Talk:Battle of Nivelle
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If anyone could find and insert/leave an address for that picture on this article that would be greatly appriciated.
Who is the Hamilton referred to in this article? There have been very many people with that name, but I haven't yet found one who was a commander of Portuguese troops in the Peninsular Wars. --Russ (talk) 11:44, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Some time ago I discussed the field works involved in this battle on talk:Trench warfare. I am copying the quote here so that the information is available for the further development of this article.
At the moment the article is terse on its description of the fortifications that were involved in this battle: "Arrayed in front of the course of the River Nivelle whose route was marked by a series of hills on which the French had built strong defensive positions or redoubts." Yet the fortifications were very substantial and are crucial for understanding the battle:
Lord Wellington for that object, immediately on gaining possession of Pamplona, on the 1st November, concentrated his forces to their left; but heavy rains near the coast, and snow in the mountains, attended with exceedingly inclement weather, retarded any forward movement till the 10th November, when the whole* advanced to dislodge the French from a formidable line of works on the Nivelle, which, with great labour and expense, they had been preparing since the failure of their efforts in the Pyrenees.— (Plate 3.)
The position did not follow the windings of the river, but extended in nearly a direct line on either bank from the sea to Ainhoe on the left. The right was particularly strong, being covered by various advanced works, and by an interior line formed round the bridge on the main road to Bayonne, which was further supported by the town of St. Jean de Luz partially retrenched, the Nivelle not being fordable. The left ran in rear of the river along the heights of Ainhoe, which were occupied by five redoubts, and other works, extending on that flank to the lofty mountains in which the Nivelle rises, and terminating favourably at a fortified rock on the same range. This part of their position being Considered by the French as the weakest, and offering the most favourable ground for attack, had been further strengthened by a line of works in front of Ainhoe, also applying its left on the fortified rock before mentioned. In the centre, the Nivelle forms a very considerable interior bend, and their line was formed almost entirely on its left. The bridge at Ascain, and that a little below it, were covered by strong tête-de-pont; and the space included in the bend of the river, from thence to the heights of Ainhoe; was studded with enclosed works and lines of entrenchment's, of which the main defence was on a range of heights behind Sare. That village was barricaded, and the approach covered by two redoubts (a b), and by La Petite Rhune mountain, also retrenched, forming a strong advanced post in its front. The centre being the point where success would be most decisive, as the penetrating columns would separate the wings of the French army, and cause the immediate abandonment of St. Jean de Luz and the right of the line, Lord Wellington ordered it to be attacked simultaneously with the heights of Ainhoe, its immediate support on the left. .... ....These preliminary attacks thus successfully executed, the whole moved forward against the retrenched range of heights in rear of Sare...
... The position on the Nivelle had many great natural advantages: it was taken up with judgment, and neither labour nor expense had been spared for three months to strengthen it to the utmost. Marshal Soult had fully 70,000 men for its defence, and he disputed every inch of the ground till dislodged, and no charge has been brought against him of serious error in his dispositions; ...— Jones 1818, pp. 346–355
- Jones, John T. (1818). Account of the War in Spain and Portugal, and in the South of France: From 1808, to 1814, Inclus. Egerton Insert non-formatted text here. pp. 346–355.
- According to this source Wellington attacked with about 85,000 men and Marshal Soult had about 70,000. The front stretched from the sea to Ainhoa, Pyrénées-Atlantiques to the Atlantic which is a distance of about 12.5 miles (20.1 km).