Second Ocreza - 9 September 1810


After probing British defences on 14 August, Ney decides to make an all-out attack to capture the bridge over the Ocreza.  

British force strength is estimated at 2 divisions with 11 batteries of attached artillery and 2 units of Portuguese dragoons.  The British commander is "Daddy" Hill - Wellington having diverted his attention to Busaco.  The French come on in Corps strength, with Ney at its head, drums beating and colours flying.

[Click on any of the images to get a full-sized pic.]


The French open the battle with an assault on the British left flank.  The initial attack is driven off by a sharp local counterattack by British infantry charging down from their defensive positions on top of the ridge.  The French try again, but are beaten back, despite a costly charge by their Hussars.

Meanwhile, Ney develops an assault against the British centre.  Accurate British artillery fire causes the attack to falter.  Ney, Mermet and Lamotte fall in quick succession under the hail of artillery and skirmish fire.  Portuguese dragoons are ordered to charge the flank of this faltering attack.  In a magnificent charge sweeping from one end of the board to the other, the Portuguese roll up the entire French army and cause it to panic.

The French manage to rally their routing and retreating troops and fling them back against the British.  Bereft of cavalry, the British reel back against the ferocity of this attack.  Now it is the British turn to flee.  The routing 4th Division causes the other to break.

Amazingly, the British rally their depleted brigades and throw them against the French.  The lone French regiment to crest the ridge is set upon on three sides by 5 batteries of Portuguese artillery and promptly blown to bits.  The rest of the French wisely decide to hold the foot of the ridge.

By nightfall, both sides fall exhausted to the ground.  Routing troops are rallied, deserters and skivers are rounded up.  Frantic messengers are sent to the rear for reinforcements.  What will day 2 bring?