This was our second visit to Fuentes de Onoro, we had been there with Holts three years earlier. At the time I felt that I would have liked to spend more time rambling around the narrow alleys, and this would be my opportunity
We had more trouble finding the village than I expected. We found Vilar Formoso, which is on the Spanish-Portuguese border, easily enough, and Fuentes is shown on the map at being on the right off the
Once you find the village, the clapper bridge is easy to locate. It was the ideal place to have our picnic lunch, and out came Jac Weller with the sandwiches and cold drink. We spent a pleasant half hour reading the section on the battle. Then Jan got out her pencils and sketch book, and I went to explore. If you look very closely at the above photo you will see her sitting in the shade of the wall sketching.
And this is the sketch she did that day.
I made my way to the top of the village, which turned out to be much larger than I had remembered. There are many new buildings, but enough old walls and cottages to give the village a real “feel” of what it must have been like in 1811. At the top of the village I came to the church, which was the centre of the fighting. It has obviously been rebuilt, but presumably in the same location. Certainly the descriptions of the battle place it at the top of the village, and that is where this one is.
Climbing out of the village you continue along this road to the ridge behind the village. This is not much mentioned in descriptions of the battle, possibly because the French never got this far. They only reached the church, and were then pushed back by a counter attack. But it was now obvious that this was a very strong position, with a typical
This is the reverse slope where Wellington’s infantry would have sheltered from the French artillery bombardment Walking around here you could see how the cannon balls would either have been stopped by the steep forward slope, or gone well over the heads of the infantry sheltering here. Unfortunately there is not a good view of the village from the ridge.