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Updated 04/10/2014



Barrosa refers to the Battle of Barrosa (Chiclana, 5 March 1811).  The battle was part of an unsuccessful maneuver to break the siege of Cádiz in Spain during the Peninsular War. During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle.  The first French eagle was captured from the French in this battle, the 8th of the line losing its eagle to Ensign Keogh of the 87th Irish Foot (Royal Irish Fusiliers); he was killed immediately afterward, but Sergeant Masterson, grabbed the eagle and was later given a battlefield commission to Lieutenant for this feat.


Masterson’s regiment, the 87th Foot, was known in the Peninsular for their battle cry “Faugh a Ballagh”, the Irish for “Clear the way”. Following Barossa the regiment was “recommended to the Prince Regent” who awarded them the title of “Prince of Wales’ Own Irish Regiment” and directed that they wear an eagle on their colors and appointments.


Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of Anglo-Spanish troops the opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.


Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham's tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.