The Napoleonic War in Southern Spain

The Spanish, British and French struggle for supremacy on Land & Sea

BattlefieldHistory

Tour Introduction

This exciting new tour takes us to some of the most elegant and historic sites and sights in all Spain including Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz – not to mention a stop-over in Gibraltar. There is a strong Moorish influence in the architecture of the region, and we will be travelling through the largely unspoiled Andalusian countryside in late Spring when it will be at its rural best. Overnight stops in historic hotels and the grand colonial Rock Hotel in Gibraltar are the icing on the cake on what promises to be a fascinating tour.

Your Guide will be Napoleonic Wars expert Tim Clayton, the award-winning and best-selling author of ‘Trafalgar – The Men, the Battle, The Storm’, Tars: the Men who made Britain Rule the Waves, and Waterloo: Four Days that Changed Europe’s Destiny.

It is a long time since we were last in this area, and we will be visiting a number of new locations – so we invite you to join us on what will be a voyage of discovery. We hope you will enjoy breaking new ground with us!

Background

Cadiz, the principal Spanish naval port, was blockaded by Nelson in 1797-8 and again in 1805, and was the backdrop on 21 October 1805 for Nelson’s great victory at Trafalgar. The battle was followed by a storm during which Spanish and French ships attempted to escape to Cadiz, but many were wrecked on the coast between there and Gibraltar – into which limped HMS Victory with Nelson’s body aboard. When the Spanish subsequently rebelled against France in 1808, Cadiz became the capital of independent Spain and a base for operations against the French, who besieged it from 1810 to 1812. We visit the battlefield of Bailén where, in July 1808, the Spanish defeated a French army – the first occasion on which a Napoleonic army was defeated anywhere in Europe. This, together with the capture by the Spanish of the French naval squadron at Cadiz, enthused the British to enter what became known as the Peninsular War. This gives us an opportunity to look at some of the British battlefields, including Graham’s spectacular victory at Barossa, and to visit Gibraltar to see the pivotal role it played in events.

Highlights

  • Napoleonic War Expert, Tim Clayton is your guide
  • Tours of historic Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz & Gibraltar
  • Battles of Bailén, Cordoba & Barossa

Itinerary

Day 1 - Jaen

Fly London to Malaga and drive to the beautiful historic town of Jaen where French General Sebastiani defeated a Spanish force during the French invasion of Andalucia in January 1810. Check-in to our hotel for one night.

Day 2 - Battle of Bailén and Cordoba

This morning we drive to Bailén to see how the Spanish Army won a dramatic victory over the French there in 1808. We pause just beyond Bailén at the position of the Spanish front line where the main struggle took place on 19 July and take a drink at the Casa da Postas in Andújar where Dupont surrendered. Continue to Cordoba, sacked by the French before the battle, to check-in to our hotel for one night and a free afternoon to explore the labyrinth of old streets and the impressive Mezquita.

Day 3 - To Seville

Today we travel on to Seville, taking the opportunity of discussing British cavalry actions that took place on the open plains north of our route. We arrive in Seville in good time to tour this splendid city – headquarters of Spain’s Supreme Junta from 1808 to 1810, and then of Marshal Soult’s French Army of occupation until stormed and recaptured by an Anglo-Spanish force in August 1812. We check-in to our hotel for one night.

Day 4 - Cadiz Coast & Battle of Barrosa

Today we move onto to explore the coast south of Cadiz. When the French arrived at Cadiz on 5 February 1810 they found it securely held against them. We admire the fine 18th century buildings of the Arsenal of La Caracca, the Royal shipyard and naval base. We go to the beach at Sancti Petri to the spot where the Spanish set up a bridge of boats to support the force that fought at Barossa. We see the lines of the siege – a number of blockhouses from the defences of Cadiz survive on the beach at the mouth of the Sancti Petri river where several ships from the battle of Trafalgar were wrecked. We drive a little further south to look over the site of the battlefield of Barrosa where General Graham’s outnumbered force won a brilliant victory on March 5th 1811. Return to Cadiz and check-in to our hotel for two nights.

Day 5 - Old Cadiz

We visit the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen where the officers of the Combined Spanish/French Fleet heard mass before putting to sea for Trafalgar. At the Alameda gardens we look out to where Nelson’s raid took place on 3 July 1797. We pass Wellington’s HQ in December 1812 in Calle Veedor and climb the Tavira Tower, the City’s watchtower from which citizens watched the Battle of Trafalgar. We study the forts of San Sebastián and Santa Catalina, near where Villeneuve’s flagship Bucentaure finally broke up in the storm after Trafalgar. Some time to shop, relax and enjoy the sunset view out over the sea.

Day 6 - Trafalgar & Tarifa

In the morning we visit Cape Trafalgar and discuss the famous naval battle. We drive on to the town of Tarifa to examine the French siege from December 1811 to January 1812. Then on to Gibraltar and spend the afternoon exploring the Lower Rock and in particular the Moorish Castle and the Windsor Galleries siege tunnels. We look across the bay and describe the night Battle of Algesiras in 1801. Check-in to our classic colonial hotel on the Rock itself for two nights.

Day 7 - Gibraltar

We start the day by orientating ourselves at the Gibraltar Museum and then climb to the top of the Rock to visit O’Hara’s Battery and the breathtaking St Michael’s Cave. We visit the Trafalgar Cemetery where some of the dead from the battle are buried, before continuing to the restored Parson’s Lodge Battery and Napier’s Battery with its 100 ton gun which overlooks Rosia Bay where the battered HMS Victory sought refuge after Trafalgar. Fly Gibraltar to London Heathrow.

Recommended Reading List

TCE Choice

The Napoleonic War in Southern Spain

Tour Dates

To be confirmed

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