Talavera was a very different stamp of a fight to anything in which our troops had been previously engaged in the Peninsula. We had but 20,000 men present, and our losses amounted to 4,000 killed and wounded, those of the French to over 7,000. The full fruits of the victory were lost owing to the failure of our Spanish allies to afford us proper support, and the British army was compelled to retire on the following day, leaving its wounded in the hands of the French. It is true that we captured 17 guns, but the fact of our retreat, coupled with the abandonment of the sick and wounded, have induced the French to claim Talavera as a French victory. Marshal Victor was created Duke of Talavera by King Joseph, while Sir Arthur Wellesley was raised to the peerage under the title of Lord Wellington,—of Wellington, in the county of Somerset, and of Talavera. The fighting was exceedingly severe, and on more than one occasion matters looked very doubtful. Sir Arthur, however, had every reason to be proud of the manner in which his men faced the tried veterans of France.
The Honour is borne by the 4th Hussars.
The 4th Dragoons were present at the battle of Talavera, but the action was in effect a slogging match between the infantry forces.
Fane’s Brigade, which contained the 4th, were ordered to charge a large body of French infantry immediately following Anson’s Brigade; the latter charged headlong into a well-hidden ditch which completely destroyed their momentum, and on seeing this Wellington ordered Fane’s to return to the line.
There was no rout at Talavera, the victor being decided by a tally of casualties and the withdrawal of the French forces that night. Although they saw no direct action The 4th did suffer some casualties.
Two years of defence consolidated Britain’s last remaining Army until 1811 at Albuhra when although the Beresford lost half the English number in the battle, the French lost double that.