The following are the reports from those engaged in this chance encounter between British and French cavalry in Portugal.
Report from Major Seillon
South of Boialva 12th June1808
My regiment of dragoons was riding north in column of route towards Boialva from Busaco when we came upon ENGLISH cavalry riding south. The road followed the line of a winding river valley, flanked by steep, heavily wooded, hills and we stumbled upon them as we rounded a bend. I thought they were probably Portuguese and led the first squadron forward, after ordering 2nd squadron to dismount and protect the flanks, which were heavily wooded and hilly. The enemy officer rode towards me with only two men, but as we advanced, changed his mind. It was too late, we were upon him. The enemy countercharged us and we realised from their “Huzzahs” that they were English. But they were no match for our fellows and we began to hack them down in numbers.
Very soon we had forced them back the way they came. They have retreated northwards, probably into Boialva. I have made camp south of the town. My losses are 8 men dead and 8 wounded and a total loss of 4 horses, after allowing for some which we captured in the engagement.
Report from Lieutenant Torridge to Major Greenholme, 20th Light Dragoons.
Boialva 12th June1808. 10pm. By the hand of Lt. Darwin, 2 Sqn.
Sir, I have to report the loss of Captain Comberton and 26 men of 1st Squadron in an engagement with French Dragoons south of Boialva.
Our squadron together with 2nd squadron was riding south from Boialva towards Busaco. The road followed the line of a winding river valley, flanked by steep, heavily wooded hills. Rounding a bend in the road we observed a column of green-coated cavalry coming the other way. Captain Comberton halted the squadron and rode forward with two men to investigate. The enemy – as they proved to be – advanced swiftly with a large squadron about twice the strength of our own and Captain Comberton was cut down before he could retire to us.
We countercharged and held them for a short while, but their numbers were too great and our horses were weak from the sea voyage. We were forced to fall back and have returned to Boialva, which was held by 3rd squadron.
We are now holding the town of Boialva together with 2nd and 3rd Squadrons. Captain Langton is commanding. 21 of my men are lightly wounded and we lost 28 horses in the engagement.
Report from Captain Langton to Major Greenholme, 20th Light Dragoons. Boialva 12th June1808. 10pm.
By the hand of Lt Darwin, 2 Sqn.
I am holding the town of Boialva with all three squadrons of the Regiment. 1st Squadron is in a poor state with 27 men missing, including Captain Comberton, and several wounded.
We came upon a large body of French dragoons today between here and Busaco. 1st Squadron was heavily engaged. I held 2nd squadron back as a reserve and dismounted two troops as a guard to our flanks, the valley being heavily wooded on both sides of the road.
When it was clear that 1st Squadron was in danger of being overwhelmed I ordered my men to remount and withdraw, and then took command of 1st Squadron and extricated them from the fight.
The men fought well, but we were outnumbered at least two to one.
I fear an attack tomorrow, but have put the town in a state of defence with the assistance of Captain Caminha of the town militia. He has about 350 men, armed with muskets of varying antiquity. In the armoury we found 4 old cannon on field carriages, but we have no experienced artillerymen amongst us or the Portuguese.