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Vittoria, 1813

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Despite Wellington's success against Marmont's army at Salamanca in July, the year of 1812 ended in bitter disappointment for the British. After occupying Madrid Wellington's troops were repulsed at Burgos. The subsequent retreat in October and November 1812 was accompanied by all the miseries that had characterised Sir John Moore's famous retreat to Corunna in the winter of 1808-09. Those soldiers who endured both declared that the retreated from Burgos was by far the worse. Discipline collapsed and the starving soldiers looted what they could. With the army once again concentrated around Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington issued his infamous memorandum concerning the conduct of his officers. By the spring of 1813 the army had recovered and been reinforced from England. On 20 May Wellington advanced once again into Spain. Turning in his saddle he exclaimed, 'Farewell Portugal, for I shall never see thee again'. He would never return. In a series of brilliant manoeuvres he threw the French onto the defensive on all fronts. His troops converged at Vittoria, 90,000 men and 90 guns attacking in 4 mutually supporting columns. Joseph's centre gave way and both his flanks were turned. As Wellington's left column neared the Bayonne road, the French line of communication, Joseph's army broke and fled towards Pamplona. The French lost 7,000 men and 143 guns, while Joseph's treasury of $5 million and huge amounts of loot were taken. Any hopes the French had of maintaining their position in the Peninsular were crushed forever. Napoleon replaced Joseph with Marshal Soult but he could do little. On 7 October 1813 the British crossed the Bidassoa at Funterrabia and set foot on the 'sacred soil' of Napoleon's France. Ian Fletcher details the course of this campaign, the pinnacle of Wellington's achievement in the Peninsular, from the initial invasion in May to the final crushing victory at Vittoria and the advance into France
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About the Author

Ian Fletcher has already established a reputation as a Napoleonic historian of the first rank, particularly on the British army in the Peninsular. He has already been widely published and among his several titles for Osprey are Elite 52 Wellington's Foot Guards and Campaign 48 Salamanca 1812. Bill Younghusband is a respected military illustrator or more than 15 years experience. He has illustrated many Osprey books including Men-at-Arms 299 Austrian Auxiliary Troops 1792-1816 and Campaign 48 Salamanca 1812.

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