About Albuera Battlefield
Albuera Battlefield in Spain was the site of a clash between France’s Army of the South or ‘Armée du Midi’ led by Marshal Soult and British, Spanish and Portuguese forces on 16 May 1811 in the Peninsula War.
The Battle of Albuera almost resulted in defeat for the allied armies, but ended largely inconclusively with terrible losses on both sides. Albuera Battlefield is now an open space with few obvious signs of its history, but there is a memorial to the battle in the town of La Albuera.
Albuera Battlefield history
Following October of 1810, the French Marshal Masséna was stuck in a hopeless stand-off with Wellington’s Allied forces. Napoleon ordered Marshal Soult in early 1811 to lead a French expedition from Andalusia to Extremadura to hopefully draw away the allies. However, Napoleon’s information was outdated and Soult’s move came too late as Masséna’s starving army withdrew to Spain from Portugal.
Soult did manage to capture the Badajoz fortress, strongly garrisoning the site on the Spanish-Portuguese border. After hearing of Masséna’s withdrawal from Portugal, Wellington sent a strong force to retake the border town and siege Badajoz. Soult amassed a new army from French forces in Andalusia and marched to Badajoz’s aid.
Unfortunately for Soult, the Spaniards had already combined with an Allied army of British and Portuguese troops – the French information was once again incorrect. His troops were outnumbered and out-planned as the opposing armies met at the Spanish village of Albuera.
During the conflict both sides suffered massive casualties but the French withdrew on the 18 May. The Allies were too battered to pursue them. Despite Soult’s failure to relieve the siege, the battle had little strategic gain for the allies who lated abandoned the siege as the French regrouped.
In 2001, the then Duke of Wellington unveiled a memorial to 3 of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment predecessors who fought in Albuera, on the 190th anniversary of the battle. The monument was placed in the centre of a garden in La Albuera village.
Albuera Battlefield today
Today, Albuera Battlefield is just that – a wide and open field set against the endless Spanish blue sky. Visitors can go on walking tours of Napoleonic Battlefields if you take the short drive from Badajoz to La Albuera village (about 15 miles). In La Albuera’s town square you will find the memorial to the casualties of the battle; a grand white stone arch topped with a marble crown and decorative columns.
You can follow the road where the French forces approached, crossing the river Albuera on a bridge that still remains. The ground before you is flat and featureless with no sign of the battle that raged.
Getting to Albuera Battlefield
From Badajoz, La Albuera and the battlefield is a half hour drive via the N-432. If using public transport, catch the L3 bus from Plaza La Libertad to the Autobus Station, then from Badajoz get the 0014 to La Albuera. This journey takes around 50 minutes.