The situation for the Duke of Wellington and his British and Portuguese troops in 1812 was somewhat perilous. Although they had chased Massňa and his French Legions from Spain, overwhelming numbers of enemy troops were still in Spain despite being scattered through the provinces. For Wellington to move forward and take the fight to the enemy, he would have to take the two border fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos, and do so quickly before the bickering French marshals united against him. After capturing Ciudad Rodrigo in a bloody but short siege, the Iron Duke turned his attention on the much more formidable fortress of Badajos, a fortress that they had failed to take before. The few trained Allied engineers were bolstered by volunteer officers like the author Captain MacCarthy, who undertook the dangerous work of the engineers. However, a lack of artillery and shot meant that the task would be exceptionally difficult, and pressed by time Wellington orders an early assault by the best of his infantry over barely practicable breeches. As a diversion, he also orders an attempt to capture the castle of Badajos by escalade - the author himself being part of this diversionary effort. In the event, the breeches prove to be impregnable and after repeated murderous attempts, the defences of Badajos are only breached by the ladder borne assault on the castle. Captain MacCarthy's short narrative is vividly written filled with the blood and shot of the siege and the castle's final capture.