The Peninsular War
In 1793 France declared war against Spain and England and within the space of two years France had forced the British army out of mainland Europe. France made a separate peace with Spain and in 1796, Spain declared war on England. The British army could not engage the French army on land in Europe and it was only the Royal Navy which could carry the war to sea and inflict defeat on the French at battles such as, Aboukir in 1798 and Trafalgar in 1805. Finally, after much planning and preparation the British army was in a position to re-enter Europe and take on the French army on land.
On the 1st August 1808, ten years to the day after Nelson's victory at Aboukir, Arthur Wellesley, later to become the Duke of Wellington, landed in Portugal. For five years the campaign, which would become known as the Peninsular War, after the Iberian Peninsula which encompasses Spain and Portugal, was the battleground between France and England. It was a harsh terrain and armies crossed it on foot and fought battles which have become famous for the skill in the way they were fought, as well as the cost in lives. Both sides won victories and suffered defeats but eventually it was Wellington who won through.
What is significant about the campaign is that, in all that time, Wellington and Napoleon never faced one another across the battlefield .