Bailén, Battle of
(1808)
   The Battle of Bailén (or Baylen) was a small but significant engagement of the Peninsular War that shattered the myth of Napoleonic invincibility. A French army of 22,250 men under the leadership of General Pierre Dupont de l’Étang conducting a campaign of pacification in Andalusia was attacked and routed by a Spanish force of 29,770 men commanded by Francisco Castaños. Although there was clear incompetence on both sides, the more spectacular instances came form Dupont and his subordinates, with the result that 17,635 French soldiers ultimately surrendered to the Spanish. An offer of safe conduct back to France was promptly violated, as the French troops were denied repatriation, confined on prison ships in Cádiz harbor, and eventually left on Balearic Island to starve to death. Dupont, who had shown ability at Austerlitz, was operating for the first time in independent command and had begun the campaign in the hope of winning a marshal’s baton. Instead, he was disgraced and imprisoned for six years.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Esdaile, Charles. The Penninsular War, A New History. London: Allen Lane, 2002.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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