Siege of Fuengirola, 13-15 October 1810

The siege of Fuengirola of 13-15 October 1810 was a minor disaster suffered by the British in southern Spain during an ambitious attempt to help the hard-pressed guerrillas of Granada. In October 1810 the French were using Fuengirola as a supply depot for their siege of Marbella, while General Sebastiani, with 3,300 men, was twenty miles along the coast at Malaga. General Campbell, the British governor of Gibraltar came up with a plan that he hoped would end in the capture of Malaga. A combined British and Spanish force of 2,200 men, made up of two British regiments (82nd and 89th Foot) and one Spanish regiment (Imperial de Toledo), would land at Fuengirola, and make a demonstration against the town. Sebastiani would almost certainly come to the aid of the garrison of Fuengirola (150 Polish troops under Captain Milokosiewitz). The British and Spanish would then reembark on their ships, sail along the coast to Malaga, and capture the undefended town.

This was a risky plan, dependent on the sort of precise timing that no amphibious operation of the time could rely on, but it would actually fail because Lord Blayney, the commander of the combined force, ignored his instructions. The British and Spanish landed at Fuengirola on 13 October, but instead of making a demonstration against the town, Blayney began a regular siege, bringing a number of 12-pounder guns ashore. The castle walls began to crumble under the bombardment, and instead of re-embarking and moving to Malaga, Blayney decided to complete the siege of Fuengirola. By 15 October he was preparing to launch an assault on the castle.

Somewhat ironically Sebastiani had responded exactly as expected. Leaving 300 men to defend Malaga he took the bulk of the garrison, 3,000 men, to attack the British and Spanish at Fuengirola. On 15 October the French caught the British and Spanish force by surprise. When the French attacked only around 1,500 of the allied troops were actually onshore – most of the 82nd Foot was still on the boats. Of the troops around Fuengirola the Spanish regiment managed to escape intact, fighting its way to the boats, but the 89th suffered heavily, losing 40 dead and 200 captured, almost half of its strength. The very short-sighted Lord Blayney was himself amongst the prisoners, having mistaken some French troops for his Spanish allies.

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 (27 May 2008), Siege of Fuengirola, 13-15 October 1810 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_fuengirola.html

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