Sir John Moore does at La Coruna today in 1809
Today, the 16th January, in 1809 Sir John Moore was mortally wounded at the battle of Coruna, Spain. His small force was the only British contingent on the Iberian peninsular and proved by Moore’s brave action, a thorn in the Emperor Napoleon’s side.
Napoleon had all but conquered Spain(Madrid fell in December)and was set to move on Portugal, Britain’s ally, when Sir John Moore devised a diversion instead of retreating to the safety of Portugal. He moved on Napoleon’s line of communications (back to France). Napoleon pulled large numbers from his advance on Portugal to defeat Moore, to the detriment of his Portuguese conquest. Moore was cornered at La Coruna, but was able to evacuate all sick and most of his men.
Unfortunately, he was struck by a cannonball which shattered his collarbone and shoulder. He died the next day, but his army would fight another day. More importantly, Napoleon’s plans were thwarted and Portugal never fell. Resistance to French rule would grow.
Sir John Moore is buried in La Coruna and in 2004 the Spanish Mayor had a bust of him at his graveside.
Apologies: he died the same day; was buried the next.
He was born in Glasgow in 1761 and died aged 47.
ABWorsham4 last edited by
Spain was known as Napoleon’s bleeding ulcer.
Thank you for reading. I love posting about France and England.
I must admit I was not aware until three years ago that Spain and France were not allied during the entirety of the Napoleonic wars. (I have never read much about Napoleon and his campaigns. Only on Waterloo!). Traditionally they have been on the same side against England.
Unfortunately, he was struck by a cannonball which shattered his collarbone and shoulder. He died the next day
This is a bit perplexing. If the sentence said “struck by a musket ball” I’d have no problems visualizing this…but being struck by a cannonball with the only effect being damage to his collarbone and shoulder (with the damage being fatal only the next day) sounds rather improbable. Either it was a very glancing blow by the edge of a cannonball that almost completely missed him (in which case “clipped by” might be more accurate) or Sir John Moore was a very tough customer who could take battle damage almost as well as a Terminator cyborg.
Hi Marc. I should possibly have queried it more. I used one source, then quickly looked at wiki for where and when he was born.
Wiki says cannon shot too, but describes more damage to the body and lungs. Could it have been spent or travelled at its maximum range?
Otherwise, perhaps he did have some Terminator in him!
Could it have been spent
For a bullet this would be possible, but not for a cannonball. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel was hit by a “spent” .50-caliber machine gun bullet which crashed through his office window and struck him in the chest; it dropped to the floor, leaving him with no more harm than a dark splotch on his white uniform. The force exerted by a projectile on impact equals its mass times the square of its velocity, so in the case of a (roughly) 45-gram bullet that’s lost most of its velocity this wouldn’t amount to much. A cannonball weighing several pounds, however, has enough mass to do plenty of damage at even very low velocities: dropping one on your foot from waist height would probably be enough to break some bones, to say nothing of whatever residual velocity it would have from being fired from a cannon. I don’t think it’s possible for a cannonball in flight to hit a man at shoulder height at anything other than high velocity: a cannonball fired on a fairly flat trajectory would drop to the ground long before losing much of its speed, while a cannonball fired on a high arcing trajectory would lose speed on the way up but gain speed on the way down due to gravity. I suppose it’s possible that in Moore’s case he was hit by a cannonball that had already dropped to the ground and which then bounced upwards as it continued to travel downrange (if cannonballs can actually do that). A more whimsical hypothesis would be that the cannonball was thrown at Moore by hand from a distance of a few feet by an enemy artilleryman who had run out of gunpowder. But seriously, a glancing blow is probably the most realistic explanation.
As a footnote to this discussion, I once had the interesting experience of being struck in the chest by a spent .22 caliber pistol bullet (fired by me, which adds to the wierdness of this incident). A friend of mine had invited me to do a little target shooting in his basement, where he’d set up a very improvised pistol range. As I recall, the backstop was a carpet draped over a plywood plank. He fired a few shots at the target, then handed me the pistol. One of the bullets I fired hit the backstop, bounced back, hit my chest and dropped to the floor. I handed the pistol back to its owner and declined to participate any further in this particular recreational activity of his. I kept the slug as a souvenir.
I don’t blame you!
Would have put me off too.
Spain was known as Napoleon’s bleeding ulcer.
Ulster was known as England’s bleeding pain.