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Wellington Against Massena (ePub)

The Third Invasion of Portugal 1810–1811

Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic > Peninsular War

By David Buttery
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 2.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 30
ISBN: 9781781597156
Published: 19th April 2007


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Wellington's clash with Massena was one of the most remarkable contests between two commanders in the Peninsular War. These two formidable generals carried on a campaign of manoeuvre, battle and attrition across Spain and Portugal in 1810 and 1811 which had a decisive impact on the outcome of the war. Wellington's reputation was enhanced, Massena's was ruined.

David Buttery's close analysis of this extraordinary encounter offers a penetrating insight into the personalities of these two outstanding soldiers. Using a variety of sources, in particular eyewitness accounts from both sides, he reassesses the famous confrontations at Ciudad Rodrigo, Almeida, Busaco, the lines of Torres Vedras and the final bitterly fought battle at Fuentes de O'oro. He sheds new light on this pivotal episode in the Napoleonic Wars and his account corrects the one-sided view of the campaign that has survived to the present day. In particular he reconsiders the true cost of the scorched earth policy that was employed against the French.

David Buttery should be commended for these two well-written campaign studies. They provide a superb introduction for those interested in the French campaigns in Portugal! Hopefully he will complete the trilogy with a study of the second French invasion of Portugal – that of Marshal Soult’s campaign in northern Portugal during the first half of 1809.

The Napoleon Series - February 2012 - reviewed by Robert Burnham

In conclusion, the subject matter and objectives set for these two studies are entirely relevant. However, a considerable range of material has become available for this period in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, providing very substantial potential for new insights into specific aspects of the campaigns that would have enhanced their narratives than has actually been included. Nevertheless, the author has widened the scope of the analysis and interpretation of events considerably beyond recent, Anglo-centric approaches covering, for example, the battle of Talavera de la Reina. As result, these two books represent useful, well-written, highly readable and enjoyable introductions to the campaigns of 1807-08 and 1810-11. Questions raised within them will undoubtedly provoke further discussion as to Napoleon’s strategy for the domination of Europe, British interventions in Portugal and Spain, and the outcomes of the war for Iberians, whilst gaps in their coverage of primary sources and their interpretation leave room for further, more comprehensive, consideration by historians more knowledgeable of French, Portuguese and Spanish sources.

The Napoleon Series - May 2013 - reviewed by Anthony Gray

His analysis is both interesting and enjoyable, admirably punctuated with judiciously selected eye witness accounts....Thoroughly researched, easily and very well referenced, it is a pleasure at second and even third acquaintance and a very worthwhile addition to any collection of the Great War with France 1795-1815. Chapter 12 will be particularly useful to visitors who wish to follow the campaign in Portugal and Spain on the ground. I thoroughly recommend it.

British Army Review
 David Buttery

About David Buttery

David Buttery has established a reputation as a leading historian of nineteenth-century British military history. He has made a particular study of the Napoleonic and Crimean wars. He has worked in newspapers and museums and has published extensively in many of the leading military history periodicals including the Victorian Military Society's journal, The Leicestershire Chronicle and Military Illustrated. His most recent books are Wellington Against Massena: The Third Invasion of Portugal 1810-1811, Messenger of Death: Captain Nolan and the Charge of the Light Brigade, Wellington Against Junot: The First Invasion of Portugal 1807-1808 and the Waterloo Battlefield Guide.

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