British Royal Engineers, Lt. D.P. Jenkins – The Peninsular War
There were never more than 30 engineers at any time serving with Wellington?s army in the Peninsular. They were all officers and came under the board of Ordnance. Their main function was to organize and oversee the sieges. The Duke was to write in a letter to Lord Liverpool after the costly siege and assault of Badajoz ?…our engineers, though well-educated and brave, have never turned their minds to the mode of conducting a regular siege, as it is useless to think of that which it is impossible in our service, to perform.?
The main problem stemmed from a lack of proper grounding in siege operations and having only unwilling and unskilled working parties of infantry to work with. It was this lack of trained subordinates which hindered their work.
When released from the pressure associated with a siege, allowed time and given unlimited labour, the engineers demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness. The supervision of the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras is an example of what they were capable of.
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