April 7 1812: French Surrender

On April 7 1812, the French realized that the British and Portuguese troops were inside Badajoz and begin to surrender. The French commander , General Philippon, with one hundred men, retreated to the fort of San Cristobal but also surrender at  7:00 a.m. The British and Portuguese troops then begin a disgraceful looting, killing, raping and burning of the town and its inhabitants.  The troops kill thousands of the Spanish inhabitants. Order is only restored some 72 hours later. Henry Smith [1], who was present described is it this way:
Now comes a scene of horror I would willingly bury in oblivion. The atrocities committed by our soldiers on the poor innocent and defenceless inhabitants of the city, no words suffice to depict. Civilized man, when let loose and the bonds of morality relaxed, is a far greater beast than the savage, more refined in his cruelty, more fiend-like in every act; and oh, too truly did our heretofore noble soldiers disgrace themselves, though the officers exerted themselves to the utmost to repress it, many who had escaped the enemy being wounded in their merciful attempts! 
The morning of April 7, also sees Wellington approach the walls of Badajoz. The walls that are strewn with the bodies of dead soldiers.  On seeing the dead, Wellington openly weeps. The Anglo-Portuguese armies suffer nearly 5,000 dead with about 3,500 incurred during the assault. The French lost 1,500 dead and wounded with about 2,500 taken as prisoners. The  Portuguese battalions lost around 400 men. 


1.    The autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith, baronet of Aliwal on the Sutlej, G.C.B. by Sir Henry (Harry) George Wakelyn Smith (1788-1860). Ed. with the addition of some supplementary chapters by George Charles Moore Smith (1858-1940). London: J. Murray, 1903)at chapter VIII

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