Friday, 12 March 2010

The battle of San Marcial

The battle of San Marcial is one of the lesser known of Wellington's battles.

On 31 August 1813 the French held city of San Sebastian was about to fall to the allied siege. Marshal Soult determined to make one last effort to raise the siege. The most direct road to the city from Bayonne was along the coast, however the road bridge had been destroyed.

Two French divisions stormed the heights of San Marcial, which was held by three Spanish divisions under General Freire, and supported by a British division. The Spanish held the ridge against the determined French attack. At the crisis Friere sent a request to Wellington to send the British reinforcements. Wellington was convinced that the French were already beaten, and wanted the Spanish to take full credit, so he declined to use the reinforcements.

The Spanish held. By mid morning the French were in full retreat back over the river Bidassoa into France.

Our visit to the battlefield in 1995 is described here:

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