San Sebastian

7 July - 8 September, 1813

Spanish Battle Tour Guides

The port and fortress of San Sebastian was a French strongpoint on the northern coast of Spain that threatened the supply lines of any army moving into France.

To prepare for the invasion of France, the Duke of Wellington had to clear the potential menace posed by General Louis Rey and his garrison of 3000 men.

The siege began on 7 July and an impatient Wellington ordered a storming on the 25th. The British attack was repulsed with heavy losses and the reports of a French counterattack through the Pyrenees forced the commander to weaken his besieging force and move to stop Marshal Soult's offensive.

When the danger had been ended at the battle of Sorauren, Wellington moved back to San Sebastian and brought his full force against the defenders.

On 31 August he sent in a second attack and despite heavy losses - more than 2000 men - the British captured the town, although the French still held the important castle.

With the failure of a final relief attempt in early September, Rey had little choice but to negotiate a surrender. He and his men were allowed to march out with full honours of war, having defied Wellington's army for more than two months.

Rey's men had suffered more than 2000 casualities, while the British lost almost twice as many.



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