National map showing
are two campaign areas in Spain
– 4th French Army v Anglo/Portuguese Army
– 5th French Army v Spanish Army
Regional map showing initial deployment areas
The political and military situation was much more complicated in the Iberian Peninsula than in Germany. Napoleon had
established military regions throughout Spain, but they were not recognised by
either the Spanish or the British.
has been a good year for the French.
Throughout the year they defeated one Spanish field army after
another. By the end of the year only one
Spanish army remained and it was in Andalusia in the far south.
British had established firm control over Portugal before marching into Spain
at the start of 1812. They took the two
critical border fortresses of Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and they defeated the
French at Salamanca. Wellington then marched
them east towards France. The first
obstacle was Burgos, where it all went badly wrong. Despite a long siege Wellington failed to
take Burgos. The French armies in Spain
concentrated and forced him to retreat back into Portugal.
January 1813 the French held all of Spain, except for the southern region of
Andalusia. There were French armies, one at Burgos and
the second at Madrid. Napoleon’s brother Joseph was the nominal King of Spain
and commander of all French troops in the Iberian Peninsula. But he exercised no real control. Marshal Soult at Burgos and Marshal Suchet at
Madrid ignored his orders. Napoleon was
too far away to exercise real control, and was much too busy building his new
Army of Germany. The Spanish, both
military and civilian, held Joseph in contempt.
the January meeting of allied commanders it was agreed that the two allied
armies in Spain would also commence offensive operations on 1 February. But, as in Germany, neither were capable of
army had suffered badly during their retreat of 1812. Morale was low, and supplies low. Reinforcements and supplies were on the way
from England, but it would take weeks, if not months, for them to arrive.
morale was even worse. Every Spanish
commander who had faced the French had been defeated. There were large quantities of manpower
throughout Spain who hated the French and were eager to fight against
them. But there were few competent
Spanish commanders, and even less supplies.
Spain had long relied on Britain to supply all military equipment. Spain had suffered long years of conflict
and food and material was in short supply for civilians and soldiers
alike. It was unlikely that the Spanish
field army would be able to march north at any time before 1814. The best they could hope to achieve was to
initiative therefore lay with the French.
Joseph want wanted a coordinated offensive against Wellington to drive
him out of Portugal. Soult agreed,
providing he was reinforced by half of Suchet’s army. Suchet did not agree.
wanted to march south into Andalusia, destroy the last Spanish field army, and
plunder the rich province of Andalusia.
He considered he had sufficient men to do so, and was impatient to do
January 1813 Joseph, Soult and Suchet all received urgent orders from Napoleon
in Paris. The two armies of Spain would
send 50% of their best officers and men back to France to form the basis of the
new French Army of Germany. No excuses
would be accepted for any delay. In
return they would receive a similar number of conscripts.
February most of the replacements had arrived in Spain. But it would take weeks, if not months, to
train and incorporate them into the corps and divisions of 4th and 5th
allied declaration of war on France has as little effect in Spain as it had in
Germany. Both the French and the allies
were too busy trying to rebuild their field armies.
are no standard campaign areas in Spain.
This is because the French do not have a safe rear area. They only control the regions that they
occupy, and even then it is contested by guerrilla groups.
campaign area will depend on the campaign objective of the aggressor. In northern Spain this is likely to be
Wellington. In southern Spain it will