1762 - Spanish campaign in Portugal

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The campaign lasted from April to November 1762


When the French court realised that Pitt was against any peace negotiations, it used its dynastic bonds with the Bourbon of Spain to conclude, on August 15, 1761, an alliance known as the "Family Compact". As early as June, the Portuguese minister in London had already warned Great Britain that the French were trying to detach Portugal from its British alliance.

Despite his failure to convince the Cabinet to act immediately against Spanish colonies, Pitt had wrung from them a consent to reinforce Saunders in the Mediterranean and to send out 3,000 fresh troops and 7 more ships of the line to Guadeloupe.

In November, Portugal appealed to Great Britain for help. The Portuguese minister in London asked for 12,000 foot, about 3,500 horse, guns and arms for the whole Portuguese army, and a complete staff to organise and command it. Such a succour was quite out of the question but Portugal was promised half the foot asked, a regiment of light horse and 20,000 stand of arms.

On November 19, the British ultimatum was received in Madrid.

On November 20, 7 ships of the line and 2 frigates were ordered to reinforce Saunders, bringing the Mediterranean fleet up to 19 ships of the line and a dozen frigates, and at the same time Keppel was ordered to send him 3 bomb-vessels. All cruisers on the Portuguese coast were ordered into Lisbon to be ready to receive the news of the result of the ultimatum and to carry it to all stations.

On November 21, the British Admiralty issued warnings in every direction that the ultimatum had been sent. Saunders' attention was specially directed to the ships that were in Cadiz, and he was impressed with the importance of dealing a severe blow at once. At about this time, Saunders sent to Anson a project for dealing a death-blow to the French Mediterranean trade by raiding Marseilles under cover of a feint on Minorca. In view of war with Spain, it was accompanied by another plan for a similar blow on the ships at Cadiz, and for the capture of Oran as an equivalent for Minorca if that island were handed over to Spain. He regretted that never having seen either Marseilles or Cadiz he could not give a decided opinion as to the practicability of his proposals, but he was ready to try so soon as he got the word. His information was that the Spaniards had 10 ships of the line in Cadiz.

In December, the British ambassador in Spain quit Madrid.

On December 10, the Spanish Court issued orders to seize every British vessel, man-of-war or merchantman, in the Spanish ports, with an embargo on all Spanish ships, so as to prevent the news of the seizure getting abroad.

Saunders was at Gibraltar crouching for a spring. He himself, besides his detached ships, had 15 ships of the line in Gibraltar Bay ready to sail at a moment's notice.

On December 24, orders were issued to all British stations to commence hostilities.

On December 26, the Gazette announced a state of war with Spain.

On December 29, Sir Percy Brett, the officer who since 1759 had had charge of the northern section of the Channel blockade, was sent down with 2 more ships of the line and another frigate further to reinforce Saunders.

By the end of 1761, Saunders had not yet received any instruction from Great Britain.

Positional map - Copyright: Kronoskaf

On January 4, Saunders was informed that since the middle of December the Spaniards had been hard at work putting Cadiz in a state of defence, and that the ships had been withdrawn into the inner harbour. The British ambassador in Madrid had informed London that there was a squadron of 11 ships of the line in Ferrol ready for sea, and that 1,500 troops had marched to that port to embark for the West Indies. Furthermore, in Cadiz were 5 battalions awaiting final orders for the same destination. One regiment had already gone to Majorca, and another was on its way, and 2 vessels laden with arms and ammunition had sailed for the West Indies from Barcelona.

Saunders sadly recognised that his chance was gone. He at once saw that the only method of performing his containing functions, was to assume a purely defensive attitude and to prevent any concentration of the scattered French and Spanish divisions, particularly to keep apart the divisions within the Straits and those in the Atlantic. Saunders' main preoccupation was the Toulon squadron. However, he knew that this squadron was not ready for sea, and felt he could attend to the scarcely less important object of preventing a junction between the French and Spanish Atlantic divisions. So soon, therefore, as the wind would permit, he moved up to the westward to blockade Cadiz, so as to prevent its squadron getting out, or anything from the northward getting in.

On January 18, 1762, Spain published the treaty with France and officially declared war to Great Britain.

In February, France sent Jacques O'Dunne to Lisbon to persuade the king to abandon his alliance with Great Britain and to join the alliance with Spain or, failing to do so, to face a Franco-Spanish invasion of his kingdom. The Count of Oeiras then repeated his demand for British armed help.

By March 12, a number of British officers (among which Charles O'Hara and Charles Rainsford) under the command of the 72 years old General Tyrawley, an old friend of Portugal, were already in Portugal to assume an advisory role in the Portuguese army. Similarly, Commanders Joseph Norwood, Thomas Lee, and Michael Henry Pascal took service in the Portuguese navy. The Count of Oeiras was surprised by the premature arrival of British councillors even before a single British regiment had landed. This put him in an awkward position in his negotiations with the French and Spanish ambassadors. Lord Tyrawley told Oeiras that it was already publicly known that British troops were preparing for embarkation for Portugal and that he considered his preoccupations with secrecy quite useless in the circumstances.

In March, the situation between Oeiras and Tyrawley soon deteriorated and the Portuguese soon asked for his replacement. Oeiras also asked for 3 British ships from Admiral Saunder's squadron based in Gibraltar to take post at Lisbon. After a few days, the 3 ships returned to Gibraltar.

From March 16 to April 18, King Charles III of Spain along with Choiseul asked to the King of Portugal to abandon his British ally, to close its ports to the British navy and to join with Spain and France against Great Britain. The king of Portugal rejected their repeated requests.

Another movement induced by the rupture with Spain, was the despatch by the British Navy of Commodore Sir Piercy Brett, with a strong reinforcement, to Sir Charles Saunders, commanding by proxy since May 26, 1761 in the Mediterranean. Sir Edward Hawke, with Rear-Admiral the Duke of York, cruised off the coasts of Spain and Portugal; and later, the same squadron, under command of Sir Charles Hardy and the Duke of York, left port a second time on the same errand.


Contextual map of the campaign - Copyright: Kronoskaf


On April 27, O'Dunne, the French representative and Torreros, the Spanish ambassador, left Lisbon.

On April 30, a Spanish force of 1,800 light troops under the command of Colonel O'Reilly was sent towards Miranda do Douro.

At the end of April, the first British stores arrived in Portugal. Meanwhile, the Portuguese forts on the Tagus were being repaired. The poorly trained Portuguese army then consisted of about 9,000 foot and 1,300 horse.

On May 1, orders were sent to the British troops stationed on Belle-Isle for the despatch of 4 regiments of infantry (3rd Buffs, 67th Lambert's Foot, 75th Boscawen’s Foot, 85th Crawford’s Light Infantry), together with 8 coys of the Royal Regiment of Artillery under Colonel Pattison and Major Forbes McBean, and the 16th Burgoyne's Light Horse, to Portugal (John Burgoyne was later to come to unfortunate prominence in America, by surrendering at Saratoga). The artillery detachment, under the command of Colonel Pattison, consisted of 8 coys totalling about 400 men, 360 horses and mules, and 32 pieces of brass of various calibres (2 heavy 12-pdrs, 6 medium 12-pdrs, 6 medium 6-pdrs, 12 light 6-pdrs, 2 howitzers of eight inches, and 4 “royal” howitzers). Two more regiments consisting mostly of raw recruits (83rd Armstrong’s Foot and 91st Blayney’s Foot) were added from Ireland, bringing the total up to about 7,000 men. Meanwhile, on the pretext of Portuguese friendship with Great Britain, a Spanish army of 42,000 men concentrated in 3 divisions under the overall command of the Marquis de Sarria. The main corps assembled at Zamora.

The Spanish Offensive

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Franco-Spanish Army in July 1762.

Early in May, the northernmost Spanish division, assembled in Galicia.

On May 5, O'Reilly's Spanish force appeared in front of Miranda do Douro.

On May 6, the 2 regiments from Ireland and a detachment of the 16th Light Horse from England arrived in Lisbon.

On May 8, the explosion of a barn within the town of Miranda do Douro, partially breached the walls and the Portuguese garrison surrendered.

On May 10, the 2 Irish regiments encamped at Porcalhota.

On May 12, the northernmost Spanish division captured Braganza. A few days later, Torre de Moncorvo surrendered, and within a week the Spaniards were master of the Douro.

On May 15, the treasure ship Hermione, that had sailed from Lima before the declaration of war was known, was met and captured off Cape Santa Maria on the Algarve coast, only a day's sail from home, by two of Saunders's cruisers, the Active (28) and Favourite (14), Captains Sawyer and Pownal.

On May 21, the northernmost Spanish division captured Chaves, the strongest Portuguese place in the Tràs-os-Montes region, without firing a shot.

It was not until June that the rest of the British officers (including Lieutenant-General Lord Townshend, Brigadier-General John Crawford, Brigadier-General Lord George Lennox, George Cary and Colonel Burgoyne) arrived.

Early in June, the Spanish squadron at Cartagena put to sea. It returned in a week, but no sooner did Saunders hear it was in port again than he received intelligence that the Toulon squadron was about to sail, and that troops were concentrating in the port. Their real purpose was to reinforce the French garrison in Minorca, since it was impossible to tell that Port Mahon was not the objective of the British force coming from Belle-Isle.

On June 3, a Spanish light division under O'Reilly left Chaves and marched towards Vila Real where it rested for 3 days.

When Saunders heard the Belle-Isle troops were moving, he did not hesitate to leave the Gut and move up to blockade the Cadiz squadron. The result of the combination between him and Hawke was an entire success. The Belle-Isle transports passed into Lisbon without interruption either from Ferrol or Cadiz.

On June 6, O'Reilly reached Vila Pouca. However, supplies had not followed and he was forced to retire to Chaves. The same day, John Crawford and George Cary were both appointed marechais de campo (quarter-master) in the Portuguese army.

On June 14, the rest of the British contingent got to sea from Belle-Isle. Saunders then resumed his position in the Gut. For his part, as soon as he had seen the troops in safety, Hawke was instructed to cruise between Finisterre and the south of Ireland for a month.

By mid June, the Portuguese army had not yet taken the field.

On June 16, the British troops sent from Belle-Isle under the command of Lord Loudoun (seconded by Adjutant-General John Cosnan) arrived in Portugal. The chief engineer of the British contingent was Captain Bruce who also served at the Fortress of Elvas. Loudoun planned to make a junction with the Portuguese army at Abrantes but lack of suitable transports delayed him considerably.

At the end of June, the French squadron at Toulon put to sea. After landing the troops which Saunders had heard of at Minorca, it sailed for Hyères and made no attempt to come out.

On July 9, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg, the famous artillerist, arrived in Lisbon to act as commander-in-chief of the Allied forces. Lord Tyrawley then returned to Great Britain. At Lippe's arrival, the Portuguese army was under the command of Field-Marshal Marquis de Alvito, a man with absolutely no military experience. Colonels came mostly from the high nobility. The Portuguese army consisted mainly of recruits and was ill-prepared for the coming campaign. Lippe divided each of the original Portuguese regiments into two battalions. Each second battalion was then placed under the command of his nominee.

On July 14, after parting with the transports, Hawke made for Cape Clear.

By mid-July, the small Portuguese army was mostly cantoned in the villages of Tomar, Atalaia, Tancos, Torres Novas, Golega. Punhete, etc. where they were quickly reviewed by the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg.

On July 22, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg established his headquarters in Abrantes. He then immediately sent a detachment (150 foot, 50 horse) under the command of Colonel Rainsford to reinforce the town of Salvaterra do Extremo. The Count of Lippe-Bückeburg then employed 200 men to repair the fortifications of the place and 150 additional men to throw a bridge over the Tagus at San Miguel within range of the guns of the place. These works were completed by July 30.

On July 24, Lord Loudoun replaced Tyrawley as commander-in-chief of the British contingent.

The general hospital of the British auxiliary forces was established at Santarem.

In fact, operations required several bridges of boats. One was thrown across the Zêzere near Punhete (Constancia), several across the Tagus including the aforementioned bridge at Saõ Miguel, one in the Alentejo, near Ortigas, and another in Tancos. Another similar bridge was planned at Santarem.

By the end of July, the main Spanish force under the command of the Marquis de Sarria, who had concentrated at Ciudad Rodrigo, assisted by a French contingent (12 bns) under the Prince de Beauvau; advanced through Beira country, between Tagus and Douro, by Tras-os-Montes, passing the river Coa.

From August 2, Lippe-Bückeburg required that two passwords would be used: the parole inside the camp and in the castle of Abrantes; and the mot de guet for advanced posts. These two passwords would be renewed daily.

By August 3, Burgoyne had reached Sardoal near Abrantes with the 16th Light Horse, the 83rd Armstrong’s Foot and the 91st Blayney’s Foot.

On August 4, Sarria undertook the siege of Almeida. This town was now the last place defending northern Portugal and the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg ordered the governor of the place to hold until the enemy had opened a 30-men wide breach. The garrison (4,000 men) defended itself well but could not be relieved.

On August 7, Luis Delgado Freire, Lieutenant-Colonel of Penamacor Infantry and governor of the small fortress of Castelo-Rodrigo, surrendered the place which was devoid of any garrison. The Marquis de Sarria took possession of Castelo-Rodrigo where he captured 5 artillery pieces. The same day, the Portuguese army encamped between Abrantes and the Zêzere river in positions chosen by the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg. From this date, garrison duties in Abrantes were assumed by the auxiliary regiments.

On August 10, Auditor-General Miguel de Arriaga wrote to the Count of Oeiras to inform him that the surgeon-general had agreed that the best place in Abrantes to establish a general hospital for Portuguese troops would be the monastery of the Capuchin friars. However, the surgeon-general required that at least 24 of the 30 friars would stay to take care of the patients.

On August 14, Lippe-Bückeburg was informed of the surrender of the place of Alfalaiates. He was quite upset since this place was the fifth Portuguese fortress to surrender without receiving a single cannonball. At this date, the British contingent was encamped in the region of Punhete at Vila Nova de Constância.

Lippe-Bückeburg was leaving Abrantes almost daily on horseback, accompanied by some of his officers, to reconnoitre the country between Guarda and Castelo Branco. He wanted to establish his plan of operation for the defence of the Mondego valley and to locate good posts of observation in the vicinity of Viseu and Celorici which were occupied by the troops under the command of General Townshend and of the Field-marshal Count do Santiago.

On August 25, the garrison of Almeida surrendered after a siege of more than 3 weeks.

Meanwhile, the third Franco-Spanish division had got across from Estremadura and invaded Alentejo. Lippe-Bückeburg was obliged to stand on the defensive and cover Lisbon at the line of the Tagus.

Shortly after the capitulation of Almeida, the Marquis de Sarria was replaced by Count Aranda as commander-in-chief of the Spanish army.

The Allied Counter-offensive

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Anglo-Portuguese Army in July 1762.

By August 20, General Townshend commanded a force consisting of

Furthermore, the Count of Santiago had 2 infantry bns reinforced by Penamacor Infantry and Bragança Cavalry with 6 pieces. His mission was to cover the Beira Baixa region against Spanish incursions.

On August 21, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg ordered 100 foot to march from Abrantes, to occupy Castelo de Vila Velha, to prepare the defense of the place and to defend it at all cost. In fact, Lippe-Bückeburg planned to move closer to the Spanish border and to threaten the lines of communication of the Spanish army with Badajoz, Merida and Caceres.

At about this time, the Mecklenburg Cavalry left Lisbon to join Lippe-Bückeburg's army.

The Count of Santiago vainly tried to recapture the place of Alfalaiates, the conduct of some officers (among which Major Francisco Antonio da Veiga Cabral of Bragança Cavalry, Major Manuel Ferreira de Seyxas of Penamacor Infantry and the aide-major of 2nd Penamacor) in this action being so despicable that they were put under arrest at Abrantes. Some of these officers were then sent back home.

On August 24, Lippe-Bückeburg moved the main body of his army (17 bns, 4 sqns and a few pieces) forward towards Santa Luzia do Régo. He also sent Brigadier John Burgoyne, colonel of the 16th Light Horse, with a detachment of 2,800 men (400 light dragoons, 6 British infantry coys of the 3rd Regiment of Foot and 11 Portuguese grenadiers coys, with 2 howitzers and 2 light guns) upon Valencia de Alcantára, not very far from Badajoz, where the vanguard of the third division was with the main magazine. Burgoyne passed the Tagus at Abrantes. At Castelo de Vide, Burgoyne was joined by 100 Portuguese foot, 50 irregular cavalry and about 40 armed peasants.

On August 26, the Anglo-Portuguese main body reached Gaviaõ, exhausted due to bad supplies.

On August 27, after forced marches totaling 70 km, Burgoyne's troops carried the town of Valencia de Alcantára, annihilating 5 companies of Sevilla Infantry who had obstinately resisted and capturing several prisoners. The loss of the British troops, who had the principal share in this affair, was inconsiderable and consisted in Lieutenant Burk of Colonel Frederick's, 1 sergeant and 3 privates killed; 2 sergeants, 1 drummer, 18 privates wounded; 10 horses killed and 2 wounded. The town was left undamaged but had to pay a heavy contribution in corn. This success would probably have been attended with more, but Lippe-Bückeburg's main force halted at Castelo de Vide for lack of supply.

On August 28, Lippe-Bückeburg's main force retired to Nisa where he established his headquarters.

The Franco-Spanish army now under Aranda then resumed its advance into Beira Baixa country, forcing the Anglo-Portugueses to retire.

On August 31, Lippe-Bückeburg was informed of the fall of Almeida. This put a stop to his plan to advance into Spain with his main army. He moved his headquarters westwards from Nisa, abandoning Celorico da Beira and Sabugal.

At the beginning of September, a return gave 5,212 British troops (excepting the 16th Burgoyne's Light Horse) of whom 862 were sick.

On September 2, Lippe-Bückeburg was back to Abrantes where he established his headquarters.

On Saturday September 4 at sunset, the main Anglo-Portuguese army moved northwards towards Miranda do Corvo with the British contingent (safe the 16th Light Horse and the 3rd Foot) and Lieutenant-General Dom Luis de Portugal's division (8 Portuguese bns: Setubal, Lagos, Moura, Corte) to cover the Beira country. These 8 Portuguese battalions totalled only 2,477 men and 6 pieces while they should have counted 6,150 men if each battalion had been at full strength (770 men per battalion). The 67th Foot under General Townshend took position at the bridge of Murcela. Lippe-Bückeburg was then informed that the main Spanish trust headed for Castelo-Branco and the Tagus.

On Sunday September 5 in the morning, Colonel Bohm was waiting for a column at Tomar. After an hour, the Count do Prado arrived with a message from Dom Luis de Portugal informing Bohm that the column would be seriously delayed because 3 successive Masses would be celebrated to allow each soldier to attend one.

On September 8, the Portuguese division finally arrived at Miranda do Corvo where Lippe-Bückeburg established his headquarters.

On September 9, Lippe-Bückeburg issued an order of the day specifying that officers who would impede operations or affect the morale of the troops would be punished.

On September 11, a column was sent to occupy a position near the mouth of the Arouce.

On September 12, a battalion was sent from Arouce to the bridge of Murcela to replace the 67th Foot. The same day, the headquarters of the Anglo-Portuguese army was moved to Venda Nova.

On September 14, the troops of Generals Dom Rodrigo de Noronha and Dom Luis de Portugal were ordered to return to Abrantes.

On September 17, the places of Salvaterra do Extremo and Segura surrendered to the Franco-Spanish army without offering any resistance, the garrison being allowed to leave freely under condition that it would not serve for 6 months. This was disappointing since Salvaterra; with a garrison of 300 men, 10 pieces of artillery and ample ammunition; was in condition to sustain a siege of 10 days.

On September 18, Lippe-Bückeburg went to the vicinity of Castelo Branco. On his way, he reviewed with satisfaction the troops of the Count de Santiago. He also ordered the arrest of Joao Palha de Almeida, the former governor of Salvaterra.

Confrontation on the Tagus

On September 19, Lippe-Bückeburg retired from Venda Nova on Abrantes, leaving only the 67th Foot in an advanced position. He also recalled the troops deployed between the Tagus and Mondego rivers. Lord Loudoun was now at Sardoal; Brigadier Burgoyne at Tolosa; the Count de Santiago at Alcains and Townshend at Celorico. Burgoyne had been ordered to cover the border between Portalegre and Vila Velha de Rodao. Besides the 16th Light Horse, he had under his command the 85th Crawford’s Light Infantry, Olivenca Infantry, and Cais Cavalry. He occupied a strong position on the Tagus, opposite Villa Velha.

The French contingent advanced as far as Celorico, forcing Lippe-Bückeburg to come to the rescue of the forces in these quarters.

On September 21, a large Spanish force advanced in 2 columns against Castelo Branco which was soon occupied. The count of Santiago, who was occupying positions in the vicinity of Alcains and Guarda, was instructed to retreat to the fortified positions between Venda and Ferreira if threatened by this Spanish force.

On September 22, when the garrison of Salvaterra arrived at Abrantes, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg gave instructions that it immediately retired by land to Lisbon, none of its officers being allowed in his headquarters. The same day, he took position at Vila Velha de Ródão, Alvito da Beira and San Simão. Lippe-Bückeburg then instructed Townshend to move closer to the main Anglo-Portuguese army in order to make a junction with it in case of necessity and to cover its left flank.

On September 23, Lieutenant-colonel Francisco Xavier do Rego of the engineers, a haughty and ignorant man according to Bohm, who had been sent to Vila Velha to improve the fortifications of the place, precipitously abandoned the place when he heard that an enemy force was approaching. He then wrote to the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg to try to exonerate himself, blaming the workers who had deserted, pretending that he had left Vila Velha to retrieve new workers at Nisa and asking for new instructions. The same day, Lippe-Bückeburg issued a proclamation stating that deserters would now be subject to the death sentence.

On September 25, Adjutant-general Bohm answered to do Rego's letter on behalf of the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg, warning him to resume work on the fortifications of Vila Velha with diligence, to employ the garrison to it if necessary, and to hold his position at all cost.

On September 29, despite Bohm's instructions, do Rego was still in Sardoal. Lippe-Bückeburg finally replaced him by Major Bassenond.

On September 30, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg informed the Count of Oeiras that General Townshend was on his way with 7 Portuguese infantry rgts, Moura Cavalry and 1 British bn to make a junction with the main army near Mação.

At the beginning of October, the Portuguese army, who was still encamped near Abrantes, marched towards Mação to be in a position to defend the defiles. Meanwhile, Lord Lennox and Hamilton remained on the Coa river with a corps consisting of 4 Portuguese infantry rgts, Almeida Cavalry, Chaves Dragoons and Voluntarios Reais to observe the garrison of Almeida. At about this time, a Spanish party intending to pass the Tagus, attacked the positions of Vila Velha defended by 355 men under the command of Joao da Silva Cunha de Azeved Coutinho, lieutenant-colonel of Faro Infantry and took possession of the castle of Vila Velha.

On October 2, the garrison of Vila Velha surrendered without opposing much resistance. The Spaniards took prisoners the governor, 1 captain, 1 adjutant, 1 surgeon, 8 lieutenants, 8 alferes, 3 cadets, 2 sons of officers, 10 sergeants 4 drummers and 219 soldiers and sent them to Alcantara. The Spaniards also stormed the post of San Simão. Meanwhile, Lippe-Bückeburg had instructed the Count de Santiago to abandon his positions at Alvito, 7 km from Sobreira-Formosa, and to destroy the fortifications before his departure. Lippe-Bückeburg's force then reached the head of the Alvito river, its appearance instantly stopping the Spanish advance. A British battery was then planted on the Perdigao heights. A Spanish party forced the British to abandon this position but in this mountainous area, it was easy to find new positions to constantly delay the progress of the Spanish army. Nevertheless, the Spaniards managed to reach Sobreira-Formosa and Cardigos. The same day, Townshend's corps reached Cabaços his new positions after a march of 240 km from Pinhel by the bridge of Murcela, then boarding bateaux on the Codes, an affluent of the Zêzere. Furthermore, 4 British bns were detached at the bridge of Murcela on the banks of the Alva to cover communication with Townshend's corps.

By October 3, the 67th Foot was still occupying its fortified position at Murcela after a brief advance northwards on Viseu. It was then charged to defend the line of the Zêzere river. Meanwhile, Lippe-Bückeburg moved his headquarters to Mação, in anticipation of a Spanish offensive across the Zêzere against the Portuguese headquarters at Abrantes. The same day, the Spanish force, who had taken Vila Velha, advanced on Porto Cabrao, leaving behind 8 pieces guarded by 200 grenadiers and 100 horse. General Burgoyne, who was in charge of the defence of the south bank of the Tagus in this area, noticed that only a small force was guarding the Spanish battery at Vila Velha and ordered Lieutenant-colonel Lee to take the head of a detachment (100 Portuguese grenadiers, 200 men of the 85th Foot and 50 men of the 16th Light Horse), to pass the Tagus and to attack this position. A Portuguese grenadier of the 2nd Cascais Infantry courageously crossed the Tagus with a rope to facilitate the passage of a barge, sacrificing his life in this action.

Townshend's corps had barely made a junction with the main army when Lippe-Bückeburg instructed Townshend to return to the Beira Baixa country, marching along the left bank of the Zêzere river, to make a junction with Lennox's forces and to threaten the Spanish lines of communication with Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo by advancing on Belmonte and Penamacor. This new march was promptly executed. Townshend's Portuguese soldiers enduring the greatest privations, marching joyfully through rocky paths and leaving everywhere traces of their bloodied feet. A Portuguese force successfully attacked a French force escorting a convoy near Sabugal, capturing a large quantity of supply.

On October 7, Lee's detachment surprised the Spanish camp at Villa Velha, dispersed it with considerable loss, captured 6 guns and 60 artillery mules, and burned the artillery depot, at a cost of only 1 man killed and 10 wounded.

Lippe-Bückeburg chose to defend the mountain defiles and gorges to stop the Spanish advance instead of passing the Tagus which would have been a more dangerous endeavour.

On October 12, Lippe-Bückeburg complained that he was on the front with 3,020 men, still awaiting reinforcements from Armada Infantry and Reais Suiços Infantry with the small pieces necessary to defend the mountains.

On October 13, Lippe-Bückeburg marched with the main army to Sardoal where he established his headquarters. His camp was centred around the village of Sardoal with the Tagus to his right, the Codes to his left and the Zêzere in his rear. In these strong prepared positions, he hoped to be able to resist to the more numerous Franco-Spanish army.

On October 15, an engagement took place near Codos. The following Portuguese troops were present:

The same day, an entire Portuguese detachment deserted during the night near Sardoal, leaving Lieutenant-colonel Grey without command.

By mid October, the Count of Aranda, the Spanish commander-in-chief, informed that Townshend had suddenly appeared in the vicinity of Fundão, Sabugal and Penamacor; and realizing that it would not be easy to take Abrantes with his depleted forces; decided to retreat to Castelo Branco with the intention to penetrate into the Alentejo. As soon as he was informed of this retreat, Lippe-Bückeburg detached Brigadier Fraser with 4 bns and 2 cavalry rgts to pursue the retiring Franco-Spanish army.

On October 18, Lippe-Bückeburg's main army returned to Mação while Burgoyne's corps took position between Nisa and Montalvao. Meanwhile, in Beira country, Townshend occupied Penamacor and Monsanto.

By October 19, the Spanish army had retired from the mountains around Abrantes. The manoeuvres of the Anglo-Portuguese and the bad weather seriously hampered the operations of the retiring Franco-Spanish army.

On October 21, Brigadier Fraser who commanded a column (2nd Moura Infantry (Monney), 9 Portuguese grenadier coys (Lieutenant-colonel Michaelis), Alcântara Cavalry and Aveiro Cavalry; recently reinforced by 2nd Lisboa (Count da Ponte), 1st Lagos (Count de Vimieiro) and 2nd Faro (Francisco de Lima) with 4 mountain pieces) occupying the heights between Mação and Val da Velha, reported that his grenadiers were almost dead, having tents for only 50 men and asked for about 30 tents for them.

On October 24, after ordering the destruction of the fortifications of Salvaterra and Segura, Aranda decided to evacuate Castelo Branco, leaving his sicks behind. His army returned to Spain to take its winter-quarters. Everything suggests that the campaign had come to an end. Indeed, excessive cold had prematurely invaded the country.

On October 25, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg issued orders to interrupt any movements to allow troops to recover from the assaults of bad weather. Indeed, equipped only with tents and lacking pack animals, the Anglo-Portuguese troops cruelly suffered from winter. Böhm mentioned that his 5 Portuguese battalions averaged about 150 men each.

On October 30, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg ordered his army to take its winter quarters. He established his headquarters at Abrantes. Townshend's corps cantoned on the border of Beira country, occupying the passes of Uga. Other troops, including the British, cantoned at Sardoal and others on the borders of the Alentejo. Burgoyne's command was forming a corps of observation between Portalegre and Nisa, manning the watchtowers of Povoa das Meadas and Arco which guarded the unique practicable passage between Elvas and Montalvan.

On November 1, Fraser's Portuguese corps was reported at 5 bns totalling 1,112 men and 2 cavalry rgts totalling 210 horse.

Early in November, the components of the bridge under construction at Santarem were transported to Abrantes to replace part of the bridges there which had been greatly damaged by usage. Another bridge was built in Ortigas. All these works were entrusted to engineer Bassenond.

On November 3, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg testified of his satisfaction regarding 100 horse taken from the Voluntarios Reais and Chaves Dragoons who, under command of Colonel Hamilton, had attacked and broken up a force of 200 Spanish cavalry, allowing General Townshend to recapture Penamacor.

The Count of Lippe-Bückeburg suspected that the retreat of the Franco-Spanish army to Spain was only a feint and that Aranda still planned a thrust through the Alentejo. Therefore, Lippe-Bückeburg took dispositions to defend Elvas, where Brigadier Clark was appointed governor, and the other places on the frontier of this province. Colonel Vaughan was posted at Arronches, Colonel Wrey at Alegrete, Lieutenant-colonel Sharp at Campo Maior and Captain Brown of the 83rd Armstrong's Foot at Marvao.

On November 6, John Crawford and George Cary were promoted to lieutenant-general.

On November 8, Lippe-Bückeburg instructed his artillery to move closer to Portalegre.

On November 12, Lippe-Bückeburg, informed of manoeuvres of the Franco-Spanish army near the Portuguese border, ordered his troops wintering in Beira country to leave their quarters and to assemble in an entrenched camp near Portalegre in the Alentejo where he established his headquarters. Lippe-Bückeburg had correctly anticipated Aranda's intention since the same day a Spanish force crossed the flooded Tagus in Spain near Herreras de Alcántara and attacked Ouguela garrisoned by a force under the command of Captain Braz de Carvalho. The Spanish attack took Carvalho by surprise but he resisted courageously, forcing them to retire disorderly.

On November 19, Lippe-Bückeburg moved his headquarters to Monforte. Meanwhile, Colonel Wrey conducted an incursion from Alegrete on the Spanish town of Codocera, taking some prisoners.

On November 22, the Count of Aranda sent Major-general Bucarelli from Albuquerque to Lippe-Bückeburg's headquarters in Monforte to propose a truce. The same day, a Spanish corps of 4,000 men left Badajoz in an attempt to take the place of Olivença by surprise. However, the garrison of this place had been strengthened and was able to stop the advance of the Spanish column.

On December 1, an armistice was signed. The towns of Chaves and Almeida remained in Spanish possession for another 3 months.

On December 12, Lippe-Bückeburg moved his headquarters to Vila Viçosa.


This article is essentially an abridged and adapted version of texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Carlyle T. History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Vol. 20
  • Clowes, Wm. Laird: The Royal Navy – A History from the Earliest Time to the Present, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London: 1898, pp. 238-239
  • Corbett, Julian S.; England in the Seven Years' War – A Study in Combined Strategy, Vol II; New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907; pp. 210, 217, 230-232, 252, 313, 321
  • Fortescue J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 545-547

Other sources

Francis A. D., The Campaign in Portugal, 1762 in "Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research", Vol. LVIV No.237 (Spring 1981)

David, Francis; Portugal 1715-1808 – Joanine, Pombaline and Rococo Portugal as sees by British diplomats and traders, London: Tamesis Books, 1985, pp. 146-161

Francis, A. D.: The Campaign in Portugal, 1762, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 59, No. 237 (Spring 1981), pp. 25-43

McHugh, Don, and Mike Kirby, The Portugal Campaign 1762 - France and Spain Invade, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XII No. 3

Pereira Sales, Ernesto Augusto; O Conde de Lippe em Portugal, Vila Nova de Famalicao: Publicacoes da Comissao de Historia Militar, 1936

Ribeiro Rodrigues, Manuel; Alguns Episodios da Campanha do Conde Lippe, in Journal de Exército, p. 36