17 August, 1808

Portugal Battle Tour Guides

Having landed unopposed at Mondego Bay, Sir Arthur Wellesley led the British army of some 15,000 men south towards Lisbon.

An initial skirmish against the French came at Obidos on the 16th, but the first real battle involving British troops occurred at Rolica.

Awaiting reinforcements from General Andoche Junot and General Louis Loison, France's General Henri Delaborde had prepared to fight a delaying action against Wellesley's advance.

He sat watching as the British sent flank columns to encircle him and, when he judged the time to be right, withdrew his force out of harm's way.

Delaborde's second position was an extremely strong one. It sat along a ridge and could only be reached frontally by four rugged gullies.

Wellesley again sent out flank forces, but his plan was ruined when the colonel of the 29th (Worcesters) Regiment prematurely assaulted the French. Realising his plan had been compromised, Wellesley ordered a general attack.

The 29th suffered horrendous casualties - almost half its strength - but the support attacks saved them and forced Delaborde to withdraw.

The French had 700 casualties, while the British around 500.



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