The May-June 1801 War of the Oranges, or Guerra de las Naranjas in Spanish, was fought in the eastern border region of Portugal, Lasting only 18 days from the initial war declaration to the signing of the Treaty of Badajoz, Spanish military forces, instigated by the government of France under First Consul Bonaparte, and from afar supported by a late arriving French military “corps” in theater, invaded Portugal near the fortress border town of Elvas. Military contact between the armed forces of Portugal and Spain was limited to quick sieges of local Portuguese fortified towns or the main siege of the Elvas border fortress except for a brief mention by Manuel de Godoy about “defeating a Portuguese division” near Arronches. More on that “divisional action” later….
The war came about when First Consul Bonaparte and his ally, the Spanish prime-minister and Generalissimo Manuel de Godoy, demanded Portugal, the last British ally on the continent, to break her alliance with Britain. History will repeat itself again later with the Franco-Spanish marching back into Portugal in 1807, they must have loved the oranges. Portugal refused to cede to the Franco-Spanish demands as standard state policy between Portugal and Spain, and, in late May 1801, French regional detachment troops started to arrive at the northern Franco-Spanish border, preparing to march quickly through the warm summer of Spain towards the Portuguese border. Meanwhile, Spanish regiments under the command of Diego de Godoy (brother of Manuel de Godoy), who commanded the Spanish Army of Extremadura of five divisions, mustered themselves near the Spanish-Portuguese border, in particular near Badajoz of later fame.
The Spanish cross-border attack to Portugal started on the early morning of the 20th of May, and focused on the Portuguese Elvas border region that included the main garrison town and fortifications of Elvas and the smaller fortified towns of Campo Maior, Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish) and Juromenha at start. Typical ancient regime warfare… go for the fortresses and watch the enemy army, which for Portugal, was hasty marched into their eastern half of the country, as their militia fortress garrisons dusted off the cannon when war seemed imminent.
The main force of the invading Spanish Army advanced to Elvas, while two divisions and the vanguard advanced to Campo Maior and another division advanced through Olivença and onwards to Juromenha. Without having their fortifications complete and defended only by a few hundred soldiers, garrisoned mostly by local militias, Olivença and nearby Juromenha quickly surrendered to the Spanish forces.
The Portuguese garrison of Campo Maior (Mayor in english texts), under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dias Azevedo, resisted the assault for 17 days, forcing the Spanish to maintain two entire divisions in its siege lines with the vanguard division nearby. These divisions, while besieging Campo Maior, defeated a Portuguese “divisional” advance near the town of Arronches (northwest of Campo Maior) sometime around the 26th of May. Later on, there was Spanish activity near Portalegre, maybe another column from across the Spanish-Portuguese border, or regiments from the Arronches combat chasing the Portuguese, the details are unknown. The main Spanish force, still under the direct command of Diego Godoy, tried to assault Elvas, but was easily repelled by the strong Portuguese garrison commanded by General Francisco de Noronha from their new Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graca, on the road to Elvas, a fortress built during the later 18th Century by Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Graf zu Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg. The Spanish troops then withdrew to a safe distance from the fortress, maintaining a half-hearted siege, if it could be called that, Diego Godoy, advising his brother, dared not to attack Elvas again pending the end phase of the war.
Later during the actual Peninsular war, in this very same area of Portugal, the Battle of Campo Maior, or Campo Mayor (an older spelling most often used in English language accounts), occurred on 25th March 1811 between the town of Campo Maior and Badajoz. Brigadier General Robert Ballard Long with a force of Anglo-Portuguese cavalry, the advance-guard of the army commanded by William Beresford, clashed with a French force commanded by General of Division Marie Victor de Fay, Marquis de Latour-Maubourg. Initially successful, some of the Allied horsemen (13th Light Dragoons) indulged in a reckless pursuit of the French cavalry back towards Badajoz fortress. In the process they overran a train of siege artillery retiring towards the Badajoz fortress traveling on the same road to Badajoz. Nearby French infantry battalions formed squares, then retired towards Badajoz, collecting their abandoned siege cannon along the way. Seeing the retiring formed French infantry Beresford halted his forces and the French were able to escape and recover their convoy of artillery pieces.
Back to the earlier War of the Oranges. The war entered in a period of stalemate, with most of the Army of Extremadura Spanish forces conducting the Elvas fortress siege from afar and watching the main body of the Portuguese Army to their west, which prevents further ordered advance inside Portugal. Despite this inactivity, Godoy picked oranges from the outside of Elvas (legendary from the Elvas fortress glacis) and “sent them” to the Spanish court, in particular the Queen (Reina) of Spain, with the message that he would proceed to Lisbon. Interesting side point, the artwork prints of the period presentation event all show Godoy himself presenting the orange branch to the Reina, and not sent by an aide of Godoy. Thus, the border invasion war soon became known as the “War of the Oranges” down through history.
On June 6, 1801, Portugal agreed to the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz since their position wasn’t of a strong hand. Portugal agreed to close its ports to English ships and trade, to give commercial concessions to France, to cede Olivenza to Spain (see notes below), and to pay an indemnity to Spain. Later, on September 29, 1801, Portugal agreed to both maintaining the tenets of the Treaty of Badajoz and the alterations made to it, which were all embodied within the Treaty of Madrid which added more “paid indemnity” towards French favor…. and added First Consul Bonaparte’s political agenda to the original Treaty of Badajoz.
In response to the Franco-Spanish invasion, from July 1801 until the signing of the Peace of Amiens in 1802, a British force of 3,500 men under Colonel William Henry Clinton occupied the Portuguese island of Madeira in the north Atlantic Ocean. No doubt to “protect the Madeira wine trade” but publicity Intended to forestall any French or Spanish attack on the island, the occupation took place with the “late” tacit consent of the Portuguese, after the British army landed upon Portuguese territory. More detail on this British adventure can be read with this Goggle book: The Beneficent Usurpers – A History of the British in Madeira by Desmond Gregory. Chapter four in the book covers the 1801 British landing and Portuguese reaction.
The French involvement, apart from the diplomatic influence of Lucien Bonaparte with Manuel de Godoy in the Spanish Corte mentioned below, included French military forces and funds to assist conducting the invasion of Portugal. The story continues with text translation from the book “La Guerra de las Naranjas” highlighted below discussing the French military involvement:
The vanguard of General Leclerc left San Juan de Luz (France) and crossed the border between April 16-18th, 1801. Leclerc’s army was composed of troops from Italy and the Rhine. On April 10th, it had 17,796 men and 2,841 horses. That number seemed enough to General Saint-Cyr commanding the lead division*. In order to avoid any incident, they took meticulous precautions. Bonaparte was careful to include brigades only under the command of his brother-in-law General Leclerc, a short time later sent to Santo Domingo, and (instructions) recommended respecting the customs and prejudices of the Spanish. General Leclerc himself had explained to each of the bodies that it was advisable to observe absolute moderation with regard to the practices religious. General Monnet, commander of the vanguard*, complied to the bishops. The days of solemnity he sent to the musicians of the half-brigades.
The First Division, composed of 4,000 men, was followed ten days after distance by the Second Division, of equal effective. The 3rd Division departed of Perpignan on May 17th. It was tried to lead it towards Burgos by Aragon, but the first troops were stoned by the neighbors and it was It is necessary to spend the rest in Bayonne. On May 20th, the vanguard was in Ciudad Rodrigo, where Saint-Cyr regrouped it. On the 25th there was 13,000 French in Spain, 7,500 of whom were in Salamanca. The 2nd June General Leclerc, always without moving from Bayonne, knew that the hostilities had started. When the lead French battalions appeared in Badajoz, on June 11th, it was over: the French auxiliary body had not fired a single shot of a rifle.
Note: Mentioned are General Saint-Cyr and Monnet commanding the vanguard division. WR has no information who commanded what battalions but his guess is General Monnet (a General of Brigade at this time) commanded the vanguard and General Saint-Cyr the entire force when General Leclerc wasn’t present. But General Saint-Cyr, early in 1801, also was the ambassador to Spain per some sources… then what was Lucien? Another detail mentioned in the text is part of the forces entering Spain are mentioned three battalions destined, not to Extremadura, but to Cádiz, where they would swell the garrison of the Admiral Dumanoir Squadron.
So, what was order of battle for this French “corps” marching into Spain? Apart from the number of soldiers and horses sent, WR has found no information regarding the actual regiments or commanding officers except for GB Monnet, GD Leclerc, and GD Saint-Cyr. Per the text above, the units came from the Army of Italy and the Rhine. Researching these two French armies, General Saint-Cyr commanded units in the Army of the Rhine in early 1800. Unfortunately, General Saint-Cyr appears to have left the Army of the Rhine sometime during the 1800 campaign and the structure of the army changed as it became the Army of Germany under General Moreau. Still, looking at the known army structure for the Army of the Rhine in early 1800 we find General Saint-Cyr commanded these regiments which “could have marched” towards the Spanish border, after defeating the Austrian army at Hohenlinden in December 1800. At the minimum, we have a structure for a typical French 1800-01 divisional command setting out as the Portuguese expeditionary force. (Nafziger lists): 800XAB 800XCA
Center Corps of the Army of the Rhine: General Saint-Cyr
Division: Baraquay d’Hillers; Brigades: Joba, Sabatier, Roussel (8,340 infantry and artillery)
1st Line Demi-Brigade (3), 15th Demi-Brigade (3), 23rd Demi-Brigade (3), 48th Demi-Brigade (3)*, 12th Demi-Brigade Légère (l), 2nd Hussar Regiment (542), Artillery: 3/7th Foot Artillery Company and 2/7th Horse Artillery Company.
Division: Ney; Brigades: Bonnet & Bonamy (7,270 infantry and artillery)
54th Line Demi-Brigade (3), 76th Demi-Brigade (3), 103rd Demi-Brigade (3), 12th Demi-Brigade Légère (l), 25th Heavy Cavalry Regiment or 8th Chasseur a’ cheval (569), Artillery: 19/7th Foot Artillery Company and 4/7th Horse Artillery Company.
Division: Tharreau; Brigades: Heudelet, Beauregard & Aubree (8,326 infantry and artillery)
42nd Line Demi-Brigade (3), 5lst Demi-Brigade (3), 10lst Demi-Brigade (3), 12th Demi-Brigade Légère (l)*, 16th Chasseur à Cheval Regiment (611*) , Artillery: 18/7th Foot Artillery Company and 3/7th Horse Artillery Company.
Reserve Division: Desbrulys; Brigades: Sahuc, Salligny & Debilly
4th Line Demi-Brigade (3), 16th Demi-Brigade (3), 12th Heavy Cavalry Regiment, 17th Heavy Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Dragoon Regiment, 5th Chasseur à Cheval Regiment, Artillery: 6/2nd Light Foot Artillery Company plus attached 1/4th Sapper Battalion with HQ.
Notes *: In Division d’Hillers the 48th Demi-Brigade wasn’t always attached to this division. For Tharreau’s division, the 12th Demi-Brigade Legere could have been the 2nd Demi-Brigade Legere with a text typo and the 23rd Dragoons attached during 1800 campaign. Battalion count or regiment strength noted if known.
Another possible source for the French possible regiment organization could be the regiments which later became assigned to the French Expeditionary Force to Santo-Domingo February 1802, commanded by General Leclerc and found in Nafziger: 801BAB
So, with the French army largely unknown in actual regiments, organization structure, and secondary commanders, the Spanish are also a complete mystery to their organization structure invading Portugal. Hopefully this will be covered in a new book written on Godoy’s Army of 1800 by Charles Esdaile and Alan Perry, ordered from Amazon by WR.
Now… with Godoy book now in hand the detail on the 1801 campaign is sparse but does describe some detail on the Spanish operations near Elvas. No order of battles within the book but regiments are mentioned. Written text on the period before 1800… ie.. the 1793-5 war with France is discussed and the chronic shortfall for army manpower and recruiting methods. The majority of the book covers the Estado Militar de 1800 uniform plates on the Spanish army of 1800-1801 period. Lots of excellent plates (infantry, cavalry, light infantry, provincial militia, but alas no artillery or specialist). Being use to seeing Spanish infantry in white, light battalions in green, and the cavalry in blue/yellow…. as post 1805 uniform, the difference for the light infantry in blue and the cavalry in white/yellow is striking. Seems the Spanish just predated the Army of Murat with uniform color changes but in a more “uniformed way” Pity us wargamers…. fielding the Spanish for early Peninsular battles just became more colorful and likely many regiments didn’t complete their uniform changeover from the pre-1805 fashionable clothing line. Other notes from Godoy Army book… the Spanish used a Prussian drill style for their movement and firing discipline. Unlike the 1802 line regiment re-organization of all grenadiers into the 1st battalion (2 companies) plus two fusilier, the double battalion line regiment of 1800 had eight battalion companies plus one grenadier company per Godoy Army book but is at odds with Nafziger who states the 1798 organization was two battalions, each with four musketeer companies and one grenadiers (like the Prussian organization). WR tends toward Nafziger on this issue as the eight company battalion sounds like a French battalion organization.
Per Godoy Army 1800 book the Spanish sent 30,000 men into Portugal, in four divisions plus a Vanguard division. Commanded by Diego de Godoy, Marques del Socorro (brother of Godoy) and the divisional commanders were: Ignacio Lencastre, Juan Caraffa, and Francisco Javier Negrete. Facing them was 8,500 Portuguese in the Army da la Alemtejo commanded by Duque de Lafoes, together with another 10,000 soldiers manning the fortresses of Elvas and Campo Maior. Small battalion sized detachments occupied the old fortresses of Olivenca and Juromenha on the physical border.
The one serious field action of the entire war… the combat at Arronches, was labelled as a Portuguese an hoc infantry brigade with cavalry from the Army of the Alemtejo vs. the Spanish Vanguard division from Campo Maior. Involved on the Spanish side were the regiments Cazadores de la Reina Maria Luisa cavalry, Gerona and 1st Regiment Volunteers of Catalonia legere, a battalion of the Cazadores Volunteer de la Corona legere and a battery. Other cavalry and Spanish regiments are mentioned in the text as sweeping around the Portuguese flank after the “Run Away Marys (Marias)” nickname was applied to the Reina Maria Luisa cazadores from this action.
Lastly, we have the Portuguese side to consider. The army structure, uniforms and some basic detail can be found in reading the Osprey series on the Portuguese army, volumes 1 & 2. These volumes, plus the third volume covering the artillery and local militia, or ordenanza regiments, completes a general picture for the army and uniforms, Another three sources are the Armies of Spain and Portugal 1808-1814 book by G.F. Nafziger and the two books by W.J.Rawkins on both armies.
No Portuguese organization structure and roster of regiments involved in the War of the Oranges is known to WR except for the follow screen clip taken from an old book titled Historia da Guerra Civil by Simao Jose da Luz Soriano. Don’t let the title fool you, this book seems to cover the 1793-4 Franco-Portuguese war and the 1801 campaign in Chapter V. WR found the following OOB while poorly translating the text in Chapter V which gives a basic outlook for the Portuguese army structure. The mentioned “Brigada Ingleza” is of interest…. did the English land regiments or marines at Lisbon during this brief campaign?
Update 4/14/18: The English employed emigre regiments as mentioned above (from Wikipedia French article on the émigré régiment de Mortemart. “Le régiment de Mortemart participe en 1801 à la campagne de l’Alentejo. Les troupes passent trois jours à Santarem où se forme la division d’avant-garde sous les ordres du général Frazer, composée de trois régiments d’émigrés (régiments de Castries, de Mortemart et Loyal-Émigrant), d’un régiment de 500 light-dragoons, et d’un bataillon d’artillerie commandé par le colonel Rothallier. Après quinze jours de face-à-face près d’Abrantès, le régiment et l’armée portugaise d’un côté, les armées espagnoles et françaises de l’autre se retirent sans qu’un coup de feu ne soit tiré. La paix est signée à Madrid sous l’égide de Lucien Bonaparte.”
So WR is left to briefly discuss the army itself during the campaign period. Basically the Portuguese army infantry was twenty-three double battalion line regiments (the 24th was raised from former marine regiment at Lisbon in 1797) and three overseas regiments stationed in Brazil. Battalion organization per Nafziger was seven companies and confirmed by the Project SYW information. The mentioned second battalion, for most regiments, was skeleton in strength or only on paper, therefore regiments were horribly under-strength, outmoded to the times, had no clear senior leadership, and were humbled in the short campaign against the Spanish 1801 invasion. Unlike the Spanish with their cazadores, the Portuguese army had no light battalions or units, except for the Legion of Light Troops, raised by General Pedro de Almeida, Marquis de Alorna in 1796. The legion was formed with eight companies, three squadrons of cavalry, and a four six-pounder horse battery. This legion was resented by the more conservative elements in the army and was treated as a separate entity. It did lead to the establishment of light or chasseur companies (in the 2nd battalion) after the War of the Oranges concluded predating the 1806 army reforms. Should note the Portuguese army used Prussian drill till the British reforms of 1810. A good background and detail on the army can be found on the Project SYW site (Portugal Army). Basically the army had limited structure changes from the SYW period, the reforms mainly started after the War of the Oranges had concluded, commencing in 1806, then the British influence in 1810, to truly become the Portuguese army of the Peninsular war.
The cavalry component was in worst shape. Forming twelve regiments, called “cavalry” in period documents, most had few horses to mount their troopers (39 horses per squadron is noted). Portuguese cavalry were not heavy cavalry, not trained as dragoons, and certainly not light cavalry except for the legion cavalry. Even calling them “cavalry” may be too generous for this campaign… paid horse holders comes to WR’s mind.
For the artillery, four regiments formed the administrative organization. Each regiment had various number of batteries, mostly to support the army maneuvers with a train of cannon (in 1793-4 the train serving with Spanish army against the republican French had four 3-pounders, two 6-pounders, and six howitzers) but in practice basically manned the fortresses dotted across Portugal. Regimental or battalion cannon assignment is unclear for 1801 campaign but the 1793-4 campaign train were mostly light cannon so likely those cannon were battalion assigned to the six regiments sent. Keep in mind the Portuguese road state for pulling anything but light cannon around would be a sufficient check on moving heavier artillery. Check out the Project SYW site on the Portuguese: Portugal Artillery
Another book to locate and covering the Portuguese of 1801 is the Olivenca – Portugal em Guerra do Guadiana ao Paraguai, written in Portuguese by Manuel Amaral. WR was unable to find this book but was noted in the Godoy Army 1800 book as a reference for the 1801 campaign..
Notes on the campaign written, the armies covered, now time to briefly discuss one of the background principles of the war: Lucien Bonaparte.
We all know General Bonaparte but for many the activities of his brothers is less well know. Lucien Bonaparte, brother of General Bonaparte, had his hand directly diplomatically towards the War of the Oranges. Lucien had been named president of the Council of Five Hundred in 1799. Though his election was a gesture of esteem for General Bonaparte, who had just returned from Egypt, Lucien’s new position was fortunate for his brother. He played a pivotal role in the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), in which Bonaparte came to power as First Consul. Lucien’s quick thinking saved the day for Bonaparte. His role as Council president gave the coup an appearance of legality. At one point Lucien supposedly took a sword, pointed it at General Bonaparte’s heart, and swore to plunge it into his brother’s chest if he ever threatened the liberty of the French. Bonaparte, having made Lucien Minister of the Interior under the Consulate, which enabled Lucien to falsify the results of the plebiscite but which brought him into competition with Joseph Fouché, the chief of police, who showed Napoleon a subversive pamphlet that was probably written by Lucien, and effected a breach between the brothers. Lucien was sent as ambassador to the court of Charles IV of Spain, in November, 1800, where his diplomatic talents won over the Bourbon royal family and, perhaps as importantly, the minister Manuel de Godoy, bringing Spain in the French orbit and friendly allied power against the British.
The above Spanish textbook “La Guerra de las Naranjas” by Andre Fugier in (.pdf) format via the web. The section on the actual Portuguese invasion and French military support invasion are found pgs. 202 to 207: La Guerra de las Naranjas
A quick cut and paste translation of the relevant pages 202 to 207 as a (.doc): La Guerra de las Naranjas translation
Tabletop Battle of Arronches 1801 scenario: Using the above information, WR is writing up a hypothetical scenario to represent the brief divisional sized encounter near the town of Arronches mentioned in the historical record. The scenario has the Spanish divisions near Campo Maior leaving their besieging lines to drive away an encamped Portuguese division at Arronches, a town 24km northwest of Campo Maior. WR will post his Arronches scenario on Wargamerabbit soon after the War of the Oranges post is published. Update 01/14/18: Battle of Arronches 1801 scenario posted.
Happy New Year from the warren while pending WR’s Battle of Arronches 1801 scenario posting.
P.S. Side note to current affairs of today: The issue and ownership of the ceded area around Olivenza is still in dispute between Portugal and Spain. Sort of like Gibraltar and Spain, the reader can review the dispute by Google search or the Wikipedia summary below:
[Per Wikipedia] Olivenza was under Portuguese sovereignty from 1297. During the War of the Oranges, French and Spanish troops, under the command of Manuel de Godoy, took the town on May 20, 1801. In the aftermath of that conflict, the Treaty of Badajoz was signed, with the Olivenza territory remaining a part of Spain. Spain claims de jure sovereignty over Olivenza on the grounds that the Treaty of Badajoz still stands and has never been revoked, thus making the case that the border between the two countries in the region of Olivenza should be demarcated as said by the treaty. Portugal claims de jure sovereignty over Olivenza on the grounds of the cancellation of the Treaty of Badajoz, since it was revoked by its own terms. The breach of any of its articles would lead to its cancellation, and that happened when Spain invaded Portugal in the Peninsular War of 1807. Portugal further bases its case on Article 105 of the Treaty of Vienna of 1815 (which Spain signed in 1817) that states that the winning countries are”committed to employ the mightiest conciliatory effort to return Olivenza to Portuguese authority” and that the winning countries “recognize that the return of Olivenza and its territories must be done”.Thus, the border between the two countries in the region of Olivenza should be demarcated by the Treaty of Alcanizes of 1297. Spain interprets Article 105 as not being mandatory on demanding Spain to return Olivenza to Portugal, thus not revoking the Treaty of Badajoz. Portugal has never made a formal claim to the territory after the Treaty of Vienna, but has equally never directly acknowledged the Spanish sovereignty over Olivenza. Portuguese military maps do not show the border at that area, implying it to be undefined. Also, the latest road connection between Olivenza and Portugal (entirely paid by the Portuguese state, although it involved the building of a bridge over the Guadiana, an international river, has no indication of the Portuguese border, again implying the undefined status.
There is no research on the opinion of the inhabitants of Olivenza about their status. Spanish public opinion is not generally aware of the Portuguese claim on Olivenza. On the other hand, awareness in Portugal has been increasing under the efforts of pressure groups to have the question raised and debated in public.