Campaign Map on 30 October 1813
7th and 16th corps retreat to Oviedo
Both are now out of supply, and will lose attrition casualties until they resupply
There are only 5 days supplies at Oviedo, but that is sufficient for them to regroup
It will however take some days before either are operational again
Their retreat in the north also force 8th and reserve corps to retreat to Lugo
Both are low on supplies (two days each) and there is only one day at Lugo
They will have to continue their retreat to Astorga, and resupply from Sanabria
The French retreat allows guerrilla bands to occupy both Ribadeo and Santiago
Wellington’s army is also running short of supplies (two days each)
But he is much closer to his supply depots, and will be fully supplied within two days
This will allow him to move on to the offensive
Soult is well aware of his desperate situation, he orders a general retreat.
It was interesting to see how the French managed to lose the campaign, despite making most progress through the campaign. They managed to push Wellington into a small area between Santiago and Ourense. One more victory would have sent the British back into Portugal.
However it was extremely difficult for the French to concentrate against such a good defensive position.
This was largely due to the supply system, and the luck of the Spanish guerrilla in disrupting it. If the French could have concentrated and regrouped at Corunna and Lugo they could have routed the British. But it proved too large an area, and too many and much too long supply lines
It is also interesting to note that both 4th British corps at Ourense, and 13th Polish corps at Ponferrada took no active part in the campaign at all. Yet they played a vital role in the eventual victory.
Ourense commands the vital road to Portugal, along which all supplies must move. It had to be held by a strong corps, which meant that 4th corps could not be used to support the main army. It might have been replaced by a corps which had suffered heavy casualties, for example 2nd British corps. But that would have invited an attack by the Polish corps over the river Minio. Had they taken Ourense that would have been the end of the campaign. Worse still Wellington would have had to retreat to Corunna to save his army (sound familiar?)
I am very pleased with how this campaign went. It was uncertain right up to the last battle, which could just as easily have been won by the French as the British. The Spanish guerrilla again played a vital role in the campaign. Not because they were a formidable enemy, but because they could not be ignored. It was sometimes tempting to do so, but that was when they then rolled a 6 and captured Astorga.