Siege of Tarifa (1812)
|Siege of Tarifa (1812)|
|Part of Peninsular War|
Puerta de Jerez, a Tarifa city gate from the Middle Ages
| First French Empire
Duchy of Warsaw
| Kingdom of Spain
|Commanders and leaders|
|Jean François Leval|| Francisco Copons
John Byne Skerrett
|15,000, 16 guns||3,000 to 4,000, 26 guns|
|Casualties and losses|
|680, 9–14 guns||68|
In the Siege of Tarifa from 19 December 1811 to 5 January 1812, an Imperial French army under Jean François Leval laid siege to an Anglo-Spanish garrison led by Francisco Copons. Despite the advice of British Colonel John Byne Skerrett to evacuate the city, Copons decided to hold out. Though Tarifa's walls were old and weak, the defenders were greatly aided by continuous rains which flooded the trenches of the French and Polish besiegers. Leval withdrew after making one abortive assault and seeing sickness begin to ravage his soldiers. Unable to extract their heavy siege artillery from the mud, the besiegers destroyed and abandoned most of their cannons. Tarifa is located on Route 340 on the southernmost tip of Spain, or about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Cadiz. The siege occurred during the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars.
General of Division Jean François Leval commanded a corps of 15,000 soldiers and 16 siege guns. His French troops included three battalions of the 16th Light Infantry Regiment, two battalions each of the 43rd, 51st, 54th, 63rd, 94th, and 95th Line Infantry Regiments, and one battalion each of the 27th Light and 8th Line Infantry Regiments. Leval's Polish contingent was made up of two battalions each of the 7th and 9th Infantry Regiments and his cavalry comprised four squadrons each of the 16th and 21st Dragoon Regiments.
General Francisco Copons led the defenders, who numbered 3,000 men and 26 guns. His Spanish brigade included one battalion each of the Irlanda and Cantabria Infantry Regiments, one company of Cazadores (sharpshooters), 120 gunners, and 25 cavalrymen. Colonel John Byne Skerrett's British brigade consisted of the 2nd Battalion of the 47th Foot, 1st Battalion of the 82nd Foot, 2nd Battalion of the 87th Foot, the flank companies of the 1st Battalion of the 11th Foot, one company of the 95th Rifles, one-half squadron of the 2nd King's German Legion Hussar Regiment, and one foot artillery battery.
- Smith (1998), 373
- Gates, David (2002). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-9730-6.
- Rickard, J. (2008). "Siege of Tarifa, 20 December 1811-5 January 1812". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.