The Spanish force, mainly infantry supported by a quite astonishing quantity of artillery, was well dug-in to a defensible position around the village of Azuel, and the French force lacked sufficient infantry strength (or perhaps just the determination?) to force it.
|The Spanish position|
The French held their best troops, the Brigade comprising two Guard units, 2nd and 4th Hollandaise, in reserve.
|The Guard - sunbathing and enjoying the view of the action in the distance|
Most of Sebastiani’s other infantry spent the day proudly marching to and fro in a professional manner not seen since the Duke of York’s famous achievement. In fact, the only infantry who were committed were a couple of line battalions – who made a half-hearted attempt on a redoubt and retired unsupported immediately after capturing it – and the 12th Legere, who spent their day mounting open-order hit-and-run excursions from the safety of the woods to the west of Azuel. Although these hurt the exposed defenders, they received a sharp fire from the Spanish Militia in return which ensured several hundred Voltigeurs would not be returning to la France.
|The Militia gives those Voltigeurs something to remember|
|Heroic, but doomed...|
During this phase of the engagement French cavalry scented blood and charged a Spanish square, shaken and disordered from the swathes of canister fire to which they had been subjected.
|The Dragoons charge out of the smoke against the shaken Cordoba Regiment - and are replulsed!|
However the brave Spanish battalion stood, and against all odds heroically beat off this attack. Although their morale failed afterwards, as the hurt they had taken became apparent, this valiant stand marked the end of any sustained attempt by the French to exploit their superiority, and Sebastiani withdrew to the north.
The intensity of the fire and combat within the Spanish perimeter was demonstrated by the loss (fortunately only wounded) of two gallant Spanish Brigade commanders, and the breaking of several battalions from combat casualties. Overall though the Spanish troops showed considerable stubbornness and enthusiasm for a fight, and the Spanish Army can be rightly proud of their bravery.
| Marshal Sebastiani's annotated map of the action...|
A more detailed description of the action, along with some of his photos of the event, can be found on Paul's blog, http://paintinglittlesoldiers.blogspot.com/.