Sir Henry - "I have been in that fort on many times under a flag of truce and I
can categorically state that there are no cannon......."
(cannonfire in the distance).
The Franco-Spanish border 1813. The French army is in full retreat from Spain but napoleon is planninga surpirse counter attack. To suceed he must first flush out and capture Wellington's master spy - El Mirador.
On the French-Spanish frontier, a French patrol led by a colonel of Napoleon's Imperial Guard overtakes a carriage containing a priest and three nuns. The priest is the confessor of El Mirador, Wellington's best secret agent; he is tortured into revealing the spy's identity. Then, he and two of the nuns are killed, but the youngest, a novitiate, manages to escape.
Major Sharpe and his riflemen show up and rout the French, taking a captain captive, while the colonel is killed. Sharpe finds a piece of paper filled with cryptic numbers on the prisoner and suspects that his captive is actually the colonel in disguise. However, he is unable to convince his superior, Colonel Barkley nor his fellow officer, Captain Lord Jack Spears; the Frenchman is allowed to give his parole and is not imprisoned. The young woman, having lost her faith and being rendered mute by the horror she has witnessed, attaches herself to Sharpe.
Back at camp, Wellington's spymaster, Major Mungo Monroe, has received word that Napoleon himself has sent Colonel Leroux (Patrick Fierry) of the elite Imperial Guard to capture El Mirador. Monroe assigns Sharpe the task of killing the colonel, but refuses to divulge the spy's identity. He sends Sharpe and the South Essex Regiment to the town where El Mirador is based. The British already control the place, but there is a French-held fort close by. When the men near the town, a surprise artillery barrage from the fort causes enough confusion to allow the prisoner, who is in fact Leroux, to break his parole and escape to its safety.
Sharpe then meets two people, his old enemy Sir Henry Simmerson, now the British representative to the town, and Father Curtis (John Kavanagh), who runs the hospital.
The regiment attacks that night, but the French have been forewarned and the assault is bloodily repulsed. Sharpe is seriously, nearly fatally wounded and Barkley is killed, leaving him in charge. While Sharpe recovers, he sends for British cannons and orders his most literate rifleman, Harris, to decode the message he took from Leroux. During this time, the woman regains her voice and her faith.
Harris succeeds in breaking the code. The message unmasks Spears as a traitor (he had been taken captive, tortured, and then blackmailed by Leroux). However, Spears is unable to bring himself to kill El Mirador, who is revealed to be Father Curtis. When the cannons arrive, Sharpe gives the officer the opportunity for an honourable death and he rides towards the fort with the Kings colours - giving the rest of the troops courage and motivation. Sharpe and the South Essex then storm the position. When Leroux tries to surrender, Sharpe offers him a duel to the death instead; if he kills Sharpe, he can go free. Sharpe wins the swordfight.
Taking advantage of Sharpe's absence, Simmerson attempts to rape the novitiate (who had humiliated him on a prior crude advance), but is stopped by Father Curtis. The priest accuses Simmerson of warning the French of the first attack; when Simmerson advances on him with sword drawn, Father Curtis, an ex-soldier, unexpectedly draws his own and teaches him a very painful lesson.
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