Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on the Portuguese Infantry of the Peninsular War 1807-1814: 7th Regiment of Setubal, 19th Regiment of Cascaes, and the 2nd Caçadores 

By Ray Foster

Doyle’s Brigade attached to 7th Division

These Regiments are recruited from either side of the estuary of the Tagus river to seaward of Lisbon, they are not seen in any of the pre-Beresford fighting but do show in the September 1809 figures and, at a very good strength:

15th September 1809 [ready to take the field]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                
770 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
542 PUA 

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
770 PUA  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
749 PUA 

This brigade could be held up as an example of a corps which, looks great on paper but, when called upon to move from its depot and go to campaign mode may fall to pieces, which of course is just what it did! By the time we see them a year later, having marched up to the frontier and then retired onto the Busaco ridge they will have incredibly gone down by no less than 900 men.  They will however have taken in a light infantry battalion the 2nd Caçadores , a unit which Robert Craufurd had earlier rejected as too full of "infants and poor officers", nice.

Note:

When exploring JA Hall it is immediately noted that within that fine compendium this Caçadore battalion records not one British officer killed, wounded, taken prisoner, or even died of natural causes throughout the whole of the war period,  however if we look at 5/60th officers we see one Captain George Henry Zuhlcke [Zulke] who was both wounded and captured at Talavera escaping to eventually take up the role of Major in 2nd Caçadores as early as 22nd October 1810 and going on to become their Lieutenant Colonel and to lead them to the end, together they will stand at this time under Brigadier Francis Coleman as an Independent Brigade thus:

27th September 1810 [on the ridge at Busaco]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
430 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
385 PUA 

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
575 PUA 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
549 PUA 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                        
406 PUA

In the battle on the ridge it falls to 1/19th and 2nd Caçadores to do the little work that is needed, Major  McBean of 19th  leading out his men to see off the last enemy unit hanging on after the Light Division had done its bit. He lost 26 men all told whilst 2nd Caçadores lose 43 men by some unreported action, most likely following the enemy down towards Moura, which, by chance is the home town of so many of their number.

28th September 1810 [after the battle at the Busaco ridge]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
428 PAB

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
384 PAB  

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
549 PAB  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
538 PAB 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
363 PAB  

In the trek back to Torres Vedras they pick up 66 returnees/drafts so that by late October will be seen in the "Lines" at:

29th October 1810

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
441 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
396 PUA  

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
565 PUA 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
542 PUA

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
384 PUA

On 8th December a detachment of 2nd Caçadores as a part of a garrison at Obidos, in that no-mans-land behind Massena’s blockading ring¸ came out to attack a foraging party of the enemy rounding up some cattle putting them to flight, during this petty combat Captain Joseph Fenwick [7th PL ex Lieutenant Fenwick of the Buffs] leading on his men was mortally wounded to die two days later, of his sortie seven others were also to die before him; all of this about a small village near Alcobaca. Yet again we see a steady loss of men during the winter of 1810/11 in the "Lines" these taken from WD at the end of March 1811 and almost certainly as a result of their “Independent” status.

31st March 1811 [in the Torres Vedras Lines]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
370 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
332 PUA 

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
436 PUA 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
420 PUA 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
365 PUA 

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doyle of 19th seems to have landed up with the command of the Brigade when it went into the newly formed 7th Division, Coleman having gone and Brigadier Carlos Le Cor, although gazetted to get the command was, for some reason not up.  All of this at the end of March as the brigade was melting away by attrition. It is in the hands of Doyle when we see it on the field at Fuentes d Onoro, figures will show an increase, not much but up anyway. The new 7th Division under Major General William Houston is placed out on the British right flank, somewhat isolated by the village of Poço Velho, Marshal Andre Massena has been informed and predictably sends out a large flanking force to do them an injury. Doyle's men, at least his Line battalions have found a slight rise behind the village on which they can reasonably stand in defence, no such luck for 2nd Caçadores who are in the buildings and behind walls doing what they do best. The enemy attack is quite overwhelming for numbers all are bustled off and put to the retreat so that 2nd Caçadores will lose about 55 men but the rest of the Brigade only a mere 10 men all up, when all is over they will look like this:

5th May1811  [after the fight at Poço Velho]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
408 PAB

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
297 PAB 

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
522 PAB 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
501 PAB 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
387 PAB

As the campaign year draws to a close the brigade is once more melting away, it seems that Coleman is back although this is hard to confirm, nevertheless at Fuente Guinaldo at the end of September they stand at:

15th September 1811 [in the defensive position at Fuente Guinaldo]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                
351 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
256 PUA

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
450 PUA 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
432 PUA 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                          
333 PUA 

At some time during 1811/12 we are shown that Brigadier Richard Collins gets the command, this officer it may be remembered had a leg amputated after Albuera where he had led a scratch brigade of 5th and 5th Caçadores, it is suggested that he made a good recovery then, having had a complete cork leg fitted returned to offer his services [see Rory Muir]. Challis [p 53] suggests that he only returned during July, nicely in time however to claim a Portuguese Brigade ready for action about Salamanca.

CT Atkinson and WD make no reference to the above at any stage let us for a while go along with this rather romantic tale, for the more sceptical, it is as well to note that whenever the Brigade appeared to be a little bit leaderless along came Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doyle to pick up the work.  There is nothing for Collins/Doyle Brigade to do until the campaign leading up to Salamanca, it is a test of marching powers however and in the height of summer, the brigade is only used as the army is involved in those rapid movements about the rolling countryside by the Tormes and the Arapiles and for Collins/Doyle’s men the hill hamlet of Nuestra Senhora de la Pena where they engage in a skirmish duel.  This lasts long enough for 2nd Caçadores to lose 17 men it is the early morning of 22nd July and so far as can be ascertained the brigade has no more to do for the rest of the day when all hell is breaking loose elsewhere.  It is best that the next figures represent PAB, it will be seen that the whole brigade has increased numbers through returnees/drafts over the elapsed ten months:

22nd July 1812

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
490 PAB

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
355 PAB  

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
507 PAB  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
405 PAB  

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                           
374 PAB  

We are told by Oman that on this day Collins receives a mortal wound, WD in the valedictory passages of his battle report to his masters makes no mention of this nor does CT Atkinson, [however we hear from Muir (p267) and Challis that Collins dies “on-station” at Gouves in the Biera 18th February 1813, some wound]! For the more pragmatic reader you may be assured that Doyle took over, and more than likely had the real work all the time anyway.  It is unfortunate that, having marched off down to Madrid for some celebrations the 7th Division, with Doyle's men in tow are sent all the way up to Burgos and the abysmal siege of that place. They have poor weather, trench digging day and night trench duty and are steadily sniped at throughout, by the beginning of September then:

1st September 1812 [at the siege of Burgos Castle]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
470 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
340 PUA  

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
486 PUA  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
391 PUA  

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
373 PUA  

When the retreat begins from Burgos 7th Division go by Tordesillas, the weather has got worse and on one particular day when crossing the Rio Huebra they just plain lose 110 men, this on 18th November, losing a further 133 men going back to the line of the Agueda the brigade figures are poor reading indeed:

29th November 1812 [behind the frontier on the Agueda]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                
367 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
320 PUA

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
360 PUA

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
305 PUA

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                          
292 PUA  

When the Brigade goes back into quarters in the headwaters of the Mondego watershed Le Cor and Doyle appear to have a kind of dual charge, this perhaps as Doyle cannot for some hidden reason get his "seniority" up above Lieutenant Colonel (WD).

In this quiet period in the run up to the Vittoria campaign all three units struggle to bring up their strengths but, with the benefit of hindsight we can say that those men who do return to the ranks will be of good quality and be able to "go the distance”.

Whilst up in the hills well back from the frontier the whole army has a recorded head-count, at least so far as its rank-and-file content is concerned, with an estimated 11% addition for officers, sergeants and drummers they will show:

26th April 1813 [at and about Gouves]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
462 PUA      

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
404 PUA

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
541 PUA

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
442 PUA

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
473 PUA

Just one month later when the CIC gets his men once more on the move we see figures that suggest only slight changes in numbers, Le Cor holding the command and off they go as a part of Lieutenant General Thomas Graham’s Left Flank Corps:

25th May 1813 [on the march out of Portugal]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
544 PUA

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
474 PUA 

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
533 PUA 

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
452 PUA 

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
433 PUA 

It is well recorded that 7th Division under Dalhousie not only arrived late but only by halves at the Vittoria battleground, Le Cor has the Portuguese brigade, which because of that has a day without casualties, this fortunate circumstance allows them to be free for the search beyond Vittoria for General Bertrand Clausel's Corps which had also missed the big day.  Le Cor has his men up as far as the Pass of Echalar by 15th July, Clausel has escaped so it is to be more marching about the foothills of the Pyrenees until at Sorauren on 30th July there is some serious work for 2nd Caçadores . They are acting a little detached from the rest of the Brigade engaged in a skirmishing action close on the rearguard of Clausel’s disordered Divisions as they retire along the Ulzama valley by Ostiz. This contact is serious enough for one officer and 12 of his men to be killed and another, with 44 men wounded thus collecting casualties on the day of 58 men.  We can only discover figures for 2nd Caçadores this day so:

30th July 1813 [after the fight at 2nd battle of Sorauren]

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                          
375 PAB

The two Line Regiments the next day are just sufficiently near to the now retreating enemy to have four men of 7th captured and Captain James Campbell of 19th Regiment killed whilst a Portuguese officer is wounded, strangely not one of the rank and file of these four battalions is shown as being injured so that it has to be the case that these misfortunes occur due to these officers getting too far ahead and cut off by that, so:

31st July 1813  [following up the enemy by Venta de Urroz]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
549 PAB                                                                                                  

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
473 PAB

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
530 PAB

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
451 PAB

A month later with attrition having only lowered numbers marginally the Brigade goes into battle at Zagaramurdi their overall 7th Division commander Lieutenant General George Ramsay Earl Dalhousie overplaying his hand having little regard for an enemy whose general morale is known to be poor, they are fortunate to lose no more than 70 men on 31st August.  The enemy facing them was General Abbe's Division who, luckily for Le Cor were withdrawn before they could really get to grips, the same day Lieutenant David Leslie of 19th loses his life at the walls of San Sebastian in the storm of that place:

1st September 1813 [after the combat by Zagaramurdi]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
527 PAB

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
452 PAB

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
515 PAB  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
438 PAB  

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                         
364 PAB

When Le Cor is elevated to the command of British 7th Division [the only Portuguese officer to have that distinction] the ever present Doyle returns to take the Brigade, it is now November and the whole are at the Nivelle battle where only 26 men are brought down, returnees make up these losses so that the PAB figures will look very much the same as those for September.

When the army marches off eastwards in pursuit of Soult's men Le Cor has shifted command again to now hold Hamilton's old Portuguese Division with Hill's Corps so that this leaves Doyle with no-one looking over his shoulder.  At Orthez on 27th February 1814 the Brigade catch only 3 casualties from stray shots and have had marginal returnees to hold numbers steady at:

27th February 1814 [at the battle at Orthez]

1/7th                                                                                                                                                                 
540 PAB

2/7th                                                                                                                                                                        
463 PAB  

1/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
529 PAB  

2/19th                                                                                                                                                                      
449 PAB  

2nd Caçadores                                                                                                                                                           
373 PAB 

These are the last figures available for this little corps but they do have a small adventure to wind up proceedings as the war comes to an end. In the dying weeks of the last campaign the Brigade gets to march north westward onto the city of Bordeaux whose civic authorities have indicated that it is about to declare for the monarchy. Arriving on 16th March to a rousing welcome and great festivities Doyle's men have only a little under three weeks, not bad really before 7th go off with Doyle and 2nd Caçadores to Etauliers, some 5miles from Blaye, they have with them some units of 7th Division British and easily rout a small enemy field unit from that place. Arriving at Blaye on 7th April 2nd Caçadores become engaged in a sharp fight losing 23 men, the last to be recorded for this brigade for its war. Suddenly news hits town that Napoleon has capitulated, all go back to Bordeaux where the party is still in progress and as Charles Dickens was wont to say, all's well that ends well!

Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2012

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