The combat of Berrocal of 20 March 1809 was a minor Spanish victory during the Medellin Campaign. At the start of March the army of Estremadura under General Cuesta had been holding the line of the Tagus River at Almaraz, but on 17 March Marshal Victor had defeated Cuesta’s right wing at Meza de Ibor, and the Spanish had been forced to retreat south across the mountains towards the Guadiana. Cuesta had briefly considered standing and fighting at the pass of Santa Cruz, but had then decided to head south to pick up reinforcements. General Henestrosa, with most of the Spanish cavalry had been left behind to act as a rearguard.
Marshal Victor sent General Lasalle’s cavalry over the pass to apply pressure to Cuesta’s, but on this occasion the Spanish cavalry proved that it was capable of fighting successful delaying actions. The first of those actions came at Berrocal, a small village half way down the pass. On 20 March the leading French cavalry squadron was attacked by the Spanish Royal Carbineers, a surviving fragment of the regular Spanish army. The French suffered ten killed and fifteen wounded before the Spanish withdrew. The French failed to learn from this minor setback, and Henestrosa was able to inflict a more serious defeat on them on the following day at Miajadas.
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