1/63e Regiment de Ligne
The 63e Regiment de Ligne made its début in the Peninsular War in January 1808 when the regiment provided a battalion as part of the 2nd Provisional Ligne Regiment in Marshal Moncey's French Corps d'observation des Cotes de l'Ocean. The corps crossed the border into Spain on the 8th January in the wake of Dupont's 2nd Corps d'Observation de la Gironde as the two forces surreptitiously took control of the main road from Bayonne to Burgos and Valladolid in preparation for a move on Madrid.
French Corps d'observation des Cotes de l'Ocean, l January l808 - Source Oman
Commanding Officer: Marechal Moncey
Chief of Staff: General de brigade Harispe
lst Division: General de division Musnier
lst Brigade: General de brigade Brun
2nd Provisional Ligne Regiment
24th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(6/548)
34th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(9/48l)
44th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(l0/570)
63rd Line Infantry Regiment (l)(8/480)
The activities of Moncey's Corps were covered in my post on the 2/45e Ligne, see the link below.
Post Dos de Mayo and Bailen and Napoleon's reorganisation of his army in preparation for his second invasion of Spain this time without any pretence of anything other than occupation of the country and usurpation of the Spanish throne by his brother Joseph; the three battalions of the 63e Ligne found themselves part of Marshal Victor's I Corps d'Armee, in General de Division Villatte's 3rd Division, brigaded with the 27e Legere under General de Brigade Pacthod.
|General de Brigade Michel-Marie Pacthod|
I Corps: Maréchal Victor
3rd Division: Général de division Villatte
Brigade: Général de brigade Pacthod
27th Légère Regiment (3)(50/1,527)
63rd Line Regiment (3)(44/1,246)
Brigade: Général de brigade Puthoc
94th Line Regiment (3)(54/1,627)
95th Line Regiment (3)(47/1,428)
7/1st Foot Artillery
6/8th Foot Artillery
8th Artillery Artisan Company
The regiment was in action on the 10th-11th November at the Battle of Espinosa when Spanish General Blake and his 25,000 strong Spanish army was turned out of its position above the town by Lapisse's flank attack causing the Spanish to loose half their force in the retreat despite only suffering about 3,000 casualties in the battle.
Victor's Corps was in the vanguard of Napoleon's army that forced its way through the Somosierra pass and into Madrid with the 1st and 3rd Divisions destined to support King Joseph's hold on the city as the Emperor set off in pursuit of Sir John Moore and his British army as it retreated into Galicia and its snow clad mountains.
The 63e Ligne would next see action at the Battle of Ucles on the 30th November 1808 as Victor turned his depleted corps on the growing threat of the re-organising Spanish Army of the Centre under the Duke of Infantado with 20,000 men around Cuenca, south east of Madrid.
Victor was able to surprise the vanguard of Infantado's army under General Venegas at Ucles, with both forces totalling about 13,500 men.
With the threat to Madrid from Infantado's force neutralised, Victor turned his attention to the next one, that of General Cuesta's Army of Estremadura, hovering south of the River Tagus close to Badajoz.
The two armies came to grips on the 28th March 1809 outside the town of Medellin on the River Guadiana.
General Villatte's division held the centre of the French line with Ruffin's troops in reserve. The French cavalry under Generals Latour Maubourg and Lasalle held the flanks between the Rivers Guadiana and Ortigo.
The two lines advanced on each other with both French and Spanish cavalry being repulsed by the others infantry in failed charge attempts. Eventually the Spanish cavalry lived up to its reputation of fleeing at the critical moment leaving the Spanish infantry line to be rolled up by Lasalle's cavalry.
The Spanish lost nearly 8,000 men with a further 2,000 captured along with thirty guns from a force of 24,000 men.
The French victory was to prove a hollow one as Victor, down to two infantry divisions, felt his army was to weak to push after Cuesta and over the Portuguese border despite the urgings from King Joseph in Madrid.
Holding his position at Caceres became untenable as with the country stripped of supplies and with little food coming from Madrid, his men began to starve forcing the French to move north into the Tagus valley and a rendezvous with the detached 2nd Division, before falling back to Talavera.
The 63e Ligne had enjoyed a string of successful battles since it entered Spain back in November the previous year, and with the move to Talavera they could only feel confident as they prepared to meet the Anglo-Spanish allies in July 1809.
My 2/63e Ligne are composed of figures from the AB range with the fanion from GMB flags.