- Battle of Medellín
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Medellín
March 28, 1809
result=Decisive French victory
combatant1=flagicon|France French Empire
commander2=Gregorio de la Cuesta
casualties1=1,000 dead or wounded
casualties2=8,000 dead or wounded,
2,000 capturedIn the
Peninsular War, the Battle of Medellín was fought on March 28, 1809and resulted in a victory of the French under Marshal Victor against the Spanish under General Don Gregorio Garcia de la Cuesta. The battle marked the first major effort by the French to occupy Southern Spain, a feat mostly completed with the victory at the Battle of Ocanalater in the year.
Victor began his southern drive with the objective of destroying the
Army of Estremadura, commanded by General Cuesta, who was retreating in face of the French advance. On the 27th of March, Cuesta was reinforced with 7,000 troops and decided to meet the French in battle rather than continue to withdraw.
The battlefield was just southeast of the town of Medellín, which was roughly 300 km southwest of
Madrid. The Guadiana Riverran along a west-east axis in the northern edge of the battlefield and was joined with the Hortiga River, which ran along a north-south axis that precluded any Spanish flanking maneuvers on the French right. Victor had roughly 17,500 troops while Cuesta possessed about 23,000. However, Victor had a 50-30 advantage in guns and could also count on more cavalry than the Spanish, 4,500 to 3,000.
Both commanders arrayed their armies in an unusual fashion, although Victor's setup seems to have been more reasonable. The center of the French army, an infantry division under General
Eugene-Casimir Villatte, occupied the main road that led from Medellín to Don Benitoin the southeast, whereas the wings, commanded by Lasalle (the left) and Latour-Maubourg(the right), stood much farther south and southeast. Each wing was composed of a cavalry division and two infantry battalions filled with German troops from the Confederation of the Rhine. Apparently, Victor's intentions were to keep withdrawing his flanks closer and closer to the center until a powerful counter-attack could shatter the Spanish lines. Victor's reserve was an infantry division under General François Ruffin, which would not take part in the battle. Victor's innovative scheme can be sharply contrasted with Cuesta's mistakes: Cuesta maintained no reserve and extended just 23,000 men, deployed in four ranks, into a four-mile arc from Guadiana to Hortiga. His plan was to simply strike the French wings and hope to catch the entire French army with their backs to Medellín and the Guadiana River, which was exactly what Victor expected.
The cannonade began around 1 p.m. and Cuesta ordered the attack about an hour later. The Spanish initially had a great deal of success, repelling an impatient cavalry charge on their left flank by a brigade of Latour-Maoubourg's dragoons and prompting both French wings to keep falling back, all while their skirmishers unleashed deadly fire into the French ranks. Lasalle's position was a bit dangerous, since the Guadiana at his back meant his 2,000 cavalry and 2,500 infantry could not fall back more than a mile. Three Spanish cavalry regiments hovered around the bank of the Guadiana and attempted to turn the French left, but Lasalle and his men held on to their tenuous positions.
By this point in the battle, both French flanks had retreated far enough to be within easy supporting distance from Villatte's division. Latour-Maubourg's western sector was reinforced with the 94th Line infantry regiment and a battalion of grenadiers. The ten French guns in this part of the battlefield also stabilized the situation as they consistently outperformed their Spanish counterparts. Spanish infantry, however, kept pushing forward and created many problems for Latour-Maubourg's men, who were arrayed in squares to protect themselves against cavalry charges and consequently had limited firepower. As the Spanish threatened to capture the French guns, Latour-Maubourg ordered the dragoons to attack once more. This time, the charge succeeded. The French dragoons defeated three Spanish cavalry regiments, who fled the field and left their infantry isolated, prompting them to flee as well. Since Cuesta had no reserves, a breach of this magnitude was just about the worst that could happen to his fragile line.
Events now unfolded quickly. Lasalle had been reinforced with seven infantry battalions from Villatte, and once he saw the Spanish routing to the west he too ordered a powerful counter-attack. The 2nd Hussars regiment, accompanied by a regiment of Chasseurs à Cheval, smashed the Spanish cavalry, reformed, and charged at the once-again abandoned Spanish infantry in the eastern flank. Lasalle's fresh battalions also attacked frontally and French dragoons were now rolling over the center of the Spanish army, which attempted to flee in any way it could. Many were brutally killed in this chaotic retreat and Cuesta's army effectively ceased to exist.
It had been a disastrous day for Cuesta, who nearly lost his life in the battle. The Spanish had 8,000 troops killed or wounded and about 2,000 captured, while the French only suffered about 1,000 casualties. On top of that, the Spanish lost 20 of their 30 guns. It was Cuesta's second major defeat at the hand of the French after Medina del Rio Seco in
1808. The battle saw a successful start to the French conquest of Southern Spain.
*cite book | author=Uffindell, Andrew | title=Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars | publisher= Spellmount| year= 2003| id=ISBN 1-86227-177-1
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Medellin (disambiguation) — Medellín is a city and municipality in the Antioquia Department, Colombia. Medellín can also refer to: Medellín is the name of several population centers around the world: Colombia Metropolitan Area of Medellín, the metropolitan area of the … Wikipedia
Medellín (Spain) — Medellín is a village in the province of Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain, notable as the birthplace of Hernán Cortés in 1485 and the site of the Battle of Medellín, during the Peninsular War. The city was named after the Roman general Quintus… … Wikipedia
Medellín, Spain — For the city in Colombia, see Medellín. Medellín Municipality … Wikipedia
Battle of Talavera — Infobox Military Conflict caption= conflict=Battle of Talavera de la Reina partof=the Peninsular War date=July 27 ndash;28, 1809 place=Talavera, south west of Madrid, Spain result=Pyrrhic Anglo Spanish victory [Gates, p. 185] combatant1=… … Wikipedia
Battle of Cartagena de Indias — Infobox Military Conflict caption= Attack at Cartagena de Indias by the English in 1741 , oil on canvas, 18th century. conflict=Battle of Cartagena de Indias partof=the War of Jenkins Ear date= March–May of 1741 place=Cartagena de Indias,… … Wikipedia
Battle of the Sierra Guadalupe — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of the Sierra Guadalupe caption= partof=the Spanish Civil War date=August 17 August 31, 1936 place=Near Talavera de la Reina, Spain result=Tactical Nationalist victory combatant1=flagicon|Spain|1931… … Wikipedia
Bataille de Medellín — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Medellin (homonymie). Bataille de Medellín … Wikipédia en Français
Bataille De Medellín — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Medellin (homonymie). Bataille de Medellín Informati … Wikipédia en Français
Bataille de Medellin — Bataille de Medellín Pour les articles homonymes, voir Medellin (homonymie). Bataille de Medellín Informati … Wikipédia en Français
Bataille de medellín — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Medellin (homonymie). Bataille de Medellín Informati … Wikipédia en Français