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Combat on the Ocreza - 14 August 1810

Introduction

This is the first battle in our Peninsular wars campaign. 

The action takes place on the Ocreza River, on the road from Castello Branco to Abrantes. 

The Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellington holds the high ground overlooking the bridge spanning the Ocreza river.  The previous day, British cavalry pickets were driven in by superior French cavalry screening an unknown force advancing towards the river. The morning dawns bright and clear.  At least 4 Anglo-Portuguese divisions are arrayed facing the French.  Who knows what lies behind the ridge?

   

The Battle

The French begin their advance.  At least 2 divisions are visible. With his telescope, Wellington notices that the French commander has red hair - Ney!

Covered by swarms of tiralleurs, the French advance in column across the bridge.  The skirmishers locate a ford for the cavalry.

 

 

   

In the centre, the French infantry charge and rout a Portuguese brigade before they are stopped by British artillery. 

On the French right, French dragoons charge and break through a Portuguese brigade, cutting down a battery of gunners before they are stopped by fresh brigade, taking heavy casualties in the process.

Finding a stout defence, the French fall back suddenly - causing much consternation among the British staff.  Portuguese cavalry sent out to reconnoitre report several days later that the French have fallen back to Villa Veiha - 20 miles to the west.  Meanwhile, on 20 August 1810, reports from the north tell of the fall of Almeida.