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Guerilla Peninsular War

RP Models

Guerilla Peninsular War

Model kit. Requires assembly and painting.

UK inc. VAT: £47.00
Excl. VAT: £39.17
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1/12 scale resin bust. Kit includes: 3 optional heads as show in images.

Limited Edition of 150

The Guerrilla War in the Peninsular War refers to the armed actions carried out by non-regular troops againstNapoleon's " Grand Armée" in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War. These armed men were a constant source of harassment to the French army, as described by a Prussian officer fighting for the French:"Wherever we arrived, they disappear, whenever we left, they arrived – they were everywhere and nowhere, they had nothing tangible center that could be attacked." The Peninsular War was significant in that it was the first to see a large-scale use of guerrilla warfare in European history and, as a result of the guerrilla, Napoleon's troops were tied up in the Iberian Peninsula, unable to carry out military operations elsewhere on the continent. The pressure the guerrillas caused on French troops led Napoleon to call the conflict "Spanish Ulcer".

A list drawn up in 1812 puts the number of these irregular troops in Spain alone at 38,520 men, divided into 22 guerrilla gangs. There were several leaders, such as Francisco Abad Moreno "Chaleco", Francisco Espoz y Mina, Joaquín Ibánez, Francisco de Longa, Juan Martín Díez "El Empecinado", ulian Sáncez García, known as "El Charro", Jerónimo Merino, known as "El Cura Menino", Martin Xavier Mina, Tomás de Zumalacárregui, and others... Although locally organized militias have already been deployed in Portugal and Spain, particularly in the regions of Catalonia and Valencia, wherethousands of well-organized miquelets(in conjunction with local militias known as "somatenes") had already proven their worth in the Catalan uprising of 1640 and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Aware of the success of the urban and rural guerrillas until then, on December 28, 1808 the Supreme Central Junta issued the "Reglamento de partidas y Cuadrillas", a decree regulating the formation of guerrilla troops. This would be followed by other decrees in 1809, authorizing the "Earth lysus" (" Earth Lye " ("Land Corsicanries") to keep for themselves all the money, supplies and equipment they could take from the French. Indeed, in some cases, this meant that they were little more than bandits who were, in some cases, feared by French troops and the civilian population. Little by little, these groups would be incorporated into the regular Spanish Army and their leaders would receive regular military patents. Spanish guerrillas often attacked the rear-ranking components of the GrandArmée,including lines of communication and supplies. These guerrillas were mainly ordinary civilians, predominantly from rural areas and generally recruited. The success of these fighters in the conflict was due to the few men and the small amount of equipment and energy needed to maintain a large area and disrupt French movements. Despite the French victory in conventional warfare, unconventional warfare simply could not be won. The stress of the guerrilla conflict put considerable pressure on Napoleon, who noted that it was the case "that killed me".

In late 1809, the damage caused by the guerrillas led the Dutch Brigade, under the command of Major General Chasse, to be deployed, almost exclusively and, largely unsuccessfully, in the counter-guerrilla war in La Mancha. In 1812, when Napoleon left with a large army in what proved to be a disastrous French invasion of Russia, a combined allied army under Wellesley invaded Spain, defeating the French in Salamanca and taking the capital Madrid. The following year, Wellington won a decisive victory over King Joseph Bonaparte's army at the Battle of Victoria. Pursued by the armies of Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult, no longer gaining sufficient support from a depleted France, led the exhausted and demoralized French forces in a combat retreat through the Pyrenees during the winter of 1813-1814.

The years of fighting in Spain were a heavy burden for the "Great Armée" of France. While the French were victorious in the battle, they were eventually defeated, as their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units were often isolated, harassed or oppressed by guerrillas fighting in an intense guerrilla war of attacks and ambushes. The Spanish armies were repeatedly defeated and taken to the peripheries, but they would regroup and pursue relentlessly and demoralize the French troops.

The Peninsular War is considered one of the first popular wars, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare. It is from this conflict that the English language borrowed the word. The guerrillas harassed the French troops, but frightened their own countrymen with forced recruitment and withdrawals. Many of the supporters were running away from the law or trying to get rich. Later in the war, the authorities tried to make the guerrillas reliable. The French believed that enlightened absolutism had made less progress in Spain and Portugal than elsewhere, and that resistance was the product of a century of what the French perceived as delayed knowledge and social habits, Catholic obscurantism, superstition and counter-revolution. The style of guerrilla fighting was the most effective tactic of the Portuguese/Spanish military. Most of the organized attempts of the Regular Portuguese/Spanish forces to face the French ended in defeat. As soon as the battle was lost and the soldiers returned to their guerrilla duties, they tied a large number of French troops to a vast area with a much smaller expenditure of men, energy and supplies and facilitated the conventional victories of Wellington and his Anglo-Portuguese army and the subsequent liberation of Portugal and Spain. The mass resistance of the Spanish people inspired the war efforts of Austria, Russia and Prussia against Napoleon.

Text courtesy of RP Models

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