Battle Honour 'CIUDAD RODRIGO'

Mon, 01/20/1812
Battle Honour 'CIUDAD RODRIGO'

The Battle Honour CIUDAD RODRIGO is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.

The fortress towns of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz guarded Wellington's invasion routes from Portugal into Spain. On 4 January 1812, the 2nd Battalion of the 83rd Regiment of Foot marched from miserable winter quarters at Navas Frias, forded the Agueda with sleet falling and, marching on through winter conditions, arrived in front of Ciudad Rodrigo on 6 January. The seige operations began on 8 January when the Light Division stormed the first outlying French work (Redoute Rénaud) from which Wellington intended to bombard the fortress city. That same night his army began to construct the siege trenches and battery emplacements. The siege operations were conducted by Wellington's divisions on successive days, each relieving the other at intervals of 24 hours. The 3rd Division working parties were forward on the 11, 15 and 19 January.

When not on siege duties, the 2/83rd had to bivouac in the open, the camps being some distance from the siege lines. There were no tents or huts of any description, and the ground was covered with snow, the only protection against the weather being the building of great fires. The siege trenches, which were extended daily, were full of mud and slush from the melting snow. Standing almost knee-deep, under a furious fire of artillery from the fortress, five men were killed and and eight wounded during this phase.

Meanwhile, Marshal Marmont, commander of the northern French Army in Spain, was some 130km from Ciudad Rodrigo and did not receive news of the siege until 15 January. He was unable to concentrate his army to achieve a timely response to the siege and, by 19 January, Wellington's siege guns had battered two breaches in the northern front of the fortress. Wellington decided the breaches were to be stormed on the night of 19 January and the 2/83rd, with the exception of the Light Company, was moved to guard the trenches from which the attack by the 3rd Division on the main breach was to be mounted. The Light Company was detached to join in a diversionary attack, by the 2nd Portuguese Cacadores, on an outwork in front of the Castle near the main gate. During the attack on the main breach, the 2/83rd maintained covering fire against the French ramparts.

Since the 2/83rd did not form part of any of the storming columns its losses by the morning of 20 January were smaller than those of the other 3rd Division battalions that took part in the actual assault, amounting to one rank and file killed and four wounded. The Light Company, under Captain the Hon H Powys, so distinguished itself, the outwork being taken in such short time, that General Picton in his Divisional Orders specially thanked the company for its services. Ciudad Rodrigo fell eleven days after the first day it was invested.