Combat of Maguilla, 11 June 1812

The combat of Maguilla (11 June 1812) was a minor French victory in a cavalry clash, fought during of one of Wellington's diversionary attacks during the Salamanca campaign.

General Rowland Hill, 1782-1842
General Rowland Hill, 1782-1842

While Wellington was preparing to advance towards Salamanca, further to the south General Hill had been given the task of preventing General Drouet (part of Soult's army) from moving north to help Marmont and the Army of Portugal. On 7 June Hill began an advance, moving from Almendralejo to Fuente del Maestre, then on 9 June to Zafra.

On 11 June Hill's cavalry continued to push towards Drouet's position at Fuente Ovejuna. Penne Villemur's Spanish cavalry advanced from Llera towards Azuaga, while Slade's cavalry brigade (1st Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards) moved from Llerena towards Maguilla.

This brought Slade into contact with the outlying guards from Lallemand's dragoon brigade (17th and 27th Dragoons). The two commanders behaved very differently during the resulting clash. Lallemand retired back towards Maguilla, and also placed a squadron in reserve in his rear. Slade ordered a general attack, which actually broke the French forces in front of Maguilla. However after that Slade lost control of his troops, and a reckless pursuit began. A few miles past Maguilla the British came past the French reserves, which slammed into their right flank. This broke up the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and allowed Lallemand's main body to recover. They then attacked in turn, and broke Slade's brigade. The French pursued Slade to Valencia de las Torres, four miles past Maguilla.

The British lost 22 dead, 26 wounded and 118 prisoners during this fight. The French lost around 100 prisoners in the first clash, but most of these men were freed later on, and Lallemand reported losses of 51 officers and men.

If the loss of some of his best cavalry wasn't enough, Slade further irritated Wellington by praising the gallantry of the officers who had lost control of their troops! Wellington described the setback as being 'occasioned entirely by the trick our officers of cavalry have acquired, of galloping at everything - and then galloping back as fast as they galloped on the enemy'.

This minor clash had no impact on the overall campaign. Drouet reported that he was badly outnumbered and needed reinforcements. Soult sent him a single division, but also used Hill's advance to support his theory that Wellington was actually planning to invade Andalusia, and to justify his refusal to obey King Joseph's commands to send reinforcements north.

Napoleonic Home Page | Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 December 2017), Combat of Maguilla, 11 June 1812 ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy