The campaign of Burgos has its origins in the very difficult strategic situation in which Wellington found himself in the autumn of 1812. At first sight, however, to speak in such a fashion seems somewhat surprising. Thus, far from being in trouble, the Anglo-Portuguese army of the Duke of Wellington was ostensibly riding the crest of the wave. Indeed, Wellington and his men were fresh from an impressive series of victories. Having repelled a major French invasion of Portugal in 1810, they had frustrated further French offensives in 1811, and then in January 1812 advanced into Spain, capturing the strategically important border fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, defeating the chief French field army at the battle of Salamanca on 22 July and finally liberating Madrid on 12 August. Yet, as witness, perhaps, the somewhat haggard and preoccupied Wellington that stares forth from the preliminary sketch drawn of him by Francisco de Goya shortly after his entry into the capital, all was not as it seemed. With every step that the French were driven back, more and more of their troops were released from the task of holding down their conquests in the face of the incessant Spanish resistance, and thus it was that by the end of the summer Wellington was faced with two impressive masses of French troops, each of which were bigger than the forces he could muster to face them, one of them in the area stretching from Burgos to Pamplona and the other in the Levant around Valencia.
KeywordsStrategic Situation Surly Movement Preliminary Sketch French Troop British General
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- 1.R. Long to C. Long, 2 August 1812, cit. T.H. McGuffie (ed.), Peninsular Cavalry General, 1811–1: The Correspondence of Lieutenant-General Robert Ballard Long (London, 1951), p. 212.Google Scholar
- 2.For a general account of the strategic situation in the wake of the Battle of Salamanca, see C.J. Esdaile, The Peninsular War: A New History (London, 2002), pp. 401–11.Google Scholar
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