Skirmish at Alcoentre, 8 October 1810

The skirmish at Alcoentre was a minor incident in the final stage of Wellington’s retreat into the Lines of Torres Vedras in the autumn of 1810 and saw the French nearly capture a British horse artillery battery. The battery in question had camped one mile behind the cavalry detailed to guard it, with the artillery in the village of Alcoentre and the cavalry further south. Hidden in a rain storm a column of Sainte-Croix’s dragoons got dangerously close to the village, and was only held off when a squadron from the 16th Light Dragoons charged them. The French cavalry got stuck on the river bridge leading into the village. The British cavalry held them off for the rest of the day, until Taupin’s brigade from Clausel’s division of Junot’s 8th Corps reached the village. At this point the British retired from their position. Despite the potentially embarrassing start to the skirmish, the British came off much better in the end, inflicting sixteen casualties on the French for the loss of one man wounded. More fighting followed on the next day, as the British retreated towards Alemquer.

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 (22 April 2008), Skirmish at Alcoentre, 8 October 1810,

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