The combat of Alemquer was the last fighting between the British rearguard and the French cavalry during the retreat into the Lines of Torres Vedras in the autumn of 1810. On the previous day the two forces had clashed at Alcoentre, in a skirmish that began with a rainstorm. This signalled the start of the autumn rains, and the fight on 9 October took place in constant rain. This worked to the advantage of the British and Portuguese, most of whose infantry arrived in the Lines on 9 October, three days before the first French infantry arrived. During 9 October the British cavalry fought to slow down the French vanguard, which was formed by Lamotte’s light cavalry brigade. The rearguard of the rearguard was formed by Linsingen’s squadron of the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion, which turned back to charge the French four times in five miles, each time stopping the French retreat. By the end of the day the Hussars had lost two dead, eleven wounded and seventeen missing. They were supported by the 16th Light Dragoons, who lost eight men, and late in the day were joined by troops from Slade’s brigade. The French lost six dead, twenty-two wounded and twenty-one prisoners during the day’s fighting.
By the end of the day the leading French infantry had caught up with their cavalry, and the British retreated back to Alemquer. On the next morning the British cavalry retreated back into the Lines of Torres Vedras, leaving only Craufurd’s Light Division at Alemquer. Craufurd remained in the village long enough to get involved in another minor skirmish, before eventually pulling back into the Lines late in the day. The French vanguard, which was now thirty miles ahead of the main army, did not pass Alemquer until the following day, and only on 11 October did Montbrun’s cavalry begin to discover just what they were facing.
|A History of the Peninsular War vol.3: September 1809-December 1810 - Ocana, Cadiz, Bussaco, Torres Vedras, Sir Charles Oman. Part three of Oman's classic history begins with the series of disasters that befell the Spanish in the autumn of 1809 and spring of 1810, starting with the crushing defeat at Ocana and ending with the French conquest of Andalusia and capture of Seville, then moves on to look at the third French invasion of Portugal, most famous for Wellington's defence of the Lines of Torres Vedras.|
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