Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Poco Velho

The battle of Fuentes de Orono was fought over three days in May 1811. Wellington fought
the battle to prevent Marshal Massena from taking supplies to the border fortress of Almeida. The first day of the battle was fought in the village of the same name. However two days later the French tried out ouflank Wellington by a surprise attack against the allied left flank. The attack swept through the village of Poco Velho

The village lies in a very open plain about three miles south of Fuentes de Onoro. When we arrived we had a coffee in the tiny bar in the main square opposite this very “Hovels like” building.

We then walked around the village and a short distance to the west, the area where the French launched their surprise attack. It was a very hot afternoon as we settled down in the shade of a small woods. Jan did this sketch of the trees.

At dawn on 5 May 1811 a French infantry division stormed this tiny village, which was held by two battalions of the newly formed 7th Division. The attack would have come down this road. The French infantry were supported by masses of cavalry.

I took this photo with the intention of making a model building for use on our wargames table. Jan later made a model, and it performed well over many years and through many wargames. Unfortunately it was a little large in scale, and we sold it before we came to Spain. I wish I still had it; I could have taken a photo for comparison.

As always Jac Weller’s “Wellington in the Peninsula” was put to good use. There is an excellent description of the fighting which took part in this area, which I read aloud to Jan
whilst she did her sketch of the trees.

This quiet and unassuming battlefield can not have changed much since May 1811. Nor the tiny village of Poco Vehlo. Both are well worth a visit, particularly is you can spare the time to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.

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