the retreat to corunna

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Information about the retreat to corunna

Published on February 26, 2008

Author: Shariyar


THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA:  THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA 24 Dec 1808 - 17 Jan 1809 PENINSULA WAR BATTLE HONOURS:  PENINSULA WAR BATTLE HONOURS Pyrenees Nivelle Nive Orthes Toulouse Peninsula Corunna Roliça Vimeira Talavera Fuentes d’Onor Salamanca Vittoria PENINSULA WAR BATTLE HONOURS:  PENINSULA WAR BATTLE HONOURS Roliça Vimeiro Corunna Talavera Busaco Fuentes d’Onor Albuhera Ciudad Rodrigo Badajos Salamanca Vittoria Pyrenees Nive Orthes Toulouse Peninsula Slide5:  GROUND Slide6:  SPAIN GROUND Slide7:  SPAIN PORTUGAL MAJOR CITIES THE PENINSULA WAR:  THE PENINSULA WAR 1804 - Spain and France join together under Napoleon against England. Napoleon decides that Spain was untrustworthy and pours troops into Northern Spain - ‘to conquer Portugal’. 1807 - Portugal invaded. Napoleon kidnaps the Spanish Monarchy and installs his brother, Joseph, as the new King of Spain! THE PENINSULA WAR:  Spain rises in rebellion but is no match for the French. 24 Jul 1808 - Lt Gen Sir Arthur Wellesley turned away from Corunna by Spanish Junta. 1 Aug 1808 - HMS Crocodile makes its way into Mondego Bay. With Wellesley came 14,000 British troops. THE PENINSULA WAR THE PENINSULA WAR:  5/60th was the 1st unit ashore and brigaded with the 95th to form a brigade of riflemen. Sir John Moore and his army was diverted from Sweden to Portugal. THE PENINSULA WAR Slide11:  SPAIN 22 Jul 1808 14,000 British Troops land at Montego Bay near Oporto, following a failed attempt in Corunna on 01 Jul. THE PENINSULA WAR:  The British landed a further force of 13,000 in Portugal on 1st Aug 1808. 16 Aug - 1st Action - Lt Bunbury (95th Rifles) was the first British casualty. 17 Aug - Battle of Roliça - 1st victory. THE PENINSULA WAR THE PENINSULA WAR:  The British Govt was worried about losing the war and many advocated retreat! The British were initially on the defensive due to superior French numbers. THE PENINSULA WAR Slide14:  Roliça Vimeiro Talavera Salamanca Lisbon 100 miles N THE PENINSULA WAR:  21 Aug - Battle of Vimeiro - 1st real major victory , which showed Wellesley how he could defeat the French on the Peninsula: British Line vs French Column. Skilful selection of ground. Efficient use of limited artillery resources. Effect was that Wellington was now recognised a a general who could bring victory against the French. THE PENINSULA WAR THE PENINSULA WAR:  But - The Convention of Cintra incident led to his Court Martial. Sir John Moore was left in command. THE PENINSULA WAR THE ROAD TO CORUNNA:  THE ROAD TO CORUNNA Moore now had 32,000 men under command and began to advance into Spain. However, Napoleon had just made peace with Prussia, and chose to go to Spain with an additional 120,000 men. Having marched 400 miles in 6 weeks Moore found that the ‘battle was lost’ - The Spanish were not able to support the British. THE ROAD TO CORUNNA:  Sir John Moore now found himself in a difficult position and isolated, having been forced to divert part of his army to defend Lisbon. Moore was unaware of the size of the advancing French Force. With the Spanish ‘unable’ to support him he could only go it alone - taking 12 weeks to assemble the right force! THE ROAD TO CORUNNA THE ROAD TO CORUNNA:  23rd Dec - Moore still unaware of the advancing French prepared to attack Soult’s Army of 18,000 - victory was certain! THE ROAD TO CORUNNA Slide20:  SPAIN THE ROAD TO CORUNNA:  Moore received Int to suggest that the French had in fact been greatly reinforced. The Army was now in grave danger. Without Spanish support Moore had to decide whether to fight and sacrifice the Army or save the ‘Best of British’ blood. Instead of honour and glory - misery! A retreat was the only recourse. THE ROAD TO CORUNNA Slide22:  SPAIN THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA:  Christmas Eve 1808 - Moore began to withdraw: Sent his Light Brigades and scouts forward on routes to Vigo and Corunna. The move surprised the French and they pursued his Army mercilessly. THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA Slide24:  Zamora Benavente Ponferrada Cambarros Lugo THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA:  In the bitter Iberian winter and with the French constantly harrying the British troops, it was to prove a severe test of endurance. Following a series of victories, the ordinary British soldier viewed the retreat as little sense - all were caught with a sullen rage. Discipline suffered. THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA:  The burden of the fighting fell to Sir John Moore on his main march to Corunna. The route to Vigo was used by the Light Brigade and commanded by General ‘Black Bob’ Craufurd: 1st Bn 43rd 2nd Bn 52nd 3rd Bn 95th THE RETREAT TO CORUNNA THE REARGUARD:  THE REARGUARD Slide28:  10th HUZZARS - THE CAVALRY OF THE REARGUARD THE REARGUARD:  Commanded with an iron rod. Craufurd on one occasion halted the rearguard to flog 3 riflemen despite the fact that the French were close at hand. Without Craufurd’s leadership in the initial stages of the march, the army would have disintegrated, long before it had reached Corunna. THE REARGUARD Slide30:  Zamora Benavente Ponferrada Cambarros Lugo The Army reached Benavente on 27th Dec. The 43rd rested in the local convent.…a fire broke out and the Regt was saved by the Adjt’s quick actions. THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT The Rearguard continually prevented the French from engaging the main body. THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT By retreating north, Moore had moved the French into a useless part of Spain. The ‘flower’ of the French Army was therefore drawn away from Portugal and southern Spain where its presence would have been a disaster. By January 1809 Moore had outwitted the French twice and still had 19,000 men able to fight. Slide33:  Zamora Benavente Ponferrada Cambarros Lugo Astorga 1 Jan - The French captured Astorga. The combined French force in pursuit of Moore was 70,000 Infantry and 10,000 Cavalry. THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT News arrived that of the 2 ports, Corunna was the best suited. Moore sent order to his Light Brigades to return to Lugo in order to concentrate his forces to give battle. The order to Sir David Baird never reached him........ The mistake cost him 400 men! THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT By this stage the retreat was at its worse. Hundreds of soldiers were now dropping back and the Army was in a pitiful state. Slide36:  Zamora Benavente Ponferrada Cambarros Lugo Astorga THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT Soult arrived with an advance guard of 12,000 men. The 3 British Divs formed up in line and repulsed the initial French attacks. The French lost 4,000 men on the first day! By 8th Jan the fighting was still continuing. The French force now numbered 17,000 Infantry and 4,000 cavalry (16,000). THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT 9 Jan - The main French attack had still not been mounted. Moore had to make a difficult decision: continue to wait for the French main attack Slip away at night to gain a march on the French For 2 days Moore had rallied his troops and restored order and discipline. Stocks were low, spirits were high but the men were slowly deteriorating. THE RETREAT:  THE RETREAT Moore order the withdraw..... Guides sent forward. Routes were marked. Fires kept burning. The Rearguard maintained their positions. The Army began one last march to Corunna. But....a storm caused confusion and broke up the march - misery was restored. More men were lost between 9 and 10 Jan than since the retreat began. Slide40:  CORUNNA BURGO Palavia Abaxo Elvina Orsan Bay Rio Burgo Mere Pescadera St Lucia 0 1 mile N 12th Soults Inf began to deploy south of Burgo. 11th The Army finally reached Corunna. THE BATTLE:  THE BATTLE Dismounted cavalry, the sick, the best horses and 50 guns were embarked. Remaining horses were shot by their riders as they could not fit on the ships. The late arrival of the ships resulted in a number of Generals proposing negotiations with the French. Moore planned to embark on the night of the 16th. Slide42:  CORUNNA BURGO Palavia Abaxo Elvina Great French Battery French Dragoons Orsan Bay Rio Burgo Mere Pescadera St Lucia 0 1 mile N 2pm on the 16th - The French moved. The British troops (14,500) occupied their positions. THE BATTLE:  The British had one major advantage over the French: vast quantities of ammunition and weapons were found in Corunna. All the troops were issued with dry powder and new muskets and rifles replace rusty ones. Their fire was therefore more sustained than the French! THE BATTLE Slide44:  CORUNNA BURGO Palavia Abaxo Elvina Great French Battery French Dragoons Orsan Bay Rio Burgo Mere Pescadera St Lucia 0 1 mile N Slide45:  CORUNNA BURGO Palavia Abaxo Elvina Great French Battery French Dragoons Orsan Bay Rio Burgo Mere Pescadera St Lucia 0 1 mile N THE DEATH OF MOORE:  The shock knocked him off his horse, but he rose again in a sitting posture. He showed no sign of pain. Only when he was satisfied that his forces were gaining the upper hand he allowed himself to be taken to the rear. THE DEATH OF MOORE THE DEATH OF MOORE:  His injuries were: Left shoulder shattered with his arm hanging by a piece of skin. His ribs over his heart were broken with the flesh missing as a result of the shredded muscle. As the soldiers placed him on the ground, his sword hilt entered the wound. Moore’s last words were: “It is as well as it is. I had rather it should go out of the field with me” THE DEATH OF MOORE Slide48:  CORUNNA BURGO Palavia Abaxo Elvina Great French Battery French Dragoons Orsan Bay Rio Burgo Mere Pescadera St Lucia 0 1 mile N The British vigorously defended the line against the French. They slowly gained the upper hand. The French were running out of ammunition, but were still numerically stronger THE GREAT ESCAPE:  Sir John Hope knew that to wait any longer would be to tempt fortune: He ordered the Army to disengage and board the ships. Fires were kindled and the piquets maintained the line until day break. The following morning the French saw the British had pulled back and so surged forward. Artillery rained on the ships in the harbour, which resulted in a great deal of confusion. THE GREAT ESCAPE THE PENINSULA WAR:  18 Jan 1809 - British Army was finally driven from Spain, when the Rearguard under Gen Beresford made their escape. During the battle 800 British soldiers were killed, compared to 3,000 French. Thus the retreat to Corunna ended…….. 22 Apr 1809 - Wellesley returned with 23,000 men. THE PENINSULA WAR QUESTIONS?:  QUESTIONS?

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