Successes of Wellington in Spain
A new expedition in Spain was attended with better success. Taking advantage of the absence of Napoleon in Austria, a considerable army was landed, April 23, 1809, under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, who immediately drove Soult out of Portugal, and then made a rapid move upon Madrid. King Joseph advanced with a considerable force under the command of Marshal Victor; and on the 28th of July, attacked the British and Spanish troops in a strong position at Talavera. The contest was obstinate and sanguinary; and though the French did not retreat, the advantage lay with the British. As this was almost the first success which Britain experienced by land in the course of the war, Sir Arthur Wellesley became the theme of universal praise, and he was elevated to a peerage, under the title of Viscount Wellington of Talavera. He was obliged immediately to fall back upon Portugal, where he occupied a strong position near Santarem.
Early in 1810, Napoleon reinforced the army in Spain and gave orders to Massena to 'drive the British out of the Peninsula.' Wellington posted his troops on the heights of Busaco - eighty thousand in number, including Portuguese and there, on the 27th of September, was attacked by an equal number of French. Both British and Portuguese behaved well: the French were repulsed with great loss, and for the first time in the war, conceived a respectful notion of the British troops. Wellington now re tired to the lines of Torres Vedras, causing the whole country to be desolated as he went, for the purpose of embarrassing the French. When Massena observed the strength of the British position, he hesitated; and ultimately, in the spring of 1811, performed a disastrous and harassing retreat into the Spanish territory.
It now became an object of importance with Wellington to obtain possession of the Spanish fortresses which had been seized by the French. On the 22d of April, he reconnoitered Badajos, and soon after laid siege to Almeida. Massena, advancing to raise the siege, was met on fair terms at Fuentes d'Onoro, May 5, and repulsed. Almeida consequently fell into the hands of the British. General Beresford, at the head of another body of British forces, gained the bloody battle of Albuera over Soult, and thereby protected the siege of Badajos, which, however, was soon after abandoned. During the same season, General Graham, in command of a third body of troops, gained the battle of Barossa. At the end of a campaign, in which the French were upon the whole unsuccessful, Wellington retired once more into Portugal.