A bitter hand to hand fight along alleyways and inside houses, an inexperienced allied division cut off and in danger of annihilation. A troop of horse artillery surrounded and forced to slash their way through the French cavalry. Today’s episode of the Redcoat History Podcast is packed with drama – put your pack down, sip some captured French grog and lend me your ears as we are transported to May 1811 and find Wellington and the allied army with their backs to the wall once more at the village of Fuentes de Oñoro on the Spanish-Portuguese border.
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Here is a little text snippet of the episode:
In the early afternoon Masséna ordered his men forward to clear the village. Donaldson viewed the fighting and later recalled a bizarre and amusing incident:
The [French] skirmishers were covered in their advance by cavalry, in consequence of which ours were obliged to fall back. . .while a party of our German hussars covered their retreat. The cavalry now commenced skirmishing, the infantry keeping up an occasional fire. It was rather remarkable that the cavalry on both sides happened to be Germans. When this was understood volleys of insulting language were exchanged between them. One of our hussars got so enraged at something one of his opponents said that he dashed forward upon him into the very centre of their line. The French hussar, seeing that he had no mercy to expect from his enraged foe, wheeled about his horse, and rode to the rear; the other, determined on revenge, still continued to follow him. The whole attention of both sides was drawn for a moment, to these two, and a temporary cessation of firing took place; the French staring in astonishment at our hussar’s temerity, while our men were cheering him on. The chase continued for some way to the rear of their cavalry. At last our hussar coming up with him, and fetching a furious blow, brought him to the ground. Awakening now to the sense of danger he had thrown himself into, he set his horse at full speed to get back to his comrades; but the French who were confounded when he passed, had recovered from their surprise, and determined on revenging the death of their comrade; they joined in the pursuit firing their pistols at him. The poor fellow was now in a hazardous plight; they were every moment gaining on him, and he still had a long way to ride. A band of the enemy took a circuit for the purpose of intercepting him; and before he could reach the lines he was surrounded, and would have been cut to pieces, had not a party of his comrades, stimulated by the wish to save so brave a fellow, rushed forward, and just arrived in time, by making the attack general, to save his life, and brought him off in triumph. (Donaldson p.124-125).
Now that is real war isn’t it? No smart bombs, no cyber warfare – just two blokes flinging insults at one another and deciding to settle it with sabres. . .I tell you men were men in those days,
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