Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on the Portuguese Infantry of the Peninsular War 1807-1814: 4th and 10th Regiments of Lisbon, and 10th Caçadores 

By Ray Foster

Campbell’s Brigade Hamilton’s Division

Beginning with 10th this Regiment is considered sufficiently organised to be ready to take the field in May 1809 as Wellesley takes up overall command, they show as two separated battalions in different brigades whilst being led north in pursuit of Marshal Nicholas Soult’s soon to be fleeing army.  As the weather turns cold and wet the chase is halted and all return down country where Lieutenant Colonel Donald McNiel will take them in hand. 4th Regiment, also recruiting at Lisbon will be brought up to full strength to be led Major Allan Campbell [of 74th Regiment] alongside 10th Regiment to show figures at:

15th September 1809 [on the Beira front]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
770 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
707 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
770 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
700 PUA

During the early part of 1810 another A Campbell [Archibald] picks up the Brigade and soon all of this brigade and Fonseca’s Brigade will be combined to form Hamilton’s Independent Division as a strong part of Major General Rowland Hill’s southern corps.  We see them on the south end of the Busaco ridge in late September of that year their numbers well down on “establishment” but still well found at:

27th September 1810 [on the Busaco ridge]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
660 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
504 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
640 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
446 PUA

Not having been engaged at the fight on the ridge at Busaco down they march to Torres Vedras and beyond picking up a few returnees and recruits as they go so that on:

29th October 1810 [behind the Lines of Torres Vedras]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
701 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
552 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
679 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
485 PUA

In the early spring of 1811 Hamilton takes his Division along with the British 2nd Division and others down into Estremadura where great things are to occur by mid May.  The murderous battle of Albuera has been fought with the result that the greater part of the British 2nd Division has been slaughtered, Hamilton’s men who began the day on the extreme left flank of Beresford’s defensive line were only to move to their right as others would be drawn into the ‘abattoir” away to their far right. Down to their immediate front after Fonseca Brigade had shifted Campbell’s men saw Albuera village and it was towards that target that they pressed their attentions. With Major General Charles von Alten’s KGL Light withdrawn and then returned to throw out the French it would be hereabouts, joining in, that their losses would be felt. 4th Regiment had 9 men killed and 50 wounded while 10th Regiment only managed to record 11 men wounded, plenty of good fit men standing then to do grave digging later:

16th May 1811 [after the house fighting at Albuera]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
671 PAB

2/4th                                                                                                                                           
522 PAB

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
675 PAB

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
485 PAB

When Fonseca’s Brigade goes off north to Castello Branco in the summer Campbell’s men remain in Estremadura with others as a part of a balancing force opposed to General Drouet D’Erlon’s French Corps lurking about some way south and east, they will show:

Mid October 1811 [manœuvring in Estremadura]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
714 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
552 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
718 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
516 PUA

Going into 1812 Hamilton’s brigades will have been re-united for some time, continuing to be a foil to D’ Erlon’s 9th Corps while Wellington deals his fatal thrust at Marmont and his Army of Portugal on the Arapiles. Preparing to get on the march again as Soult [with D’Erlon in tow] retires on Valencia we see a new battalion join Campbell’s Brigade it is 10th Caçadores, brought together by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Armstrong [earlier serving with 16th PL’s in Pack’s Brigade at Busaco] at Oporto, one would have to observe that Hamilton as the leader of such a numerically strong Division of regular Line infantry totally devoid of specifically trained skirmishers must have asked more than once for this sort of an inclusion.  Off they go up the valley of the Tagus to be counted off at:

1st September 1812 [in the Madrid defensive perimeter]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
731 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
565 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
735 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
529 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
440 PUA

The new Caçadores seem to be short of a whole company but at least, better than nothing, Campbell’s Brigade will spend very little time in the Madrid area before moving off in the general retirement back on the Arapiles position in response to the slow advance led by King Joseph and Marshal Nicholas Soult coming from Valencia. During this retirement 10th Caçadores will have their first action, assisting da Costa’s men as rearguard so:

23rd October 1812 [on the Arapiles position behind the Tormes]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
632 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
489 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
636 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
458 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
380 PUA

The last part of their march back to the safety of the border behind the Agueda reduces their numbers only marginally when compared with those lost in the more northern retreat columns. When they finally come to rest it will be in front of the Agueda on a forward defensive line about the Alagon River, so:

29th November 1812 [on the Alagon]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
607 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
489 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
611 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
439 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
365 PUA

The winter and spring of 1812-13 are spent quietly enough but this brigade being held as a part of the screening force in front of the main army for all of the time do not fill their ranks as readily as others in more fortunate lodgings. By the time that the army is ready to move onto the attack pushing the French out of Spain altogether Campbell Brigade will have some improvement excepting that 10th Caçadores are in trouble just holding on to numbers at all, so:

25th May 1813 [on the march north]

1/4th                                                                                                                                     
680 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                            
526 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                          
684 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                          
491 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                             
318 PUA

Hamilton the Divisional head has gone off a sick man his place taken by Lieutenant General Francisco da Silviera and off they go taking the right of the line moving the French forces back by several major river crossings to gather up before Vittoria for a pitched battle on 21st June.  So uneventful is this for Campbell Brigade that only 10 men all told are either killed wounded or made prisoner, unfortunately seven of these are of the latter description. Still under the overall command of Corps leader Hill this brigade in manœuvring about the foothills north of the Bastan is separated from its companions of da Costa Brigade to become part of the main army and by late July is to be found off some way east towards Roncesvalles coming close to a brigade of 4th Division under Major General Robert Ross. These men on 25th July have before them a huge force of the enemy, returned to the offensive and intent on forcing the Pyrenean Pass at this place, Campbell’s men will only get into action as the real fight has been resolved but still incurring casualties of 3 men killed 20 wounded and 6 taken prisoners.

Note:          

In Oman’s AppendixXV11 of Vol 6 these appear as 11th’23rd’& 7th Caçadores, not so, those are Stubbs’s men who are well accounted for elsewhere this day.

By 27th July Lieutenant General Lowry Cole with 4th Division has fallen back down from the Pyrenean passes, meets up with Lieutenant General Thomas Picton and sets about throwing out a defensive line hinged on Sorauren and the Hill of Oricain. One of the battalions of Campbell’s 4th Regiment is sent forward well to the right of this line while the rest will remain about the high ground at Oricain. When Wellington arrives on the scene that single battalion of 4th PL is drawn off presumably to rejoin the brigade, which to begin with is in reserve well behind the hill. They will however be inevitably drawn in when Soult puts his army on full attack, it is:

28th July 1813 [on the hill of Oricain]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
613 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
474 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                           
616 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
443 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
250 PUA

By Oman’s text we see that 10th Caçadores are much reduced in number before the battle even gets under way, all are in support of elements of Cole’s 4th Division and in particular the men of Anson’s Brigade 3/ 27th,1/ 40th and 1/ 48th Foot.

The Caçadores go forward as is usual, with the Light coy’s of the British not to stay overly long there as the French come vigorously up the hill thrusting them back onto the formed lines where the serious fight develops.  Using as evidence the final casualty figures it must be that 10th Caçadores stayed up long enough to get 10 of their number captured the rest retiring to safety having but 3 men killed, their leader Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong, Major Joshua Green and one other officer wounded as were 12 more of their men. It is the turn of the Line infantry to face the music, the Frenchmen pay particular interest to 10th Regiment to the point of so disordering their line as to send them off the position.  It is best to go to the adventures of the men of those aforementioned British Regiments of Anson’s Brigade to see the full effect of this set-back; however they and 4th Regiment have had quite sufficient casualties in the to-and-fro fighting that eventually saw the enemy thrown back by others to its start line at the bottom of the hill. In 4th Brigadier/Lieutenant Colonel Allan Campbell had received a mortal wound that would see him expire some two months later, one other officer, a Portuguese also killed as were 24 of their men, of the wounded, 85 in total there counted seven Portuguese officers and to get to the total of 114 of all ranks there had been three men taken prisoner. It was 10th Regiment however that had borne the brunt of the combat, in all 213 men and officers K W&P, 77 of these killed, 123 wounded and 13 captured, no British officers recorded amongst them it seems. Two days later when Wellington had decided for the offensive Campbell’s Brigade, most likely now under the temporary hand of Lieutenant Colonel Donald McNiel of 10th had been sent off to the far left into a reserve position west by south of Sorauren village.  When this pivotal obstacle had been taken by others they were handily placed to march off under new orders sending them in the direction of their parent Silviera Division that was under threat and about to be attacked some miles away by General Drouet D’Erlon’s Corps, close to Buenza. Too late to intervene at that battle as Hill’s Corps was being compelled to retire further away the sight of their eventual flank arrival was enough for D’Erlon to call off his men and all subsided into a pull-back and a counting of heads, so:

30th July 1813 [after the battles of Sorauren and Buenza]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
548 PAB

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
424 PAB      
1/10th                                                                                                                                           
488 PAB

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
356 PAB

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                             
222 PAB

It will be four months before we see them again, numbers will have been restored, Hamilton will have just re-taken command of the Division, briefly as it turns out but as they assemble ready to cross the Nivelle we shall be given figures from which we can say:

10th November 1813 [at the crossing of the Nivelle]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
656 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
514 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                           
588 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
425 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
372 PUA

Confusion reigns over who it was that held these men as Brigadier this day but sheer common sense forces us to give it to Brigadier Colonel John Buchan, Allan Campbell has been dead now for exactly a month, no-one has yet written him off and both Oman and CT Atkinson are less than useful in seeking clarity, Buchan it is then who leads his men forward on what will be for them an easy day.  Coming up the hill before them they encounter some long range cannon fire then upon reaching the top have to negotiate a row of burning wooden sheds, the enemy hereabouts had already decided that retreat was in their best interest so that taking light casualties the ground occupied soon extended out to its projected goal in open country between St’ Pee and the Finodetta redoubt.  Lieutenant Colonel McNiel and Captain William Gordon of 10th, along with 62 men of the brigade had been wounded, 26 more killed bringing total losses to 90 of all ranks, so:

10th November 1813 [after the fight to cross the Nivelle]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
646 PAB

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
484 PAB

1/10th                                                                                                                                           
568 PAB

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
405 PAB

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                              
362 PAB

With Buchan now firmly in command the Brigade moves on so that a month later they sit on a hill spur looking towards Bayonne with the hamlet of St’ Pierre below and ahead, it is 13th December, Hamilton is gone, Major General Carlos Le Cor has the Division and already there is a serious ding-dong battle going on down there that has been in progress for a good part of the day. As others become “fought out” Buchan’s men as last reserve are brought up to the firing line being called upon to show a solid determined front as the enemy before them similarly exhausted can only put up a token fight before retiring. When all is finished it can be seen that the fight had fallen equally on all units of the brigade with 10th losing two officers and 18 men killed and 48 of all ranks wounded.  Similarly 4th  recorded in all ranks 19 men killed and 49 wounded while 10th Caçadores would lose 44 of all ranks killed and wounded, so:

13th December 1813 [after the combat by St’ Pierre d Arrube]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
606 PAB

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
455 PAB

1/10th                                                                                                                                           
527 PAB

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
376 PAB

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                             
318 PAB

There is now two and a half months of winter weather to endure, the army is still in daily contact with elements of Soult’s forces although in the main both sides understand that it is the bitter cold conditions and the constant battle against liquid mud that is the real enemy at this time.  In mid February the mud freezes into scrunching ice and the contending adversaries are once more on the move. The partition between those who will stay to put Bayonne under close attention and the main army destined to thrust Soult’s men ever eastward is made; we see that as is normal Buchan’s Brigade will stay with Hill’s Corps that has the right flank of the line of advance.  As Wellington pushes on towards Orthez Buchan Brigade will merely make up numbers supporting those who have to make the many river crossings along the journey.

At this extended battlefield Hill is well upstream of the bridge at Orthez, the brigade has figures to show a small increase from those of December, the fight here is very light for these men so that although just 12 men of Buchan’s Brigade are lost numbers after the combat will have been compensated for:

27th February 1814 [after the fight at Orthez]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
622 PAB

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
467 PAB
1/10th                                                                                                                                           
550 PAB

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
386 PAB

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                             
326 PAB

Trudging along the many miles up to the suburbs of Toulouse the weather remains foul; all elements of the advancing army suffer from the results of ever extending lines of supply with the addition of some rather confusing counter-marching as the major river crossings are found to be beyond their power to bridge.  At the eventual battle for possession of this strongly walled regional centre Buchan’s Brigade was not called upon to make any exertions other than just to be there, figures for the day will show:

10th April 1814 [at the fortress walls of Toulouse]

1/4th                                                                                                                                      
553 PUA

2/4th                                                                                                                                             
415 PUA

1/10th                                                                                                                                           
481 PUA

2/10th                                                                                                                                           
343 PUA

10th Caçadores                                                                                                                             
290 PUA

The war slides to a close leaving all to march off westward skirting the French Pyrenees on their way back to Portugal and an uncertain future in Lisbon.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2012

[Organization Index]



© Copyright 1995-2012, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.

[Top|Home]