The Battle of Roliça
August 17th 1808.
The British Army landed at Figueira da Foz at the beginning of August 1808 and headed south. They were initially commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley but more senior officers were on their way.
Junot sent an initial force under General Delaborde to try to delay the British while he assembled the rest of his forces.
Delaborde initially occupied a small hill next to the village of Roliça.
Panorama of the battlefield from the memorial above Columbeira looking roughly north. This can be panned by clicking and dragging.
The French first position is in the centre of the picture, to the right of the large grey field.
Key to the view at the same location. The perspective is different, things appear further away than in my photo.
The memorial on the ridge line behind Columbeira.
Wellesley sent forces around both flanks of the French position and they retired to the heights above Columbeira. These are now more wooded than they were.
Wellesley repeated the flanking moves while pinning the French frontally. Colonel Lake, commanding the 29th, one of those central battalions, probably impatient at the slow progress and losses from the French skirmishers and artillery, led part of his battalion up one of the gullies in a frontal attack. They were subjected to fire from in front and on both sides of the gulley. Lake was killed. Wellesley, probably reluctantly, reinforced the attack rather than abandon the remains of the 29th. Eventually the French withdrew, skillfully covered by cavalry, which the French had in larger numbers than the British. This withdrawal was probably more due to Delaborde's awareness of the outflanking moves that to the frontal assault.
Given that Wellesley outnumbered Delaborde by about 2 to 1 this must be considered a successful delaying action by the French, rather than a British victory.
The ridge line behind Columbeira which was the French second position.
Viewed from the memorial, looking roughly east.
The memorial to Colonel Lake, probably quite close to where he fell.
The probable line of Lake's advance.
The rising ground on the right of Lake's advance, next to his memorial.
The ridge line, behind Columbeira from the north-west.
You can just see the cross on the hill to the right.
The memorial in Roliça.