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Napoleon and the Spanish Resistance

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Napoleon and the Spanish Resistance

Throughout time, the military has been considered one of the key features in a civilization. It has been considered the heart and soul of many countries and empires and has been the center of many cultures. Throughout history we have seen many military leaders and military powers. We have seen military techniques and technology change as we progress. Our schools are filled with legends of great war heroes and hard-fought battles. One such hero is Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps one of the greatest generals who ever lived. In his adventures and conquest, as general of the French army, he warred against many lands. These included Spain, in which Napoleon met a strong resistance. The Spaniards were using a new military strategy called guerilla warfare, one that Napoleon had no experience against. Guerilla warfare is the use of unconventional war tactics, such as ambush and sabotage, coined by the Spanish rebellion to Napoleon Bonaparte, resulting in an uprising that even he couldn't put to rest.

To understand why these tactics were so effective, you must first understand the tactics themselves. Before guerilla warfare was popularized, war was mainly a head-to-head meeting between two armies. This idea of mass

confrontation was considered a formal and more manly way to conduct war.

However, the Spanish noticed drawbacks to this idea. They had far fewer numbers than the French and by using traditional war methods they were destined for failure. The Spanish started to use guerilla tactics.

Traditional wars at the time were decided, often, just by a couple of mass confrontations between the two opponents. Each battle would usually consist of a significant number of soldiers going straight towards each other until they forced the other to retreat. Guerilla warfare on the other hand doesn't rely on this premise. In order to successfully defeat your opponent using guerilla tactics, you must rely instead on a series of smaller confrontations (Free Dictionary). By using these "hit-and-run" strategies, guerilla fighters can quickly tire they're opponents and not lose as many men. Another difference, is that guerilla war relies heavily on ambush. Ambush is when the ambushing force uses concealment to attack an enemy that passes its position. (Free Dictionary) Most guerillas will camouflage themselves in thick forests or hide on hilltops. Some guerillas will even use crowds to conceal themselves, called urban guerillas. Urban guerillas have to rely heavily on support from the citizens. Guerilla warfare basically relies on one standard. The element of surprise. Often, guerillas will not be in uniform and carry just a concealed weapon. By doing this it helps the guerillas startle the enemy and catch them off guard, giving them the clear cut advantage. Also, the enemy is always in a state of fear, never knowing when or where these guerillas could pop out and attack. They are constantly on watch

and they tire easily. By using guerilla warfare, forces are able to lower they're

casualties while increasing their opponents, even if they are winning "cheap." Because they often time use "cowardly" tactics, guerillas are usually considered "terrorists" by their opponents. Sometimes however, this can be true. Guerillas in some cases have used propaganda, or started revolts to win over their cause. Instead of trying to defeat their enemy, they try to create chaos, hoping to drive their enemy out. Massive riots and sabotage are not at all uncommon in guerilla wars. All in all, guerilla warfare is the use of unconventional war tactics used against enemies that follow these conventional "laws."

Now that we have cleared that up, lets move to the actual events that took place. Spanish resistance was mainly part of the Peninsular War, or as some call it, Napoleon's "Spanish Ulcer." Other names for the same war are the War of Independence, as it is called in Spain, or even The Spanish War, as it is called sometimes in France. The Peninsular War began when Napoleon led his troops through Spain, trying to make his way to Portugal. Once there he would finalize his blockade of English supplies, which Portugal was leaking out. On his way there however, while in Spain, he witnessed a family feud going on between the ruling family. Seizing this opportunity he tried to take them out of control and insert his brother, Joseph, instead. However, the Spanish did not like this solution at all. Thinking it was unjust and tyrannical, a riot quickly broke out (Napoleon Guide). The French, obviously not thinking things out, reacted on instinct and silenced the crowd by opening fire on protestors. The French thought

that by showing this aggressive power then would force the citizens into obedience, but instead it backfired and made way for an even greater revolt. Pedro Velarde and Luis Daioz, two generals of the Spanish Army, gathered a large mob and once again rallied in the middle of the city. Even those this revolt was bigger and the rebels were armed with any common weapon they could find, the French couldn't think of any other way to solve it. For the second time, they opened fire on the protestors and after a while, forced them to retreat. For the next couple of days and weeks the Spanish continued to rebel using guerilla tactics. The French were fighting them off, but the Spaniards were doing damage. The English Army, who was at odds with France at the time, saw this and seized the opportunity to harm France. By aiding the Spanish Guerillas and by sending in their own troops as well, the English had a cheaper and more effective way at harming the French forces. Sir Arthur Wellesley, General of the British army, started by leading his troops to Portugal to stop the remaining French forces residing there. There he fought against Marshal Junot, a French General, and soundly defeated him causing the French to retreat. When full scale wars started to take place between the French, English, and Spanish in Spain, the Spanish at first stopped using their guerilla tactics. However, Napoleon proved he could beat them in this scenario so they quickly went back to using guerilla warfare. Fighting started in Spain, but the English and Spanish

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