Europe 1812: Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo
French efforts to deal with the Spanish in Valencia in 1811 left the Spanish–Portuguese border undermanned. Exploiting this situation, the British commander Wellington crossed into Spain with his Anglo-Portuguese Army in early 1812 and captured the key border fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo.
25 Oct 1811 Battle of Saguntum▲
In September 1811 Marshal Suchet’s French Army of Aragon crossed into the Spanish-held province of Valencia and invested Sagunto Castle, which the Spanish Captain General Joaquín Blake had recently constructed on the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Saguntum to guard the road to Valencia. In late October, as the siege wore on, Blake advanced on the 20,000-strong French force with 23–28,000 Spaniards but was heavily defeated, suffering some 6,000 Spanish for 1,000 French casualties. Soon after this, Sagunto capitulated, although Suchet would wait another two months for reinforcements before advancing on Valencia.
26 Dec 1811–9 Jan 1812 Siege of Valencia▲
In December 1811 Marshal Suchet’s 20–30,000-strong French Army of Aragon advanced on Valencia, defeating the 28,000 Spanish troops of Joaquín Blake outside the city. While many of the Spanish retreated south, Blake and some 16,000 others withdrew into Valencia itself, where they attempted to hold out against the French. However, Valencia was ill-equipped for a siege and within two weeks Blake was forced to capitulate.
7–20 Jan 1812 Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo▲
Learning that many of the troops of Marmont’s French Army of Portugal had been sent east to deal with Spanish revolts, Arthur Wellesley, the Viscount of Wellington, led his Anglo-Portuguese Army into Spain in early January 1812 and besieged the key border fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. Wellington’s forces severely outnumbered the 2,000-strong French garrison and, after blasting two breaches in the walls, they successfully stormed the city on the night of the 19th. The rapid fall of Ciudad Rodrigo and its entire garrison, at the cost of 1,700 Allied casualties, caught Marmont by surprise and opened up northern Spain for an Allied invasion.