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Bussaco (Reynier’s Assault)
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Bussaco (Reynier’s Assault)
Retreating towards Torres Vedras, the Duke of Wellington’s army of 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese halted at Bussaco to make a stand along the crest of Bussaco Ridge and check the advance of Marshal Massena and the …
Retreating towards Torres Vedras, the Duke of Wellington’s army of 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese halted at Bussaco to make a stand along the crest of Bussaco Ridge and check the advance of Marshal Massena and the French army of Portugal. As Massena’s army of 65,000 approached the British position, he was uncertain of the exact disposition and strength of the enemy, for Wellington had adopted his favorite tactic of hiding his true strength from the enemy by deploying his forces on the reverse slope of the ridge. Massana’s army was deployed on the 26th with Ney’s Corps on the right, Junot’s Corps in the centre and Reynier’s Corps on the left. Massena, rather than avoid battle, ordered Major-General Jean Reynier’s II Corps to attack the centre of the ridge, which he mistakenly believed was the British right flank. Once the II Corps attack showed some signs of success, Massena planned to launch Ney’s corps at the British left while Junot’s Corps stood in reserve, ready to exploit. Reynier’s troops moved forward in the early morning mist of the 27th. Heudelet’s Division was the first to come into contact. Before long, they were brought to a standstill from Anglo-Portuguese infantry fire, supported by artillery. Merle’s Division, veering away from Heudelet in the mist, had early success and occupied part of the ridge, but the French came under flanking fire, and were then thrown back by the shock of a British infantry charge. The fighting in this sector of the battlefield was effectively at an end. Hearing gunfire, Ney assumed Reynier’s men were enjoying success and ordered his attack.
The Battle of Buçaco or Bussaco, fought on 27 September 1810 during the Peninsular War in the Portuguese mountain range of Serra do Buçaco, resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army. Having occupied the heights of Bussaco with 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese, Wellington was attacked five times successively by 65,000 French under Marshal André Masséna. Masséna was uncertain as to the disposition and strength of the opposing forces because Wellington deployed them on the reverse slope of the ridge, where they could neither be easily seen nor easily softened up with artillery. The actual assaults were delivered by the corps of Marshal Michel Ney and General of Division (Major General) Jean Reynier, but after much fierce fighting they failed to dislodge the allied forces and were driven off after having lost 4,500 men against 1,250 Anglo-Portuguese casualties. However, Wellington was ultimately forced to withdraw to the Lines of Torres Vedras after his positions were outflanked by Masséna's troops.
Wikipedia: Battle of Bussaco