Battle of Sorauren


Battle of Sorauren

Infobox Military Conflict


caption=
conflict=Battle of Sorauren
partof=Peninsular War
date=28 July - 1 August 1813
place=Navarra, Spain
result=Allied victory
combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom flagicon|Spain|1785 Spain flagicon|Portugal|1707 Portugal
combatant2=flagicon|France French Empire
commander1=Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington
commander2=Jean-de-Dieu Soult
strength1=24,000 men
strength2=30,000 men
casualties1=2,600 dead or wounded
casualties2=4,000 dead or wounded

The Battle of Sorauren was part of a series of engagements in late July 1813 called the Battle of the Pyrenees in which a combined British and Portuguese force under Sir Arthur Wellesley held off Marshal Soult's French forces attempting to relieve San Sebastián.

With sizable British forces tied up in assaulting San Sebastián and besieging Pamplona, the new French commander Marshal Soult launched a counterattack through the Pyrenees in three columns. Although the French initially enjoyed local superiority, the tough terrain combined with stubborn British and Portuguese resistance slowed the French advance to a crawl.

The main French column, about 30,000 men under Soult was marching to attack Sorauren. On the 27 July the heavily outnumbered British forces there were drawn up on a ridge. Wellesley made a dramatic ride along the ridge in front of the cheering British and Portuguese troops and Soult postponed the attack until the next day. By the time the French attack was launched, reinforcements had arrived, bringing the total allied force to about 24,000 men

The fighting at the top of the ridge was bitter and bloody, but the defenders held the French off. About midday, British reinforcements arrived and Wellington sent them to assault the French right flank. More fresh units reached the field and Soult soon ordered a withdrawal. The French suffered 4,000 casualties, while Wellesley's army lost 2,600 men.

Two smaller battles occurred two days later as the French tried to get between Wellesley's army and the troops surrounding San Sebastian. At Tolosa, General Hill fended one attempt off. A night retreat, again near Sorauren, cost the French 3,500 casualties.

With his momentum lost, Soult withdrew into France to prepare his defences against the imminent British offensive. A force of 10,000 men under the command of General Vandermaesen were nearly cut off at the first battle of Vera, but the British failure to reinforce the holding force allowed them to escape.


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