Battle of Albuera


May 16, 1811

Beresford invested the area around Badajoz early April 1811 chasing Latour-Maubourg from Exremadura Spain. Late April Wellington not happy with the progress paid a visit to the area and provided Beresford with a detailed set of instructions concerning how he should conduct the siege and the rest of the campaign. In the event of a French excursion to relieve the siege, Wellington picked out the ground and how Beresford was to defend the area. The site determined for the defense was near the village of Albuera. It was not until May 4th before the siege was properly started.

Marshal Soult determined he did not want to lose any of the ground he had gained and needed to relieve the Fortress of Badajoz. He gathered a combined arms force to lift the siege and set off on May 9th, 1811. He wanted to engage the British before they could reinforce themselves or before the Spanish 4th Army (Blake) could. Soult’s force consisted of elements from the I Corps, IV Corps, and V Corps totaling 23,000 men.

Beresford was notified on May 12 from the Spanish in Seville of Soult’s departure. He gave up the siege to meet the assault. On May 13th, Spanish cavalry and British cavalry met Soults force and fell back. On May 14th Beresford, Castanos (5th Spanish Army), and Blake (4th Spanish Army) agreed to fight and meet at the village of Albuera which Wellington determined was the best place to defend against a French relief force.

On May 15th, the Spanish and British cavalry spared with the French Chasseurs and Hussars as it became clear Soult was taking the main road to Badajoz that ran through Albuera. Beresford moved his troops in preparation of battle on May 16th or 17th. The two Spanish armies had not yet joined him at Albuera.