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Combat of Barquilla (1810)

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Title: Combat of Barquilla (1810)  
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Subject: Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810), Battle of Sabugal, Napoleonic Wars, Chronology of events of the Peninsular War, Siege of Gaeta (1815)
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Combat of Barquilla (1810)

Combat of Barquilla
Part of Peninsular War
Date July 11, 1810
Location Heights of Barquilla, north of Villar de Puerco, Castile and León, Spain
Result French victory
Belligerents
French Empire United Kingdom
Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Pierre Gouache Robert Craufurd
Strength
200 infantry
30-40 cavalry
unknown
Casualties and losses
31 captured 32-40 casualties

The Combat of Barquilla (11 July, 1810) was a minor skirmish between British and French forces two days after the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, in which Robert Craufurd attacked French grenadiers covering a foraging party. The French grenadiers, formed in a single square, made a fighting withdrawal, fending off British cavalry and escaping unscathed.

Background

The Anglo-Portuguese under Craufurd were forced back to Fort Conception during the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, which fell on the July 9th 1810. During this period the French launched raids near the allied positions.

In retaliation, Craufurd took five or six squadrons of cavalry and several companies of infantry to attack and cut off a raiding party sent by General Roche Godart. These squadrons of cavalry included the 1st Hussars from the King’s German Legion, and the 16th and 14th Light Dragoons.

Two days after Ciudad Rodrigo fell, at four o'clock on the morning of the 11th of July, the British came into contact with a small body of troops near the village of Barquilla. The badly outnumbered French force, under the command of Captain Pierre Gouache, was covering a foraging party in a corn field. It consisted of two companies of grenadiers of the 22nd Regiment of Junot’s corps (around 200 men) supported by around 30 cavalry.

Battle

Craufurd brought up three squadrons of cavalry (the KGL 1st Hussars, the 16th and 14th Light Dragoons) to attack the French infantry, formed in a single square in a corn field. The first attack was made by the hussars of the KGL. As the horsemen closed in, the French grenadiers stood up and opened fire. However, the hussars then proceeded past the infantry square and charged the French cavalry. Upon seeing how large the British force was, the cavalry surrendered.

Meanwhile, the 16th Light Dragoons came forward and failed to come in contact with the square. The 14th Light Dragoons, led by Colonel Talbot, managed to attack the square but were badly repulsed. Talbot and eight of his men were killed and many horsemen were wounded.

The squadron was thrown in disorder but was recalled. However, Craufurd was too slow in bringing up his infantry and the French infantry withdrew without having suffered any casualties.

Aftermath

Despite having taken around 30 cavalry prisoner the combat was a failure. The British suffered 30-40 casualties, failed to defeat a much smaller force and allowed it to escape with minimal loss.

Although the Combat of Barquilla was a minor incident during Masséna’s campaign, it was damaging to Craufurd’s reputation. Two weeks later, despite suffering defeat, Craufurd redeemed himself at the Battle of the Côa. Captain Gouache, on the other hand, received recognition for his achievement and was promoted.

References

  • Oman, Sir Charles. Wellington's Army, 1809-1814. London: Greenhill Books
  • Beamish, N. Ludlow History of the King's German Legion vol 1,1832 reprint Naval and Military Press, 1997
  • Jaques, Tony. Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A Guide to 8500 Battles from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century. USA: Greenwood Press, 2007.

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