Friday, 10 July 2009

Campaign Diary

7 June – End of Campaign

Spanish settle down to blockade of French garrisons and the rest and recuperate from the campaign

French are secure in their garrisons, but have lost all control of the surrounding area.

6 June

Spanish now control all of the roads between Lerida, Tarragona and Barcelona

French garrisons of Tarragona and Lerida are isolated, but have sufficient supplies to last for at least 21 days.

5 June

Spanish tighten blockade of Lerida and Tarragona

French 15th corps continues towards Barcellona

4 June

Spanish approach Tarragona and Lerida

French 15th corps continues towards Barcelona.

3 June

Spanish cautiously recross the river Ebro and follow French retreat

French hold Lerida and Tarragona, 15th corps continue towards Barcelona

2 June – start of French withdrawal

Spanish continue to hold their positions on west bank of Ebro

French 5th corps enters Tarragona, 15th corps starts back to Barcelona and 4th corps holds line of Ebro.

1 June

Spanish hold their positions on the west bank of Ebro

Marshal Suchet receives news of guerrilla activity between Barcelona and the French border and issues orders to hold Lerida and Tarragona, but orders 15th corps back to Barcelona

30 May

Spanish complete their withdrawal behind the river Ebro and deploy to cover the bridges.

French recce the river but fail to find an undefended bridge or ford.

29 May
The Spanish withdraw over the river Ebro and take up defensive positions at Vandelets and Mora. 2nd Army covers the retreat.

The French enter Cambrils and Prades and regroup.

28 May – Second Battle of Cambrils – see battle report

All four Spanish armies are concentrated at Cambrils and about to retire over the river Ebro, when they are attacked by the three French corps.

The first French attack is by 5th corps on the left. They storm the village, but the Spanish hold their own, counter attack and rout the French. Suchet has no option but to halt the remaining two corps until he can rally 5th corps. By then it is nightfall and too late to attack again. Under cover of darkness the Spanish slip away and cross the river Ebro at Vandelets

27 May

Captain-General Copons sees a chance to destroy the isolated 4th French corps. He orders 2nd and 3rd armies to cross the river Ebro and close on Cambrils. When he arrives he finds that the French have retreated towards Reus. However he has rescued 1st and 4th armies and prepares to retreat back across the river Ebro.

Marshal Suchet has concentrated his three corps at Reus and orders them to advance and engage the Spanish with their backs to the river Ebro. The critical battle of the campaign is about to be fought

26 May – Battle of Cambrils – see battle report

4th French corps ordered to take Cambrils to prevent 1st and 4th Spanish armies retreating to Vandelets They both reach the battlefield in column of march, but the French are quicker to deploy, advance and pin the leading 1st Spanish army.

4th Spanish move to engage the French flank, but the are attacked and routed. 1st Spanish has started to deploy, but are also routed.

At this stage Marshal Suchet arrives on the battlefield and orders 4th corps to halt. He wants to lure the remaining two Spanish armies, safe behind the river Ebro, to move forward to the east bank so that he can destroy all of the Spanish armies, not just two of them.

26 May 1813 - Battle of Cambrils

25 May

With the loss of Prades, Captain-General Copons decides he is no longer able to maintain the siege of Tarragona, and orders a retreat to the river Ebro. 1st and 4th Armies will cover the retreat, 2nd and 3rd will secure bridges at Mora and Vandelets.

24 May – Battle of Prades – see battle report

As Munsier approached Prades he finds the pass blocked because 3rd Spanish hold the village, and he has to move over the mountains. In doing so they engage and defeat 1st Spanish who are moving to support Prades. Because of the detour the battle starts late in the day and the French are unable to follow up their victory

23 May

Munsier enters Juncosta and finds a large Spanish force blocking his road south at Prades. He orders an immediate attack

O’Donnell’s 4th Army moves south and occupies Vedrell on the coastal road to prevent Suchet reaching Tarragona

22 May

Musnier is aware that a battle has been fought near Tarragona, due to the sound of cannon fire on 20 May. He is also aware Roche is at Flix, between himself the Tarragona. He has received no orders since leaving Barcelona 8 days earlier. He decides that he should march to the sound of the guns, and moves to Flix.

Suchet leaves a small garrison at Barcelona, and marches towards Tarragona with 15th Polish corps.

By late afternoon Captain-General Copons is aware of all of these movements at his headquarters at Vals. He orders 4th corps to move to Vedrell and prevent Suchet from reaching Tarragona. He will concentrate 1st and 3rd Armies at Prades and prevent Musnier from reaching Tarragona.

21 May

General Musnier has taken Lerida with 4th corps, but is disappointed to find no trace of the General Roche. He rests his corps, but orders his cavalry to find where the Spanish have gone. At nightfall he receive confirmation that they have moved to Flix, on the mountain road to Tarragona.

General Habert is isolated in Tarragona. The city has sufficient rations for 10 days, but will have to surrender is not relieved or resupplied by then.

General Hairspe arrives at Barcelona, where he is allowed to rest his weary Poles for 24 hours, but must be ready to march at first light.

Captain-General is pleased that his army has performed so well at Reus. He orders 2nd Army to occupy the town and impose the siege on Tarragona. 1st Army is ordered north to Vals to prevent Musner from marching on Tarragona.

20 May – Battle of Reus – see battle report

4th corps enter Lerida and are not too surprised to find the city empty. Measures are taken to punish the local junta as they are assumed to have supported the Spanish occupation. 3rd Spanish army are known to have retired south, and patrols are sent to discover their exact whereabouts. 15th corps reach Barcelona and are ordered to prepare for an immediate move towards Reus.

At Reus General Halbert realizes for the first time that he is outnumbered 2 to 1. He garrisons the town with two infantry brigades to delay 2nd Spanish army. He then advances against 1st Spanish army with the remainder. General Del Parque is the best of the Spanish commanders, and holds his own against the French. At nightfall General Halbert orders a retreat to Tarragona.

20 May 1813 - Battle of Reus

19 May

3rd Spanish army vacate Lerida as 4th corps approach, they move south to put themselves between Lerida and Tarragona. 15th Polish approach Barcelona, still shadowed by 4th army. With only the weak garrison of Barcelona, Suchet must wait for the Poles to arrive before he can take any action to support 5th corps at Reus.

Copons orders 1st and 2nd armies to attack Reus. Orders are sent to 3rd army to take up position at Flix and to delay any attempt by the French at Lerida to march towards Tarragona. 4th army is ordered not to make any move against Barcelona, but to be prepared to block any attempt by 15th corps to march towards Tarragona.

18 May

4th corps are now reaching the open terrain north of the mountains, and within a couple of days march of Lerida. Suchet is aware of Spanish activity to the south, but does not consider it a major threat. 15th corps increase their rate of march, still unaware of the Spanish presence in the mountains to their north.

5th corps move to Reus to protect both the main road to Barcelona and the approach to Tarragona. They report to Suchet at Barcelona that they expect to engage at least one Spanish army.

2nd Spanish army halts at Prades to allow 1st army to draw closer in preparation for their advance on Reus.

17 May

4th corps continue their march towards Lerida.. 5th corps patrols report Spanish activity around Prades, and this news is forwarded to Marshal Suchet at Barcelona. He orders 15th corps to increase their efforts to reach the weakly held city.

1st and 2nd Spanish armies cross river Ebro and march towards Tarragona.

16 May

As 4th corps continue their march through the mountains towards Lerida, local guerrilla groups close the roads behind them and they lose communications with Barcelona. This was expected and is not a cause for concern. 15th corps meet no opposition on their march to Barcelona., and are unaware that the 4th army are moving parallel to them.5th corps patrol north and west of Tarragona but find no trace of the enemy.

The Spanish CinC issues order to 1st and 2nd armies to move on Tarragona. 3rd army will remain in Lerida until the French approach and 4th army will continue to keep a close watch on 15th corps. No move is to be made against Barcelona, as nothing must prompt 4th corps to abandon their march on Lerida.

15 May

At first light 4th corps depart from Barcelona and enter the mountains on their way to Lerida. By midday 15th corps commence their move from Girona to Barcelona. 5th corps at Tarragona are ordered to increase their patrols both north and south of the city.

By nightfall Copons is aware of the French activity. Orders are issued for 4th army to shadow 15th corps as it moves west, but not to engage them. The remainder of the Spanish armies will wait until 4th corps is well into the mountains before they start their move on Tarragona.

14 May – Start of Tarragona Campaign

At his headquarters in Barcelona Marshal Soult receives news of the fall of Lerida and the loss of communications between Barcelona and Zaragoza. He immediately orders 4th corps to march from Barcelona to Lerida, destroy the Spanish army there and open communications again. 15th corps at Girona is ordered to move to Barcelona.

At Tortosa Captain-General Copons waited anxiously to see how the French would react. He ordered his four armies to keep a low profile, and for a careful watch to be kept on the three French garrisons.

14 May 1813 - Start of Campaign


  1. Interesting. Question of the day: Will the exposed Spanish corps at Olot fall back to preserve its own communications, shadowing the French advancing from Girona as it does so, or attempt to take the hated invaders in flank?

    I am really enjoying these campaigns, and hoping to put some of the lessons to use with my sons. Thanks for all your work in making this available to us.

  2. Hi Ken

    Sorry its taken so long to reply, but I was not aware that you had posted. Comments are supposed to come to me first, so that I know about them. I must have set it up wrong!

    4th Spanish (the isolated one) is moving through the mountains and out of sight of 5th Polish. At present it is under strict orders not to engage the Poles. First, they would probably get the worse of the exchange. Second, and more important, the French must be kept unaware of any Spanish aggession until the the garrison of Tarragona is completely isolated and the Spanish can destroy them.

    I am so pleased that you are enjoying the campaigns.

    You may not be aware, but I have just started a forum to discuss Napoleonic Campaigns. It is called Campaigns of Napoleon and can be found at

    If you want help setting up a campaign this is the place to go.




I have set the settings for comments to come to me before posting so that I will not miss any