Peninsular War

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,675
Spain
Another example of a British opinion would be:



Gareth Glover, Forgotten War Against Napoleon: Conflict in the Mediterranean 1793-1815 Page 153.

This seemingly confirms the notion that the main Spanish army was of poor quality and that the Division of the North was elite. However in the following pages covering the war in the east coast of Spain in 1808-1809 Glover writes of courage and determination of the Spanish armies in their resistance to the French and while not outright praising the battles and sieges as some military brilliance he describes some pretty good performance by the Spanish, for an example:



pages 167 and 168.

This sounds like pretty good performance to me, especially since many of the Spanish defenders in Valencia were civilians or irregulars. The part where the campaign starts going downhill for the Spanish is when Napoleon sends reinforcements, and even then there is no strong criticism or descriptions of a lack of courage or determination. It seems to me that the Spanish army was indeed of good quality in 1808-early 1809 and the descriptions of actions seem to confirm this. I think that the notion that the army was undisciplined or behind in 1808, which I think there is some truth to when compared to the army in 1793, comes from the notion that the armies of 1808 and let's say 1810 were the same, this evidently isn't true. The claims say that the Spanish army was poor in 1808, however the descriptions of battles and campaigns describe an army that was determined to resist and fought bravely. It seems to me that the armies of 1808 and post-mid 1809 are either mixed up or there is contradiction on accident.

I agree wit you British sources portraited the 1809 Army.. not the 1808 Army...The prussian officer Berthold von Schepeler wrote an anecdote during the Talavera campaing in 1809. A group of British officers commented on the poor quality of the Spanish troops with which they had started the march to Madrid. Von Schepeler immortalized in writing the proud response given by General Don Pascual de Zayas, commander of the Vanguard Division of the Army of Extremadura:

Gentlemen, these same soldiers, without shoes, without jackets, were the defenders of El Ferrol, of Tenerife, of Buenos Aires.

And General Wellesley said to the Britiish officers: Gentlemen, you have deserved this reply.

Source: Schepeler, Berthold A. von, Histoire de la Révolution d´Espagne et de Portugal. 1829-1831. Volumen I. Page 111.

(In french, in original text: Un jour, à la table de lord Wellington, les Anglais critiquaient la mauvaise tenue des soldats espagnols; le général Zayas, qui était présent, répondit : « Messieurs, ces mêmes soldats, sans souliers, sans » cravattes, furent les défenseurs du Ferrol , de Ténériffe et de » Buénos-Ayres (2). » Wellington, trop grand pour ne pas faire servir une réponse si à propos à réprimer la fierté anglaise, ajouta : « Messieurs, vous avez mérité cette leçon."

As von Schepeler added Ferrol, Tenerife and Buenos Aires were Spanish victories in which Spaniards foughty numerically surpassed by the enemy ...and that battles were not centuries ago.. but only few months from Talavera as Buenos Aires or 12 years sooner in Tenerife...

The Sp Army in 1808 had weaknesses and defects like the rest of the European armies (save Grande Armée) , but it was good ... in some points, excellent ... in 1809 .. it was an improvised army and even so, the Spanish infantry managed to defeat the imperial one in many battles that became defeat because of the cavalry
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mastersonmcvoidson

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,675
Spain
Ups! I made a mistake, when I wrote “1793” I should had written “1793-1795”. Meaning that I was thinking in all the campaign, not just specifically about the year 1793. That is also the problem when I write from memory.

The year of 1793 went relatively well, against lower French numbers. General Duverger had initially some 8000 men against around 24000 Spanish of the general Ricardos (plus D. Ventura Caro had some 8000 men around Guipúzcoa and Navarra and Castel-Franco had 4000 or 5000 men in the centre, in Aragon).

The Portuguese didn’t send a brigade, but an auxiliary division with some 5000 men in 3 brigades under the command of João Forbes Skellater. They arrived by sea at Rosas with many ill with fevers at 9th November and were almost immediately employed due the French pressure.

Forbes said something like “Everything was done without method and without coordination, by impressions of the moment, and even without an anticipated indication of orders to fulfill. I have never seen in my life war with more lack of method.” - Quoted from the work “Intervenções Militares Portuguesas na Europa do Séc. XVIII”, by João Vieira Borges (Portuguese Military Interventions in 18th Century Europe).

From my readings Forbes was far from being a “good” general, so the implications of his words are heavy.

My point was about the all campaign. The year of 1794 was disastrous. The French had more numbers. The war went from the French territory after the initial offensive to the Spanish one. We winters were a mess in the Pyrenees. The Portuguese lost 2000 men from the initial 5000. The reasonable recuperation in the year of 1795 before the peace between France and Spain (Portugal wasn’t officially at war) wasn’t enough to hide the 1974 disaster.

Anyway, if we fast forward to 1801, the Spanish troops went quite well against the Portuguese in the War of the Oranges (in the Peninsula), don’t know if that was because the Spanish made it well or if it was because the Portuguese were just terrible. Some fortress just surrendered one after the other without a fight.

Dear Tulius..

I agree, 1793-1795 was roughly a defeat... but as it was for the other European States: Netherland, HRE, Prussia, Austria, Hesse, Savoy, UK etc etc.. not because French Army were better.. but because French used the massive movilization and they had more soldiers than their enemies... French Army will be the best in the world...and of course, the way begun in 1792-93.. but It won´t be that perfect machine to do the war till much later, around 1800 or so.
1794 was disastrous as 1793 has been for Prussians, Austrian, British, Dutch etc...because the enemy had more numbers...and as you well said.. 1795 was not so victorious for the French as they entered Spanish territory, they became more vulnerable and fell into ambushes, such as the one in Pla de Coto (January 12th, 1795), carried out by Captain Juan Manuel Pineda, which caused a couple of hundred casualties.

Sincerely.. I don´t think the Oranges War was a evidence of the quality.. I would say the quality was proved in Cadis, Ferrol, Tenerife, Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico etc
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,212
Sydney
there was another aspect
the French revolutionary armies used new tactics
columns assault , more skirmishers ,
a massive moral boost from using citizen rather than dubiously recruited soldiers

the answers was to mobilize the patriotic spirit ,
with the drawback that using revolutionary models of nationalism would create revolution at home
as the Czar discovered with the Decembrist movement
 
  • Like
Reactions: martin76

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,675
Spain
there was another aspect
the French revolutionary armies used new tactics
columns assault , more skirmishers ,
a massive moral boost from using citizen rather than dubiously recruited soldiers

the answers was to mobilize the patriotic spirit ,
with the drawback that using revolutionary models of nationalism would create revolution at home
as the Czar discovered with the Decembrist movement
Sparky +1. I agree with you. That tactis made French Army as the best in the world in 1798-1815... but I think victories in 1792 - 1795 period was mostly by number... and of course... Generals (not generals because nobility but because they worthed)... For example... I can´t see "quality" as decisive factor in Valmy, Jemappes, or the 1793 campaigns in Northern or 1794 in Pyreness...

But of course, what you write is truth... columns assault, skirmishers (and artillery) made French Army the best.... but not in 1794.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sparky

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,212
Sydney
well numbers always have a thing
any general worth its salt know that moral and resilience is a force
the French revolutionary Armies had a pretty simple promotion principle
loose a battle and it's off with your head , win and get promoted

a bunch of soldiers rose to be generals on their aggressive spirit

such as Marceau
"soldier at sixteen , general at twenty four , killed in action at twenty seven "
he was honored by his opponent
others like him were the bedrock of napoleon success
 
  • Like
Reactions: martin76
May 2017
1,186
France
In fact,France has won the wars of 1793-1794 with the number of men engaged,more than 1 200 000,what impresioned very much the little aristocratics armies of Europe.In 1793 was created the "amalgame" with a new composition for the "half brigades of battle":an old batallion,very good,a batallion of "volunteers",correct,and a batallion of "réquisitionnaires"......The requis knew nothing. But the officers of the old troops were used for their military instruction.
-attacks in big columns;the incompétents were placed between the first line,reserved to the olds,and the third line,reserved to the volunteers.
-défenses in position of hedgehogs,with bayonets in all the directions.
-the cleaning of the gun with the p...which provoks the disparition of the impurities.
-the cleaning of the bayonets with the s....which provoks the infection of the wounds..
In 1796,the "half brigades of battle" were transformed in "half brigades of line",ancesters of the régiments of line.The "half brigades of hunters and mountains" were transformed in "half brigades of light infantry",ancesters of the régiments of light infantry.
 

LatinoEuropa

Ad Honorem
Oct 2015
5,222
Matosinhos Portugal
And the Map of France increased with your victories?

The Map of Portugal got smaller, with the Olivenza oranges war occupied by Spain Castile.


Ceuta Tangier etc. is the territory of Morocco
Gibraltar is the territory of Spain Castile
Olivença is the territory of Portugal. Did I speak well?
In my opinion please Castile Spain sees you first in a mirror when you ask Gibratar to England. To come back to be from spain.


If Spain is a great country and are the best military in the world why not attach Gibraltar.it's a question that I ask it's easy to answer


Calma amigo martin 76 estou falando de história do tempo passado - Por

Calma amigo martin 76 estoy hablando de historia del tiempo pasado - Spain

Amic tranquil·la martin 76 Estic parlant de la història del passat - Catalan

Calma amico martin 76 sto parlando di storia di tempo passato - Italian

Calm prieten martin 76 Vorbesc despre istoria timpului trecut - Romania

Ami calme martin 76 Je parle de l'histoire du passé - France

LXXVI cessabit amicum Martin de me praeterita est historia - Latin latim

Calm friend martin 76 I'm talking about history of past time
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,640
In fact,France has won the wars of 1793-1794 with the number of men engaged,more than 1 200 000,what impresioned very much the little aristocratics armies of Europe.In 1793 was created the "amalgame" with a new composition for the "half brigades of battle":an old batallion,very good,a batallion of "volunteers",correct,and a batallion of "réquisitionnaires"......The requis knew nothing. But the officers of the old troops were used for their military instruction.
-attacks in big columns;the incompétents were placed between the first line,reserved to the olds,and the third line,reserved to the volunteers.
-défenses in position of hedgehogs,with bayonets in all the directions.
-the cleaning of the gun with the p...which provoks the disparition of the impurities.
-the cleaning of the bayonets with the s....which provoks the infection of the wounds..
In 1796,the "half brigades of battle" were transformed in "half brigades of line",ancesters of the régiments of line.The "half brigades of hunters and mountains" were transformed in "half brigades of light infantry",ancesters of the régiments of light infantry.
The revolutionary French army most sources topped out 700,000--800,000 men under arms at the same time.
 
May 2017
1,186
France
Of course,for the troops at the fronteers.But there was also the armies of the interior charged of the repression against the royalists:Vendee,Bretany,Normandy.The losses of the wars of the West could be superior to 100 000 men:army of cotes de l Ocean,army of cotes de Brest,army of cotes de Cherbourg.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,640
Of course,for the troops at the fronteers.But there was also the armies of the interior charged of the repression against the royalists:Vendee,Bretany,Normandy.The losses of the wars of the West could be superior to 100 000 men:army of cotes de l Ocean,army of cotes de Brest,army of cotes de Cherbourg.
Figures I've seen were quoted as total men under arms. It's something I'll going to try and get better figures for soon.

Any sources you could recommend?