Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Trophies Taken by the French Forces From the Portuguese during the Spanish Campaign[1]

By: Luis Sorando
Translated by: Caroline Miley

Expedition to Portugal, 1808

Combat of Leiria (5 July 1808)

Combat of Leiria (5 July 1808) General Margaron’s column dispersed some 20,000 Portuguese, taking 3 flags, of which 2 were captured by the 82nd Line. They were sent to Junot, who was in Lisbon.

We do not know which corps they belonged to, but we know that in this action they fought as regular forces: the 6th cazadores (which don’t have flags), and the 12th, 21st, and 24th Line regiments.

Combat of Evora (30 July 1808)

General Losoin’s troops took this place too. They spoke of taking 8 flags from the Spanish-Portuguese garrison, a number that seems high considering the reduced garrison, which included the following Portuguese troops: the Militia of Evora, the Voluntarios de Extremos and a company of miqueletes, and as far as the Spanish went: a battalion of Granaderos Provinciales, a battalion of Voluntarios Extranjeros, and a group of Caballería de la Reina. Two of these trophies are known for certain: one is a flag of the 7th Setúbal Regiment and the other of the 13th Peniche, which was found in a trunk, in the Governor’s house, by some soldiers of the French 86th Line. These, kept by an officer, M. Cazin, were sent on 7 January 1811 to the Ministry of War.

Today at the Musée de l’Armée (París) there is the remains of a flag of the 13th, consisting of the ribbons that surrounded the central shield with the mottoes “FIGHT AND CONQUER”, and “TO THE VALOUR OF THE XIII REGIMENT” (Aa. 150-11.), the latter being an inscription that was granted on the 17th December 1795 to the flags of the regiments that had fought with the Spanish at Rosellón (the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 13th, 18th, and 19th regiments). 

Combat of Junca (15 July 1808)

According to General Foy’s memoirs, the Capitulation of Cintra did not decide the fate of Almeida, whose besiged garrison made their exit on the 15th August, in the course of which they lost 2 flags of the Militia of Guarda.
Remnants of a flag of the 13th Line lost in the Battle of Evora (30 July 1808). MAParis


Operations of the Portuguese Army, 1809

Taking of Braga (20 March 1809)

They say that many flags were captured. The garrison consisted of the 9th Line, 2 battalions of Militia of Braga, and various irregular corps.

Taking of Oporto (29 March 1809)

The official report announced the taking of 20 flags, 4 of which were taken from the 15th Line.

According to Oman the garrison consisted of:

6th Line Regiment, 2 battalions.
18th Line Regiment, 2 battalions.
21st Line Regiment, 1 battalions.
9th Line Regiment, 1 battalions.
Lusitanian Legion, 2 battalions.
Militias of Oporto, Feira, Vila de Conde and Baltar.
12th Cavalry regiment.

Combat of Amarante (12 March 1809)

Soult and the Bulletin announced the taking of 5 flags. 1 was taken by the 2nd Leger and 2 by Rousseau of the 6th Leger.

A letter from Caulaincourt to the Grand Chamberlain (6 November 1809) specified: “Marshal Soult orders to me to place at the Emperor’s feet the 30 flags that the 2nd Corps of the Army of Spain has taken in its expedition to Portugal (1809)”.

On 28 February 1810 they were deposited in the Ministry of War by M. Chataignier, Caulaincourt’s aide-de-camp, who specified that 25 were Portuguese and 5 Spanish. Oddly, a letter from Clarke to Berthier (21-VIII-1811) says that all 30 were Portuguese.

Operations of the Portuguese Army, 1810

Capitulation of Almeida (28 October 1810)

Massena’s report to Berthier announced the taking of 6 flags, which would be taken to Paris in September by his aide-de-camp Casabianc and in October were given to the Ministry of War.

The garrison of this place consisted of:

24º Line Regiment.
Militia Regiment of Arganil.
Militia Regiment of Trancoso.
Militia Regiment of Vizeu.

The 2 flags of the 24th Regiment were kept by Massena, coming today into the hands of his successor, the Prince of Essling, and are very interesting, because they are the only two complete examples of the model adopted in 1806 by the Portuguese line infantry.

Also at the Musée de l’Armée (París) there is the remains of a flag of the Militia of Arganil, saved from the fire at the Invalides in 1851, which consists solely of the ribbon with the name that appeared under the large central shield. (Aa. 150).

   
Flags of the 24th Regiment Taken Almeida (28 August 1810) and Retained by the Family Massena (drawing P. Charrier).

Operations of the Portuguese Army, 1811

Expedition of Clarapède’s column (January 1811)

On the 9th January Clarapède was sent in pursuit of General Silveira’s Portuguese militias. On the 11th at Villa de Ponte they were repulsed, and on the 13th at Lamego they were forced to cross the Duero. During these operations they took 1 flag.

On the 28th at Covilha they dispersed to other areas and surrounded a unit commanded by Colonel Trant, taking 1 cannon and 1 flag.

Combat of Guarda (14 April 1811)

We have detailed information about this combat in the memoirs of Lieutenant Parquin. 5 flags were taken, from which 2 are known to us from having been kept by descendants of Colonel of Chasseurs Danrèmont, belonging to the Militias of Peñafiel and Avero. It is worth emphasizing that the monogram MR (Maria Reina) appears in the corners, which indicates that they are earlier than 1799, since from that year the monogram JPR (Joao Principe Regente) was used.

Three flags were taken by Lieutenant Dubard of the 11th dragoons, another by Second Lieutenant Soufflot of the 20th Chasseurs, and the rest by Lieutenant Parquin of the 13th Chasseurs, who in his memoirs attributes it to the Eurillas, or Euritas, regiment:

“…. I was wounded by a sabre blow in this charge in the middle of the square where I arrived first, by an officer who carried the flag of the Eurillas regiment, in whose multicoloured fabric was the number 1808. This had to be the date of creation of that regiment. This officer who carried it gave the trophy to me …”.

We do not know any Eurillas regiment, so Parquin must have misinterpreted some inscription. The Portuguese regiments in Trant’s Brigade were the three Militias of Peñafiel, Avero and Oporto, each with 2 flags, and after this action General Beresford arranged that the sole flag that was in the division was deposited in Oporto, and the Portuguese marched without flags until they had taken from the French a number of flags equal to those they had lost.

Flag of the Peñafiel Militia Flag of the Avero Militia
Flags taken Combat of Guarda (14 April 1811) and preserved by the descendants of Colonel Danrèmont

 

Editor's Note: For additional articles on flags of the Napoleonic Wars see Articles on Flags of the Napoleonic Wars by Luis Sorando on the Internet

Notes:

[1] Pierre Charrié, “ Les Trophées de la Guerre d’Espagne 1807- 1814”, Carnet de la Sabretache 1985, nº 79, y 1986 nº 81.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2009

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