16 January 1809

Spanish Battle Tour Guides

Having just completed an exhausting retreat through appalling cold, the British army arrived at Corunna just ahead of the pursuing French under Marshal Soult.

More than 5000 British had died during the cruel march and while discipline had been strained to breaking point, the need to hold the French off while the troops were evacuated by ship to England brought the professionalism back.

Led by Sir John Moore, the redcoats formed a series of defensive lines with the key position being the small village of Elvina.

This point was targeted by Soult and, following a lengthy bombardment, he sent in a heavy attack against the defending 42 and 50th regiments.

The battle for the village was ferocious and it took several hours for the British to drive off the attackers.

An attempt by French cavalry to outflank the British right was defeated by sharpshooting riflemen of the 95th.

A more direct assault on the centre of the defenders was also driven off and, as night fell, the British returned to evacuating the troops.

The cost to the British included some 900 men and the death of Sir John Moore, while the French suffered some 2000 casualties.

The evacuation, however, was a complete success and led to some 27,000 men being saved to fight another day.



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