terça-feira, 7 de maio de 2013

From Douro to Toulouse

Portrait of Duke of Wellington,oil painting,
by Francisco Goya (1810-1812),
National Gallery
200 years ago, in the Iberian Peninsula, there was about to start one more chapter that in many historical traditions is called Guerra Peninsular, Peninsular War, Guerra de la Independencia or Guerre d'Espagne. This chapter would be the last of a drama that for 5 years had the scenario the domains of Spain andPortugal.

A great Anglo-Lusitanian army condenses for the campaign of 1813, but it already exists for 5 years, melting together in the fight against the French armies, whether in the uprisings of the North, in the Algarve and Alentejo, in the ordenanças and militia, whether in the Battles of Roliça and Vimeiro.

It exists in the battles of Porto, of the Amarante bridge and the Talavera campaigns in 1809; it exists during that year in the integration of the Portuguese and British forces, in the translation of it's regulations and joint training.

It is an army that has conclusively proven itself at the height of Buçaco, at Sepember the 27th of 1810, at the exact moment where Portugal struggled against the most formidable French threat seen so far, experiencing tragedies like Almeida and the devastation o f villages and the fields of the Beiras and of Ribatejo; it exists in the Lines of Torres Vedras, side by side, defending Lisbon, evicting out of Portugal, by at 3rd time, the proud French Army. It exists during the 1811 campaign, in Fuentes d'Oñoro, Badajoz and La Albuera. It exists, more and more battered and experienced in 1812, in the takeovers of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, in Salamanca, Madrid and Burgos.

The Duke of Wellington & his staff.
Crossing the Bidassoa & entering France, 1813
(private collection)
But in 1813, the troops of all the nations involved against Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsula gather for the 1st time as one army, under the command of General Sir Arthur Wellesley, by then “Marquess of Wellington”. The ultimate goal of this multinational force is the definitive eviction of the French out of the Peninsula. With the nomination of Wellington as Field Marshall of the Spanish army (Generalissimo), the Spaniards join the British and the Portuguese, becoming one of the most important part of the great allied army.
In the Spring of 1813 starts the gathering of this allied army, 106 701 men strong; they gather in Trás-os- Montes, Galiza and the area of Ciudad Rodrigo. 52 484 British soldiers, 28 792 Portuguese and 25 425 Spaniards, commanded by experienced, and of proven valor, Generals like Beresford, Hill, Picton, Cole, Alten,Clinton, Stewart, Hope, Graham, Conde de Amarante, Lecor, Longa, Carlos de España and so many others.

This campaign starts for the allies with a promise of success, because of the news of the catastrophic retreat of the French in Russia and a new political understanding for the formation of the 6th Coalition against the French, following their retreat of South of Spain, just as the reduction of the manpower ordered by Napoleon, having a need of veterans in the Peninsula for the re-build of the Grand Armée.
It was the perfect moment for the allied Army to take an offensive strike, becoming part of the greater European fight against the Napoleonic France.

Translated from the original text “Do Douro a Toulouse” by Jorge Quinta-Nova & Moisés Gaudêncio

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário