“The Battle of Barossa”


"On the second day of February, from Cadiz we set sail." They travel via Gibraltar and Algiers to "the Reef o' Bay." General Graham encourages the British army. The 92nd and 81st regiments fight valiantly. The soldiers anticipate seeing home and women


Roud lumps this with the poorly-attested "Oliver's Advice (Barrosa)," but the two are clearly separate songs.

The "battle" of Barrosa was more of a skirmish; the forces involved were small, though the British won a clear victory. Most histories of the Napoleonic Wars don't seem even to mention it, and the sources can't even agree on whether to call it "Barrosa" or "Barossa." (The former seems to be correct.)

The battle was part of the attempt to relieve the French siege of Cadiz. By the time the British and Spanish arrived in March 1811, Cadiz had been under siege for 13 months. But shortly before (by coincidence), the besieging commander Claude Perrin Victor (1764-1841) had had to detach about a third of his forces for use elsewhere in Spain.

Thomas Graham (1748-1843) had meanwhile brought some 5000 troops from Britain (the fleet setting sail on February 21, not February 2); they landed at Algeciras (called "Algiers" in the song) and joined a rather larger Spanish force under La Pena.

When the combined force encountered French troops on March 5, the Spanish fled, as described in the song, but Graham rallied the British and shoved aside a somewhat larger French force. He was not able to relieve Cadiz, but the British had a nice little victory to boast about.

The siege of Cadiz finally ended in August 1812. Marshal Soult, French commander in Spain, had lost at Salamanca and decided to withdraw the troops to reinforce his weakened army.

For the 92nd Regiment (Gordon Highlanders), mentioned in the song, see the notes to "The Gallant Ninety-Twa." The 81st Regiment (Loyal Lincolnshire Volunteers), has had an even more complex history, being raised in 1741 and receiving its number in 1793. It was amalgamated into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1881, and then in 1970 into the Queen's Lancashire Regiment; obviously there isn't much continuity in its history. It fought throughout the Peninsular Campaign but did not serve in the Hundred Days.

Interestingly, the song (at least the versions I've checked) does not mention the 87th Regiment (Royal Irish Fusiliers), officially regarded as the unit most responsible for the British success, which captured an eagle and celebrate March 4 (Barrosa Day) as a regimental anniversary. That regiment is, however, strongly praised in "Barrosa Plains," also about this battle.

The spelling ?Barossa? in the title is Ord's; and seems to occur a lot in traditional sources (so much so that I called the battle by that name in earlier editions of the Index); I have bestowed the name "The Battle of Barossa" on that basis, even though that is not the correct name of the battle. - RBW

Historical references

  • March 5, 1811 - Battle of Barrosa

Cross references


  1. Ord, pp. 291-293, "The Battle of Barossa" (1 text)
  2. Roud #2182
  3. BI, Ord291


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1930 (Ord)
Keywords: soldier battle Spain
Found in: Britain(Scotland)