Battle of Toulouse
The 10th of April 1814 AD
The Battle of Toulouse was an unsatisfactory coda to Wellingtonís hard-won victory in the Peninsula Campaign. In the greater scheme of things, with Napoleon about to abdicate, Toulouse proved an almost irrelevant clash of arms as the British, Spanish and Portuguese drove into French territory. It was also one of that British commanderís least convincing displays of generalship: though he is often credited with a victory, the Allied army suffered more casualties than the French under Soult, who, driven back into the city from positions around Toulouse, remained safe within its walls and withdrew later to safety.
Soult chose his battleground well (opting to defend Toulouse rather than Bordeaux further north), with the Languedoc Canal curving round the east and north providing a formidable barrier to Wellington , and outside it to the east the heights that were to see the majority of Allied casualties Ė the Spanish lost nearly 2000 men there, the British only 500 fewer. Wellington planned that cavalry would facilitate the assault, but wet ground delayed them. When the fight for the heights was lost Soult brought the defenders to safety inside Toulouse. As it turned out the diversionary push at the western part of the city proved far easier.
On the evening of April 11 Soult extricated his force from the city, which duly surrendered the following day. On April 12 news of Napoleonís abdication arrived; Soult negotiated an armistice which came into force on April 17. But the true full-stop to Napoleonís rule would only come at Waterloo after his return from exile in 1815; or perhaps with the one-time Emperorís death on St Helena in 1821.
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