Battle of Vitoria

Battle of Vitoria
Part of the Peninsular War
Vitoria - Plaza Virgen Blanca 02.jpg
Monument to the Battle, Vitoria
Date21 June 1813
LocationVitoria, Spain
ResultDecisive Allied victory
Belligerents
France French EmpireUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Portugal Portugal
Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders
France Joseph Bonaparte
France Jean-Baptiste Jourdan
France Honoré Gazan
United Kingdom Marquess of Wellington
United Kingdom Thomas Graham
United Kingdom Rowland Hill
United Kingdom Lord Dalhousie
Spain Miguel Ricardo de Álava
Spain Francisco de Longa
Strength

60,000

  • 49,000 infantry
  • 11,000 cavalry
  • 151 guns

82,000

  • 57,000 British
  • 16,000 Portuguese
  • 8,000 Spanish
  • 96 guns
Casualties and losses
~8,000 dead, wounded or captured[1]
All 151 guns captured or destroyed.
King Joseph's baggage train captured.

5,158 dead or wounded[2]

  • 3,675 British
  • 921 Portuguese
  • 562 Spanish

At the Battle of Vitoria (21 June 1813) a British, Portuguese and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, eventually leading to victory in the Peninsular War.

Background

In July 1812, after the Battle of Salamanca, the French had evacuated Madrid, which Wellington's army entered on 12 August 1812. Deploying three divisions to guard its southern approaches, Wellington marched north with the rest of his army to lay siege to the fortress of Burgos, 140 miles (230 km) away, but he had miscalculated the enemy's strength, and on 21 October he had to abandon the Siege of Burgos and retreat. By 31 October he had abandoned Madrid too, and retreated first to Salamanca then to Ciudad Rodrigo, near the Portuguese frontier, to avoid encirclement by French armies from the north-east and south-east.

Wellington spent the winter reorganizing and reinforcing his forces. By contrast, Napoleon retreated numerous soldiers to reconstruct his main army after his disastrous invasion of Russia. By 20 May 1813 Wellington marched 121,000 troops (53,749 British, 39,608 Spanish and 27,569 Portuguese[3]) from northern Portugal across the mountains of northern Spain and the Esla River to outflank Marshal Jourdan's army of 68,000, strung out between the Douro and the Tagus. The French retreated to Burgos, with Wellington's forces marching hard to cut them off from the road to France. Wellington himself commanded the small central force in a strategic feint, while Sir Thomas Graham conducted the bulk of the army around the French right flank over landscape considered impassable.

Wellington launched his attack with 57,000 British, 16,000 Portuguese and 8,000 Spanish at Vitoria on 21 June, from four directions.[4]

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