Battle of Montevideo (1807)
The Battle of Montevideo was a battle between the British Empire and the Spanish Empire during the Napoleonic Wars, in which British forces captured the city of Montevideo. It formed part of the British invasions of the River Plate.
In the early morning of 3 February 1807, 3,000 British troops under Brigadier GeneralSir Samuel Auchmuty attacked the city of Montevideo. The city's capture was preceded, on 20 January, by an action outside the town, the Battle of 'El Cristo del Cardal (or Battle of Cardal ), in which the 60th Rifles and the 95th Foot (later the Rifle Brigade), especially distinguished itself by an outflanking movement which turned the tide of the battle in favour of the British. About 800 localcombatants, mostly non-professional soldiers, became casualties, of whom about 200 were killed. Total British casualties were about 70 killed and wounded.
Montevideo was put under siege from that date and its capture began at about 2:00 A.M., 3 February, having been preceded by several days of bombardment of the weakest part of the defensive wall at a point very close to the siteof the modern Anglican cathedral. Once the breach was large enough, the assault began under heavy fire from two contiguous bastions held by the defenders, and was hampered by hides the defenders added to the wall to partially fill the breach. Casualties amongst the British soldiers were heavy as the troops sought an entry point, while being caught in a constant cross-fire. Finally the breach waslocated, first by Captain Renny, 40th Regiment of Foot (later the South Lancashire Regiment), who was killed in the act of attempting to get through the breach, and secondly by Lieutenant Harry Smith, of the 95th Regiment of Foot. The latter, in this; his first campaign, would later become famous as Lieutenant General Sir Harry Smith. Once inside the walls, the British continued to meet heavyBritish commander Sir Samuel Auchmuty. resistance, but they gradually spread out and forced back the defenders. At this point in the battle two leading British officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Brownrigg, 11th Foot, commanding the light infantry detachment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Vassal 38th Foot, were mortally wounded. A forlorn hope was formed by a small detachment of the 54th Foot. This was followed bythe combined, elite light infantry and grenadier companies of the regiments involved, as well as the 95th. Next in line were the 38th Foot, followed by the 40th Foot. Two cavalry detachments, from the 17th Light Dragoons and 20th Light Dragoons and 21st Light Dragoons, formed the reserve and rearguard, together with the 47th Regiment of Foot and a small detachment of recruits for the 71st Regimentof Foot (later the Highland Light Infantry). A detachment of Royal Marines was also present. Reinforcements for the defenders came en route from Buenos Aires, so that the rapid success of the operation was essential. Meanwhile, at the other side of the peninsula, on which the Old City of Montevideo stands, the 87th Foot (later Royal Irish Fusiliers) were waiting together with a company of the 95that the city's second main gate, the San Pedro gate. On hearing the noise of battle inside the walls, the 87th were unable to wait for the gate to be opened for them by their comrades, according to the plan of attack. After scaling the wall, they attacked the defenders from behind.
Battle of Montevideo (1807) During the operation, the 87th captured a flag from one of the defending formations,which is now displayed as the 'Flag of Montevideo' in the museum of the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Armagh, Northern Ireland. The 95th then occupied the tower of the city's cathedral, and were able to use the modern Baker rifle to great effect against the city's main fortress, the Ciudadela. This, together with the general British advance through the city, led Governor Ruiz Huidobro to accept...