In 1812, the Peninsular War was going in Napoleon’s favor despite fierce resistance from Spanish guerrillas and the Duke of Wellington’s Anglo Portuguese Army. For his imminent invasion of Russia, Napoleon pulled out most of the French troops from Spain which breathed new life into Wellington’s campaign. In the beginning of March, Wellington besieged the strategically important and well fortified town of Badajoz. On 6 April 1812, he assaulted the town before the Army of French Marshall Nicolas de Soult could arrive and bottle up his army. In some of the most savage fighting of the Napoleonic era, Wellington’s redcoats managed to take the town but with extremely heavy casualties.
Although the British were victorious, the British troops suffered horribly and Wellington lost control of his soldiers. They began to loot, rape and terrorize the the Spanish citizens of Badajoz. Without the garrison of Badajoz and with most of his troops sent to Russia, Soult could not take advantage of the situation and attack Wellington in the confusion. Only on 9 April did Wellington manage to restore order. Although the Peninsular War would go on for three more years, Badajoz was the last chance the French had to win in Spain, a campaign Napoleon would refer to as his “Bleeding Ulcer.”