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16 May 1811

Spanish Battle Tour Guides

A brutal, in-your-face battle where pure courage won the day for the British.

A force under Marshal Beresford had moved south away from Badajoz to fend off Marshal Soult's attempt to relieve the first siege of that frontier fortress.

Taking up positions at Albuera with some 35,000 men, made up of British, Portuguese and Spanish troops, Beresford readied himself for Soult's 24,000 troops.

In a superb flanking manouevre, the French marshal attacked the Allies right wing, brushing aside Spanish units and got ready to roll up the defenders' line.

Many of General Joachim Blake's Spaniards fought bravely against great odds and a British counterattack failed with massive casualties - the result of a blinding downpour that hid the proximity of Polish lancers until it was too late.

One British brigade suffered 80% casualties.

A second French attack almost succeeded, due to General d'Espana's refusal to reinforce the line and poor communication high in the British command.

A decision by General Lowry Cole to hit the French column on its flank turned the battle, but it was still desperate times.

For much of the firefight British and French troops were within 20 paces of each other.

After four hours of bitter fighting the French broke before a British charge and the day was won.

Marshal Beresford was severely criticised for his leadership during the battle, but was backed up by the Duke of Wellington.


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