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Talavera 28/7/1809

Despite Moore's retreat, the English Government were determined to continue the war against France.
40,000 men were diverted to capture the Island of Walchen in the Scheldt estuary, under the command of the Earl of Chatham. Sir Arthur Wellesley was ordered to protect Portugal but not to enter Spain unless ordered from London. The Spanish Army was engaged in guerrilla warfare which bled the French Army. Eventually William Carr Beresford (1764-1854) was appointed commander of the army in Portugal. On his landing in Portugal on the 20th 0f April 1809, he had at his command 23,000 British troops. On the 18th of June 1809 , he instituted a new command structure with divisions intermingled with one another, such as each infantry division consisting of foot troops and cavalry. Two French forces threatened Portugal : Marshal Soult with 24,000 troops at Oporto, and Marshal Claude Victor (1764-1841) with 30,000 at Badajoz ,Wellesley marched on Soult. Wellesley's leading troops crossed the river near Soult undetected as they had removed their red jackets to hide their identity. By the time Soult realised they were British ,it was to late with Soult loosing all his cannon and 4,500 troops.
Wellesley had lost 150 troops.
Wellesley was ordered into Spain and joined forces with General Gregorio Cuesta (1740-1812). Wellesley
and Cuesta united on the 20th of July 1809. They advanced on Victor who now had 22,000 troops , Wellesley had 21,000 and Cuetsa had 33,000 troops. When contact with Victor was made, Cuesta refused to fight as it was Sunday. Victor retreated and Cuesta pursued on the following day, Wellesley remained stead fast awaiting supplies from the Spanish . Cuesta whilst in pursuit ,was confronted by 46,000 French troops under command of King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean Baptiste Jourdan (1762-1833). On the Sunday the Spanish refused to fight, Victor was receiving reinforcements. Cuesta drew beside Wellesley at a defence line selected by the British at Talavera. The ensuing fight on the night of 27th of July 1809 saw the British almost driven off the ridge. Cerro de Medellin; General Rowland Hill 2nd Division (1772-1842) drove the French back. At 2pm the next day the French launched a massive assault. In the resulting action the British Guards Brigade (Sherbrook's First Division) pursued a defeated French Column but they pushed too far. They were set upon by a far superior force and had to be rescued by the 1/48th Northampton Regiment. During this battle the Spanish army stood fast and offered no support . Victor had lost one sixth of his Army and 17 guns ,Wellesley's army had lost 5,363 troops during this battle, with such a heavy losses, he was forced to retire . Soult threatened Portugal so when reinforced by "Black Bob Craufurd" the British moved to engage him . The French forces were in tatters and victory was claimed by Wellesley. Wellesley had to leave his wounded soldiers in Cuseta,s care, who immediately abandoned them to be slaughtered by the remaining French forces.

 

 

References
Military records  ,Pay rolls, Pay Musters, Cemetery Records, Church Records & General Muster Records, Mitchell Library ,Sydney Australia
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