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The 43rd Foot were light in­fantry, trained to march much faster than or­di­nary in­fantry so they could move quickly into bat­tle. The reg­i­ment had been in Por­tu­gal and Spain since 1809 and were part of the Light Divi­sion of Lord Welling­ton’s army. By 1813, with many French troops with­drawn by Napoleon due to heavy losses in Rus­sia, Welling­ton was ready to drive the French from Spain. His army un­ex­pect­edly ad­vanced across dif­fi­cult coun­try, catch­ing the re­treat­ing French army of Joseph Bon­a­parte on the Plains of Vit­to­ria on the road to the Pyre­nees.

Hop­ing to an­ni­hi­late the French, Welling­ton split his army into four col­umns to out­flank and trap them. He led the 4th and Light Divi­sions him­self against the French cen­tre and the 43rd were sent to ur­gently cap­ture an un­de­fended bridge across the River Zadorra and ad­vanced at the run and found them­selves within 100 yards of the en­emy who, for­tu­nately, did not at­tack.

As the French with­drew, the 43rd sup­ported the at­tack on the vil­lage of Ariyez as Welling­ton drove the French back to­wards Vit­to­ria. The en­tire French trans­port, stuffed with looted wealth, was cap­tured. Joseph Bon­a­parte fled, leav­ing his bag­gage and car­riage in the street. While part of the Bri­tish army started loot­ing, the 43rd marched steadily through and camped be­yond Vit­to­ria. Though the French army es­caped, al­most all of its ar­tillery was cap­tured.

The 43rd went on to drive the French across the Pyre­nees and in­vaded France it­self, end­ing with vic­tory at the Bat­tle of Toulouse.

The Bat­tle of Vit­to­ria in 1813

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