Battle of Vittoria
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Hamptonshire Regiment (48th Regiment of Foot) , John
- Wellington now in a position better than he
had ever been in this campaign, now began the push to expel the
French Army from the Peninsula . Soult was recalled to fight
the war against Germany. Wellington's army now consisted of 52,484
British troops , 28,792 Portuguese troops and 46,000 Spaniards.
Wellington's advance began in late May, Joseph abandoned Madrid on
the 17 th of May and fell back upon the line of the river Ebro.
Wellington advanced at such a speed that many of the French reserve
divisions were separated from the main French army; Joseph was
pushed away from the river Ebro. They drove the French army back
from Salamanca with the loss of only 29 troops. Joseph halted at
Vittoria on June the 19th. He was joined by the Southern, Centre and
Portugal armies, this totalled 63,000 troops. Wellington divided his
army into four parts. On his extreme left, Sir Thomas Graham with
the 1st and 5th Divisions cut the road from Vittoria to France. The
centre left, the Earl of Dalhousie (Picton's 3rd Division ,
Dalahousie's 7th division). Centre right under Wellington, the 4th
and the Light divisions, and to the extreme right , Hill with the
second , Silveria's Portuguese, and Morillo's Spanish division, in
all a total of about 70,000 troops.
Hill began the battle by advancing on the heights which were
occupied by the South army and gained a
victory . Meanwhile, Wellington waited for Graham to move
into position . Upon finding an unguarded bridge and acting without
orders, the commander of the 3rd Picton and the light division
crossed the bridge and engaged the French forces. The French left
wing were assailed by Hill, Picton and the Light . The French
defensive line was pushed back toward Vittoria. All avenues of
retreat for the French forces bar one were cut off. The French were
compelled to retreat to Pamplona.
The total allied losses were 5,158 troops while the French
losses were 8,400 troops. Joseph's army was
shattered, he was only able to save one gun and one
howitzer., which were captured two days later . The plunder the
French were attempting to get to France fell into British hands.
Wellington was outraged that the troops had pursued the riches and
not as they intended to do , pursue the French. Many of the troops
spent all that night in search of booty and as a consequence were
unable to pursue . Wellington stated " The 18th Hussars are a
disgrace to the name soldier in action as well as elsewhere".
The 14th light Dragoons were also in a manner of disgrace due to
their actions .
The Peninsular War was now effectively
decided,the French army was now in full retreat
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