Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

British Army Unit Strengths: 1808-1815
The Peninsular War

By Andrew Bamford

These returns are for the forces that landed in Portugal in 1808 and would form the main Peninsular field army from 1809 onwards. A month-by-month break of the total strength of the army is:

Monthly Strength of the British Forces in the Peninsula: 1808 - 1814

1808

Coverage for the first months of the war is patchy: there is a return for Wellesley’s 1808 command prior to sailing, but nothing until all the various commands were united under Dalrymple in September. For November and December there are separate returns for those units serving with Moore and those left in Portugal, but there is no January 1809 return for Moore; nor are there any returns for Baird’s corps prior to its joining Moore. It should be noted that the combined monthly totals for the whole theatre do not include Moore's troops after October 1808.

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1808 (Troops at Cork)

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1808

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1808

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1808 (Portugal)

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1808 (Moore)

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1808 (Portugal)

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1808 (Moore)

1809

Although these are all returns for the main army, they do also record troops sent under major General Mackenzie in an abortive attempt to put a garrison into Cadiz. In June 1809 the procedure changed so that returns were to be made on the 25th of the month rather than the 1st. There are therefore two returns for this month. Since there were substantial numbers of men recorded missing in the aftermath of Talavera, these have been included as an extra column at the end of the return.

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1st 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 25th 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, August 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1809

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1809

1810

As of June of this year, a note is also made of numbers of men sent home, but the distinction is no longer retained between men sick in hospital and men sick but still with their units.

The July Return includes the troops at Cadiz, before it was established that this was to be treated as a separate command for reporting purposes. The tracking of men recorded missing post Talavera has been continued through the first few months of 1810.

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, August 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1810

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1810

1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, August 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1811

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1811

1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, August 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1812

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1812##

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1812

1813

As of January, those battalions forming part of the 2nd-4th Provisional Battalions are listed as having only four companies present, but retain their own individual identities in the returns. No change is ever noted respecting the units forming part of the 1st Provisional Battalion. Where possible, a note has been added with respect to the Brunswick-Oels Regiment enumerating those men present with the battalion, as opposed to detached with the Jäger companies.

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, July 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, August 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, September 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, October 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, November 1813

Peninsular Monthly Return, December 1813

1814

A record has been maintained so long as there was a significant British military presence. After the main army had been shipped home there were still troops in Lisbon: the 13th Royal Veterans remained until January 8th 1815 along with detachments of artillery and engineers, and the last detachments of infantry left Lisbon March 1815.

As of March 25th, substantial numbers of men were struck off as dead who had disappeared during the previous years and could not be found – see “Return of the number of men belonging to Corps in the Peninsula who could not be found in the General Hospitals, and who have been struck off as Dead” dated 25th March 1814 in WO17/2475. The figures in the main table for that month have been corrected to ignore these men, but the number struck off, and the resulting grand total of men listed as “dead” that month, have been added at the end of the main table

Peninsular Monthly Return, January 1814

Peninsular Monthly Return, February 1814

Peninsular Monthly Return, March 1814

Peninsular Monthly Return, April 1814

Peninsular Monthly Return, May 1814

Peninsular Monthly Return, June 1814

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: February - June 2013

 

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