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The combat of Jaen of 23 January 1810 was a French victory during the invasion of Andalusia, fought after the French had forced their way across the mountains from La Mancha.
The French had crossed the mountains between Andalusia and La Mancha in two main columns. The eastern column, under King Joseph, had also been split into two, with the main force of 30,000 men attacking north of La Carolina, and a second force of 10,000 men under General Sebastiani attacking further to the east. Between 18 and 21 January the French forced the Spanish out of every pass they attacked, and had forced the Spanish commander-in-chief, General Areizaga, to retreat south to Jaen, abandoning any hope of defending Seville. By 23 January between 7,000 and 8,000 men had accumulated around Jaen.
King Joseph decided to send Sebastiani’s column to deal with this Spanish force. They arrived outside the town on 23 January, and immediately attacked the Spanish position. Areizaga’s demoralised men scattered without offering any serious resistance. Areizaga himself escaped east to Guadix with a tiny remnant of his force, while General Lacy escaped into Granada with an equally tiny force, but most of the defeated army simply went home. Sebastiani captured 46 guns at Jaen, most of then from the Spanish reserve posted there before the original disaster in the passes. He was then ordered to move south to capture Granada, winning another easy victory at Alcala le Real on 28 January, before capturing the city of Granada.
|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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