What was the Battle of Alcolea (1808)?


The Battle of Alcolea Bridge was a minor battle that took place on 07 June 1808, during the Peninsular War, at Alcolea, a small village 10 km from Córdoba, the city that would be invaded by French troops later that same afternoon.

Part of the Peninsular War.

Engraving depicts the Battle of Alcolea Bridge, a minor battle that took place on 7 June 1808, during the Peninsular War, at Alcolea. Dated 1808. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Battle

It is significant in that it was the first staged battle against regular Spanish troops that General Pierre Dupont de l’Étang fought in Andalusia after having left Toledo on 24 May, heading for Cádiz, with 18,000 troops. Although successive movements of French troops would be harried by Spanish guerrilleros fighting along the way, on both sides of the Sierra Morena and in the steep gorge (defile) of Despeñaperros that separates Castile-La Mancha (including Madrid) and Andalusia, Dupont met with no resistance there.

At Alcolea, some 3,000 regular troops, accompanied by some armed civilians, tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the Dupont’s vastly superior forces at the bridge over the Guadalquivir and were forced to retreat to Córdoba. Dupont went on to capture Córdoba that same day, his troops ransacking the city over four days.

The seventy troops Dupont had left to protect the bridge were later massacred by guerrillas led by Juan de la Torre, the mayor of the town of Montoro.

One of the Spanish soldiers who fought at Alcolea was Pedro Agustín Girón, who would later become a minister of war, and who would also accuse General Echávarri of not having personally participated.


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