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Battle of Vittoria 21/6/1813

Wellington now in a position better than he had ever been in this campagne, now began the push to expel the
French Army from the Peninsula . Soult was recalled to fight the war against Germany. Wellingtons army now consisted of 52,484 British troops , 28,792 Portuguese troops and 46,000 Spaniards. Wellington's advance began in late May, Joseph abandoned Madrid on the 17 th of May and fell back upon the line of the river Ebro. Wellington advanced at such a speed that many of the French reserve divisions were separated from the main French army; Joseph was pushed away from the river Ebro. They drove the French army back from Salamanca with the loss of only 29 troops. Joseph halted at Vittoria on June the 19th. He was joined by the Southern, Centre and Portugal armies, this totalled 63,000 troops. Wellington divided his army into four parts. On his extreme left, Sir Thomas Graham with the 1st and 5th Divisions cut the road from Vittoria to France. The centre left, the Earl of Dalhousie (Picton's 3rd Division , Dalahousie's 7th division). Centre right under Wellington, the 4th and the Light divisions, and to the extreme right , Hill with the second , Silveria's Portuguese, and Morillo's Spanish division, in all a total of about 70,000 troops.
Hill began the battle by advancing on the heights which were occupied by the South army and gained a
victory . Meanwhile, Wellington waited for Graham to move into position . Upon finding an unguarded bridge and acting without orders, the commander of the 3rd Picton and the light division crossed the bridge and engaged the French forces. The French left wing were assailed by Hill, Picton and the Light . The French defensive line was pushed back toward Vittoria. All avenues of retreat for the French forces bar one were cut off. The French were compelled to retreat to Pamplona.
The total allied losses were 5,158 troops while the French losses were 8,400 troops. Joseph's army was
shattered, he was only able to save one gun and one howitzer., which were captured two days later . The plunder the French were attempting to get to France fell into British hands. Wellington was outraged that the troops had perused the riches and not as they intended to do , peruse the French. Many of the troops spent all that night in search of booty and as a consequence were unable to peruse . Wellington stated " The 18th Hussars are a disgrace to the name soldier in action as well as elsewhere". The 14th light Dragoons were also in a manner of disgrace due to their actions .
The Peninsular War was now effectively decided, the French army was now in full retreat
 
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Last revised: May 22, 2007.