This powerful family possessed for many generations before 369 B.C. the privilege of furnishing the Tagus, or generalissimo, of the combined Thessalian forces.
The British troops were directed towards Lisbon and Cadiz, in order to secure these harbours, to prevent the subjugation of Andalusia, and to operate up the basins of the Guadiana, Tagus and Douro into Spain.
For these reasons he marched by land; and as the roads north of the Tagus were deemed impassable for guns, while transport and supplies for a large force were also difficult to procure, he sent Sir John Hope, with the artillery, cavalry and reserve ammunition column, south of the river, through Badajoz to Almaraz, to move thence through Talavera, Madrid and the Escurial Pass, involving a considerable detour; while he himself with the infantry, marching by successive divisions, took the shorter roads north of the Tagus through Coimbra and Almeida, and also by Alcantara and Coria to Ciudad Rodrigo and Salamanca.
Victor had crossed the Tagus, and defeated Cuesta at Medellin (March 28, 1809); but, surrounded by insurgents, he also had halted; Lapisse had joined him, and together they were near Merida, 30,000 strong.
During the above operations, Victor, with Lapisse, had forced the passage of the Tagus at Alcantara but, on Wellesley returning to Abrantes, he retired.