The BritishArmy in Portugal and Spain: Its Order-of-Battle (June 1808 - April 1809)
Part II: The British Army in Portugal
By Ron McGuigan
On 14 June 1808, the Commander-in-Chief notified Lieutenant General Wellesley that he was to command the force being sent to either Portugal or Spain, as circumstances warranted, and assigned Major General Spencer's Corps to Wellesley's force. The 4th Royal Veteran Battalion was now destined for Gibraltar and Major General A. Mackenzie, being senior to Major General Spencer, was removed from the staff of Wellesley's Corps.
Major General Ronald Ferguson, going out on the staff of Major General Spencer's Corps, was to serve, temporarily, with Wellesley's force. Brevet Lieutenant Colonel James Bathurst [Deputy Quarter Master General] and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel George Tucker [Deputy Adjutant General] serving with Spencer's Corps were to both serve in the same capacity with Wellesley's force. On 30 June, Wellesley was informed that the 1/36th Regiment (647) and 1/45th Regiment (599) in garrison near Cork were to join his command. On 15 July, Lord Castlereagh informed him that the brigades at Harwich and Ramsgate would be sent as reinforcements, that Moore's Corps was being sent to Portugal, and that he was being superseded in command by Lieutenant Generals Sir Hew Dalrymple [the Governor of Gibraltar] and Sir Harry Burrard [from the Home Staff], the former as Commander-in-Chief and the latter as the Second-in-Command.
The letter of service to Sir Hew Dalrymple of 21 July directed that the Corps of Moore, Spencer, and Wellesley with reinforcements compose his army. Lieutenant General Burrard joined Moore's Corps [which had left Sweden on 4 July and arrived back at Portsmouth by 21 July] at Portsmouth on 28 July and took command. Lieutenant General Moore became the second-in-command of the Corps. Brigadier General Sontag was removed to a political appointment in Portugal.
Command and Staff
The proposed staff for the army under Lieutenant General Sir Hew Dalrymple was:
Lieutenant General Sir Harry Burrard
Proposed Organization: 20 July 1808
In the letter of service of 21 July was a memorandum of 20 July with the following suggested organization for the army:
Commander of the force: Lieutenant General Sir Hew Dalrymple
Second-in-command: Lieutenant General Sir Harry Burrard
Acting Adjutant General: Brigadier General Henry Clinton
Acting Quarter Master General: Lieutenant Colonel George Murray
Reserve Division: Lieutenant General Sir John Moore and Major General Edward Paget
C. Stewart's Brigade: Brigadier General Charles Stewart18th Light Dragoons
1st Division: Lieutenant General John Hope
Acland's Brigade: Brigadier General Wroth Palmer Acland2nd Regiment
2nd Division: Lieutenant General Lord Henry Paget
Spencer's Brigade: Major General Brent Spencer1/6th Regiment
3rd Division: Lieutenant General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser
Hill's Brigade: Major General Rowland Hill1/9th Regiment
4th Division: Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley
Craufurd's Brigade: Brigadier General James Catlin Craufurd20th Regiment
It does not appear that this organization was ever put into effect. But it makes an interesting comment on the advice given by the Commander-in-Chief to a commander in the field.
Other units were being detailed to join the army. The 18th Light Dragoons (672) with Brigadier General Charles Stewart [the Under-Secretary of State for War] were to go with Moore's Corps, currently at Portsmouth. Also going with Moore's Corps, both having missed sailing with Acland's Brigade, were Crawford's Company 6th Battalion Royal Artillery and the 2nd Company [Tieling's] King's German Legion Artillery of five medium 12 pounders, eleven light 6 pounders, one 5½ inch heavy howitzer and three 5½ inch light howitzers with limbers for five medium 12 pounders, five light 6 pounders, one 5½ inch heavy howitzer and one 5½ inch light howitzer. The 1/42nd Regiment (943) was coming from Gibraltar. The 1/3rd Regiment (929) and Thornhill's Company, 7th Battalion Royal Artillery (94) were coming from the garrison of Madeira with Major General William Beresford. The Governor of Gibraltar had sent the 1/6th Regiment (966) under Brigadier General Barnard Bowes with Spencer's Corps. In July, Major General John Randoll Mackenzie received orders to join Spencer's Corps and Brigadier General Alan Cameron was added to the staff of the army in Portugal.
On 23rd June, Wellesley's force at Cork was organized as:
Commanding the force: Lieutenant General Wellesley
Second-in-command: Major General Hill
Hill's Brigade: Major General Ferguson [temporary]1/5th Regiment
At Portsmouth were Lieutenant Colonel Robe, Geary's Company Royal Artillery, Raynsford's Company Royal Artillery and the 20th Light Dragoons.
Although Wellesley's troops at Cork went onto the transports 15 -17 June, contrary winds kept them at Cork until they sailed 10/11 July. They had been joined by the transports carrying the 20th Light Dragoons and the artillery. They arrived off the coast of Portugal by 26 July and were landed beginning on the 1August at Mondego Bay. The 4th Royal Veteran Battalion remained on board ship waiting to sail onto Gibraltar.
Also sent in July were six 10 inch iron mortars and five 5½ inch brass mortars on beds. On 3 August, a howitzer and three pieces of artillery were attached to each brigade. The 9 pounders were attached to Major General Ferguson's Brigade and the remainder not allotted were to be in reserve. The 1/36th Regiment appear to have been assigned to Brigadier General Craufurd's Brigade and the 1/45th Regiment assigned to Brigadier General Fane's Brigade. Spencer's Corps arrived on 6 August and landed over the next two days. Spencer's one artillery half-company came with four light 6 pounders and two 5½ inch light howitzers.
The Re-organization of 7 August
A General Order of 7 August re-organized the army as:
Commanding the force: Lieutenant General Wellesley
Second-in-command: Major General Spencer
Deputy Quarter Master General: Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Bathurst
Deputy Adjutant General: Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Tucker
Artillery: Lieutenant Colonel Robe
1st Brigade: Major General Hill1/5th Regiment
The Organization of the Artillery
On 8 August, Hill's Brigade had two light 6 pounders and one 5½ inch light howitzer under Raynsford. Ferguson's Brigade had two light 6 pounders and one 5½ inch light howitzer under Locke, Nightingall's Brigade had three light 6 pounders under Graham, Bowes's Brigade had three light 6 pounders under Festing, C. Craufurd's Brigade had two light 6 pounders and one 5½ inch light howitzer under Morrison and Fane's Brigade had two light 6 pounders and one 5½ inch light howitzer under Geary. Major Viney superintended the Reserve Half-Brigades of three 9 pounders under Gardiner and two 9 pounders and one 5½ inch heavy howitzer under Eliot. This was the anticipated organization of the artillery.
However, Lieutenant Colonel Robe was not able to horse all of the brigades and so three of Lawson's guns were left on board ship. After the army had advanced and reached Leiria, Robe had to leave behind another three of Lawson's guns due to having to consolidate the horses to draw Wellesley's original 18 guns.
On 14 August, Wellesley was reinforced by units of the Portuguese Army under Lt Colonel Nicholas Trant [Captain, Royal Staff Corps, British Service]:
6th Cavalry (104)
On 18 August, a General Order assigned the 1/50th Regiment to the 6th Brigade and also assigned one company of the 5/60th Regiment to each of the five brigades leaving 5 companies with the 6th Brigade. On 19 August, Brigadier General Anstruther's Brigade arrived and was designated the 7th Brigade and on 20 August Brigadier General Acland's Brigade arrived and was designated the 8th Brigade. Also on 20 August, Lieutenant General Burrard arrived and assumed command of the army pending the arrival of Lieutenant General Dalrymple. Additionally on 20 August, Lieutenant General Moore's Corps arrived at Mondego Bay and began to disembark. On the 22nd, it was re-embarked and ordered to Maceira Bay. There had been a skirmish at Obidos on 15 August, the Battle of Roliça fought on 17 August [Battle Honour first awarded as Roleia] and the Battle of Vimeiro fought on the 21st of August [Battle Honour awarded as Vimiera].
Wellesley's Corps at Vimeiro, on 21st August, stood as:
Commanding the force: Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley
Second-in-command: Major General Brent Spencer
Deputy Quarter Master General: Brevet Lieutenant Colonel James Bathurst
Deputy Adjutant General: Brevet Lieutenant Colonel George Tucker
Artillery: Lieutenant Colonel William Robe
1st Brigade: Major General Rowland Hill1/5th Regiment
A General Order of 21st August, issued after the battle of Vimeiro, assigned the two companies of the 1/95th to the 6th Brigade and assigned one company 5/60th Regt each to the 7th and 8th Brigades, thus leaving only three companies with the 6th Brigade. On 21 August, Colonel John Harding arrived to command the artillery. A General Order of 22nd August transferred the 97th Regiment to the 8th Brigade.
On 22 August, Lieutenant General Dalrymple arrived and assumed command of the army. He immediately agreed to a suspension of hostilities and began to negotiate a convention for the withdrawal of French forces from Portugal, The Convention of Cintra. This was signed on the 29/30August. Also, on the 22nd, Dalrymple assigned most of the Vimeiro Corps to Wellesley's command and the recently arrived reinforcements, with perhaps Acland's and Anstruther's Brigades to Moore's command. Brigadier General C. Stewart arrived 23/24 August.
Moore's Corps arrived at Maceira Bay on the 24 August and began landing on the 25th. The Corps was ready to march by the 30th. Moore's original Corps on landing stood as:
Lieutenant General Mackenzie Fraser's Division
Major General Murray's Division
1st Line Battalion King's German Legion
Major General E. Paget's Division
Artillery of Lieutenant Colonel George Wood and Major Julius Hartmann with:
2nd Company [Tieling's] King's German Legion (originally part of Acland's Brigade)
Arriving as reinforcements were the 18th Light Dragoons [arrived 1/2 September], Major General William Beresford with the 1/3rd Regiment and Thornhill's Company Royal Artillery [from Madeira arriving 1st/2nd September], the 1/42nd Regiment, Skyring's Company 4th Battalion Royal Artillery (120?) and Bredin's Company 8th Battalion R.A (125) probably of four light 3 pounders and four 5½ inch light howitzers with 2 ammunition carts [from Gibraltar arriving 1st/2nd September]. Crawford's Company 6th Battalion Royal Artillery [120?, originally part of Acland's Brigade, arrived from Portsmouth 28 August]. The 1st Company [Gesenius's] King's German Legion Artillery only arrived at Lisbon on 8th September.
Lieutenant General Dalrymple's Re-organization
In a General Order of 5th September, Lieutenant General Dalrymple brigaded his army as:
Advanced Corps: Major General E. Paget
Anstruther's Brigade: Brigadier General Anstruther2/9th Regiment
1st Division: Lieutenant General Moore
Bentinck's Brigade: Major General Lord Bentinck1/4th Regiment
2nd Division: Lieutenant General Hope
Ferguson's Brigade: Major General Ferguson1/36th Regiment
3rd Division: Lieutenant General Mackenzie Fraser
Fane's Brigade: Brigadier General Fane1/3rd Regiment
4th Division: Lieutenant General Wellesley
Hill's Brigade: Major General Hill1/5th Regiment
Reserve: Major General Spencer
Nightingall's Brigade: Brigadier General Nightingall1/29th Regiment
Lieutenant General Lord Paget was to have overall command of the cavalry.
As early as 2nd September, the Government designated another force to go to Portugal and Spain. This force was under the command of Lieutenant General Sir David Baird and was assembled in England and Ireland throughout September. It sailed from Falmouth on 8th/9th October 1808 for Corunna.
During this time a number of General Officers left the army on personal business or due to illness. Lieutenant Generals Lord Henry Paget [September] and Wellesley [20 September], Major Generals Ferguson [20 September] and Spencer [October] and Brigadier Generals Nightingall [early October] and Bowes [back to Gibraltar?] were those who went. Brigadier General Cameron was appointed the Commandant of Lisbon.
When the news of the Convention of Cintra reached England, it caused an uproar and a Board of Inquiry was established. This resulted in Lieutenant General Dalrymple being recalled to England on 17 September and resigning the command on 3 October 1808 to Lieutenant General Burrard. Lieutenant General Dalrymple sailed on 5th October for England.
The British Government then decided to assist the Spanish armies in the field and so separated their army in Portugal into two forces. One was to become a Field Army and advance into Spain and the other was to remain as the garrison of Portugal and provide assistance to the Field Army. On 25 September, Lieutenant General Moore was notified that he was to command the Field Army and Lieutenant General Burrard, that he was to command the Portugal Garrison. The change was announced in a General Order of 8 October.
© Copyright 1995-2004, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.