It’s January 1809 and there’s bloody snow across the heights of northern Spain.
Spain, England’s enemy for centuries, was invaded last year by the French. The Spanish king was deposed by his brother, and then the brother was deposed by Napoleon, who installed his own brother Joseph as king instead, just as he had done in Italy. The coups left the Spanish nobility confused and fractious, broken into rival factions that squabble, bicker and posture.
The British Army, almost in its entirety, came to the Peninsula to support Spain in its war against France. After a series of signal victories against the French, however, things began to go wrong. Senior British commanders forced their authority over the victorious Sir Arthur Wellesley and allowed a defeated French army to retreat to France with its guns and even its stolen Spanish loot intact, providing the Royal Navy as transports. When word of it reached home, Wellesley and his two superiors were recalled to answer to Parliament, leaving Sir John Moore in command.
Meanwhile defeat after defeat stacked up for the Spanish, whose pride in their army’s training, equipment and leadership far outstretched reality. Their first great victory at Balien was never repeated. Napoleon himself came to Spain with the Imperial Guard. Where Britain and Spain had outnumbered the French, the Spanish armies are scattered and Britain finds itself outnumbered ten to one. Now the British Army is falling apart in a long, desperate winter retreat.
It’s up to Captain Yorkshire and his picked riflemen to keep their company of the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot together in the march to Corunna and the sea.