1707-04-25 – Battle of Almansa
On 10 April, Galway crossed the frontier of Murcia and after destroying one or two magazines, laid siege to Villena. While thus engaged, he heard that Berwick having collected his army was advancing towards Almansa, some 40 km to the northeast, and that the Duc d’Orléans was on his way to join him with reinforcements. Thereupon Galway and Das Minas resolved to advance and fight Berwick at once, apparently without taking pains to ascertain what the numbers of his army might actually be. Berwick had with him approx. 25,000 men, half French, half Spanish, besides a good train of artillery. Galway, owing to the frightful mortality on board the newly-arrived transports, had but 15,500 men of which a bare third were British, half were Portuguese, and the remainder Dutch, German, and Huguenot.
Description of Events
On 25 April 1707, the Allies marched to Almansa.
Berwick drew up his army in the usual two lines on a plain to the south of Almansa, his right resting on rising ground towards Montalegre, his left on a height overlooking the road to Valencia, while his right centre was covered by a ravine which gradually lost itself on level ground towards his extreme right flank. The force was formed according to rule with infantry in the centre and cavalry on each flank, the Spaniards taking the right and the French the left.
At midday, after a march of 13 km, Galway approached to within 2 km of Berwick’s position, and formed his line of battle according to the prescribed methods. The Portuguese claimed the post of honour on the right wing, so that the British and Dutch took the left, though with several Portuguese squadrons among them in the second line. But finding himself weak in cavalry, Galway made good the deficiency by interpolating battalions of foot among his horse.
Galway then rested his troops for an hour.
In mid-afternoon, the artillery of the Allies opened on Berwick’s positions. The Franco-Spanish artillery soon replied. The artillery duel was quite ineffectual.
At 3:00 p.m., Galway opened an echeloned attack. His cavalry left wing advanced first , with the infantry of the left centre following closely. Carpenter’s Dragoon Brigade was the first to attack. The Reales Guardias de Corps under the Duke de Sarno advanced against them. The cavalry attack was driven back by sheer weight of numbers but Southwell’s Foot and and Wade’s Foot, which were among the interpolated battalions, came up, and by opening fire on the left flank of the Reales Guardias de Corps gave the British sqns time to rally and by an effective charge to drive the guards back in confusion.
Pozoblanco Cavalry covered the retreat of the Reales Guardias de Corps, who rallied and counter-attacked, penetrating up to the second line of the Allied left wing where Hill’s Infantry Brigade drove them back.
Galway led a second attack at the head of his dragoons and reached the second line of cavalry of Berwick’s right wing. Courville’s Infantry Brigade, posted on the extreme right of the second line of infantry, divided itself in three part. Maine Infanterie opened a devastating fire on Carpenter’s Dragoon Brigade which had reached the second line, while the rest of the brigade engaged Wade’s Infantry Brigade.
With two fresh sqns of Berwick’s second line of cavalry, Lieutenant-General d’Asfeld engaged the second line of Galway’s cavalry left wing to pin it down and cover the Courville’s Infantry Brigade
Meanwhile, the rest of the British foot on the left centre fell, heedless of numbers, straight upon the Franco-Spanish infantry and drove them back in confusion upon their second line. The Combined Battalion of Foot Guards and the Queen's Royal Regiment of Foot following up their success broke through the second line also and pursued the scattered fugitives to the very walls of Almansa. So far as the Allied left was concerned the battle was going well.
Galway, who had been wounded in combat, was brought to the rear to be treated.
During this time, the Portuguese infantry of the centre right had advanced to cover the flank of the infantry of the centre left. However, the Portuguese right wing (a mix of cavalry and infantry had remained motionless, creating a gap between the Portuguese infantry of the centre right and the Portuguese right wing.
A Spanish cavalry brigade of Berwick’s left wing advanced against the exposed right flank of the Portuguese infantry centre right.
Seeing that the Portuguese right wing was remaining idle, Berwick took advantage of the situation and launched his cavalry left wing upon them. After a fierce fight, the Portuguese right wing broke and fled. Its retreat was covered by a few sqns under the Marquis das Minas’ personal command.
The first line of infantry of the Allied centre was left to bear the brunt alone. Berwick attacked it on three sides. For a time the Allied bns stood up gallantly enough, but the odds were too great, and they were presently overwhelmed and utterly dispersed.
Then Berwick brought up his French, both horse and foot, against the victorious British on his right. The British cavalry had suffered heavily in the first attack, all four rgts having lost their commanding officers, and in spite of all their efforts, they were borne back and swept away by the numbers of the French sqns.
The Allied infantry, surrounded on all sides, fought desperately and repeatedly repulsed the enemy's onset, but being overpowered by numbers, were nearly all of them, English, Dutch, and Germans, cut down or captured.
The action had lasted about two hours.
By great exertions, Galway, who had returned to the battle, brought off some remnant of them in good order and retreated unpursued to Ontiniente, some 32 km distant. The guns also were saved. However, a party of 13 bns which had been brought off the field by General Shrimpton, were left behind without any support. These bns retired, pursued by the Spanish cavalry and took up a defensive position some 12 km from the battlefield.
On 26 April in the morning, the 13 isolated Allied bns were compelled to lay down their arms and surrender.
This decisive victory allowed the Bourbon to reclaim most of Eastern Spain.
The Franco-Spanish forces lost approx. 3,000 men killed and 3,000 wounded.
The Allies lost 4,000 men killed or wounded and 5,000 prisoners.
Order of Battle
Allied Order of Battle
Summary: 42 bns and 53 sqns for a total of 15,500 men (4,800 British, 7,870 Portuguese, 1,480 Dutch, 1,100 Huguenots, 250 Imperialists).
N.B.: units are listed from right to left.
|First Line||Second Line|
|Right Wing under General Das Minas|
|General Villaverde (5 bns, 16 sqns)
Noronha’s Brigade (7 sqns)
Silveira’s Brigade (3 bns)
Amaça’s Brigade (3 sqns)
Silveira’s Brigade cont’d (2 bns)
Amaça’s Brigade (6 sqns)
|General Don Juan De Alayda (4 bns, 12 sqns)
Mello’s Brigade (3 sqns)
Vasconcellos’ Brigade (2 bns)
Mello’s Brigade cont’d (6 sqns)
Vasconcellos’ Brigade cont’d (2 bns)
Mello’s Brigade cont’d (3 sqns)
|Centre under General Erle|
|General Shrimpton (14 bns)
Ilha’s Brigade (6 bns)
Dohna’s Brigade (4 bns)
Macartney's Brigade (4 bns)
|General Friesheim (11 bns)
Henriques’ Brigade (4 bns)
Lislemarais’s Brigade (3 bns)
Bretton’s Brigade (4 bns)
|Left Wing under General Earl of Galway|
|General Tyrawley (4 bns, 14 sqns)
Siluten’s Brigade (6 sqns)
Wade’s Brigade (2 bns)
Killigrew’s Brigade (5 sqns)
Wade’s Brigade cont’d (2 bns)
Carpenter’s Brigade (3 sqns)
|General Conte de Atalaya (4 bns, 11 sqns)
Queyroga’s Brigade (4 sqns)
Hill’s Brigade (2 bns)
Queyroga’s Brigade cont’d (3 sqns)
Hill’s Brigade cont’d (2 bns)
Queyroga’s Brigade cont’d (4 sqns)
- 20 Portuguese guns
- 6 British guns
Franco-Spanish Order of Battle
Commander-in-chief: Maréchal Duke of Berwick
Summary: 52 bns and 76 sqns for a total of 25,400 men (11,900 French, 13,500 Spaniards)
|First Line||Second Line|
|Lieutenant-General Duque de Popoli (21 sqns)
Silly’s Brigade (11 sqns)
Ronquillo’s Brigade (10 sqns)
|Lieutenant-General d’Asfeld (16 sqns)
Croa’s Brigade (10 sqns)
Gutiérrez’s Brigade (6 sqns)
|Centre under Lieutenant-General San Gilles|
|Lieutenant-General Labadie (14 bns)
Valle’s Brigade (6 bns)
Charni’s Brigade (4 bns)
Castillo’s Brigade (4 bns)
Major-General Vicentelo (15 bns)
Sillery’s Brigade (5 bns)
Polastron’s Brigade (5 bns)
Beauvayes’ Brigade (5 bns)
|Lieutenant-General Hessy (23 bns)
Courville’s Brigade (4 bns)
Davila’s Brigade (4 bns)
Du Burdel’s Brigade (5 bns)
Chaves’ Brigade (4 bns)
Pons’ Brigade (6 bns)
|General Marquès d'Avaray (25 sqns)
Cordoba’s Brigade (10 sqns)
Sandricourt’s Brigade (7 sqns)
Dozeville’s Brigade (6 sqns)
|Lieutenant-General Havré de Croy (14 sqns)
Rufo’s Brigade (6 sqns)
Pelleport’s Brigade (6 sqns)
Dozeville’s Brigade (2 sqns)
Artillery (40 guns)
This article incorporates texts from the following books, which are now in the public domain:
- Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 484-488
Wikipedia – Battle of Almansa