Book Review:
Badajoz 1812

By Ian Fletcher
Artwork by
Bill Younghusband

The horrific events at Badajoz and the lead-up to that bloody night on the 6th April 1812 are superbly covered in Ian Fletcher's Badajoz 1812.

The well-respected author explains the strategic importance of the fortresses of Spain and Portugal, the opposing commanders and their plans, and the French and allied forces.

He also devotes a chapter to siege work during the Napoleonic Wars that gives readers an excellent insight into how armies went about both attacking and defending fortresses.

The two key sieges covered by Fletcher are Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz.

The Duke of Wellington wanted Ciudad Rodrigo to give him command over the northern corridor between Spain and Portugal and with French armies nearby he was determined to take the citadel quickly.

After four days of bombardment and the opening of two breaches the British went in for the assault and after bloody fighting won the town. Their losses were just over 1000 dead and wounded, one of those killed was General Robert Craufurd.

As you would expect more than one third of the book is devoted to the siege of Badajoz and that allows Fletcher to explain the strength of the fortifications, the excellent defensive works carried out by the French commander General Phillipon, the British trenchworks and siting of the siege batteries.

Then he follows the bombardment, the seizing of the important outlying forts and then the night of the bloody assault that would cost almost 3500 Allied casualties.

For would-be tourists to the battlefields, Fletcher lets you know the state of the towns today and what remains of the key strategic points. He also includes how to wargame the battles for the fortresses.

Inside Badajoz 1812 are excellent maps, pictures of the fortress - then and now - and eyewitness drawings.

This is a great reference book that will add to the knowledge of the Peninsular War.

You may also want to check out Fortresses of the Peninsular War, 1808 to 1814.

- Richard Moore


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