Battle of Tamames
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|Battle of Tamames|
|Part of the Peninsular War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Jean Marchand||Duke del Parque|
|Casualties and losses|
|less than 1,400 dead or wounded||
713 dead or wounded|
The Battle of Tamames was a sharp reversal suffered by part of Marshal Michel Ney's French army under Major-General Jean Marchand in the Peninsular War. The French, advancing out of Salamanca, were met and defeated in battle by a Spanish army on 18 October 1809.
Course of battle
The Spanish drew their forces in a defensive line on a low ridge above the village of Tamames. Despite being on excellent defensive ground, the battle opened badly for the Spaniards under General del Parque, who resorted to severe measures to restore discipline. The Spanish cavalry was routed early on, but scathing fire from del Parque's own infantry quickly brought their retreat to grief and directed them back into the fight. Spanish artillery positions similarly fell to the French but were retaken at bayonet point by del Parque's gallant infantry.
The French attacked in masses columns but never in enough strength to dislodge the Spanish. Whilst the French had excellent cavalry (a strange occurrence for the Peninsular Wars) the difficult ground meant that they could not be deployed effectively.
Immediate French losses amounted to about 1,200 killed or wounded on the battlefield. A vigorous pursuit by the Spanish cavalry increased these losses twofold; the Spaniards captured the French colours and a 12-pounder. Participants of the battle were later issued a badge reading Venció en Tamames, "[We] conquered at Tamames."
The VI Corps under Marchand consisted of his own 1st Division (3 battalions each of 6th Light, 39th, 69th and 76th Line), Maj-Gen Maurice Mathieu's 2nd Division (3 bns. each of 25th Light, 27th and 59th Line, and 1 bn. 50th Line), Brig-Gen Jean Lorcet's corps cavalry brigade (3rd Hussars, 15th Chasseurs, 15th and 25th Dragoons). There were about 9,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 30 cannon.
Del Parque's army included Maj-Gen Martin de la Carrera's Vanguard, Maj-Gen Francisco Xavier Losada's 1st Division, Maj-Gen Conde de Belvedere's 2nd Division, Maj-Gen Francisco Ballasteros's 3rd Division, Maj-Gen Marques de Castrofuerte's 5th Division and the Prince of Anglona's Cavalry Division. Altogether there were about 20,000 infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 30 artillery pieces.
The French lost 1,300 killed, wounded and captured. There were 23 officers killed and 55 wounded, including Lorcet. Del Parque's army suffered 713 killed and wounded and 1 gun captured.
Del Parque begged the Duke of Wellington to join him in an attempt to overrun Leon and Old Castile. However, the British general refused. Wellington had found the Spanish completely uncooperative during the campaign which culminated in the Battle of Talavera and his subsequent retreat to Portugal. A chastened Marchand would avenge his defeat at the Battle of Alba de Tormes in November.
- Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill, 1998.
- Smith 1998, p. 333-334.