The loss of the British at Talavera, in killed and wounded, was scarcely less than 5000. The two French armies of Victor and Soult were coming up, by forced marches, to cut off the retreat of the british to Portugal. Cuesta would neither march nor fight, and Wellington, more embarrassed than assisted by his stubborn ally, threw himself behind the Tagus.
Spain, now left to itself, was instantly overrun by the French, and Wellington, with the eye of genius, saw where the true defence of Portugal was to be made, and, with the heart of a hero, resolved to defend it to the last. In February, 1810, he commenced the design of arming the line of Torres Vedras.
The battle of Busaco, on the 27th of September (1810), followed, which cost the French about 5000 men. On the retreat of the army, the light division and a squadron of the Legion remained on the heights of Busaco, to observe the French movements.
Early in the morning, large bodies of men were seen in the valley, and the squadron were sent down to ascertain what they were. They found them to be peasants of the surrounding country, who, infuriated by the rapine of the French, had come evidently for the purpose of cutting the throats of all whom they found alive on the field. They had now between three and four hundred wounded men in their hands, abandoned by the extraordinary inhumanity of Massena, and expecting to be massacred every moment. The sight of the hussars gave them new hope; they implored their protection; and the honest Germans, procuring some litters, conveyed them from the field to a neighboring convent, where they were taken care of by the monks.