This is the first in a series of posts documenting a number of battles fought by the Duke of Wellington and the Allied forces of Britain, Portugal and Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The names of these battles are printed on discs that are contained within a small brass box that celebrates his contribution to British, European and military history.
The front of the metal box has a profile of Arthur Wellesley and ‘The Duke of Wellington’ inscribed on it. The reverse is inscribed with ‘By his consummate skill as a general he has raised the British Army to the highest excellences, & himself the most noble, & exalted hero, in the annals of history.’ The discs inside the box have simply the date of the when the battle ended, giving no indication of the outcome, although it would be assumed that they were British victories.
Toulouse – 10th April 1814
The Battle of Toulouse was one of the last battles of the Napoleonic Wars and signifies the virtual collapse of the French empire. Toulouse was significant to the French and the region in particular as it was the regional capital. It was resolutely defended by the French who held it for two days before withdrawing from the city, with the knowledge that Napoleon had abdicated and thus the war was essentially over. Following the patterns of some of the previous battles, it is unclear which military force had prevailed and could claim victory. The French inflicted far more casualties on their British opponents and simply withdrew, eventually agreeing an armistice, while the British had taken the stronghold, but not by force and at a high cost of lives. Overall however, the Allied forces claimed victory in the war and would not be threatened until the battle of Waterloo two years later, which they would win decisively.