The Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro took place over three days, from the 3rd – 5th May 1811.
Arthur Wellesley (Lord Wellington) declared it one of his closest victories by saying, “If Boney had been there, we should have been beaten.”
Wellington’s 1810 campaign had ended with victory at Busaco, but not having the numbers needed to push further into Spain he withdrew to Lisbon and his prepared formidable defences. Masséna followed before arriving at the Lines of Torres Vedras. These fortifications were an extensive, well prepared double line of interlocking positions with well crewed guns, designed to hold a French army outside the Portuguese capital. Massena had no choice but to make camp for the winter outside Lisbon and suffered through a miserable weather with little provisions, most of which had been brought inside Lisbon. As the Spring came, The French withdrew to the Spanish border with Wellington’s army in pursuit.
These armies met at Fuentes de Oñoro, which sits just inside Spain, between the might fortresses of Almedia and Cuidad Rodrigo. Wellington was slightly outnumbered, and used the terrain to his best advantage, the small village of Fuentes saw some of the fiercest fighting in the narrow streets of stone walls. This settlement has seen little change in the 200 years since, so we will be able to explore this battlefield and see where this hand-to-hand fighting took place.