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Siege of Astorga

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siege of Astorga
Part of the Peninsular War
Stone walls of the city of Astorga

The walls of Astorga
Date21 March – 22 April 1810
Location42°27′30″N 6°3′30″W / 42.45833°N 6.05833°W / 42.45833; -6.05833
Result French victory[1]
Astorga, Spain
 France  Spain
Commanders and leaders
France André Masséna
France Jean-Andoche Junot
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg
José María Santocildes
27,000[1] 2,800[1]
Casualties and losses
800[1] 2,800[1]
Peninsular war: 1810-1811 Third Invasion of Portugal

The siege of Astorga was an attempt by French forces to capture Astorga, Spain in a campaign of the Peninsular War. Astorga was located on the flank of the French invasion of Spain and Portugal, and was meant to be used as a headquarters during the campaign. For several weeks no attack took place, as neither side had artillery enough to fight well. Shortly after the French guns arrived, however, a hole was made in the wall and the city fell shortly thereafter. The French overpowered the Spanish garrison inside and took the city on April 20, 1810; with a loss of 160 men.


Astorga is located in the province of León, in northwest Spain.[2] Because of its location, it sat on the flank of the French army as they advanced into Spain, and then invaded Portugal.[3] The city was built into a hill, part of the Manzanal mountains;[2] and therefore was provided with natural defenses.[4] The French had already been defeated once trying to take the city, in September 1809,[5] after which General La Romana repaired the walls of the city and built up its defenses.[6]


The French forces, part of André Masséna's army, were led by Jean-Andoche Junot.[4] Junot arrived at Astorga on March 21 with Napoleon's 8th corps, consisting of 12,000 men, including 1,200 cavalry forces.[5] Junot's forces included the Irish Legion; they had joined earlier that month.[3] Astorga would be the first action for the Second Battalion of the Legion.[3] Junot placed Bertrand Clausel's division in the position Loison had held,[7] with Solignac in support, and St. Croix to watch the rear.[4]


General Loison attempted to take the city in February 1810, as it was meant to be his headquarters during the invasion of Portugal; but was unprepared to attack the defenses he found there, and was forced to retreat.[6] Junot's troops came to assist Loison, but brought no siege guns with them; It took Junot weeks to gather enough artillery to assault the town.[8] In the meantime, the French forces dug trenches to besiege the town.[8] Incidentally, the English and Spanish troops under Wellington had the same troubles when they recaptured the city in 1812.[9] The garrison in Astorga had no siege guns, either: for several weeks there was a standoff.[8] During these weeks, Santocildes emptied the town of 3,000 of its residents and stocked up on supplies for the siege,[4] which began on March 21 of 1810.[10] The Spanish could expect no hope from Wellington's forces, which remained in Portugal.[11] Until the siege guns arrived, there was no action except nuisance fire from what little artillery Junot had,[7] and skirmish parties sent out from Astorga.[4]

Junot's 18 siege guns arrived on April 15 from Valladolid,[7] and by the 20th, the wall of the city was breached.[12] The French stormed the city the next evening;[3] however, their first attack was repulsed at the cost of 300 men.[12] Those of the storming company who were not killed holed up just inside the wall and held the position for the night.[4] The next morning, Santocildes surrendered as the French were preparing for another attack.[12]


Santocildes was almost out of ammunition when he surrendered: he had fewer than 30 rounds of ammunition left per man, and only 8 rounds of artillery.[5] He gave the French 2,500 prisoners and the city, but cost the French 160 men, with 400 wounded.[4] His garrison lost only 51 dead and 109 wounded.[4] Most of the French casualties came in the assault on the breach.[12] The Irish Legion led the charge over the wall, and suffered heavy losses: Captain John Allen's company's drummer boy continued to beat the charge after having lost both legs, for which he was given the French Legion of Honor.[3]



  • Bodart, Gaston (1908). Militär-historisches Kriegs-Lexikon (1618-1905). Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Goldberg, Maren (28 April 2008). Astorga. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-08-29.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • Medlen, Virginia (2008). "Napoleon's Irish Legion: La Legion Irlandaise 1803 - 1815". The Napoleonic Historical Society. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Rickard, John (2021). "Siege of Astorga, 21 March-22 April 1810". Archived from the original on 23 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Southey, Robert (1828). History of the Peninsular War. IV (New, in 6 volumes ed.). London: John Murray. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Fortescue, John William (1912). A History of the British Army. 7. Macmillan Publishers.
  • Gates, David (2001). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81083-2.
  • Oman, Sir Charles William Chadwick; Hall, John Alexander (1908). A History of the Peninsular War. 4. Clarendon Press.
  • Esdaile, Charles J. (2003). The Peninsular War: A New History. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-6231-6. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Jones, John Thomas (1821). Account of the War in Spain, Portugal, and the South of France (2nd ed.). T. Egerton.
  • Napier, William (1828b). History of the war in the Peninsula and in the south of France. II. London : T. & W. Boone. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  • Esdaile, Charles J. (1988). The Spanish Army in the Peninsular War. Manchester University Press ND. ISBN 0-7190-2538-9.
This page was last edited on 26 May 2021, at 16:12
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