Vimeiro 1808: Wellesley’s first victory in the Peninsular by René Chartrand

By René Chartrand

On 2 August 1808 a British military of 14,000 males begun touchdown north of Lisbon below the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, the long run Duke of Wellington. They have been coming to help the Portuguese, Britain's oldest best friend, to disencumber their nation from its French occupiers. inside a month Wellesley was once to win victories over the French on the battles of Roliça and Vimeiro. basic Andoche Junot, the French commander, was once compelled to give up and evacuate Portugal. René Chartrand examines the 1st of Wellesley's string of victories within the Peninsular War.

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Even Rome had to abandon its scheme of fortification half-finished because of the enormous expense. 5 million livres per annum on fortification although this was insignificant compared with the cost of besieging a fortress. The siege of the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle (1627–8) by the army of Louis XIII cost a reputed 40 million livres. If fortifications represented the biggest and most expensive civil engineering works of the age then sieges were its greatest test of large-scale organization and finance.

Whereas the agricultural surplus and taxation base of settled agrarian societies permitted the development of logistical mechanisms to support permanent specialized military units, nomadic peoples generally lacked such units and had a far less organized logistical system: in war they often relied on raiding their opponents. This organizational divide, which owed much to factors of terrain and climate, was linked to one in methods of warfare. Nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples exploited mobility and generally relied on cavalry, while their opponents put more of a stress on numbers, infantry, and fortifications.

Michael Roberts has argued that these developments occurred principally between 1550 and 1650, a period which he dubbed the ‘Military Revolution’. Geoffrey Parker has extended Roberts’s thesis to encompass the three centuries between 1500 and 1800, stressing the contribution of the new military methods to the European acquisition of overseas empire. The concept, however, is losing its force: a steady process spread across three centuries hardly justifies the title ‘revolution’. The equivalent period from the 1690s to the 1990s—the flintlock musket to the hydrogen bomb—has yet to acquire the accolade of ‘Second Military Revolution’.

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