Battle of Maguilla
|Battle of Maguilla|
|Part of Peninsular War|
Maguilla is situated in Badajoz province
|French Empire||United Kingdom|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Charles Lallemand||John Slade|
|700 cavalry||700 cavalry|
|Casualties and losses|
|51 killed, wounded and captured||40 killed and wounded, 118 captured|
In the Battle of Maguilla on 11 June 1812, a French cavalry brigade commanded by General of Brigade Charles Lallemand routed a similar-sized British cavalry brigade led by Brigadier General John Slade. This action took place during the Peninsular War.
Slade's brigade was covering Rowland Hill's corps, which protected Badajoz. On 6 April, this fortress had been captured by the Duke of Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army in the Battle of Badajoz. In May, Hill had mounted a successful raid in the Battle of Almaraz. Maguilla is 17 km northeast of Llerena in the Spanish province of Extremadura.
Lallemand's 700-strong brigade consisted of the 17th and 27th Dragoon Regiments. Slade also commanded 700 sabres from the 1st Royal Dragoons and 3rd Prince of Wales Dragoon Guards Regiments. The two forces deployed opposite one another, but Lallemand kept one of his six squadrons in reserve, out of sight of the British.
Slade ordered a charge, which threw back the French horsemen. The British dragoons galloped wildly after the fleeing Frenchmen, capturing about 100 cavalrymen. Slade failed to reform his troopers and they soon came up with the reserve French squadron. This unit waited until their adversaries had covered a mile before attacking the disorganised British from flank and rear. The five defeated squadrons also turned on their tormentors and the result was a rout of the British.
The British lost 40 killed and wounded and 118 captured. The French suffered 51 killed and wounded. Most of the French who were captured at the beginning of the action escaped. The next action would be the Battle of Salamanca. After the battle, Wellington wrote to Hill:
I have never been more annoyed than by Slade's affair. Our officers of cavalry have acquired the trick of galloping at everything. They never consider the situation, never think of manoeuvring before an enemy, and never keep back or provide for a reserve.
This was not the only occasion that Wellington's cavalry charged out of control. Historian Charles Oman cites Taylor's 20th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Vimeiro, George Anson's 23rd Light Dragoons at the Battle of Talavera, and the 13th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Campo Maior. In addition, William Ponsonby's 2nd Brigade charged too far at the Battle of Waterloo and suffered crippling losses.
- Oman, Charles. Wellington's Army, 1809-1814. London: Greenhill, (1913) 1993. ISBN 0-947898-41-7
- Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9