Fought on 27-28 July 1808 on parched plains and hills just 75 miles from Madrid, the Battle of Talavera saw Sir Arthur Wellesley and his Spanish allies take on Prince Joseph Bonaparte’s veteran columns – in a bid for the Spanish capital.
This was the first major pitched battle in which Wellesley used all of the battle winning tactics the world would see time and again throughout the Peninsular and at Waterloo. But it was far from a decided outcome when the French forces advanced, drums beating, standards waving up the steep slopes of the Cerro de Medellín. On the 28th July some 45,000 Frenchmen were concentrated towards a thin red line of British infantry, just 20,000-strong. Could they stand?