Battle of Usagre


Battle of Usagre

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Usagre


caption=
partof=Peninsular War
date=May 25, 1811
place=Usagre, Spain
result=Anglo-Portuguese victory
combatant1=flagicon|France French Empire
combatant2=flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom
flagicon|Portugal|1707 Portugal
flagicon|Spain|1785 Spain
commander1=Maj-Gen Latour-Maubourg
commander2=Maj-Gen Lumley
strength1=3,500
strength2=2,300, 6 cannons
casualties1=250 killed and wounded, 78 captured
casualties2=20 killed and wounded

In the Battle of Usagre on May 25, 1811, Anglo-Allied cavalry commanded by Major-General William Lumley routed a French cavalry force led by Major-General Marie Victor Latour-Maubourg at the village of Usagre in the Peninsular War.

Background

A week after the very bloody Battle of Albuera, Marshal Nicolas Soult sent Latour-Maubourg's cavalry to discover the position of Marshal William Carr Beresford's Anglo-Allied army. On May 25, the French cavalry came upon a line of Portuguese cavalry vedettes on a ridge behind the village of Usagre. Lumley posted the bulk of his forces behind the ridge, out of sight.

Forces

Lumley force included Colonel George de Grey's brigade (3rd "Prince of Wales" Dragoon Guards, 4th "Queen's Own" Dragoons), the 13th Light Dragoons, Portuguese cavalry under Colonel Loftus William Otway (1st and 7th Dragoons, plus elements of the 5th and 8th) and some Spanish cavalry led by Penne Villemur. There were 980 British, 1,000 Portuguese and 300 Spanish troopers present, plus Lefebure's RHA battery. [Oman, p 107]

Latour-Maubourg led two dragoon brigades under Brig-Gen Bron (4th, 20th and 26th Dragoons) and Brig-Gen Bouvier des Eclat (14th, 17th and 27th Dragoons). He sent four regiments of light cavalry under Brig-Gen Briche on a wide flanking maneuver. The French had about 3,500 horsemen. Confident in his numerical superiority, Latour-Maubourg pressed ahead.

Battle

Lumley ignored the French flanking force because he knew that they would not arrive in time. He let the 4th and 20th Dragoons of Bron's brigade pass through Usagre, cross the bridge and form up on the other side. As the 26th Dragoons began crossing the span, Lumley attacked. He brought up his cavalry and sent six British squadrons, supported by six Portuguese squadrons on their right, against the two deployed French regiments.

The French horsemen were defeated and thrown back on the 26th Dragoons, who were still jammed on the bridge. With the British cavalry all around them and their retreat blocked, the French dragoons were cut to pieces. Latour-Maubourg's only recourse was to dismount the first regiment of Bouvier des Eclat's brigade and use the dragoons to hold the houses near the bridge. At last, the remnants of Bron's regiments fought their way back, covered by carbine fire from the village.

Results

The French lost 250 killed or wounded, plus 78 captured, mostly from the 4th and 20th Dragoons. The British only lost 20 troopers killed or wounded. [Smith, p 364] Afterward, Latour-Maubourg treated the British cavalry with more respect.

References

* Glover, Michael. "The Peninsular War 1807-1814." London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-141-39041-7
* Oman, Charles. "Wellington's Army, 1809-1814." London: Greenhill, (1913) 1993. ISBN 0-947898-41-7
* Smith, Digby. "The Napoleonic Wars Data Book." London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9

Footnotes


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