wearing their pelisses, rather than having them slung over their left shoulders, and many were wearing cloaks on top of that.

Paget and the 15th Hussars went forward at the gallop, quickly covering the yards between themselves and the enemy. The half-frozen British troopers had trouble holding their reins and sabers with cold-numbed fingers, but the charge was successful. The French lines were broken and the survivors scattered. When the action ended, some Frenchmen had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. British losses stood at It was a significant little victory, but the French were now alerted that the British were in the area.

Moore brought the rest of the army up to Sahagun that same day, and allowed his men two days of much-needed rest. As it turned out, the halt was a nearly fatal delay. On December 23, Moore learned that Napoleon, now fully aware of the British presence, was marching against him with all the force he could muster. Many of the other armies like Germany and France had already toned down their original uniforms to be more practical.

This left the British with their original red uniforms and required a drastic change if they wanted to be less conspicuous on the battle field. In the modern British army, scarlet is still worn by the Foot Guards, the Life Guards, and by some regimental bands or drummers for ceremonial purposes. Ciudad means city in Spanish, while cuidad means ye take care of. Just love your article so much. My name is Jason Barney and I am high school history teacher and graduate intern with the Turning Points history program.

I am creating an online exhibit about the War of and the Champlain Valley for the town of Swanton, Vermont. I have been using the internet to find helpful information, and was hoping you would give permission for me to use the following image: English Soldiers Marching. The final product is likely to be a minute online presentation for the Swanton, Historical Society.

Napoleon and British Song, 1797–1822

Pictures may be slightly altered if permission is given. If you give me permission, I will make sure to include your web page in the credits at the end of the presentation. Please email me back and let me know if I can use your material. I am currently writing a wikipedia page on the life of a redcoat soldier, and the information you have given here has proved extremely useful! Some other information that u like, the British Regiments have all different Uniforms, and can be identified by the colour Plume in their Bearskins, and if worn on right or left, also the number of Buttons on Jackets.

I will provide u with more update later. G morning,like to be presices,a band at Pontefrac race course? Bleus and royal? I am a artiste and I am working on a canvas from a race day when a band was performing. Pleas help me. Thanks for some other great post. The place else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal means of writing? A good, clear article. One important point though: while Prussians and French infantry indeed wore uniforms of darker blue throughout the C19th, in the run up to the First World War, it was the British, drawing on fifty years colonial experience, who led the way in clothing their troops in more practical field uniforms of subdued colour for use in Europe.

Consider the German picklehaube and red trousers of the French. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

Category: Peninsular War

Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Those who were born before us, guide those who follow; those born after, should look to the past. March 28, By ranman. Battle of Waterloo. Pomp and pagentry. Share this: Twitter Facebook. The suffering inflicted on and hardships endured by combatants and campfollowers of both sides, not to mention civilians, make for disturbing reading. This is history brought alive by literary 'flash-back' in the most readable manner. The result throws fresh light on both the military and social aspects of this extraordinary campaign.

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Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Donald S Richards is an author and historian. Peninsula Years: Britain's Red Coats in Spain and Portugal: Britain's Redcoats in Spain and Portugal eBook: D S Richards: Kindle Store. Peninsula Years: Britain's Red Coats in Spain and Portugal: Britain's Redcoats in Spain and Portugal eBook: D S Richards: Kindle Store.

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