Battle of Corunna 1809

In 1808, Sir John Moore led a British army to Spain to assist the Spanish in their fight against the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Among the British regiments sent to Spain was the 26th (Cameronian) Regiment. When it became clear that the Spanish would be defeated, the British were forced to retreat to avoid being crushed by the much larger French army. With the French close behind, the British withdrew along the northern coast of Spain through difficult country and in terrible weather conditions.

Sir John planned to evacuate his army at the Spanish port of Corunna, but, when they reached there in January 1809, the transport ships had not yet arrived. The British were left with little choice but to stand and fight. Just as the French were preparing their attack, the British transport ships arrived. The sick and wounded were put on board, and there followed a desperate struggle as the small and weakened British army fought to hold off the French attack.

In the struggle, Sir John was fatally wounded by a cannon ball, and lived just long enough to learn that his men had fought off the French assault. The 26th took heavy casualties in the battle and acted as the rear guard while the rest of the British force boarded the ships. The death of Sir John Moore was a great loss to the British. He was one of the best generals of his time and was well liked by the men under his command.

General Thomas Graham, whose 90th Perthshire Light Infantry joined with the 26th in 1881, was with Sir John when he died. There is a statue commemorating Sir John Moore in George Square, Glasgow.

Battle of Corunna painting magnify
The 26th Regiment at The Battle of Corunna, as depicted by H. Oakes-Jones

The 26th Regiment at The Battle of Corunna, as depicted by H. Oakes-Jones.