15 May 1813 – North Spain – Day 5
Soult is concerned about guerrilla activity against his lines of supply
He is also concerned how widely dispersed his three armies are
10th army is ordered to occupy Comillas
11th army will hold Reinosa
12th army will hold Soncillo
Wellington is also concerned how dispersed are his three armies
1st army has to retreat to Llanes
4th army is ordered to move up to the border to threaten Reinosa
2nd army will hold Aguilar
7th guerrilla attack Torrelavega, repulsed with 30% casualties
After four days of fighting both armies are widely dispersed and unsupported.
In the north 1st British army has been forced to retreat to Llanes.
10th French army have pursued them and are at Comillas
The French are now overextended and their lines of supply under attack
Their southern flank is open and in danger from 4th Spanish army
They have a chance to take Llanes, which is the campaign objective
But to do so they have to attack over a defended river line.
In the centre 4th Spanish army hold Cabezon
They are ordered to advance to the border and prepare to attack Reinosa
11th French army have halted at Reinosa
Their southern flank is open and in danger from 2nd British army
However their lines of supply to Medina is secure
In the south 12th French army have been forced to retreat to Soncillo
They occupy a strong position and their flanks are secure
Their lines of supply to Medina are also secure
2nd British army have advanced to Aguilar
Their northern flank is exposed to 11th French army
Their lines of supply are overextended.
Both commanders are aware that they must concentrate their armies
However neither want to retreat.
If Wellington orders 2nd army to retreat to Camon he can secure his flanks.
He can then concentrate on driving 10th French army back over the Llanes-Santander border.
Soult is in a more difficult position. His strength is in the centre and south, where 11th and 12th armies support each other
However his real advantage is in the north, where the capture of Llanes would give him the campaign objective.
10th corps have long supply lines, open to attack by the guerrillas
And a defeat at Llanes would put 10th army in real danger of being cut off and forced to surrender.
Only 4th Spanish army and 11th French army are currently operational.
If the French could take Cabezon they would be in a strong position to win the campaign. However their lines of supply would then be more open to attack.
If the Spanish could take Reinosa Wellington could move the centre of operations into Santander district. This is clearly his intention, because he has moved the Spanish forward to the border, placing them within attacking range of Reinosa.
This has been one of the most complicated campaign phases for a long time.
Caused mainly by the lack of French success and their inability to move into Llanes district.
Day 6 should bring another battle, either for Cabezon or Reinosa.
And the result will have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the campaign.