Welcome to “B” in the A to Z Challenge 2017. The Duke of Wellington is my theme for this year’s Challenge.
Badajoz is a the name of a city and province in the autonomous community of Extremadura in southeastern Spain.
During the Napoleonic or Peninsular Wars, the Earl of Wellington (as Arthur Wellesley was known in 1812) led a successful third siege of Badajoz with his British and Portuguese forces against the French in his attempt recapture Spain from Napoleon and France.
This battle was supposedly one of the highest casualties for Wellington’s army in the wars. Five thousand of 15,000 troops were lost.
After the battle and due to the number of allied losses, the troops went on a 3-day rampage of the city, fueled by the liquor they confiscated after winning the battle. Approximately 4,000 of the Spanish citizens died in this after-battle rampage. The soldiers raped and pillaged the citizens and town.
Unfortunately, another travesty that happened to the citizens of Badajoz occurred during the Spanish Civil War. After the Nationalists took the city, they gathered many of the citizens in the Plaza de Toros and slaughtered them indiscriminately with machine gun fire. Approximately 4,000 people were killed at that time, just like in 1812.
To learn more about the siege of Badajoz in 1812 involving Wellington, I recommend In Hell Before Daylight and Badajoz 1812: Wellington’s Bloodiest Siege (Campaign Series, 65), both books by British military historian Ian Fletcher. Fletcher’s Amazon page can be accessed by clicking HERE.
This is one of my favourite books and it tells the story of the horrifying assault on Badajoz in 1812. The British were in a foul mood, they had been given a hard time by the garrison and suspected that the city’s Spanish inhabitants were French sympathisers, so when they got inside they went berserk. Not a pretty story, but a compelling one, and made better by the baleful reappearance of Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. This is also, to my mind, the best of the TV programmes.
Enjoy this short clip on the battle and present day Badajoz:
Previous A to Z Challenge 2017 posts: