Combat of Almazan, 10 July 1810

The combat of Almazan of 10 July 1810 demonstrated the difficulties the French facing in moving even quite large bodies of reinforcements to their armies in Spain. It took place at Almazan, close to Soria, ninety miles to the north east of Madrid, in Old Castile, a part of Spain that had not seen Spanish armies since Napoleon’s only visit to Spain late in 1808. Despite this the area had its fair share of guerrilla bands. The most famous of them was led by the priest Geronimo Merino, known as “El Cura”.

Marshal Soult
Portrait of Marshal
Jean-de-Dieu Soult

In July 1810 he joined up with the band led by Tapia (another priest) to attack two battalions of French marines which were crossing Spain to join Masséna’s Army of Portugal (the 44th Equipage de Marine) and Soult’s Army of Andalusia (the Bataillon D’Espagne). On 10 July the guerrilla bands attacked the two French battalions at Almazan.

Before they were eventually driven off Merino and Tapia’s men killed and wounded 13 French officers (almost equally split between the two battalions) and just over 200 men. This sort of action, although normally fought on a smaller scale was one of the most valuable contributions made by the Spanish guerrillas, for it forced the French to move their reinforcements in increasingly large bodies, with the result that large numbers of French troops remained idle at their depots waiting for enough men to be gathered to allow them to move.

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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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (3 June 2008), Combat of Almazan, 10 July 1810 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_almazan.html

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