The Battle of Salamanca

The Battle of Salamanca saw an Anglo-Hispano-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War.

The battle was a succession of strokes in oblique order, initiated by the Portuguese cavalry brigade and Pakenham's 3rd division, and continued by the British heavy cavalry and the 4th, 5th and 6th divisions. The French left wing was routed.

By chance, both Marmont and his deputy commander General Bonet were wounded by shrapnel in the first few minutes of firing. The French command confusion may have been decisive in creating the opportunity, which Wellington successfully seized and exploited.

General Bertrand Clausel, third in seniority, assumed command and ordered a counterattack by the French reserve toward the depleted Allied centre. It had some success but Wellington had sent his reinforcements to the centre, and they decided the fight in his favour.

The losses were 3,129 British, 6 Spanish and 2,038 Portuguese against about 13,000 French. As a consequence of Wellington's victory, his army was able to advance to and liberate Madrid for two months, but then retreated back to Portugal. The French were forced to abandon Andalusia permanently, and the loss of Madrid irreparably damaged King Joseph's pro-French government.

This colourful and detailed oil painting of the Battle of Salamanca by Cornish artist Raymond Hunt is available to order online as a framed and mounted print or as a greeting card.