1200 22nd August 1813
General Sarrut had been tasked to hold the town of Aguillar with his 3rd French division.
On 20th August 1st British division arrived in front of the town and deployed as if to attack. However for 48 hours neither side made any attempt to engage the other.
Late on 21st August 16th Italian division arrived from Pancorbo, and halted east of the town and out of sight of the British.
General Laval, commander of 6th French corps, had carried out an extensive cavalry recce of the British position, and was satisfied that he had a considerable numerical advantage over the enemy. He ordered both of his divisions to advance at daylight and attack the British.
General Hill, commander 1st Allied corps, was present with the British division.
He was under considerable pressure from Wellington to attack the French before they could concentrate. His cavalry recce had been less successful, and he was not aware that he faced two enemy divisions.
He was aware that 1st Spanish division would arrive before midday on 22nd August. He therefore ordered General Howard to advance towards Aguillar at daylight with his whole division and attack the town.
He sent orders to general Giron to march to join him with the utmost speed.
During the night of 21st August Howard ordered his division to abandon their carefully prepared defensive positions and form column of march to pass through the steep pass leading to Aguillar.
As the head of the British division entered the open space west of Aguillar they were confronted by 3rd French division advancing towards them in column of attack. Behind could be seen the head of 16th Italian division marching north of Aguillar to join them.
Hill ordered Howard to deploy just east of the pass and hold his ground.
He then rode back through the pass to find Giron and hasten his march to arrive in time to save Howard.