On 17 August 1808, just 16 days after he landed in
The battle was a small affair in Napoleonic terms and very one sided. 16,000 British (including a few Portuguese) against 4,400 French. Its only real claim to fame is that it was the first British victory of many.
The first French position was on a hill which dominated the approach from Obidos. With his superior numbers
This was a tougher nut to crack and
All went well to start. We crossed the railway without any trouble, we even found the first turning right. But then we were driving on a dirt track surrounded by a sea of high plants as high as the car. “after about a mile, stop on the crest of the ridge” sounds pretty easy – not so. After what seemed a long time we came to a small clearing, with a parked car. By now we were totally lost and disorientated, so we decided to get out of the car and have a look around on foot.
After half an hour we were almost on the verge of giving up, when we heard loud masculine voices and soon met a couple of Portuguese hunters. At least I hope they were hunters, because they were carrying rifles. Our total lack of Portuguese meant we could not ask for directions, but I did show them the map (above) and they pointed back the way they had come. We climbed the path, and came to this strange white building
From here we had a magnificent view of the valley leading to Obidos. I didn’t really need the map and compass to confirm that we were on the first French position. This was the only hill overlooking the valley from the south, and we could easily make out the hills on either side where the pincer movement took place.
More by luck than judgment we had found the right place. It had been more difficult, and taken much more time, than we had anticipated. We were hot and tired after our walking and climbing, but we settled down with our informative Jac Weller and had a picnic lunch whilst reading the details of the battle.
The second French position was much easier to find. “drive back into Rolica, turn right and continue for quarter mile to the next village, Columberia. Stop where there is a clear view to the south and you can see, about a mile away, the second French position”.
Leaving the car in the village we consulted the photo above and walked around until we could find the spot from which it was taken. This proved to be quite easy, but we read that the second French position lay on the central section of these hills.
Leaving the village by a farm track and walking towards the hills we found this second spot.
A closer view of