On 16 May 1811, the small town of Albuera was the setting for one of the Peninsular War’s most bloody and desperate battles. A combined Spanish, British and Portuguese force of more than 30,000 men, under the command of Lord Beresford, stubbornly blocked the march of the French field marshal Soult, who was trying to reach the fortress of Badajoz, twelve miles to the north.
However, after suffering losses of up to 7,000 men during the fighting, Wellington declared that, ‘Another such battle will ruin us’. One British regiment, the 57th Foot, suffered casualties of more than 50 per cent. Similarly, the French fought with enormous tenacity, and sustained almost equally heavy losses. The stories from those who fought in the battle on both sides make for both chilling and inspiring reading.
These contemporaneous accounts include letters, diaries, official correspondence, army records, maps, newspaper reports and memoirs totaling over 100 contemporary accounts of the battle. They range from the comprehensive after-action reports of the British, Portuguese, Spanish and French commanders to casualty and prisoner lists and to recollections of individual soldiers from all the combatant armies.
The purpose of this book is to tell the story of the battle exclusively by way of these primary sources, with English translations for foreign language sources, along with, in each case, a commentary identifying the source and its context.
The heart of the work will be a vast number of first-hand accounts providing astonishing details of the intense fighting including the heroism of the Spanish troops, the massacre of Colborne’s brigade by Polish lancers, Beresford’s near-fatal indecisiveness, and the heroic charge of the Fusilier brigade. This presentation allows readers avid for detailed historical information to draw their own conclusions about how the events of the battle unfolded.