Battle of Valls
|Battle of Valls|
|Part of the Peninsular War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr||Theodor von Reding (DOW)|
|Casualties and losses|
|1,000 killed or wounded||1,400 killed or wounded,
The Battle of Valls was fought on 25 February 1809, during the Peninsular War between a French force under General Gouvion Saint-Cyr and a Spanish force under General Reding. Fought near the town of Valls in Catalonia Spain, the battle ended in a French victory. The Spanish commander, General Reding, was fatally wounded during a cavalry charge against French cavalry.
During actions on the 15th of February 1809, Reding's left wing was cut off from reinforcement by a French attack. Reding, deciding to retrieve this cut off army, instead of counter striking at Souham. Planning to meet up with his northern units, Reding left Tarragona with only 2,000 men and most of his cavalry. On his way he successfully met up with units, standing guard over the pass to Santa Cristina and another unit at Santas Cruces. Having sufficient strength, he continued to the town of Santa Coloma, arriving there, he met up with his previously cut off left wing. With the combined left wing and the forces he took with him, Reding now had a total of almost 20,000 troops at his disposal. Deciding to defend Tarragona, he dispatched 4-5,000 of his men to watch Igualada and pressed home with his remaining men. St. Cyr aware of Reding's movements, moved to block the two direct routes of returning to Tarragona. Reding aware that Souham had moved and taken position in the town of Valls, still decided to take the route. Committing his forces to a march at night, Reding got his army to a bridge only two miles out of the town before day break.
Upon arriving at the bridge, Reding's vanguard was involved in a skirmish with men of Souham's division. Both general's realizing that the time for battle had arrived rushed to get their men into position. Souham brought the rest of his division out of Valls and set them into position north of town. Reding, deciding that this division was pretty insignificant, pushed his advanced line and most of his center across the river continuing to send more across until the French division finally broke and fell back to Valls. At this point most his men and baggage train had crossed the bridge but nonetheless he decided to give his men a long break. St. Cyr learning of the attack later in the day rushed to Valls with the 7th Italian Dragoons, also bring the Italian division which would be delayed for six hours before joining the French line at Valls. Having seen the French line rallying when St. Cyr arrived with the Italian Cavalry, Reding pulled his forces back across the river in a defensive position. After 3 hours had passed and the Italian division had finally caught up to St. Cyr and little time was wasted forming the French line into battle. St. Cyr formed his line across the river and proceeded to cross under fire from the Spanish forces. The Spanish forces poured fire onto the French attackers but as the columned French grew close to the Spanish line, the Spaniards began routing across their lines and retreated in mass confusion. The only point of hand-to-hand combat came when Reding took his staff and cavalry and attacked the left column only to be met by the Italian dragoons. in the ensuing melee, Reding himself would take three wounds which would later prove fatal.
- Gates, p. 69
- Oman, Charles; Hall, John A. (1903). A History of the Peninsular War. 2. Clarendon Press. pp. 76–.
- Gates, David (2002). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-9730-6.
- Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.