El capitán John Kincaid nació en Dalbeath, en enero de 1787, hijo de John y Margaret Gaff. Fue educado en la Escuela Polmont, y antes de unirse al ejército, fue gerente de un negocio de importación de madera. En 1807, Kincaid solicitó un puesto como teniente en la Milicia de North York. En 1809, se unió a la 95 ° Brigada de fusileros.


      Kincaid con el 95º de rifles fue enviado a Portugal para para combatir junto a Wellington en la campaña contra el ejército napoleónico entre los años 1811-1814. Y tras esta campaña, también participará en la famosa batalla de Waterloo.


      Después de Waterloo, en 1826, Kincaid alcanzó el rango de Capitán, antes de retirarse a su hogar en 1831. Kincaid publicó dos libros, 'Aventuras con la Brigada de Fusileros' (1830) y 'Disparos aleatorios de un fusilero' (1835), en los que relató su servicio con el 95º Regimiento de Fusileros.

 

 

 
       Fue Inspector del Gobierno para las Prisiones escocesas en 1847, y finalmente fue nombrado caballero por la Reina Victoria en 1852. Se retiró de todos sus deberes a principios de 1862, falleciendo en Hastings el 22 de abril de 1862, a los 75 años.

 

 

 

     En su obra "Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula, France, and the Neanderlands fron 1809 to 1815", se habla del asedio a San Sebastián en el capítulo XVI.

There is no Chapter IV in this book.

The errata changes have been included in the file.]

 

ADVENTURES IN THE RIFLE BRIGADE,

IN THE PENINSULA,FRANCE, AND THE NETHERLANDS,

FROM 1809 TO 1815.

BY

CAPTAIN J. KINCAID.

LONDON:

T. AND W. BOONE, STRAND.

MDCCCXXX.

TO

MAJOR-GEN. SIR ANDREW BARNARD,

K. C. B.

COLONEL OF THE FIRST BATTALION RIFLE BRIGADE,

AND ITS LEADER

DURING A LONG AND BRILLIANT PERIOD

OF ITS HISTORY,

THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY HIS VERY OBEDIENT

AND VERY OBLIGED HUMBLE SERVANT,

J. KINCAID.

 

ADVERTISEMENT.

In tracing the following scenes, I have chiefly drawn on the

reminiscences of my military life, and endeavoured faithfully to

convey to the mind of the reader the impression which they made on my

own at the time of their occurrence. Should any errors, as to dates or

trifling circumstances, have inadvertently crept into my narrative, I

hope they will be ascribed to want of memory, rather than to any

wilful intention to mislead. I am aware, that some objections may be

taken to my style; for

 

                          "Rude am I in my speech,

  And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace:

  For, since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,

  Till now, some nine moons wasted, they have us'd

  Their dearest action in the tented field:

  And little of this world can I speak,

  More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;

  And therefore little shall I grace my cause

  In speaking for myself; yet, by your gracious patience,

  I will a round unvarnished tale deliver,"

CONTENTS.

                                                                  Page

  CHAPTER I.                                                         1

Joined the Rifles. Walcheren Expedition. A young Soldier. A Marine

View. Campaign in South Beeveland. Retreat to Scotland.

  CHAP. II.                                                          4

Rejoin the Regiment. Embark for the Peninsula. Arrival in the Tagus.

The City of Lisbon, with its Contents. Sail for Figuera. Landing

extraordinary. Billet ditto. The City of Coimbra. A hard Case. A cold

Case, in which a favourite Scotch Dance is introduced. Climate. The

Duke of Wellington.

  CHAP. III.                                                        15

Other People, Myself, and my Regiment. Retreat to the Lines of Torres

Vedras. Leave Coimbra, followed by a select group of Natives. Ford the

Streets of Condacia in good spirits. A Provost-Marshal and his

favourites. A fall. Convent of Batalha. Turned out of Allenquer.

Passed through Sobral. Turned into Arruda. Quartering of the Light

Division, and their Quarters at Arruda. Burial of an only Child. Lines

of Torres Vedras. Difference of opinion between Massena and Myself.

Military Customs.

  CHAP. V.                                                           38

Campaign of 1811 opens. Massena's Retreat. Wretched Condition of the

Inhabitants on the Line of March. Affairs with the Enemy, near Pombal.

Description of a Bivouac. Action near Redinha. Destruction of Condacia

and Action near it. Burning of the Village of Illama, and Misery of

its Inhabitants. Action at Foz D'Aronce. Confidential Servants with

Donkey-Assistants.

  CHAP. VI.                                                         61

Passage of the Mondego. Swearing to a large Amount. Two Prisoners,

with their Two Views. Two Nuns, Two Pieces of Dough, and Two Kisses. A

Halt. Affair near Frexedas. Arrival near Guarda. Murder. A stray

Sentry. Battle of Sabugal. Spanish and Portuguese Frontiers. Blockade

of Almeida. Battle-like. Current Value of Lord Wellington's Nose.

Battle of Fuentes D'Onor. The Day after the Battle. A grave Remark.

The _Padre's_ House. Retreat of the Enemy.

  CHAP. VII.                                                        83

March to Estremadura. At Soito, growing Accommodations for Man and

Beast. British Taste displayed by Portuguese Wolves. False Alarm.

Luxuries of Roquingo Camp. A Chaplain of the Forces. Return towards

the North. Quarters near Castello de Vide. Blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Village of Atalya; Fleas abundant; Food scarce. Advance of the French

Army. Affairs near Guinaldo. Our Minister administered to. An

unexpected Visit from our General and his Followers. End of the

Campaign of 1811. Winter Quarters.

  CHAP. VIII.                                                      100

Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. The Garrison of an Outwork relieved. Spending

an Evening abroad. A Musical Study. An Addition to Soup. A short Cut.

Storming of the Town. A sweeping Clause. Advantages of leading a

Storming Party. Looking for a Customer. Disadvantages of being a

stormed Party. Confusion of all Parties. A waking Dream. Death of

General Crawford. Accident. Deaths.

  CHAP. IX.                                                        121

March to Estremadura. A Deserter shot. Riding for an Appetite. Effect

the Cure of a Sick Lady. Siege of Badajos. Trench-Work. Varieties

during the Siege. Taste of the Times. Storming of the Town. Its Fall.

Officers of a French Battalion. Not shot by Accident. Military

Shopkeepers. Lost Legs and cold Hearts. Affecting Anecdote. My

Servant. A Consignment to Satan. March again for the North. Sir Sidney

Beckwith.

  CHAP. X.                                                         143

A Farewell Address to Portalegré. History of a Night in Castello

Branco. Regimental Colours lost, with Directions where to find them.

Cases in which a Victory is sometimes won by those who lost it.

Advance to Salamanca. The City. The British Position on St.

Christoval. Affair in Position. Marmont's Change of Position and

Retreat. A Case of Bad Luck. Advance to Rueda, and Customs there.

Retire to Castrejon. Affairs on the 18th and 19th of July. Battle of

Salamanca, and Defeat of the Enemy.

  CHAP. XI.                                                        165

Distinguished Characters. A Charge of Dragoons. A Charge against the

Nature of Things. Olmeda and the French General, Ferez. Advance

towards Madrid. Adventures of my Dinner. The Town of Segovia. El

Palacio del Rio Frio. The Escurial. Enter Madrid. Rejoicings. Nearly

happy. Change of a Horse. Change of Quarters. A Change confounded.

Retire towards Salamanca. Boar-Hunt, Dinner-Hunt, and Bull-Hunt. A

Portuguese Funeral conducted by Rifle Undertakers.

  CHAP. XII.                                                       183

Reach Salamanca. Retreat from it. Pig Hunting, an Enemy to

Sleep-Hunting. Putting one's Foot in it. Affair on the 17th of

November. Bad Legs sometimes last longer than good ones. A Wet Birth.

Prospectus of a Day's Work. A lost _déjûné_ better than a found one.

Advantages not taken. A disagreeable Amusement, End of the Campaign of

1812. Winter Quarters. Orders and Disorders treated. Farewell Opinion

of Ancient Allies. My House.

  CHAP. XIII.                                                      200

A Review. Assembly of the Army. March to Salamanca. To Aldea Nueva. To

Toro. An Affair of the Hussar Brigade. To Palencia. To the

Neighbourhood of Burgos. To the Banks of the Ebro. Fruitful sleeping

place. To Medina. A Dance before it was due. Smell the Foe. Affair at

St. Milan. A Physical River.

  CHAP. XIV.                                                       213

Battle of Vittoria. Defeat of the Enemy. Confusion among their

Followers. Plunder. Colonel Cameron. Pursuit, and the Capture of their

Last Gun. Arrive near Pampeluna. At Villalba. An Irish method of

making a useless Bed useful.

  CHAP. XV.                                                        231

March to intercept Clausel. Tafalla. Olite. The dark End of a Night

March to Casada. Clausel's Escape. Sanguessa. My Tent struck. Return

to Villalba. Weighty Considerations on Females. St. Esteban. A Severe

Dance. Position at Bera. Soult's Advance, and Battle of the Pyrenees.

His Defeat and subsequent Actions. A Morning's Ride.

  CHAP. XVI.                                                       246

An Anniversary Dinner. Affair with the Enemy, and Fall of St.

Sebastian. A Building Speculation. A Fighting one, storming the

Heights of Bera. A Picture of France from the Pyrenees. Returns after

an Action. Sold by my Pay-Serjeant. A Recruit born at his Post.

Between Two Fires, a Sea and a Land one. Position of La Rhune. My

Picture taken in a Storm. Refreshing Invention for wintry Weather.

  CHAP. XVII.                                                      263

Battle of the Nivelle, and Defeat of the Enemy. A Bird of Evil Omen.

Chateau D'Arcangues. Prudence. An Enemy's Gratitude. Passage of the

Nive, and Battles near Bayonne, from 9th to 13th December.

  CHAP. XVIII.                                                     280

Change of Quarters. Change of Diet. Suttlers. Our new Quarter. A

long-going Horse gone. New Clothing. Adam's lineal Descendants. St.

Palais. Action at Tarbes. Faubourg of Toulouse. The green Man. Passage

of the Garonne. Battle of Toulouse. Peace. Castle Sarrazin. A Tender

Point.

  CHAP. XIX.                                                       301

Commencement of the War of 1815. Embark for Rotterdam. Ship's Stock.

Ship struck. A Pilot, a Smuggler, and a Lawyer. A Boat without Stock.

Join the Regiment at Brussels.

  CHAP. XX.                                                        307

Relative Situation of the Troops. March from Brussels. The Prince and

the Beggar. Battle of Quatre-Bras.

  CHAP. XXI.                                                       327

Battle of Waterloo, 18th June, 1815. "A Horse! a Horse!" Breakfast.

Position. Disposition. Meeting of _particular_ Friends. Dish of Powder

and Ball. Fricassee of Swords. End of First Course. Pounding. Brewing.

Peppering. Cutting and Maiming. Fury. Tantalizing. Charging. Cheering.

Chasing. Opinionizing. Anecdotes. The End.

 

ADVENTURES IN THE RIFLE BRIGADE.

 

CHAPTER I.

 

     Joined the Rifles. Walcheren Expedition. A young Soldier. A

     Marine View. Campaign in South Beeveland. Retreat to Scotland.

 

 

I joined the second battalion rifle brigade, (then the ninety-fifth,)

at Hythe-Barracks, in the spring of 1809, and, in a month after, we

proceeded to form a part of the expedition to Holland, under the Earl

of Chatham.

 

With the usual Quixotic feelings of a youngster, I remember how very

desirous I was, on the march to Deal, to impress the minds of the

natives with a suitable notion of the magnitude of my importance, by

carrying a donkey-load of pistols in my belt, and screwing my

naturally placid countenance up to a pitch of ferocity beyond what it

was calculated to bear.

 

We embarked in the Downs, on board the Hussar frigate, and afterwards

removed to the Namur, a seventy-four, in which we were conveyed to our

destination.

 

I had never before been in a ship of war, and it appeared to me, the

first night, as if the sailors and marines did not pull well together,

excepting by the ears; for my hammock was slung over the descent into

the cockpit, and I had scarcely turned-in when an officer of marines

came and abused his sentry for not seeing the lights out below,

according to orders. The sentry proceeded to explain, that the

_middies_ would not put them out for him, when the naked shoulders and

the head of one of them, illuminated with a red nightcap, made its

appearance above the hatchway, and began to take a lively share in

the argument. The marine officer, looking down, with some

astonishment, demanded, "d--n you, sir, who are you?" to which the

head and shoulders immediately rejoined, "and d--n and b--t you, sir,

who are you?"

 

We landed on the island of South Beeveland, where we remained about

three weeks, playing at soldiers, smoking _mynheer's_ long clay pipes,

and drinking his _vrow's_ butter-milk, for which I paid liberally with

my precious blood to their infernal musquitos; not to mention that I

had all the extra valour shaken out of me by a horrible ague, which

commenced a campaign on my carcass, and compelled me to retire upon

Scotland, for the aid of my native air, by virtue of which it was

ultimately routed.

 

I shall not carry my first chapter beyond my first campaign, as I am

anxious that my reader should not expend more than his first breath

upon an event which cost too many their last.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. II.

 

     Rejoin the Regiment. Embark for the Peninsula. Arrival in the

     Tagus. The City of Lisbon, with its Contents. Sail for Figuera.

     Landing extraordinary. Billet ditto. The City of Coimbra. A hard

     Case. A cold Case, in which a favourite Scotch Dance is

     introduced. Climate. The Duke of Wellington.

 

 

I rejoined the battalion, at Hythe, in the spring of 1810, and,

finding that the company to which I belonged had embarked, to join the

first battalion in the Peninsula, and that they were waiting at

Spithead for a fair wind, I immediately applied, and obtained

permission, to join them.

 

We were about the usual time at sea, and indulged in the usual

amusements, beginning with keeping journals, in which I succeeded in

inserting two remarks on the state of the weather, when I found my

inclination for book-making superseded by the more disagreeable study

of appearing eminently happy under an irresistible inclination towards

sea-sickness. We anchored in the Tagus in September;--no thanks to the

ship, for she was a leaky one, and wishing foul winds to the skipper,

for he was a bad one.

 

To look at Lisbon from the Tagus, there are few cities in the universe

that can promise so much, and none, I hope, that can keep it so badly.

 

I only got on shore one day, for a few hours, and, as I never again

had an opportunity of correcting the impression, I have no objection

to its being considered an uncharitable one; but I wandered for a time

amid the abominations of its streets and squares, in the vain hope

that I had got involved among a congregation of stables and outhouses;

but when I was, at length, compelled to admit it as the miserable

apology for the fair city that I had seen from the harbour, I began to

contemplate, with astonishment, and no little amusement, the very

appropriate appearance of its inhabitants.

 

The church, I concluded, had, on that occasion, indulged her numerous

offspring with a holiday, for they occupied a much larger portion of

the streets than all the world besides. Some of them were languidly

strolling about, and looking the sworn foes of time, while others

crowded the doors of the different coffee-houses; the fat

jolly-looking friars cooling themselves with lemonade, and the lean

mustard-pot-faced ones sipping coffee out of thimble-sized cups, with

as much caution as if it had been physic.

 

The next class that attracted my attention was the numerous collection

of well-starved dogs, who were indulging in all the luxury of extreme

poverty on the endless dung-heaps.

 

There, too, sat the industrious citizen, basking in the sunshine of

his shop-door, and gathering in the flock which is so bountifully

reared on his withered tribe of children. There strutted the spruce

cavalier, with his upper-man furnished at the expense of his lower,

and looking ridiculously imposing: and there--but sacred be their

daughters, for the sake of _one_, who shed a lustre over her squalid

sisterhood, sufficiently brilliant to redeem their whole nation from

the odious sin of ugliness. I was looking for an official person,

living somewhere near the Convent D'Estrella, and was endeavouring to

express my wishes to a boy, when I heard a female voice, in broken

English, from a balcony above, giving the information I desired. I

looked up, and saw a young girl, dressed in white, who was loveliness

itself! In the few words which passed between us, of lively

unconstrained civility on her part, and pure confounded gratitude on

mine, she seemed so perfectly after my own heart, that she lit a torch

in it which burnt for two years and a half.

 

It must not detract from her merits that she was almost the only one

that I saw during that period in which it was my fate to tread war's

roughest, rudest path,--daily staring his grim majesty out of

countenance, and nightly slumbering on the cold earth, or in the

tenantless mansion, for I felt as if she would have been the chosen

companion of my waking dreams in _rosier_ walks, as I never recalled

the fair vision to my aid, even in the worst of times, that it did not

act upon my drooping spirits like a glass of brandy.

 

It pleased the great disposer of naval events to remove us to another

and a better ship, and to send us off for Figuera, next day, with a

foul wind.

 

Sailing at the rate of one mile in two hours, we reached Figuera's Bay

at the end of eight days, and were welcomed by about a hundred hideous

looking Portuguese women, whose joy was so excessive that they waded

up to their arm-pits through a heavy surf, and insisted on carrying us

on shore on their backs! I never clearly ascertained whether they had

been actuated by the purity of love or gold.

 

Our men were lodged for the night in a large barn, and the officers

billetted in town. Mine chanced to be on the house of a mad-woman,

whose extraordinary appearance I never shall forget. Her petticoats

scarcely reached to the knee, and all above the lower part of the

bosom was bare; and though she looked not more than middle aged, her

skin seemed as if it had been regularly prepared to receive the

impression of her last will and testament; her head was defended by a

chevaux-de-frise of black wiry hair, which pointed fiercely in every

direction, while her eyes looked like two burnt holes in a blanket. I

had no sooner opened the door than she stuck her arms a-kimbo, and,

opening a mouth, which stretched from ear to ear, she began

vociferating "_bravo, bravissimo_!"

 

Being a stranger alike to the appearance and the manners of the

natives, I thought it possible that the former might have been nothing

out of the common run, and concluding that she was overjoyed at seeing

her country reinforced, at that perilous moment, by a fellow upwards

of six feet high, and thinking it necessary to sympathize in some

degree in her patriotic feelings, I began to "_bravo_" too; but as her

second shout ascended ten degrees, and kept increasing in that ratio,

until it amounted to absolute frenzy, I faced to the right-about, and,

before our _tête-à-tête_ had lasted the brief space of three-quarters

of a minute, I disappeared with all possible haste, her terrific yells

vibrating in my astonished ears long after I had turned the corner of

the street; nor did I feel perfectly at ease until I found myself

stretched on a bundle of straw in a corner of the barn occupied by the

men.

 

We proceeded, next morning, to join the army; and, as our route lay

through the city of Coimbra, we came to the magnanimous resolution of

providing ourselves with all manner of comforts and equipments for the

campaign on our arrival there; but, when we entered it, at the end of

the second day, our disappointment was quite eclipsed by astonishment

at finding ourselves the only living things in a city, which ought to

have been furnished with twenty thousand souls.

 

Lord Wellington was then in the course of his retreat from the

frontiers of Spain to the lines of Torres Vedras, and had compelled

the inhabitants on the line of march to abandon their homes, and to

destroy or carry away every thing that could be of service to the

enemy. It was a measure that ultimately saved their country, though

ruinous and distressing to those concerned, and on no class of

individuals did it bear harder, for the moment, than our own little

detachment, a company of rosy-cheeked, chubbed youths, who, after

three months feeding on ship's dumplings, were thus thrust, at a

moment of extreme activity, in the face of an advancing foe, supported

by a pound of raw beef, drawn every day fresh from the bullock, and a

mouldy biscuit.

 

The difficulties we encountered were nothing out of the usual course

of old campaigners; but, untrained and unprovided as I was, I still

looked back upon the twelve or fourteen days following the battle of

Busaco as the most trying I have ever experienced, for we were on our

legs from daylight until dark, in daily contact with the enemy; and,

to satisfy the stomach of an ostrich, I had, as already stated, only a

pound of beef, a pound of biscuit, and one glass of rum. A

brother-officer was kind enough to strap my boat-cloak and portmanteau

on the mule carrying his heavy baggage, which, on account of the

proximity of the foe, was never permitted to be within a day's march

of us, so that, in addition to my simple uniform, my only covering

every night was the canopy of heaven, from whence the dews descended

so refreshingly, that I generally awoke, at the end of an hour,

chilled, and wet to the skin; and I could only purchase an equal

length of additional repose by jumping up and running about, until I

acquired a sleeping quantity of warmth. Nothing in life can be more

ridiculous than seeing a lean, lank fellow start from a profound

sleep, at midnight, and begin lashing away at the highland fling, as

if St. Andrew himself had been playing the bagpipes; but it was a

measure that I very often had recourse to, as the cleverest method of

producing heat. In short, though the prudent general may preach the

propriety of light baggage in the enemy's presence, I will ever

maintain that there is marvellous small personal comfort in travelling

so fast and so lightly as I did.

 

The Portuguese farmers will tell you that the beauty of their climate

consists in their crops receiving from the nightly dews the refreshing

influence of a summer's shower, and that they ripen in the daily sun.

But _they_ are a sordid set of rascals! Whereas _I_ speak with the

enlightened views of a man of war, and say, that it is poor

consolation to me, after having been deprived of my needful repose,

and kept all night in a fever, dancing wet and cold, to be told that I

shall be warm enough in the morning? it is like frying a person after

he has been boiled; and I insisted upon it, that if their sun had been

milder and their dews lighter that I should have found it much more

pleasant.

 

 

 

 

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.

 

From the moment that I joined the army, so intense was my desire to

get a look at this illustrious chief, that I never should have

forgiven the Frenchman that had killed me before I effected it. My

curiosity did not remain long ungratified; for, as our post was next

the enemy, I found, when anything was to be done, that it was his

also. He was just such a man as I had figured in my mind's eye, and I

thought that the stranger would betray a grievous want of penetration

who could not select the Duke of Wellington from amid five hundred in

the same uniform.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. III.

 

     Other People, Myself, and my Regiment. Retreat to the Lines of

     Torres Vedras. Leave Coimbra, followed by a select group of

     Natives. Ford the Streets of Condacia in good spirit. A

     Provost-Marshal and his favourites. A fall. Convent of Batalha.

     Turned out of Allenquer. Passed through Sobral. Turned into

     Arruda. Quartering of the Light Division, and their Quarters at

     Arruda. Burial of an only Child. Lines of Torres Vedras.

     Difference of opinion between Massena and Myself. Military

     Customs.

 

 

Having now brought myself regularly into the field, under the renowned

Wellington, should this narrative, by any accident, fall into the

hands of others who served there, and who may be unreasonable enough

to expect their names to be mentioned in it, let me tell them that

they are most confoundedly mistaken! Every man may write a book for

himself, if he likes, but _this_ is mine; and, as I borrow no man's

story, neither will I give any man a particle of credit for his deeds,

as I have got so little for my own that I have none to spare. Neither

will I mention any regiment but my own, if I can possibly avoid it,

for there is none other that I like so much, and none else so much

deserves it; for we were the light regiment of the Light Division, and

fired the first and last shot in almost every battle, siege, and

skirmish, in which the army was engaged during the war.

 

In stating the foregoing resolution, however, with regard to

regiments, I beg to be understood as identifying our old and gallant

associates, the forty-third and fifty-second, as a part of ourselves,

for they bore their share in every thing, and I love them as I hope to

do my better half, (when I come to be divided,) wherever _we_ were,

_they_ were; and although the nature of our arm generally gave us more

employment in the way of skirmishing, yet, whenever it came to a

pinch, independent of a suitable mixture of them among us, we had

only to look behind to see a line, in which we might place a degree of

confidence, almost equal to our hopes in heaven; nor were we ever

disappointed. There never was a corps of riflemen in the hands of such

supporters!

 

October 1st, 1810.--We stood to our arms at day light this morning, on

a hill in front of Coimbra; and, as the enemy soon after came on in

force, we retired before them through the city. The civil authorities,

in making their own hurried escape, had totally forgotten that they

had left a gaol full of rogues unprovided for, and who, as we were

passing near them, made the most hideous screaming for relief. Our

quarter-master-general very humanely took some men, who broke open the

doors, and the whole of them were soon seen howling along the bridge

into the wide world, in the most delightful delirium, with the French

dragoons at their heels.

 

We retired, the same night, through Condacia, where the commissariat

were destroying quantities of stores that they were unable to carry

off. They handed out shoes and shirts to any one that would take them,

and the streets were literally running ankle deep with rum, in which

the soldiers were dipping their cups and helping themselves as they

marched along. The commissariat, some years afterwards, called for a

return of the men who had received shirts and shoes on this occasion,

with a view of making us pay for them, but we very briefly replied

that the one half were dead, and the other half would be d----d before

they would pay any thing.

 

We retired this day to Leria, and, at the entrance of the city, saw an

English and a Portuguese soldier dangling by the bough of a tree--the

first summary example I had ever seen of martial law.

 

A provost-marshal, on actual service, is a character of considerable

pretensions, as he can flog at pleasure, always moves about with a

guard of honour, and though he cannot altogether stop a man's breath

without an order, yet, when he is ordered to hang a given number out

of a crowd of plunderers, his _friends_ are not particularly

designated, so that he can invite any one that he takes a fancy to, to

follow him to the nearest tree, where he, without further ceremony,

relieves him from the cares and troubles of this wicked world.

 

There was only one _furnished_ shop remaining in the town at this

time, and I went in to see what they had got to sell; but I had

scarcely past the threshold when I heard a tremendous clatter at my

heels, as if the opposite house had been pitched in at the door after

me; and, on wheeling round to ascertain the cause, I found, when the

dust cleared away, that a huge stone balcony, with iron railings,

which had been over the door, overcharged with a collection of old

wives looking at the troops, had tumbled down; and in spite of their

vociferations for the aid of their patron saints, some them were

considerably damaged.

 

We halted one night near the Convent of Batalha, one of the finest

buildings in Portugal. It has, I believe, been clearly established,

that a living man in ever so bad health is better than two dead ones;

but it appears that the latter will vary in value according to

circumstances, for we found here, in very high preservation, the body

of King John of Portugal, who founded the edifice in commemoration of

some victory, God knows how long ago; and though he would have been

reckoned a highly valuable antique, within a glass case, in an

apothecary's hall in England, yet he was held so cheap in his own

house, that the very finger which most probably pointed the way to the

victory alluded to, is now in the baggage of the Rifle Brigade!

Reader, point not _thy_ finger at me, for I am not the man.

 

Retired on the morning of a very wet, stormy day to Allenquer, a small

town on the top of a mountain, surrounded by still higher ones; and,

as the enemy had not shewn themselves the evening before, we took

possession of the houses, with a tolerable prospect of being permitted

the unusual treat of eating a dinner under cover. But by the time

that the pound of beef was parboiled, and while an officer of dragoons

was in the act of reporting that he had just patrolled six leagues to

the front, without seeing any signs of an enemy, we saw the

indefatigable rascals, on the mountain opposite our windows, just

beginning to wind round us, with a mixture of cavalry and infantry;

the wind blowing so strong, that the long tail of each particular

horse stuck as stiffly out in the face of the one behind, as if the

whole had been strung upon a cable and dragged by the leaders. We

turned out a few companies, and kept them in check while the division

was getting under arms, spilt the soup as usual, and transferring the

smoking solids to the haversack, for future mastication, we continued

our retreat.

 

We past through the town of Sobral, soon after dark, the same night;

and, by the aid of some rushlights in a window, saw two apothecaries,

the very counterparts of Romeo's, who were the only remnants of the

place, and had braved the horrors of war for the sake of the

gallipots, and in the hopes that their profession would be held

sacred. They were both on the same side of the counter, looking each

other point blank in the face, their sharp noses not three inches

apart, and neither daring to utter a syllable, but both listening

intensely to the noise outside. Whatever their courage might have been

screwed up to before, it was evident that we were indebted for their

presence now to their fears; and their appearance altogether was so

ludicrous, that they excited universal shouts of laughter as they came

within view of the successive divisions.

 

Our long retreat ended at midnight, on our arrival at the handsome

little town of Arruda, which was destined to be the piquet post of our

division, in front of the fortified lines. The quartering of our

division, whether by night or by day, was an affair of about five

minutes. The quarter-master-general preceded the troops, accompanied

by the brigade-majors and the quarter-masters of regiments; and after

marking off certain houses for his general and staff, he split the

remainder of the town between the majors of brigades: they in their

turn provided for their generals and staff, and then made a wholesale

division of streets among the quarter-masters of regiments, who, after

providing for their commanding officers and staff, retailed the

remaining houses, in equal proportions, among the companies; so that,

by the time that the regiment arrived, there was nothing to be done

beyond the quarter-master's simply telling each captain, "here's a

certain number of houses for you."

 

Like all other places on the line of march, we found Arruda totally

deserted, and its inhabitants had fled in such a hurry, that the keys

of their house doors were the only things they carried away; so that

when we got admission, through our usual key,[1] we were not a little

gratified to find that the houses were not only regularly furnished,

but most of them had some food in the larder, and a plentiful supply

of good wines in the cellar; and, in short, that they only required a

few lodgers capable of appreciating the good things which the gods had

provided; and the deuce is in it if we were not the very folks who

could!

 

         [Footnote 1: Transmitting a rifle-ball through the key-hole:

         it opens every lock.]

 

Unfortunately for ourselves, and still more so for the proprietors, we

never dreamt of the possibility of our being able to keep possession

of the town, as we thought it a matter of course that the enemy would

attack our lines; and, as this was only an outpost, that it must fall

into their hands; so that, in conformity with the system upon which we

had all along been retreating, we destroyed every thing that we could

not use ourselves, to prevent their benefiting by it. But, when we

continued to hold the post beyond the expected period, our

indiscretion was visited on our own heads, as we had destroyed in a

day what would have made us luxurious for months. We were in hopes

that, afterwards, the enemy would have forced the post, if only for an

hour, that we might have saddled them with the mischief; but, as they

never even made the attempt, it left it in the power of ill-natured

people to say, that we had plundered one of our own towns. This was

the only instance during the war in which the light division had

reason to blush for their conduct, and even in that we had the law

martial on our side, whatever gospel law might have said against it.

 

The day after our arrival, Mr. Simmons and myself had the curiosity to

look into the church, which was in nowise injured, and was fitted up

in a style of magnificence becoming such a town. The body of a poor

old woman was there, lying dead before the altar. It seemed as if she

had been too infirm to join in the general flight, and had just

dragged herself to that spot by a last effort of nature, and expired.

We immediately determined, that as her's was the only body that we had

found in the town, either alive or dead, that she should have more

glory in the grave than she appeared to have enjoyed on this side of

it; and, with our united exertions, we succeeded in raising a marble

slab, which surmounted a monumental vault, and was beautifully

embellished with armorial blazonry, and, depositing the body inside,

we replaced it again carefully. If the personage to whom it belonged

happened to have a tenant of his own for it soon afterwards, he must

have been rather astonished at the manner in which the apartment was

occupied.

 

Those who wish a description of the lines of Torres Vedras, must read

_Napier_, or some one else who knows all about them; for my part, I

know nothing, excepting that I was told that one end of them rested on

the Tagus, and the other somewhere on the sea; and I saw, with my own

eyes, a variety of redoubts and field-works on the various hills which

stand between. This, however, I do know, that we have since kicked the

French out of more formidable looking and stronger places; and, with

all due deference be it spoken, I think that the Prince of Essling

ought to have tried his luck against them, as he could only have been

beaten by fighting, as he afterwards was without it! And if he thinks

that he would have lost as many men by trying, as he did by not

trying, he must allow me to differ in opinion with him!!!

 

In very warm or very wet weather it was customary to put us under

cover in the town during the day, but we were always moved back to our

bivouac, on the heights, during the night; and it was rather amusing

to observe the different notions of individual comfort, in the

selection of furniture, which officers transferred from their _town

house_ to their _no house_ on the heights. A sofa, or a mattress, one

would have thought most likely to be put in requisition; but it was

not unusual to see a full-length looking-glass preferred to either.

 

The post of the company to which I belonged, on the heights, was near

a redoubt, immediately behind Arruda; there was a cattle-shed near it,

which we cleaned out, and used as a sort of quarter. On turning out

from breakfast one morning, we found that the butcher had been about

to offer up the usual sacrifice of a bullock to the wants of the day;

but it had broken loose, and, in trying to regain his victim, had

caught it by the tail, which he twisted round his hand; and, when we

made our appearance, they were performing a variety of evolutions at a

gallop, to the great amusement of the soldiers; until an unlucky turn

brought them down upon our house, which had been excavated out of the

face of the hill, on which the upper part of the roof rested, and _in_

they went, heels over head, butcher, bullock, tail and all, bearing

down the whole fabric with a tremendous crash.

 

N.B. It was very fortunate that we happened to be outside; and very

unfortunate, as we were now obliged to remain out.

 

We certainly lived in _clover_ while we remained here; every thing we

saw was our own, seeing no one there who had a more legitimate claim;

and every field was a vineyard. Ultimately it was considered too much

trouble to pluck the grapes, as there were a number of poor native

thieves in the habit of coming from the rear, every day, to steal

some, so that a soldier had nothing to do but to watch one until he

was marching off with his basket full, when he would very deliberately

place his back against that of the Portuguese, and relieve him of his

load, without wasting any words about the bargain. The poor wretch

would follow the soldier to the camp, in the hope of having his basket

returned, as it generally was, when emptied.

 

Massena conceiving any attack upon our lines to be hopeless, as his

troops were rapidly mouldering away with sickness and want, at length

began to withdraw them nearer to the source of his supplies.

 

He abandoned his position, opposite to us, on the night of the 9th of

November, leaving some stuffed-straw gentlemen occupying their usual

posts. Some of them were cavalry, some infantry, and they seemed such

respectable representatives of their spectral predecessors, that, in

the haze of the following morning, we thought that they had been

joined by some well-fed ones from the rear; and it was late in the day

before we discovered the mistake and advanced in pursuit. In passing

by the edge of a mill-pond, after dark, our adjutant and his horse

tumbled in, and, as the latter had no tail to hold on by, they were

both very nearly drowned.

 

It was late ere we halted for the night, on the side of the road, near

to Allenquer, and I got under cover in a small house, which looked as

if it had been honoured as the head-quarters of the tailor-general of

the French army, for the floor was strewed with variegated threads,

various complexioned buttons, with particles and remnants of

_cabbage_; and, if it could not boast of the flesh and fowl of Noah's

ark, there was an abundance of the creeping things which it were to be

wished that that commander had not left behind. We marched before

daylight next morning, leaving a _rousing_ fire in the chimney, which

shortly became too small to hold it; for we had not proceeded far

before we perceived that the well-dried thatched roof had joined in

the general blaze, a circumstance which caused us no little

uneasiness, for our general, the late Major-general Robert Crawford,

had brought us up in the fear of our master; and, as he was a sort of

person who would not see a fire, of that kind, in the same _light_

that we did, I was by no means satisfied that my commission lay snug

in my pocket, until we had fairly marched it out of sight, and in

which we were aided not a little by a slight fire of another kind,

which he was required to watch with the advanced guard.

 

On our arrival at Vallé, on the 12th of Nov. we found the enemy behind

the Rio Maior, occupying the heights of Santarem, and exchanged some

shots with their advanced posts. In the course of the night we

experienced one of those tremendous thunderstorms which used to

precede the Wellington victories, and which induced us to expect a

general action on the following day. I had disposed myself to sleep in

a beautiful green hollow way, and, before I had time even to dream of

the effects of their heavy rains, I found myself floating most

majestically towards the river, in a fair way of becoming food for

the fishes. I ever after gave those inviting-looking spots a wide

birth, as I found that they were regular watercourses.

 

Next morning our division crossed the river, and commenced a false

attack on the enemy's left, with a view of making them show their

force; and it was to have been turned into a real attack, if their

position was found to be occupied by a rear guard only; but, after

keeping up a smart skirmishing-fire the greater part of the day, Lord

Wellington was satisfied that their whole army was present, we were

consequently withdrawn.

 

This affair terminated the campaign of 1810. Our division took

possession of the village of Vallé and its adjacents, and the rest of

the army was placed in cantonments, under whatever cover the

neighbouring country afforded.

 

Our battalion was stationed in some empty farm-houses, near the end of

the bridge of Santarem, which was nearly half a mile long; and our

sentries and those of the enemy were within pistol-shot of each other

on the bridge.

 

I do not mean to insinuate that a country is never so much at peace as

when at open war; but I do say that a soldier can no where sleep so

soundly, nor is he any where so secure from surprise, as when within

musket-shot of his enemy.

 

We lay four months in this situation, divided only by a rivulet,

without once exchanging shots. Every evening, at the hour

 

  "When bucks to dinner go,

   And cits to sup,"

 

it was our practice to dress for sleep: we saddled our horses, buckled

on our armour, and lay down, with the bare floor for a bed and a stone

for a pillow, ready for any thing, and reckless of every thing but the

honour of our corps and country; for I will say (to save the expense

of a trumpeter) that a more devoted set of fellows were never

associated.

 

We stood to our arms every morning at an hour before daybreak, and

remained there until a _grey horse_ could be seen a mile off, (which

is the military criterion by which daylight is acknowledged, and the

hour of surprise past,) when we proceeded to unharness, and to indulge

in such _luxuries_ as our toilet and our table afforded.

 

The Maior, as far as the bridge of Vallé, was navigable for the small

craft from Lisbon, so that our table, while we remained there, cut as

respectable a figure, as regular supplies of rice, salt fish, and

potatoes could make it; not to mention that our pig-skin was, at all

times, at least three parts full of a common red wine, which used to

be dignified by the name of _black-strap_. We had the utmost

difficulty, however, in keeping up appearances in the way of dress.

The jacket, in spite of shreds and patches, always maintained

something of the original about it; but woe befel the regimental

small-clothes, and they could only be replaced by very extraordinary

apologies, of which I remember that I had two pair at this period,

_one_ of a common brown Portuguese cloth, and the _other_, or

Sunday's pair, of black velvet. We had no women with the regiment; and

the ceremony of washing a shirt amounted to my servant's taking it by

the collar, and giving it a couple of shakes in the water, and then

hanging it up to dry. Smoothing-irons were not the fashion of the

times, and, if a fresh well-dressed aide-de-camp did occasionally come

from England, we used to stare at him with about as much respect as

Hotspur did at his "waiting gentlewoman."

 

The winter here was uncommonly mild. I am not the sort of person to

put myself much in the way of ice, except on a warm summer's day; but

the only inconvenience that I felt in bathing, in the middle of

December, was the quantity of leeches that used to attach themselves

to my personal supporters, obliging me to cut a few capers to shake

them off, after leaving the water.

 

Our piquet-post, at the bridge, became a regular lounge, for the

winter, to all manner of folks.

 

I used to be much amused at seeing our naval officers come up from

Lisbon riding on mules, with huge ships' spy-glasses, like

six-pounders, strapped across the backs of their saddles. Their first

question invariably was, "Who is that fellow there," (pointing to the

enemy's sentry, close to us,) and, on being told that he was a

Frenchman, "Then why the devil don't you shoot him!"

 

Repeated acts of civility passed between the French and us during this

tacit suspension of hostilities. The greyhounds of an officer followed

a hare, on one occasion, into their lines, and they very politely

returned them.

 

I was one night on piquet, at the end of the bridge, when a ball came

from the French sentry and struck the burning billet of wood round

which we were sitting, and they sent in a flag of truce, next morning,

to apologize for the accident, and to say that it had been done by a

stupid fellow of a sentry, who imagined that people were advancing

upon him. We admitted the apology, though we knew well enough that it

had been done by a malicious rather than a stupid fellow, from the

situation we occupied.

 

General Junot, one day reconnoitring, was severely wounded by a

sentry, and Lord Wellington, knowing that they were at that time

destitute of every thing in the shape of comfort, sent to request his

acceptance of any thing that Lisbon afforded that could be of any

service to him; but the French general was too much of a politician to

admit the want of any thing.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. V.

 

     Campaign of 1811 opens. Massena's Retreat. Wretched Condition of

     the Inhabitants on the Line of March. Affairs with the Enemy,

     near Pombal. Description of a Bivouac. Action near Redinha.

     Destruction of Condacia and Action near it. Burning of the

     Village of Illama, and Misery of its Inhabitants. Action at Foz

     D'Aronce. Confidential Servants with Donkey-Assistants.

 

 

The campaign of 1811 commenced on the 6th of March, by the retreat of

the enemy from Santarem.

 

Lord Wellington seemed to be perfectly acquainted with their

intentions, for he sent to apprize our piquets, the evening before,

that they were going off, and to desire that they should feel for them

occasionally during the night, and give the earliest information of

their having started. It was not, however, until daylight that we

were quite certain of their having gone, and our division was

instantly put in motion after them, passing through the town of

Santarem, around which their camp fires were still burning.

 

Santarem is finely situated, and probably had been a handsome town. I

had never seen it in prosperity, and it now looked like a city of the

plague, represented by empty dogs and empty houses; and, but for the

tolling of a convent-bell by some unseen hand, its appearance was

altogether inhuman.

 

We halted for the night near Pyrnes. This little town, and the few

wretched inhabitants who had been induced to remain in it under the

faithless promises of the French generals, shewed fearful signs of a

late visit from a barbarous and merciless foe. Young women were lying

in their houses brutally violated,--the streets were strewed with

broken furniture, intermixed with the putrid carcasses of murdered

peasants, mules, and donkeys, and every description of filth, that

filled the air with pestilential nausea. The few starved male

inhabitants who were stalking amid the wreck of their friends and

property, looked like so many skeletons who had been permitted to

leave their graves for the purpose of taking vengeance on their

oppressors, and the mangled body of every Frenchman who was

unfortunate or imprudent enough to stray from his column, shewed how

religiously they performed their mission.

 

March 8th.--We overtook their rear guard this evening, snugly put up

for the night in a little village, the name of which I do not

recollect, but a couple of six pounders, supported by a few of our

rifles, induced them to extend their walk.

 

March 9th.--While moving along the road this morning, we found a man,

who had deserted from us a short time before, in the uniform of a

French dragoon, with his head laid open by one of our bullets. He was

still alive, exciting any thing but sympathy among his former

associates. Towards the afternoon we found the enemy in force, on the

plain in front of Pombal, where we exchanged some shots.

 

March 11th.--They retired yesterday to the heights behind Pombal, with

their advanced posts occupying the town and moorish castle, which our

battalion, assisted by some Cácadores, attacked this morning, and

drove them from with considerable loss. Dispositions were then made

for a general attack on their position, but the other divisions of our

army did not arrive until too late in the evening. We bivouacked for

the night in a ploughed field, under the castle, with our sentries

within pistol shot, while it rained in torrents.

 

As it is possible that some of my readers might never have had the

misfortune to experience the comforts of a bivouac, and as the one

which I am now in, contains but a small quantity of sleep, I shall

devote a waking hour for their edification.

 

When a regiment arrives at its ground for the night, it is formed in

columns of companies, at full, half, or quarter distance, according

to the space which circumstances will permit it to occupy. The officer

commanding each company then receives his orders; and, after

communicating whatever may be necessary to the men, he desires them to

"pile arms, and make themselves comfortable for the night." Now, I

pray thee, most sanguine reader, suffer not thy fervid imagination to

transport thee into elysian fields at the pleasing exhortation

conveyed in the concluding part of the captain's address, but rest

thee contentedly in the one where it is made, which in all probability

is a ploughed one, and that, too, in a state of preparation to take a

model of thy very beautiful person, under the melting influence of a

shower of rain. The soldiers of each company have a hereditary claim

to the ground next to their arms, as have their officers to a wider

range on the same line, limited to the end of a bugle sound, if not by

a neighbouring corps, or one that is not neighbourly, for the nearer a

man is to his enemy, the nearer he likes to be to his friends. Suffice

it, that each individual knows his place as well as if he had been

born on the estate, and takes immediate possession accordingly. In a

ploughed or a stubble field there is scarcely a choice of quarters;

but, whenever there is a sprinkling of trees, it is always an object

to secure a good one, as it affords shelter from the sun by day and

the dews by night, besides being a sort of home or sign post for a

group of officers, as denoting the best place of entertainment; for

they hang their spare clothing and accoutrements among the branches,

barricade themselves on each side with their saddles, canteens, and

portmanteaus, and, with a blazing fire in their front, they indulge,

according to their various humours, in a complete state of

gipsyfication.

 

There are several degrees of comfort to be reckoned in a bivouac, two

of which will suffice.

 

The first, and worst, is to arrive at the end of a cold wet day, too

dark to see your ground, and too near the enemy to be permitted to

unpack the knapsacks or to take off accoutrements; where,

unincumbered with baggage or eatables of any kind, you have the

consolation of knowing that things are now at their worst, and that

any change must be for the better. You keep yourself alive for a

while, in collecting material to feed your fire with. You take a smell

at your empty calibash, which recalls to your remembrance the

delicious flavour of its last drop of wine. You curse your servant for

not having contrived to send you something or other from the baggage,

(though you know that it was impossible). You then damn the enemy for

being so near you, though probably, as in the present instance, it was

you that came so near them. And, finally, you take a whiff at the end

of a cigar, if you have one, and keep grumbling through the smoke,

like distant thunder through a cloud, until you tumble into a most

warlike sleep.

 

The next, and most common one, is, when you are not required to look

quite so sharp, and when the light baggage and provisions come in at

the heel of the regiment. If it is early in the day, the first thing

to be done is to make some tea, the most sovereign restorative for

jaded spirits. We then proceed to our various duties. The officers of

each company form a mess of themselves. One remains in camp to attend

to the duties of the regiment; a second attends to the mess: he goes

to the regimental butcher, and bespeaks a portion of the only

purchaseable commodities, hearts, livers, and kidneys; and also to see

whether he cannot _do_ the commissary out of a few extra biscuit, or a

canteen of brandy; and the remainder are gentlemen at large for the

day. But while they go hunting among the neighbouring regiments for

news, and the neighbouring houses for curiosity, they have always an

eye to their mess, and omit no opportunity of adding to the general

stock.

 

Dinner hour, for fear of accidents, is always the hour when dinner can

be got ready; and the 14th section of the articles of war is always

most rigidly attended to, by every good officer parading himself round

the camp-kettle at the time fixed, with his haversack in his hand. A

haversack on service is a sort of dumb waiter. The mess have a good

many things in common, but the contents of the haversack are

exclusively the property of its owner; and a well regulated one ought

never to be without the following furniture, unless when the

perishable part is consumed, in consequence of every other means of

supply having failed, viz. a couple of biscuit, a sausage, a little

tea and sugar, a knife, fork, and spoon, a tin cup, (which answers to

the names of _tea-cup_, _soup-plate_, _wine-glass_, and _tumbler_,) a

pair of socks, a piece of soap, a tooth-brush, towel, and comb, and

half a dozen cigars.

 

After doing justice to the dinner, if we feel in a humour for

additional society, we transfer ourselves to some neighbouring mess,

taking our cups, and whatever we mean to drink, along with us, for in

those times there is nothing to be expected from our friends beyond

the pleasure of their conversation: and, finally, we retire to rest.

To avoid inconvenience by the tossing off of the bed-clothes, each

officer has a blanket sewed up at the sides, like a sack, into which

he scrambles, and, with a green sod or a smooth stone for a pillow,

composes himself to sleep; and, under such a glorious reflecting

canopy as the heavens, it would be a subject of mortification to an

astronomer to see the celerity with which he tumbles into it. Habit

gives endurance, and fatigue is the best nightcap; no matter that the

veteran's countenance is alternately stormed with torrents of rain,

heavy dews, and hoar-frosts; no matter that his ears are assailed by a

million mouths of chattering locusts, and by some villanous donkey,

who every half hour pitches a _bray_ note, which, as a congregation of

presbyterians follow their clerk, is instantly taken up by every mule

and donkey in the army, and sent echoing from regiment to regiment,

over hill and valley, until it dies away in the distance; no matter

that the scorpion is lurking beneath his pillow, the snake winding his

slimy way by his side, and the lizard galloping over his face, wiping

his eyes with its long cold tail.

 

All are unheeded, until the warning voice of the brazen instrument

sounds to arms. Strange it is, that the ear which is impervious to

what would disturb the rest of the world besides, should alone be

alive to one, and that, too, a sound which is likely to sooth the

sleep of the citizens, or at most, to set them dreaming of their

loves. But so it is: the first note of the melodious bugle places the

soldier on his legs, like lightning; when, muttering a few curses at

the unseasonableness of the hour, he plants himself on his alarm post,

without knowing or caring about the cause.

 

Such is a bivouac; and our sleep-breaker having just sounded, the

reader will find what occurred, by reading on.

 

March 12th.--We stood to our arms before daylight. Finding that the

enemy had quitted the position in our front, we proceeded to follow

them; and had not gone far before we heard the usual morning's

salutation, of a couple of shots, between their rear and our advanced

guard. On driving in their outposts, we found their whole army drawn

out on the plain, near Redinha, and instantly quarrelled with them on

a large scale.

 

As every body has read Waverley and the Scottish Chiefs, and knows

that one battle is just like another, inasmuch as they always conclude

by one or both sides running away; and as it is nothing to me what

this or t'other regiment did, nor do I care three buttons what this or

t'other person thinks he did, I shall limit all my descriptions to

such events as immediately concerned the important personage most

interested in this history.

 

Be it known then, that I was one of a crowd of skirmishers who were

enabling the French ones to carry the news of their own defeat through

a thick wood, at an infantry canter, when I found myself all at once

within a few yards of one of their regiments in line, which opened

such a fire, that had I not, rifleman like, taken instant advantage of

the cover of a good fir tree, my name would have unquestionably been

transmitted to posterity by that night's gazette. And, however

opposed it may be to the usual system of drill, I will maintain, from

that day's experience, that the cleverest method of teaching a recruit

to stand at attention, is to place him behind a tree and fire balls at

him; as, had our late worthy disciplinarian, Sir David Dundas,

himself, been looking on, I think that even _he_ must have admitted

that he never saw any one stand so fiercely upright as I did behind

mine, while the balls were rapping into it as fast as if a fellow had

been hammering a nail on the opposite side, not to mention the numbers

that were whistling past, within the eighth of an inch of every part

of my body, both before and behind, particularly in the vicinity of my

nose, for which the upper part of the tree could barely afford

protection.

 

This was a last and a desperate stand made by their rear-guard, for

their own safety, immediately above the town, as their sole chance of

escape depended upon their being able to hold the post until the only

bridge across the river was clear of the other fugitives. But they

could not hold it long enough; for, while we were undergoing a

temporary sort of purgatory in their front, our comrades went working

round their flanks, which quickly sent them flying, with us

intermixed, at full cry, down the streets.

 

Whether in love or war, I have always considered that the pursuer has

a decided advantage over the pursued. In the first, he may gain and

cannot lose; but, in the latter, when one sees his enemy at full speed

before him, one has such a peculiar conscious sort of feeling that he

is on the right side, that I would not exchange places for any

consideration.

 

When we reached the bridge, the scene became exceedingly interesting,

for it was choked up by the fugitives who were, as usual, impeding

each other's progress, and we did not find that the application of our

swords to those nearest to us tended at all towards lessening their

disorder, for it induced about a hundred of them to rush into an

adjoining house for shelter, but that was netting regularly out of the

frying-pan into the fire, for the house happened to be really in

flames, and too hot to hold them, so that the same hundred were

quickly seen unkennelling again, half-cooked, into the very jaws of

their consumers.

 

John Bull, however, is not a blood-thirsty person, so that those who

could not better themselves, had only to submit to a simple transfer

of personal property to ensure his protection. We, consequently, made

many prisoners at the bridge, and followed their army about a league

beyond it, keeping up a flying fight until dark.

 

Just as Mr. Simmons and myself had crossed the river, and were talking

over the events of the day, not a yard asunder, there was a Portuguese

soldier in the act of passing between us, when a cannon-ball plunged

into his belly--his head doubled down to his feet, and he stood for a

moment in that posture before he rolled over a lifeless lump.

 

March 13th.--Arrived on the hill above Condacia in time to see that

handsome little town in flames. Every species of barbarity continued

to mark the enemy's retreating steps. They burnt every town or

village through which they passed, and if we entered a church, which,

by accident, had been spared, it was to see the murdered bodies of the

peasantry on the altar.

 

While Lord Wellington, with his staff, was on a hill a little in front

of us, waiting the result of a flank-movement which he had directed,

some of the enemy's sharpshooters stole, unperceived, very near to him

and began firing, but, fortunately, without effect. We immediately

detached a few of ours to meet them, but the others ran off on their

approach.

 

We lay by our arms until towards evening, when the enemy withdrew a

short distance behind Condacia, and we closed up to them. There was a

continued popping between the advanced posts all night.

 

March 14th.--Finding, at daylight, that the enemy still continued to

hold the strong ground before us, some divisions of the army were sent

to turn their flanks, while ours attacked them in front.

 

We drove them from one strong hold to another, over a large track of

very difficult country, mountainous and rocky, and thickly intersected

with stone walls, and were involved in one continued hard skirmish

from daylight until dark. This was the most harassing day's fighting

that I ever experienced.

 

Daylight left the two armies looking at each other, near the village

of Illama. The smoking roofs of the houses showed that the French had

just quitted and, as usual, set fire to it, when the company to which

I belonged was ordered on piquet there for the night. After posting

our sentries, my brother-officer and myself had the curiosity to look

into a house, and were shocked to find in it a mother and her child

dead, and the father, with three more, living, but so much reduced by

famine as to be unable to remove themselves from the flames. We

carried them into the open air, and offered the old man our few

remaining crumbs of biscuit, but he told us that he was too far gone

to benefit by them, and begged that we would give them to his

children. We lost no time in examining such of the other houses as

were yet safe to enter, and rescued many more individuals from one

horrible death, probably to reserve them for another equally so, and

more lingering, as we had nothing to give them, and marched at

daylight the following morning.

 

Our post that night was one of terrific grandeur. The hills behind

were in a blaze of light with the British camp-fires, as were those in

our front with the French ones. Both hills were abrupt and lofty, not

above eight hundred yards asunder, and we were in the burning village

in the valley between. The roofs of houses every instant falling in,

and the sparks and flames ascending to the clouds. The streets were

strewed with the dying and the dead,--some had been murdered and some

killed in action, which, together with the half-famished wretches whom

we had saved from burning, contributed in making it a scene which was

well-calculated to shake a stout heart, as was proved in the instance

of one of our sentries, a well known "devil-may-care" sort of fellow.

I know not what appearances the burning rafters might have reflected

on the neighbouring trees at the time, but he had not been long on his

post before he came running into the piquet, and swore, by all the

saints in the calendar, that he saw six dead Frenchmen advancing upon

him with hatchets over their shoulders!

 

We found by the buttons on the coats of some of the fallen foe, that

we had this day been opposed to the French ninety-fifth regiment, (the

same number as we were then,) and I cut off several of them, which I

preserved as trophies.

 

March 15th.--We overtook the enemy a little before dark this

afternoon. They were drawn up behind the Ceira, at Fez D'Aronce, with

their rear-guard, under Marshal Ney, imprudently posted on our side of

the river, a circumstance which Lord Wellington took immediate

advantage of; and, by a furious attack, dislodged them, in such

confusion, that they blew up the bridge before half of their own

people had time to get over. Those who were thereby left behind, not

choosing to put themselves to the pain of being shot, took to the

river, which received them so hospitably that few of them ever quitted

it. Their loss, on this occasion, must have been very great, and, we

understood, at the time, that Ney had been sent to France, in

disgrace, in consequence of it.

 

About the middle of the action, I observed some inexperienced light

troops rushing up a deep road-way to certain destruction, and ran to

warn them out of it, but I only arrived in time to partake the reward

of their indiscretion, for I was instantly struck with a musket-ball

above the left ear, which deposited me, at full length, in the mud.

 

I know not how long I lay insensible, but, on recovering, my first

_feeling_ was for my head, to ascertain if any part of it was still

standing, for it appeared to me as if nothing remained above the

mouth; but, after repeated applications of all my fingers and thumbs

to the doubtful parts, I, at length, proved to myself, satisfactorily,

that it had rather increased than diminished by the concussion; and,

jumping on my legs, and hearing, by the whistling of the balls from

both sides, that the rascals who had got me into the scrape had been

driven back and left me there, I snatched my cap, which had saved my

life, and which had been spun off my head to the distance of ten or

twelve yards, and joined them, a short distance in the rear, when one

of them, a soldier of the sixtieth, came and told me that an officer

of ours had been killed, a short time before, pointing to the spot

where I myself had fallen, and that he had tried to take his jacket

off, but that the advance of the enemy had prevented him. I told him

that I was the one that had been killed, and that I was deucedly

obliged to him for his _kind_ intentions, while I felt still more so

to the enemy for their timely advance, otherwise, I have no doubt, but

my _friend_ would have taken a fancy to my trousers also, for I found

that he had absolutely unbuttoned my jacket.

 

There is nothing so gratifying to frail mortality as a good dinner

when most wanted and least expected. It was perfectly dark before the

action finished, but, on going to take advantage of the fires which

the enemy had evacuated, we found their soup-kettles in full

operation, and every man's mess of biscuit lying beside them, in

stockings, as was the French mode of carrying them; and it is needless

to say how unceremoniously we proceeded to do the honours of the

feast. It ever after became a saying among the soldiers, whenever they

were on short allowance, "well, d--n my eyes, we must either fall in

with the French or the commissary to-day, I don't care which."

 

As our baggage was always in the rear on occasions of this kind, the

officers of each company had a Portuguese boy, in charge of a donkey,

on whom their little comforts depended. He carried our boat-cloaks and

blankets, was provided with a small pig-skin for wine, a canteen for

spirits, a small quantity of tea and sugar, a goat tied to the donkey,

and two or three dollars in his pocket, for the purchase of bread,

butter, or any other luxury which good fortune might throw in his way

in the course of the day's march. We were never very scrupulous in

exacting information regarding the source of his supplies; so that he

had nothing to dread from our wrath, unless he had the misfortune to

make his appearance empty-handed. They were singularly faithful and

intelligent in making their way to us every evening, under the most

difficult circumstances. This was the only night during Massena's

retreat in which ours failed to find us; and, wandering the greater

part of the night in the intricate maze of camp-fires, it appeared

that he slept, after all, among some dragoons, within twenty yards of

us.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. VI.

 

     Passage of the Mondego. Swearing to a large Amount. Two

     Prisoners, with their Two Views. Two Nuns, Two Pieces of Dough,

     and Two Kisses. A Halt. Affair near Frexedas. Arrival near

     Guarda. Murder. A stray Sentry. Battle of Sabugal. Spanish and

     Portuguese Frontiers. Blockade of Almeida. Battle-like. Current

     Value of Lord Wellington's Nose. Battle of Fuentes D'Onor. The

     Day after the Battle. A grave Remark. The _Padre's_ House.

     Retreat of the Enemy.

 

 

March 17th.--Found the enemy's rear-guard behind the Mondego, at Ponte

de Marcella, cannonaded them out of it, and then threw a temporary

bridge across the river, and followed them until dark.

 

The late Sir Alexander Campbell, who commanded the division next to

ours, by a wanton excess of zeal in expecting an order to follow,

would not permit any thing belonging to us to pass the bridge, for

fear of impeding the march of his troops; and, as he received no order

to march, we were thereby prevented from getting any thing whatever to

eat for the next thirty-six hours. I know not whether the curses of

individuals are recorded under such circumstances, but, if they are,

the gallant general will have found the united hearty ones of four

thousand men registered against him for that particular act.

 

March 19th.--We, this day, captured the aide-de-camp of General

Loison, together with his wife, who was dressed in a splendid hussar

uniform. _He_ was a Portuguese, and a traitor, and looked very like a

man who would be hanged. _She_ was a Spaniard, and very handsome, and

looked very like a woman who would get married again.

 

March 20th.--We had now been three days without any thing in the shape

of bread, and meat without it, after a time, becomes almost

loathsome. Hearing that we were not likely to march quite so early as

usual this morning, I started, before daylight, to a village about two

miles off, in the face of the Sierra D'Estrella, in the hopes of being

able to purchase something, as it lay out of the hostile line of

movements. On my arrival there, I found some nuns who had fled from a

neighbouring convent, waiting outside the building of the village-oven

for some Indian-corn-leaven, which they had carried there to be baked,

and, when I explained my pressing wants, two of them, very kindly,

transferred me their shares, for which I gave each a kiss and a dollar

between. They took the former as an unusual favour; but looked at the

latter, as much as to say, "our poverty, and not our will, consents."

I ran off with my half-baked dough, and joined my comrades, just as

they were getting under arms.

 

March 21st.--We, this day, reached the town of Mello, and had so far

outmarched our commissary that we found it necessary to wait for him;

and, in stopping to get a sight of our friends, we lost sight of our

foes, a circumstance which I was by no means sorry for, as it enabled

my shoulders, once more, to rejoice under the load of a couple of

biscuits, and made me no longer ashamed to look a cow or a sheep in

the face, now that they were not required to furnish more than their

regulated proportions of my daily food.

 

March 30th.--We had no difficulty in tracing the enemy, by the wrecks

of houses and the butchered peasantry; and overtook their rear-guard,

this day, busy grinding corn, in some windmills, near the village of

Frexedas. As their situation offered a fair opportunity for us to reap

the fruits of their labours, we immediately attacked and drove them

from it, and, after securing what we wanted, we withdrew again, across

the valley, to the village of Alverca, where we were not without some

reasonable expectations that they would have returned the compliment,

as we had only a few squadrons of dragoons in addition to our

battalion, and we had seen them withdraw a much stronger force from

the opposite village; but, by keeping a number of our men all night

employed in making extensive fires on the hill above, it induced them

to think that our force was much greater than it really was; and we

remained unmolested.

 

The only person we had hit in this affair was our adjutant, Mr.

Stewart, who was shot through the head from a window. He was a gallant

soldier, and deeply lamented. We placed his body in a chest, and

buried it in front of Colonel Beckwith's quarters.

 

March 31st.--At daylight, this morning, we moved to our right, along

the ridge of mountains, to Guarda: on our arrival there, we saw the

imposing spectacle of the whole of the French army winding through the

valley below, just out of gun-shot.

 

On taking possession of one of the villages which they had just

evacuated, we found the body of a well-dressed female, whom they had

murdered by a horrible refinement in cruelty. She had been placed upon

her back, alive, in the middle of the street, with the fragment of a

rock upon her breast, which it required four of our men to remove.

 

April 1st.--We overtook the enemy this afternoon, in position, behind

the Coa, at Sabugal, with their advanced posts on our side of the

river.

 

I was sent on piquet for the night, and had my sentries within

half-musket shot of theirs: it was wet, dark, and stormy when I went,

about midnight, to visit them, and I was not a little annoyed to find

one missing. Recollecting who he was, a steady old soldier and the

last man in the world to desert his post, I called his name aloud,

when his answering voice, followed by the discharge of a musket,

reached me nearly at the same time, from the direction of one of the

French sentries; and, after some inquiry, I found that in walking his

lonely round, in a brown study, no doubt, he had each turn taken ten

or twelve paces to his front, and only half that number to the rear,

until he had gradually worked himself up to within a few yards of his

adversary; and it would be difficult to say which of the two was most

astonished--the one at hearing a voice, or the other a shot so near,

but all my rhetoric, aided by the testimony of the serjeant and the

other sentries, could not convince the fellow that he was not on the

identical spot on which I had posted him.

 

April 2d.--We moved this day to the right, nearer to the bridge, and

some shots were exchanged between the piquets.

 

 

BATTLE OF SABUGAL,

 

April 3d, 1811.

 

Early this morning our division moved still farther to its right, and

our brigade led the way across a ford, which took us up to the middle;

while the balls from the enemy's advanced posts were hissing in the

water around us, we drove in their light troops and commenced a

furious assault upon their main body. Thus far all was right; but a

thick drizzling rain now came on, in consequence of which the third

division, which was to have made a simultaneous attack to our left,

missed their way, and a brigade of dragoons under Sir William Erskine,

who were to have covered our right, went the Lord knows where, but

certainly not into the fight, although they started at the same time

that we did, and had the _music_ of our rifles to guide them; and,

even the second brigade of our own division could not afford us any

support, for nearly an hour, so that we were thus unconsciously left

with about fifteen hundred men, in the very impertinent attempt to

carry a formidable position, on which stood as many thousands.

 

The weather, which had deprived us of the aid of our friends, favoured

us so far as to prevent the enemy from seeing the amount of our paltry

force; and the conduct of our gallant fellows, led on by Sir Sidney

Beckwith, was so truly heroic, that, incredible as it may seem, we had

the best of the fight throughout. Our first attack was met by such

overwhelming numbers, that we were forced back and followed by three

heavy columns, before which we retired slowly, and keeping up a

destructive fire, to the nearest rising ground, where we re-formed and

instantly charged their advancing masses, sending them flying at the

point of the bayonet, and entering their position along with them,

where we were assailed by fresh forces. Three times did the very same

thing occur. In our third attempt we got possession of one of their

howitzers, for which a desperate struggle was making, when we were at

the same moment charged by infantry in front and cavalry on the right,

and again compelled to fall back; but, fortunately, at this moment we

were reinforced by the arrival of the second brigade, and, with their

aid, we once more stormed their position and secured the well-earned

howitzer, while the third division came at the same time upon their

flank, and they were driven from the field in the greatest disorder.

 

Lord Wellington's despatch on this occasion did ample justice to Sir

Sidney Beckwith and his brave brigade. Never were troops more

judiciously or more gallantly led. Never was a leader more devotedly

followed.

 

In the course of the action a man of the name of Knight fell dead at

my feet, and though I heard a musket ball strike him, I could neither

find blood nor wound.

 

There was a little spaniel belonging to one of our officers running

about the whole time, barking at the balls, and I saw him once

smelling at a live shell, which exploded in his face without hurting

him.

 

The strife had scarcely ended among mortals, when it was taken up by

the elements with terrific violence. The _Scotch mist_ of the morning

had now increased to torrents, enough to cool the fever of our late

excitement, and accompanied by thunder and lightning. As a compliment

for our exertions in the fight, we were sent into the town, and had

the advantage of whatever cover its dilapidated state afforded. While

those who had not had the chance of getting broken skins, had now the

benefit of sleeping in wet ones.

 

On the 5th of April we entered the frontiers of Spain, and slept in a

bed for the first time since I left the ship. Passing from the

Portuguese to the Spanish frontier is about equal to taking one step

from the coal-hole into the parlour, for the cottages on the former

are reared with filth, furnished with ditto, and peopled accordingly;

whereas, those of Spain, even within the same mile, are neatly

whitewashed, both without and within, and the poorest of them can

furnish a good bed, with clean linen, and the pillow-cases neatly

adorned with pink and sky-blue ribbons, while their dear little girls

look smiling and neat as their pillow-cases.

 

After the action at Sabugal, the enemy retired to the neighbourhood of

Ciudad Rodrigo, without our getting another look at them, and we took

up the line of the Agueda and Axava rivers, for the blockade of the

fortress of Almeida, in which they had left a garrison indifferently

provisioned.

 

The garrison had no means of providing for their cattle, but by

turning them out to graze upon the glacis; and we sent a few of our

rifles to practice against them, which very soon reduced them to salt

provisions.

 

Towards the end of April the French army began to assemble on the

opposite bank of the Agueda to attempt the relief of the garrison, while

ours began to assemble in position at Fuentes D'Onor to dispute it.

 

Our division still continued to hold the same line of outposts, and

had several sharp affairs between the piquets at the bridge of

Marialva.

 

As a general action seemed now to be inevitable, we anxiously longed

for the return of Lord Wellington, who had been suddenly called to the

corps of the army under Marshal Beresford, near Badajos, as we would

rather see his long nose in the fight than a reinforcement of ten

thousand men any day. Indeed, there was a charm not only about himself

but all connected with him, for which no odds could compensate. The

known abilities of Sir George Murray, the gallant bearing of the

lamented Pakenham, of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, of the present Duke of

Richmond, Sir Colin Campbell, with others, the flower of our young

nobility and gentry, who, under the auspices of such a chief, seemed

always a group attendant on victory; and I'll venture to say that

there was not a bosom in that army that did not beat more lightly,

when we heard the joyful news of his arrival, the day before the

enemy's advance.

 

He had ordered us not to dispute the passage of the river, so that

when the French army advanced, on the morning of the 3d of May, we

retired slowly before them, across the plains of Espeja, and drew into

the position, where the whole army was now assembled. Our division

took post in reserve, in the left centre. Towards evening, the enemy

made a fierce attack on the Village of Fuentes, but were repulsed with

loss.

 

On the 4th, both armies looked at each other all day without

exchanging shots.

 

 

BATTLE OF FUENTES D'ONOR,

 

May 5th, 1811.

 

The day began to dawn, this fine May morning, with a rattling fire of

musketry on the extreme right of our position, which the enemy had

attacked, and to which point our division was rapidly moved.

 

Our battalion was thrown into a wood, a little to the left and front

of the division engaged, and was instantly warmly opposed to the

French skirmishers; in the course of which I was struck with a

musket-ball on the left breast, which made me stagger a yard or two

backward, and, as I felt no pain, I concluded that I was dangerously

wounded; but it turned out to be owing to my not being hurt. While our

operations here were confined to a tame skirmish, and our view to the

oaks with which we were mingled, we found, by the evidence of our

ears, that the division which we had come to support was involved in a

more serious onset, for _there_ was the successive rattle of

artillery, the wild hurrah of charging squadrons, and the repulsing

volley of musketry; until Lord Wellington, finding his right too much

extended, directed _that_ division to fall back behind the small river

Touronne, and ours to join the main body of the army. The execution of

our movement presented a magnificent military spectacle, as the plain,

between us and the right of the army, was by this time in possession

of the French cavalry, and, while we were retiring through it with the

order and precision of a common field-day, they kept dancing around

us, and every instant threatening a charge, without daring to execute

it.

 

We took up our new position at a right angle with the then right of

the British line, on which our left rested, and with our right on the

Touronne. The enemy followed our movement with a heavy column of

infantry; but, when they came near enough to exchange shots, they did

not seem to like our looks, as we occupied a low ridge of broken

rocks, against which even a rat could scarcely have hoped to advance

alive; and they again fell back, and opening a tremendous fire of

artillery, which was returned by a battery of our guns. In the course

of a short time, seeing no further demonstration against this part of

the position, our division was withdrawn, and placed in reserve in

rear of the centre.

 

The battle continued to rage with fury in and about the village,

whilst we were lying by our arms under a burning hot sun, some stray

cannon-shot passing over and about us, whose progress we watched for

want of other employment. One of them bounded along in the direction

of an _amateur_, whom we had for some time been observing securely

placed, as he imagined, behind a piece of rock, which stood about five

feet above the ground, and over which nothing but his head was shown,

sheltered from the sun by an umbrella. The shot in question touched

the ground three or four times between us and him; he saw it

coming--lowered his umbrella, and withdrew his head. Its expiring

bound carried it into the very spot where he had that instant

disappeared. I hope he was not hurt; but the thing looked so

ridiculous that it excited a shout of laughter, and we saw no more of

him.

 

A little before dusk, in the evening, our battalion was ordered

forward to relieve the troops engaged in the village, part of which

still remained in possession of the enemy, and I saw, by the mixed

nature of the dead, in every part of the streets, that it had been

successively in possession of both sides. The firing ceased with the

daylight, and I was sent, with a section of men, in charge of one of

the streets for the night. There was a wounded Serjeant of highlanders

lying on my post. A ball had passed through the back part of his head,

from which the brain was oozing, and his only sign of life was a

convulsive hiccough every two or three seconds. I sent for a medical

friend to look at him, who told me that he could not survive; I then

got a mattress from the nearest house, placed the poor fellow on it,

and made use of one corner as a pillow for myself, on which, after

the fatigues of the day, and though called occasionally to visit my

sentries, I slept most soundly. The highlander died in the course of

the night.

 

When we stood to our arms, at daybreak next morning, we found the

enemy busy throwing up a six-gun battery, immediately in front of our

company's post, and we immediately set to work, with our whole hearts

and souls, and placed a wall, about twelve feet thick, between us,

which, no doubt, still remains there in the same garden, as a monument

of what can be effected, in a few minutes, by a hundred modern men,

when their personal safety is concerned; not but that the proprietor,

in the midst of his admiration, would rather see a good bed of garlic

on the spot, manured with the bodies of the architects.

 

When the sun began to shine on the pacific disposition of the enemy,

we proceeded to consign the dead to their last earthly mansions,

giving every Englishman a grave to himself, and putting as many

Frenchmen into one as it could conveniently accommodate. Whilst in

the superintendence of this melancholy duty, and ruminating on the

words of the poet:--

 

  "There's not a form of all that lie

     Thus ghastly, wild and bare,

   Tost, bleeding, in the stormy sky,

     Black in the burning air,

   But to his knee some infant clung,

   But on his heart some fond heart hung!"

 

I was grieved to think that the souls of deceased warriors should be

so selfish as to take to flight in their regimentals, for I never saw

the body of one with a rag on after battle.

 

The day after one of those negative sort of victories is always one of

intense interest. The movements on each side are most jealously

watched, and each side is diligently occupied in strengthening such

points as the fight of the preceding day had proved to be the most

vulnerable.

 

Lord Wellington was too deficient in his cavalry force to justify his

following up his victory; and the enemy, on their parts, had been too

roughly handled, in their last attempt, to think of repeating the

experiment; so that, during the next two days, though both armies

continued to hold the same ground, there was scarcely a shot

exchanged.

 

They had made a few prisoners, chiefly guardsmen and highlanders, whom

they marched past the front of our position, in the most ostentatious

way, on the forenoon of the 6th; and, the day following, a number of

their regiments were paraded in the most imposing manner for review.

They looked uncommonly well, and we were proud to think that we had

beaten such fine-looking fellows so lately!

 

Our regiment had been so long and so often quartered in Fuentes that

it was like fighting for our fire-sides. The _Padre's_ house stood at

the top of the town. He was an old friend of ours, and an old fool,

for he would not leave his house until it was too late to take

anything with him; but, curious enough, although it had been

repeatedly in the possession of both sides, and plundered, no doubt,

by many expert artists, yet none of them thought of looking so high as

the garret, which happened to be the repository of his money and

provisions. He came to us the day after the battle, weeping over his

supposed loss, like a sensitive Christian, and I accompanied him to

the house, to see whether there was not some consolation remaining for

him; but, when he found his treasure safe, he could scarcely bear its

restoration with becoming gravity. I helped him to carry off his bag

of dollars, and he returned the compliment with a leg of mutton.

 

The French army retired on the night of the 7th, leaving Almeida to

its fate; but, by an extraordinary piece of luck, the garrison made

their escape the night after, in consequence of some mistake or

miscarriage of an order, which prevented a British regiment from

occupying the post intended for it.

 

May 8th.--We advanced this morning, and occupied our former post at

Espeja, with some hopes of remaining quiet for a few days; but the

alarm sounding at daylight on the following morning, we took post on

the hill, in front of the village. It turned out to be only a patrole

of French cavalry, who retired on receiving a few shots from our

piquets, and we saw no more of them for a considerable time.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. VII.

 

     March to Estremadura. At Soito, growing Accommodations for Man

     and Beast. British Taste displayed by Portuguese Wolves. False

     Alarm. Luxuries of Roquingo Camp. A Chaplain of the Forces.

     Return towards the North. Quarters near Castello de Vide.

     Blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo. Village of Atalya; Fleas abundant;

     Food scarce. Advance of the French Army. Affairs near Guinaldo.

     Our Minister administered to. An unexpected Visit from our

     General and his Followers. End of the Campaign of 1811. Winter

     Quarters.

 

 

Lord Wellington, soon after the battle of Fuentes, was again called

into Estremadura, to superintend the operations of the corps of the

army under Marshal Beresford, who had, in the mean time, fought the

battle of Albuera, and laid siege to Badajos. In the beginning of

June our division was ordered thither also, to be in readiness to aid

his operations. We halted one night at the village of Soito, where

there are a great many chestnut trees of very extraordinary

dimensions; the outside of the trunk keeps growing as the inside

decays. I was one of a party of four persons who dined inside of one,

and I saw two or three horses put up in several others.

 

We halted, also, one night on the banks of the Coa, near Sabugal, and

visited our late field of battle. We found that the dead had been

nearly all torn from their graves, and devoured by wolves, who are in

great force in that wild mountainous district, and shew very little

respect either for man or beast. They seldom, indeed, attack a man;

but if one happens to tie his horse to a tree, and leaves him

unattended, for a short time, he must not be surprised if he finds, on

his return, that he has parted with a good _rump steak_; _that_ is the

piece that they always prefer; and it is, therefore, clear to me,

that the first of the wolves must have been reared in England!

 

We experienced, in the course of this very dark night, one of those

ridiculous false alarms which will sometimes happen in the best

organized body. Some bullocks strayed, by accident, amongst the piles

of arms, the falling clatter of which, frightened them so much that

they went galloping over the sleeping soldiers. The officers'

baggage-horses broke from their _moorings_, and joined in the general

charge; and a cry immediately arose, that it was the French cavalry.

The different regiments stood to their arms, and formed squares,

looking as sharp as thunder for something to fire at; and it was a

considerable time before the cause of the _row_ could be traced. The

different followers of the army, in the mean time, were scampering off

to the rear, spreading the most frightful reports. One woman of the

52d succeeded in getting three leagues off before daylight, and swore,

"that, as God was her judge, she did not leave her regiment until she

saw the last man of them cut to pieces!!!"

 

On our arrival near Elvas, we found that Marshal Beresford had raised

the siege of Badajos; and we were, therefore, encamped on the river

Caya, near Roquingo. This was a sandy unsheltered district; and the

weather was so excessively hot, that we had no enjoyment, but that of

living three parts of the day up to the neck in a pool of water.

 

Up to this period it had been a matter of no small difficulty to

ascertain, at any time, the day of the week; that of the month was

altogether out of the question, and could only be reckoned by counting

back to the date of the last battle; but our division was here joined

by a chaplain, whose duty it was to remind us of these things. He

might have been a very good man, but he was not prepossessing, either

in his appearance or manners. I remember, the first Sunday after his

arrival, the troops were paraded for divine service, and had been some

time waiting in square, when he at length rode into the centre of it,

with his tall, lank, ungainly figure, mounted on a starved, untrimmed,

unfurnished horse, and followed by a Portuguese boy, with his

canonicals and prayer-books on the back of a mule, with a hay-bridle,

and having, by way of clothing, about half a pair of straw breeches.

This spiritual comforter was the least calculated of any one that I

ever saw to excite devotion in the minds of men, who had seen nothing

in the shape of a divine for a year or two.

 

In the beginning of August we began to retrace our steps towards the

north. We halted a few days in Portalegré, and a few more at Castello

de Vide.

 

The latter place is surrounded by extensive gardens, belonging to the

richer citizens; in each of which there is a small summer-house,

containing one or two apartments, in which the proprietor, as I can

testify, may have the enjoyment of being fed upon by a more healthy

and better appetized flea, than is to be met with in town houses in

general.

 

These _quintas_ fell to the lot of our battalion; and though their

beds, on that account, had not much sleep in them, yet, as those who

preferred the voice of the nightingale in a bed of cabbages, to the

pinch of a flea in a bed of feathers, had the alternative at their

option; I enjoyed my sojourn there very much. Each garden had a

bathing tank, with a plentiful supply of water, which at that season

was really a luxury; and they abounded in choice fruits. I there

formed an attachment to a mulberry-tree, which is still fondly

cherished in my remembrance.

 

We reached the scene of our former operations, in the north, towards

the end of August.

 

The French had advanced and blockaded Almeida, during our absence, but

they retired again on our approach, and we took up a more advanced

position than before, for the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo.

 

Our battalion occupied Atalya, a little village at the foot of the

Sierra de Gata, and in front of the River Vadilla. On taking

possession of my quarter, the people showed me an outhouse, which,

they said, I might use as a stable, and I took my horse into it, but,

seeing the floor strewed with what appeared to be a small brown seed,

heaps of which lay in each corner, as if shovelled together in

readiness to take to market, I took up a handful, out of curiosity,

and, truly, they were a curiosity, for I found that they were all

regular fleas, and that they were proceeding to eat both me and my

horse, without the smallest ceremony. I rushed out of the place, and

knocked them down by fistfuls, and never yet could comprehend the

cause of their congregating together in such a place.

 

This neighbourhood had been so long the theatre of war, and

alternately forced to supply both armies, that the inhabitants, at

length, began to dread starvation themselves, and concealed, for their

private use, all that remained to them; so that, although they were

bountiful in their assurances of good wishes, it was impossible to

extract a loaf of their good bread, of which we were so wildly in want

that we were obliged to conceal patroles on the different roads and

footpaths, for many miles around, to search the peasants passing

between the different villages, giving them an order on the commissary

for whatever we took from them; and we were not too proud to take even

a few potatoes out of an old woman's basket.

 

On one occasion, when some of us were out shooting, we discovered

about twenty hives of bees, in the face of a glen, concealed among the

gumcestus, and, stopping up the mouth of one them, we carried it home

on our shoulders, bees and all, and continued to levy contributions on

the _depot_ as long as we remained there.

 

Towards the end of September, the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo began to

get on such "short commons" that _Marmont_, who had succeeded

_Massena_, in the command of the French army, found it necessary to

assemble the whole of his forces, to enable him to throw provisions

into it.

 

Lord Wellington was still pursuing his defensive system, and did not

attempt to oppose him; but Marmont, after having effected his object,

thought that he might as well take that opportunity of beating up our

quarters, in return for the trouble we had given him; and,

accordingly, on the morning of the 25th, he attacked a brigade of the

third division, stationed at El Bedon, which, after a brilliant

defence and retreat, conducted him opposite to the British position,

in front of Fuente Guinaldo. He busied himself, the whole of the

following day, in bringing up his troops for the attack. Our division,

in the mean time, remained on the banks of the Vadillo, and had nearly

been cut off, through the obstinacy of General Crawford, who did not

choose to obey an order he received to retire the day before; but we,

nevertheless, succeeded in joining the army, by a circuitous route, on

the afternoon of the 26th; and, the whole of both armies being now

assembled, we considered a battle on the morrow as inevitable.

 

Lord Wellington, however, was not disposed to accommodate them on this

occasion; for, about the middle of the night, we received an order to

stand to our arms, with as little noise as possible, and to commence

retiring, the rest of the army having been already withdrawn, unknown

to us; an instance of the rapidity and uncertainty of our movements

which proved fatal to the liberty of several amateurs and followers of

the army, who, seeing an army of sixty thousand men lying asleep

around their camp-fires, at ten o'clock at night, naturally concluded

that they might safely indulge in a bed in the village behind, until

daylight, without the risk of being caught napping; but, long ere that

time, they found themselves on the high road to Ciudad Rodrigo, in the

rude grasp of an enemy. Amongst others, was the chaplain of our

division, whose outward man, as I have already said, conveyed no very

exalted notion of the respectability of his profession, and who was

treated with greater indignity than usually fell to the lot of

prisoners, for, after keeping him a couple of days, and finding that,

however gifted he might have been in spiritual lore, he was as

ignorant as Dominie Sampson on military matters; and, conceiving good

provisions to be thrown away upon him, they stripped him nearly naked

and dismissed him, like the barber in Gil Blas, with a kick in the

breech, and sent him in to us in a woful state.

 

September 27th.--General Crawford remained behind us this morning,

with a troop of dragoons, to reconnoitre; and, while we were marching

carelessly along the road, he and his dragoons galloped right into our

column, with a cloud of French ones at his heels. Luckily, the ground

was in our favour; and, dispersing our men among the broken rocks, on

both sides of the road, we sent them back somewhat faster than they

came on. They were, however, soon replaced by their infantry, with

whom we continued in an uninteresting skirmish all day. There was some

sharp firing, the whole of the afternoon, to our left; and we retired,

in the evening, to Soito.

 

This affair terminated the campaign of 1811, as the enemy retired the

same night, and we advanced next day to resume the blockade of

Rodrigo; and were suffered to remain quietly in cantonments until the

commencement of a new year.

 

In every interval between our active services, we indulged in all

manner of childish trick and amusement, with an avidity and delight of

which it is impossible to convey an adequate idea. We lived united, as

men always are who are daily staring death in the face on the same

side, and who, caring little about it, look upon each new day added to

their lives as one more to rejoice in.

 

We invited the villagers, every evening, to a dance at our quarters

alternately. A Spanish peasant girl has an address about her which I

have never met with in the same class of any other country; and she at

once enters into society with the ease and confidence of one who had

been accustomed to it all her life. We used to flourish away at the

bolero, fandango, and waltz, and wound up early in the evening with a

supper of roasted chestnuts.

 

Our village _belles_, as already stated, made themselves perfectly at

home in our society, and we, too, should have enjoyed theirs for a

season; but, when month after month, and year after year, continued to

roll along, without producing any change, we found that the cherry

cheek and sparkling eye of rustic beauty furnished but a very poor

apology for the illuminated portion of Nature's fairest works, and

ardently longed for an opportunity of once more feasting our eyes on a

_lady_.

 

In the month of December, we heard that the chief magistrate of

Rodrigo, with whom we were personally acquainted, had, with his

daughter and two other young ladies, taken shelter in Robledillo, a

little town in the Sierra de Gata, which, being within our range,

presented an attraction not to be resisted.

 

Half-a-dozen of us immediately resolved ourselves into a committee of

ways and means. We had six months' pay due to us; so that the fandango

might have been danced in either of our pockets without the smallest

risk; but we had this consolation for our poverty, that there was

nothing to be bought, even if we had the means. Our only resource,

therefore, was to lighten the cares of such of our brother-officers as

were fortunate enough to have any thing to lose; and, at this moment

of doubt and difficulty, a small flock of turkeys, belonging to our

major, presented themselves, most imprudently, grazing opposite the

windows of our council-chamber, two of which were instantly committed

to the bottom of a sack, as a foundation to go upon. One of our spies,

soon after, apprehended a sheep, the property of another officer,

which was committed to the same place; and, getting the commissary to

advance us a few extra loaves of bread, some ration beef, and a

pig-skin full of wine, we placed a servant on a mule, with the whole

concern tackled to him, and proceeded on our journey.

 

In passing over the mountain, we saw a wild boar bowling along, in the

midst of a snow-storm, and, voting them fitting companions, we

suffered him to pass, (particularly as he did not come within shot).

 

On our arrival at Robledillo, we met with the most cordial reception

from the old magistrate; who, entering into the spirit of our visit,

provided us with quarters, and filled our room in the evening with

every body worth seeing in the place. We were malicious enough, by way

of amusement, to introduce a variety of absurd pastimes, under the

pretence of their being English, and which, by virtue thereof, were

implicitly adopted. We, therefore, passed a regular romping evening;

and, at a late hour, having conducted the ladies to their homes, some

friars, who were of the party, very kindly, intended doing us the same

favour, and, with that view, had begun to precede us with their

lanterns, but, in the frolic of the moment, we set upon them with

snow-balls, some of which struck upon their broad shoulders, while

others fizzed against their fiery faces, and, in their astonishment

and alarm, all sanctimony was forgotten; their oaths flew as thick as

our snow-balls, while they ran ducking their heads and dousing their

lights, for better concealment; but we, nevertheless, persevered until

we had pelted each to his own home.

 

We were, afterwards, afraid that we had carried the joke rather too

far, and entertained some doubts as to the propriety of holding our

quarters for another day; but they set our minds at rest on that

point, by paying us an early visit in the morning, and seemed to enjoy

the joke in a manner that we could not have expected from the gravity

of their looks.

 

We passed two more days much in the same manner, and, on the third,

returned to our cantonments, and found that our division had moved,

during our absence, into some villages nearer to Ciudad Rodrigo,

preparatory to the siege of that place.

 

On inquiry, we found that we had never been suspected for the

_abduction_ of the sheep and turkeys, but that the blame, on the

contrary, had been attached to the poor soldiers, whose soup had been

tasted every day to see if it savoured of such dainties. The

proprietor of the turkeys was so particularly indignant that we

thought it prudent not to acknowledge ourselves as the culprits until

some time afterwards, when, as one of our party happened to be killed

in action, we, very uncharitably, put the whole of it on his

shoulders.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. VIII.

 

     Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. The Garrison of an Outwork relieved.

     Spending an Evening abroad. A Musical Study. An Addition to Soup.

     A short Cut. Storming of the Town. A sweeping Clause. Advantages

     of leading a Storming Party. Looking for a Customer.

     Disadvantages of being a stormed Party. Confusion of all Parties.

     A waking Dream. Death of General Crawford. Accident. Deaths.

 

 

SIEGE OF CIUDAD RODRIGO,

 

January 8th, 1812.

 

The campaign of 1812 commenced with the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, which

was invested by our division on the 8th of January.

 

There was a smartish frost, with some snow on the ground; and, when we

arrived opposite the fortress, about midday, the garrison did not

appear to think that we were in earnest, for a number of their

officers came out, under the shelter of a stone-wall, within half

musket-shot, and amused themselves in saluting and bowing to us in

ridicule; but, ere the day was done, some of them had occasion to wear

the laugh on the opposite side of the countenance.

 

We lay by our arms until dark, when a party, consisting of a hundred

volunteers from each regiment, under Colonel Colborne, of the

fifty-second, stormed and carried the Fort of St. Francisco, after a

short sharp action, in which the whole of its garrison were taken or

destroyed. The officer who commanded it was a chattering little

fellow, and acknowledged himself to have been one of our saluting

friends of the morning. He kept, incessantly, repeating a few words of

English which he had picked up during the assault, and the only ones,

I fancy, that were spoken, viz. "dem eyes, b--t eyes!" and, in

demanding the meaning of them, he required that we should, also,

explain why we stormed a place without first besieging it; for, he

said, that another officer would have relieved him of his charge at

daylight, had _we_ not _relieved_ him of it sooner.

 

The enemy had calculated that this outwork would have kept us at bay

for a fortnight or three weeks; whereas, its capture, the first night,

enabled us to break ground at once, within breaching distance of the

walls of the town. They kept up a very heavy fire the whole night on

the working parties; but, as they aimed at random, we did not suffer

much; and made such good use of our time that, when daylight enabled

them to see what we were doing, we had dug ourselves under tolerable

cover.

 

In addition to ours, the first, third, and fourth divisions were

employed in the siege. Each took the duties for twenty-four hours

alternately, and returned to their cantonments during the interval.

 

We were relieved by the first division, under Sir Thomas Graham, on

the morning of the 9th, and marched to our quarters.

 

Jan. 12th.--At ten o'clock this morning we resumed the duties of the

siege. It still continued to be dry frosty weather; and, as we were

obliged to ford the Agueda, up to the middle, every man carried a pair

of iced breeches into the trenches with him.

 

My turn of duty did not arrive until eight in the evening, when I was

ordered to take thirty men with shovels to dig holes for ourselves, as

near as possible to the walls, for the delectable amusement of firing

at the embrasures for the remainder of the night. The enemy threw

frequent fire-balls among us, to see where we were; but, as we always

lay snug until their blaze was extinguished, they were not much the

wiser, except by finding, from having some one popt off from their

guns every instant, that they had got some neighbours whom they would

have been glad to get rid of.

 

We were relieved as usual at ten next morning, and returned to our

cantonments.

 

January 16th.--Entered on our third day's duty, and found the

breaching batteries in full operation, and our approaches close to the

walls on every side. When we arrived on the ground I was sent to take

command of the highland company, which we had at that time in the

regiment, and which was with the left wing, under Colonel Cameron. I

found them on piquet, between the right of the trenches and the river,

half of them posted at a mud-cottage, and the other half in a ruined

convent, close under the walls. It was a very tolerable post when at

it; but it is no joke travelling by daylight up to within a stone's

throw of a wall, on which there is a parcel of fellows who have no

other amusement but to fire at every body they see.

 

We could not show our noses at any point without being fired at; but,

as we were merely posted there to protect the right flank of the

trenches from any sortie, we did not fire at them, and kept as quiet

as could be, considering the deadly blast that was blowing around us.

There are few situations in life where something cannot be learnt, and

I, myself, stand indebted to my twenty-four hours' residence there,

for a more correct knowledge of martial sounds than in the study of my

whole life time besides. They must be an unmusical pair of ears that

cannot inform the wearer whither a cannon or a musket played last, but

the various _notes_, emanating from their respective mouths, admit of

nice distinctions. My party was too small, and too well sheltered to

repay the enemy for the expense of shells and round shot; but the

quantity of grape and musketry aimed at our particular heads, made a

good concert of first and second whistles, while the more sonorous

voice of the round shot, travelling to our friends on the left, acted

as a thorough bass; and there was not a shell, that passed over us to

the trenches, that did not send back a fragment among us as soon as it

burst, as if to gratify a curiosity that I was far from expressing.

 

We went into the cottage soon after dark, to partake of something that

had been prepared for dinner; and, when in the middle of it, a round

shot passed through both walls, immediately over our heads, and

garnished the soup with a greater quantity of our parent earth than

was quite palatable.

 

We were relieved, as usual, by the first division, at ten next

morning; and, to avoid as much as possible the destructive fire from

the walls, they sent forward only three or four men at a time, and we

sent ours away in the same proportions.

 

Every thing is by comparison in this world, and it is curious to

observe how men's feelings change with circumstances. In cool blood a

man would rather go a little out of his way than expose himself to

unnecessary danger; but we found, this morning, that by crossing the

river where we then were, and running the gauntlet for a mile, exposed

to the fire of two pieces of artillery, that we should be saved the

distance of two or three miles in returning to our quarters. After

coming out of such a _furnace_ as we had been frying in, the other

fire was not considered a fire at all, and passed without a moment's

hesitation.

 

 

STORMING OF CIUDAD RODRIGO.

 

January 19th, 1812.--We moved to the scene of operations, about two

o'clock this afternoon; and, as it was a day before our regular turn,

we concluded that we were called there to lend a hand in finishing the

job we had begun so well; nor were we disappointed, for we found that

two practicable breaches had been effected, and that the place was to

be stormed in the evening by the third and light divisions, the former

by the right breach, and the latter by the left, while some Portuguese

troops were to attempt an escalade on the opposite sides of the town.

 

About eight o'clock in the evening our division was accordingly formed

for the assault, behind a convent, near the left breach, in the

following order:--viz.

 

     1st. Four companies of our battalion, under Colonel Cameron, to

     line the crest of the glacis, and fire upon the ramparts.

 

     2d. Some companies of Portuguese, carrying bags filled with hay

     and straw, for throwing into the ditch, to facilitate the passage

     of the storming party.

 

     3d. The _forlorn hope_, consisting of an officer and twenty-five

     volunteers.

 

     4th. The _storming party_, consisting of three officers and one

     hundred volunteers from each regiment, the officers from ours

     were Captain Mitchell, Mr. Johnstone, and myself, and the whole

     under the command of Major Napier, of the fifty-second.

 

     5th. The main body of the division, under General Crawford, with

     one brigade, under Major-General Vandeleur, and the other under

     Colonel Barnard.

 

At a given signal the different columns advanced to the assault; the

night was tolerably clear, and the enemy evidently expected us; for,

as soon as we turned the corner of the convent-wall, the space

between us and the breach became one blaze of light with their

fire-balls, which, while they lighted us on to glory, lightened not a

few of their lives and limbs; for the whole glacis was in consequence

swept by a well directed fire of grape and musketry, and they are the

devil's own brooms; but our gallant fellows walked through it, to the

point of attack, with the most determined steadiness, excepting the

Portuguese sack-bearers, most of whom lay down behind their bags, to

wait the result, while the few that were thrown into the ditch looked

so like dead bodies, that, when I leapt into it, I tried to avoid

them.

 

The advantage of being on a storming party is considered as giving the

prior claim to be _put out of pain_, for they receive the first fire,

which is generally the best, not to mention that they are also

expected to receive the earliest salutation from the beams of timber,

hand-grenades, and other missiles, which the garrison are generally

prepared to transfer from the top of the wall, to the tops of the

heads of their foremost visitors. But I cannot say that I, myself,

experienced any such preference, for every ball has a considerable

distance to travel, and I have generally found them equally ready to

pick up their man at the end, as at the beginning of their flight;

luckily, too, the other preparations cannot always be accommodated to

the moment, so that, on the whole, the _odds_ are pretty _even_, that,

all concerned come in for an equal share of whatever happens to be

going on.

 

We had some difficulty at first in finding the breach, as we had

entered the ditch opposite to a ravelin, which we mistook for a

bastion. I tried first one side of it and then the other, and seeing

one corner of it a good deal battered, with a ladder placed against

it, I concluded that it must be the breach, and calling to the

soldiers near me, to follow. I mounted with the most ferocious intent,

carrying a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other; but, when I

got up, I found nobody to fight with, except two of our own men, who

were already laid dead across the top of the ladder. I saw, in a

moment, that I had got into the wrong box, and was about to descend

again, when I heard a shout from the opposite side, that the breach

was there; and, moving in that direction, I dropped myself from the

ravelin, and landed in the ditch, opposite to the foot of the breach,

where I found the head of the storming party just beginning to fight

their way into it. The combat was of short duration, and, in less than

half an hour from the commencement of the attack, the place was in our

possession.

 

After carrying the breach, we met with no further opposition, and

moved round the ramparts to see that they were perfectly clear of the

enemy, previous to entering the town. I was fortunate enough to take

the left-hand circuit, by accident, and thereby escaped the fate which

befel a great portion of those who went to the right, and who were

blown up, along with some of the third division, by the accidental

explosion of a magazine.

 

I was highly amused, in moving round the ramparts, to find some of the

Portuguese troops just commencing their escalade, on the opposite

side, near the bridge, in ignorance of the place having already

fallen. Gallantly headed by their officers, they had got some ladders

placed against the wall, while about two thousand voices from the rear

were cheering, with all their might, for mutual encouragement; and,

like most other troops, under similar circumstances, it appeared to me

that their feet and their tongues went at a more equal pace after we

gave them the hint. On going a little further, we came opposite to the

ravelin, which had been my chief annoyance during my last days'

piquet. It was still crowded by the enemy, who had now thrown down

their arms, and endeavoured to excite our pity by virtue of their

being "Pauvres Italianos;" but our men had, somehow, imbibed a

horrible antipathy to the Italians, and every appeal they made in that

name was invariably answered with,--"You're Italians, are you? then,

d--n you, here's a shot for you;" and the action instantly followed

the word.

 

A town taken by storm presents a frightful scene of outrage. The

soldiers no sooner obtain possession of it, than they think themselves

at liberty to do what they please. It is enough for them that there

_had_ been an enemy on the ramparts; and, without considering that the

poor inhabitants may, nevertheless, be friends and allies, they, in

the first moment of excitement, all share one common fate; and nothing

but the most extraordinary exertions on the part of the officers can

bring them back to a sense of their duty.

 

We continued our course round the ramparts until we met the head of

the column which had gone by the right, and then descended into the

town. At the entrance of the first street, a French officer came out

of a door and claimed my protection, giving me his sword. He told me

that there was another officer in the same house who was afraid to

venture out, and entreated that I would go in for him. I, accordingly,

followed him up to the landing-place of a dark stair, and, while he

was calling to his friend, by name, to come down, "as there was an

English officer present who would protect him," a violent screaming

broke through a door at my elbow. I pushed it open, and found the

landlady struggling with an English soldier, whom I immediately

transferred to the bottom of the stair head foremost. The French

officer had followed me in at the door, and was so astonished at all

he saw, that he held up his hands, turned up the whites of his eyes,

and resolved himself into a state of the most eloquent silence. When

he did recover the use of his tongue, it was to recommend his landlady

to my notice, as the most amiable woman in existence. She, on her

part, professed the most unbounded gratitude, and entreated that I

would make her house my home forever; but, when I called upon her, a

few days after, she denied having ever seen me before, and stuck to it

most religiously.

 

As the other officer could not be found, I descended into the street

again with my prisoner; and, finding the current of soldiers setting

towards the centre of the town, I followed the stream, which conducted

me into the great square, on one side of which the late garrison were

drawn up as prisoners, and the rest of it was filled with British and

Portuguese intermixed, without any order or regularity. I had been

there but a very short time, when they all commenced firing, without

any ostensible cause; some fired in at the doors and windows, some at

the roofs of houses, and others at the clouds; and, at last, some

heads began to be blown from their shoulders in the general hurricane,

when the voice of Sir Thomas Picton, with the power of twenty

trumpets, began to proclaim damnation to every body, while Colonel

Barnard, Colonel Cameron, and some other active officers, were

carrying it into effect with a strong hand; for, seizing the broken

barrels of muskets, which were lying about in great abundance, they

belaboured every fellow, most unmercifully, about the head who

attempted either to load or fire, and finally succeeded in reducing

them to order. In the midst of the scuffle, however, three of the

houses in the square were set on fire; and the confusion was such that

nothing could be done to save them; but, by the extraordinary

exertions of Colonel Barnard, during the whole of the night, the

flames were prevented from communicating to the adjoining buildings.

 

We succeeded in getting a great portion of our battalion together by

one o'clock in the morning, and withdrew with them to the ramparts,

where we lay by our arms until daylight.

 

There is nothing in this life half so enviable as the feelings of a

soldier after a victory. Previous to a battle, there is a certain sort

of something that pervades the mind which is not easily defined; it is

neither akin to joy or fear, and, probably, _anxiety_ may be nearer to

it than any other word in the dictionary: but, when the battle is

over, and crowned with victory, he finds himself elevated for awhile

into the regions of absolute bliss! It had ever been the summit of my

ambition to attain a post at the head of a storming party:--my wish

had now been accomplished, and gloriously ended; and I do think that,

after all was over, and our men laid asleep on the ramparts, that I

strutted about as important a personage, in my own opinion, as ever

trod the face of the earth; and, had the ghost of the renowned

Jack-the-giant-killer itself passed that way at the time, I'll venture

to say, that I would have given it a kick in the breech without the

smallest ceremony. But, as the sun began to rise, I began to fall from

the heroics; and, when he showed his face, I took a look at my own,

and found that I was too unclean a spirit to worship, for I was

covered with mud and dirt, with the greater part of my dress torn to

rags.

 

The fifth division, which had not been employed in the siege, marched

in, and took charge of the town, on the morning of the 20th, and we

prepared to return to our cantonments. Lord Wellington happened to be

riding in at the gate at the time that we were marching out, and had

the curiosity to ask the officer of the leading company, what regiment

it was, for there was scarcely a vestige of uniform among the men,

some of whom were dressed in Frenchmen's coats, some in white

breeches, and huge jack-boots, some with cocked hats and queues; most

of their swords were fixed on the rifles, and stuck full of hams,

tongues, and loaves of bread, and not a few were carrying bird-cages!

There never was a better masked corps!

 

General Crawford fell on the glacis, at the head of our division, and

was buried at the foot of the breach which they so gallantly carried.

His funeral was attended by Lord Wellington, and all the officers of

the division, by whom he was, ultimately, much liked. He had

introduced a system of discipline into the light division which made

them unrivalled. A very rigid exaction of the duties pointed out in

his code of regulations made him very unpopular at its commencement,

and it was not until a short time before he was lost to us for ever,

that we were capable of appreciating his merits, and fully sensible of

the incalculable advantages we derived from the perfection of his

system.

 

Among other things carried from Ciudad Rodrigo, one of our men had the

misfortune to carry his death in his hands, under the mistaken shape

of amusement. He thought that it was a cannon-ball, and took it for

the purpose of playing at the game of nine-holes, but it happened to

be a live shell. In rolling it along it went over a bed of burning

ashes, and ignited without his observing it. Just as he had got it

between his legs, and was in the act of discharging it a second time,

it exploded, and nearly blew him to pieces.

 

Several men of our division, who had deserted while we were blockading

Ciudad Rodrigo, were taken when it fell, and were sentenced to be

shot. Lord Wellington extended mercy to every one who could procure

any thing like a good character from his officers; but six of them,

who could not, were paraded and shot, in front of the division, near

the village of Ituera. Shooting appears to me to be a cruel kind of

execution, for twenty balls may pierce a man's body without touching a

vital spot. On the occasion alluded to, two of the men remained

standing after the first fire, and the Provost-Marshal was obliged to

put an end to their sufferings, by placing the muzzle of a piece at

each of their heads.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. IX.

 

     March to Estremadura. A Deserter shot. Riding for an Appetite.

     Effect the Cure of a sick Lady. Siege of Badajos. Trench-Work.

     Varieties during the Siege. Taste of the Times. Storming of the

     Town. Its Fall. Officers of a French Battalion. Not shot by

     Accident. Military Shopkeepers. Lost Legs and cold Hearts.

     Affecting Anecdote. My Servant. A Consignment to Satan. March

     again for the North. Sir Sidney Beckwith.

 

 

We remained about six weeks in cantonments, after the fall of Ciudad

Rodrigo; and, about the end of February, were again put in motion

towards Estremadura.

 

March 7th.--Arrived near Castello de Vide, and quartered in the

neighbouring villages. Another deserter, who had also been taken at

the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, was here shot, under the sentence of

a court martial. When he was paraded for that purpose, he protested

against their right to shoot him, until he first received the arrears

of pay which was due at the time of his desertion.

 

March 14th.--Two of us rode out this afternoon to kill time until

dinner hour (six); but, when we returned to our quarters, there was

not a vestige of the regiment remaining, and our appetites were

considerably whetted, by having an additional distance of fourteen

miles to ride, in the dark, over roads on which we could not trust our

horses out of a walk. We joined them, at about eleven at night, in the

town of Portalegré.

 

March 16th.--Quartered in the town of Elvas.

 

I received a billet on a neat little house, occupied by an old lady

and her daughter, who were very desirous of evading such an

incumbrance. For, after resisting my entrance, until successive

applications of my foot had reduced the door to a condition which

would no longer second their efforts, the old lady resolved to try me

on another _tack_; and, opening the door, and, making a sign for me

to make no noise, she told me, in a whisper, that her daughter was

lying dangerously ill of a fever, in the only bed in the house, and

that she was, therefore, excessively sorry that she could not

accommodate me. As this information did not at all accord with my

notions of consistency, after their having suffered the preceding half

hour's bombardment, I requested to be shewn to the chamber of the

invalid, saying that I was a _medico_, and might be of service to her.

When she found remonstrance unavailing, she at length shewed me into a

room up-stairs, where there was a very genteel-looking young girl, the

very picture of _Portuguese_ health, lying with her eyes shut, in full

dress, on the top of the bed-clothes, where she had hurriedly thrown

herself.

 

Seeing, at once, how matters stood, I walked up to the bed-side, and

hit her a slap on the thigh with my hand, asking her, at the same

time, how she felt herself? and never did Prince Hohenloe, himself,

perform a miracle more cleverly; for she bounced almost as high as the

ceiling, and flounced about the room, as well and as actively as

ever she did, with a countenance in which shame, anger, and a great

portion of natural humour were so amusingly blended, that I was

tempted to provoke her still further by a salute. Having thus

satisfied the mother that I had been the means of restoring her

daughter to her usual state of health, she thought it prudent to put

the best face upon it, and, therefore, invited me to partake of their

family dinner; in the course of which I succeeded so well in eating my

way into their affections, that we parted next morning with mutual

regret; they told me that I was the _best_ officer they had ever seen,

and begged that I would always make their house my home; but I was

never fated to see them again. We marched in the morning for Badajos.

 

 

SIEGE OF BADAJOS.

 

On the 17th of March, 1812, the _third_, _fourth_, and _light

divisions_, encamped around Badajos, embracing the whole of the

inland side of the town on the left bank of the Guadiana, and

commenced breaking ground before it immediately after dark the same

night.

 

The elements, on this occasion, adopted the cause of the besieged; for

we had scarcely taken up our ground, when a heavy rain commenced, and

continued, almost without intermission, for a fortnight; in

consequence thereof, the pontoon-bridge, connecting us with our

supplies from Elvas, was carried away, by the rapid increase of the

river, and the duties of the trenches were otherwise rendered

extremely harassing. We had a smaller force employed than at Rodrigo;

and the scale of operations was so much greater, that it required

every man to be actually in the trenches six hours every day, and the

same length of time every night, which, with the time required to

march to and from them, through fields more than ankle deep in a stiff

mud, left us never more than eight hours out of the twenty-four in

camp, and we never were dry the whole time.

 

One day's trench-work is as like another as the days themselves; and

like nothing better than serving an apprenticeship to the double

calling of grave-digger and game-keeper, for we found ample employment

both for the spade and the rifle.

 

The only varieties during the siege were,--First, The storming of

_Picuvina_, a formidable outwork, occupying the centre of our

operations. It was carried one evening, in the most gallant style, by

Major-General Sir James Kempt, at the head of the covering parties.

Secondly, A sortie made by the garrison, which they got the worst of,

although they succeeded in stealing some of our pickaxes and shovels.

Thirdly, A _circumbendibus_ described by a few daring French dragoons,

who succeeded in getting into the rear of our engineers' camp, at that

time unguarded, and lightened some of the officers of their

epaulettes. Lastly, Two field-pieces taken by the enemy to the

opposite side of the river, enfilading one of our parallels, and

materially disturbing the harmony within, as a cannon-shot is no very

welcome guest among gentlemen who happen to be lodged in a straight

ditch, without the power of _cutting_ it.

 

Our batteries were supplied with ammunition, by the Portuguese

militia, from Elvas, a string of whom used to arrive every day,

reaching nearly from the one place to the other (twelve miles), each

man carrying a twenty-four pound shot, and cursing all the way and

back again.

 

The Portuguese artillery, under British officers, was uncommonly good.

I used to be much amused in looking at a twelve-gun breaching-battery

of theirs.

 

They knew the position of all the enemy's guns which could bear upon

them, and had one man posted to watch them, to give notice of what was

coming, whether a shot or a shell, who, accordingly, kept calling out,

"_bomba, balla, balla, bomba_;" and they ducked their heads until the

missile past: but, sometimes he would see a general discharge from all

arms, when he threw himself down, screaming out "_Jesus, todos,

todos!_" meaning "every thing."

 

An officer of ours was sent one morning, before daylight, with ten

men, to dig holes for themselves, opposite to one of the enemy's guns,

which had been doing a great deal of mischief the day before, and he

had soon the satisfaction of knowing the effect of his practice, by

seeing them stopping up the embrasure with sandbags. After waiting a

little, he saw them beginning to remove the bags, when he made his men

open upon it again, and they were instantly replaced without the guns

being fired; presently he saw the huge cocked hat of a French officer

make its appearance on the rampart, near to the embrasure; but

knowing, by experience, that the _head_ was somewhere in the

neighbourhood, he watched until the flash of a musket, through the

long grass, showed the position of the owner, and, calling one of his

best shots, he desired him to take deliberate aim at the spot, and

lent his shoulder as a rest, to give it more elevation. Bang went the

shot, and it was the finishing flash for the Frenchman, for they saw

no more of _him_, although his cocked hat maintained its post until

dark.

 

In proportion as the grand crisis approached, the anxiety of the

soldiers increased; not on account of any doubt or dread as to the

result, but for fear that the place should be surrendered without

standing an assault; for, singular as it may appear, although there

was a certainty of about one man out of every three being knocked

down, there were, perhaps, not three men, in the three divisions, who

would not rather have braved all the chances than receive it tamely

from the hands of the enemy. So great was the rage for passports into

eternity, in our battalion, on that occasion, that even the officers'

servants insisted on taking their places in the ranks; and I was

obliged to leave my baggage in charge of a man who had been wounded

some days before.

 

On the 6th of April, three practicable breaches had been effected,

and arrangements were made for assaulting the town that night. The

third division, by escalade, at the castle; a brigade of the fifth

division, by escalade, at the opposite side of the town; while the

fourth and light divisions were to storm the breaches. The whole were

ordered to be formed for the attack at eight o'clock.

 

 

STORMING OF BADAJOS,

 

April 6th, 1812.

 

Our division formed for the attack of the left breach in the same

order as at Ciudad Rodrigo; the command of it had now devolved upon

our commandant, Colonel Barnard. I was then the acting adjutant of

four companies, under Colonel Cameron, who were to line the crest of

the glacis, and to fire at the ramparts and the top of the left

breach.

 

The enemy seemed aware of our intentions. The fire of artillery and

musketry, which, for three weeks before, had been incessant, both

from the town and trenches, had now entirely ceased, as if by mutual

consent, and a deathlike silence, of nearly an hour, preceded the

awful scene of carnage.

 

The signal to advance was made about nine o'clock, and our four

companies led the way. Colonel Cameron and myself had reconnoitred the

ground so accurately by daylight, that we succeeded in bringing the

head of our column to the very spot agreed on, opposite to the left

breach, and then formed line to the left, without a word being spoken,

each man lying down as he got into line, with the muzzle of his rifle

over the edge of the ditch, between the pallisades, all ready to open.

It was tolerably clear above, and we distinctly saw _their_ heads

lining the ramparts; but there was a sort of haze on the ground which,

with the colour of our dress, prevented them from seeing us, although

only a few yards asunder. One of their sentries, however, challenged

us twice, "_qui vive_," and, receiving no reply, he fired off his

musket, which was followed by their drums beating to arms; but _we_

still remained perfectly quiet, and all was silence again for the

space of five or ten minutes, when the head of the forlorn hope at

length came up, and we took advantage of the first fire, while the

enemy's heads were yet visible.

 

The scene that ensued furnished as respectable a representation of

hell itself as fire, and sword, and human sacrifices could make it;

for, in one instant, every engine of destruction was in full

operation.

 

It is in vain to attempt a description of it. We were entirely

excluded from the right breach by an inundation which the heavy rains

had enabled the enemy to form; and the two others were rendered

totally impracticable by their interior defences.

 

The five succeeding hours were therefore past in the most gallant and

hopeless attempts, on the part of individual officers, forming up

fifty or a hundred men at a time at the foot of the breach, and

endeavouring to carry it by desperate bravery; and, fatal as it proved

to each gallant band, in succession, yet, fast as one dissolved,

another was formed. We were informed, about twelve at night, that the

third division had established themselves in the castle; but, as its

situation and construction did not permit them to extend their

operations beyond it at the moment, it did not in the least affect our

opponents at the breach, whose defence continued as obstinate as ever.

 

I was near Colonel Barnard after midnight, when he received repeated

messages, from Lord Wellington, to withdraw from the breach, and to

form the division for a renewal of the attack at daylight; but, as

fresh attempts continued to be made, and the troops were still

pressing forward into the ditch, it went against his gallant soul to

order a retreat while yet a chance remained; but, after heading

repeated attempts himself, he saw that it was hopeless, and the order

was reluctantly given about two o'clock in the morning. We fell back

about three hundred yards, and re-formed all that remained to us.

 

Our regiment, alone, had to lament the loss of twenty-two officers

killed and wounded, ten of whom were killed, or afterwards died of

their wounds. We had scarcely got our men together when we were

informed of the success of the fifth division in their escalade, and

that the enemy were, in consequence, abandoning the breaches, and we

were immediately ordered forward to take possession of them. On our

arrival, we found them entirely evacuated, and had not occasion to

fire another shot; but we found the utmost difficulty, and even

danger, in getting in in the dark, even without opposition. As soon as

we succeeded in establishing our battalion inside, we sent piquets

into the different streets and lanes leading from the breach, and kept

the remainder in hand until day should throw some light on our

situation.

 

When I was in the act of posting one of the piquets, a man of ours

brought me a prisoner, telling me that he was the governor; but the

other immediately said that he had only called himself so, the better

to ensure his protection; and then added, that he was the colonel of

one of the French regiments, and that all his surviving officers were

assembled at his quarters, in a street close by, and would surrender

themselves to any officer who would go with him for that purpose. I

accordingly took two or three men with me, and, accompanying him

there, found fifteen or sixteen of them assembled, and all seeming

very much surprised at the unexpected termination of the siege. They

could not comprehend under what circumstances the town had been lost,

and repeatedly asked me how I had got in; but I did not choose to

explain further than simply telling them that I had entered at the

breach, coupling the information with a look which was calculated to

convey somewhat more than I knew myself; for, in truth, when I began

to recollect that a few minutes before had seen me retiring from the

breach, under a fanciful overload of degradation, I thought that I had

now as good a right as any man to be astonished at finding myself

_lording_ it over the officers of a French battalion; nor was I much

wiser than they were, as to the manner of its accomplishment. They

were all very much dejected, excepting their major, who was a big

jolly-looking Dutchman, with medals enough, on his left breast, to

have furnished the window of a tolerable toy-shop. His accomplishments

were after the manner of Captain Dougal Dalgetty; and, while he

cracked his joke, he was not inattentive to the cracking of the corks

from the many wine-bottles which his colonel placed on the table

successively, along with some cold meat, for general refreshment,

prior to marching into captivity, and which I, though a free man, was

not too proud to join them in.

 

When I had allowed their chief a reasonable time to secure what

valuables he wished, about his person, he told me that he had two

horses in the stable, which, as he would no longer be permitted to

keep, he recommended me to take; and, as a horse is the only thing on

such occasions that an officer can permit himself to consider a legal

prize, I caused one of them to be saddled, and his handsome black mare

thereby became my charger during the remainder of the war.

 

In proceeding with my prisoners towards the breach, I took, by

mistake, a different road to that I came; and, as numbers of Frenchmen

were lurking about for a safe opportunity of surrendering themselves,

about a hundred additional ones added themselves to my column, as we

moved along, _jabbering_ their native dialect so loudly, as nearly to

occasion a dire catastrophe, as it prevented me from hearing some one

challenge in my front; but, fortunately, it was repeated, and I

instantly answered; for Colonel Barnard and Sir Colin Campbell had a

piquet of our men, drawn across the street, on the point of sending a

volley into us, thinking that we were a rallied body of the enemy.

 

The whole of the garrison were marched off, as prisoners, to Elvas,

about ten o'clock in the morning, and our men were then permitted to

fall out, to enjoy themselves for the remainder of the day, as a

reward for having kept together so long as they were wanted. The whole

of the three divisions were, by this time, loose in the town; and the

usual frightful scene of plunder commenced, which the officers thought

it necessary to avoid for the moment, by retiring to the camp.

 

We went into the town on the morning of the 8th, to endeavour to

collect our men, but only succeeded in part, as the same extraordinary

scene of plunder and rioting still continued. Wherever there was any

thing to eat or drink, the only saleable commodities, the soldiers had

turned the shopkeepers out of doors, and placed themselves regularly

behind the counter, selling off the contents of the shop. By and bye,

another and a stronger party would kick those out in their turn, and

there was no end to the succession of self-elected shopkeepers, until

Lord Wellington found that, to restore order, severe measures must be

resorted to. On the third day, he caused a Portuguese brigade to be

marched in, and kept standing to their arms, in the great square,

where the provost-martial erected a gallows, and proceeded to suspend

a few of the delinquents, which very quickly cleared the town of the

remainder, and enabled us to give a more satisfactory account of our

battalion than we had hitherto been able to do.

 

It is wonderful how such scenes as these will deaden men's finer

feelings, and with what apathy it enables them to look upon the

sufferings of their fellow creatures! The third day after the fall of

the town, I rode, with Colonel Cameron, to take a bathe in the

Guadiana, and, in passing the verge of the camp of the 5th division,

we saw two soldiers standing at the door of a small shed, or outhouse,

shouting, waving their caps, and making signs that they wanted to

speak to us. We rode up to see what they wanted, and found that the

poor fellows had each lost a leg. They told us that a surgeon had

dressed their wounds on the night of the assault, but that they had

ever since been without food or assistance of any kind, although they,

each day, had opportunities of soliciting the aid of many of their

comrades, from whom they could obtain nothing but promises. In short,

surrounded by thousands of their countrymen within call, and not more

than three hundred yards from their own regiment, they were unable to

interest any one in their behalf, and were literally starving.

 

It is unnecessary to say that we instantly galloped back to the camp

and had them removed to the hospital.

 

On the morning of the 7th, when some of our officers were performing

the last duties to their fallen comrades, one of them had collected

the bodies of four of our young officers, who had been slain. He was

in the act of digging a grave for them, when an officer of the guards,

arrived on the spot, from a distant division of the army, and demanded

tidings of his brother, who was at that moment lying a naked lifeless

corpse, under his very eyes. The officer had the presence of mind to

see that the corpse was not recognized, and, wishing to spare the

other's feelings, told him that his brother was dangerously wounded,

but that he would hear more of him by going out to the camp; and

thither the other immediately bent his steps, with a seeming

_presentiment_ of the sad intelligence that awaited him.

 

April 9th.--As I had not seen my domestic since the storming of the

town, I concluded that he had been killed; but he turned up this

morning, with a tremendous gash on his head, and mounted on the top of

a horse nearly twenty feet high, carrying under his arm one of those

glass cases which usually stand on the counters of jewellers' shops,

filled with all manner of trinkets. He looked exactly like the ghost

of a horse pedler.

 

April 10th.--The devil take the man who stole my donkey last night.

 

April 11th.--Marched again for the neighbourhood of Ciudad Rodrigo,

with the long-accustomed sounds of cannon and musketry ringing in my

fanciful ears as merrily as if the instruments themselves were still

playing.

 

Sir Sidney Beckwith, one of the fathers of the rifles, was, at this

time, obliged to proceed to England for the recovery of health, and

did not again return to the Peninsula. In his departure, that army

lost one of the ablest of its outpost generals. Few officers knew so

well how to make the most of a small force. His courage, coupled with

his thorough knowledge of the soldier's character, was of that cool

intrepid kind, that would, at any time, convert a routed rabble into

an orderly effective force. A better officer, probably, never led a

brigade into the field!

 

 

 

 

CHAP X.

 

     A Farewell Address to Portalegré. History of a Night in Castello

     Branco. Regimental Colours lost, with Directions where to find

     them. Cases in which a Victory is sometimes won by those who lost

     it. Advance to Salamanca. The City. The British Position on St.

     Christoval. Affair in Position. Marmont's Change of Position and

     Retreat. A Case of Bad Luck. Advance to Rueda, and Customs there.

     Retire to Castrejon. Affairs on the 18th and 19th of July. Battle

     of Salamanca, and Defeat of the Enemy.

 

 

April 13th, 1812.--Quartered at Portalegré.

 

DEAR PORTALEGRÉ!

 

I cannot quit thee, for the fourth and last time, without a parting

tribute to the remembrance of thy wild romantic scenery, and to the

kindness and hospitality of thy worthy citizens! May thy gates

continue shut to thine enemies as heretofore, and, as heretofore, may

they ever prove those of happiness to thy friends! Dear nuns of Santa

Clara! I thank thee for the enjoyment of many an hour of nothingness;

and thine, Santa Barbara, for many of a more intellectual cast! May

the voice of thy chapel-organ continue unrivalled but by the voices of

thy lovely choristers! and may the piano in thy refectory be replaced

by a better, in which the harmony of strings may supersede the

clattering of ivories! May the sweets which thou hast lavished on us

be showered upon thee ten thousand fold! And may those accursed iron

bars divide thee as effectually from death as they did from us!!!

 

April 15th.--Quartered at Castello Branco.

 

This town had been so often visited by the French and us, alternately,

that the inhabitants, at length, confounded their friends with their

foes; and by treating both sides as enemies, they succeeded in making

them so.

 

When I went this evening to present my billet on a respectable

looking house, the door was opened by the lady of it, wearing a most

gingerly aspect. She told me, with an equivocal sort of look, that she

had two spare beds in the house, and that either of them were at my

service; and, by way of illustration, shewed me into a sort of

servant's room, off the kitchen, half full of apples, onions,

potatoes, and various kinds of lumber, with a dirty looking bed in one

corner; and, on my requesting to see the other, she conducted me up to

the garret, into the very counterpart of the one below, though the

room was somewhat differently garnished. I told her, that they were

certainly two capital beds; but, as I was a modest person, and

disliked all extremes, that I should be quite satisfied with any one

on the floor which I had not yet seen. This, however, she told me, was

impossible, as every one of them were required by her own family.

While we were descending the stair, disputing the point, I caught the

handle of the first door that I came to, twisted it open, and seeing

it a neat little room, with nothing but a table and two or three

chairs, I told her that it would suit me perfectly; and, desiring her

to have a good mattress with clean linen, laid in one corner of it, by

nine o'clock; adding a few hints, to satisfy her that I was quite in

earnest, I went to dine with my messmates.

 

When I returned to the house, about ten o'clock, I was told that I

should find a light in the room and my bed ready. I accordingly

ascended, and found every thing as represented; and, in addition

thereto, I found another bed lying alongside of mine, containing a

huge fat friar, with a bald pate, fast asleep, and blowing the most

tremendous nasal trumpet that I ever heard! As my _friend_ had

evidently been placed there for my annoyance, I did not think it

necessary to use much ceremony in getting rid of him; and, catching

him by the two ears, I raised him up on his legs, while he groaned in

a seeming agonized doubt, whether the pain was inflicted by a man or a

night-mare; and before he had time to get himself broad awake, I had

chucked him and his clothing, bed and bedding, out at the door,

which I locked, and enjoyed a sound sleep the remainder of the night.

 

They offered me no further molestation; but, in taking my departure,

at daylight, next morning, I observed my landlady reconnoitring me

from an up-stairs window, and thought it prudent not to go too near

it.

 

While we had been employed at Badajos, Marmont had advanced in the

north, and blockaded Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida, sending advanced

parties into the frontier towns of Portugal, to the confusion and

consternation of the Portuguese militia, who had been stationed for

their protection; and who, quite satisfied with the _report_ of their

coming, did not think it necessary to wait the report of their cannon.

Marshal Beresford, in his paternal address to "_Los Valerossos_," in

commemoration of their conduct on this occasion, directed that the

colours of each regiment should be lodged in the town-halls of their

respective districts, until they each provided themselves with _a

pair_ out of the ranks of the enemy; but I never heard that any of

them were redeemed in the manner prescribed.

 

The French retired upon Salamanca on our approach; and we resumed our

former quarters without opposition.

 

Hitherto we had been fighting the description of battle in which John

Bull glories so much--gaining a brilliant and useless victory against

great odds. But we were now about to contend for fame on equal terms;

and, having tried both, I will say, without partiality, that I would

rather fight one man than two any day; for I have never been quite

satisfied that the additional _quantum_ of glory altogether

compensated for the proportionate loss of substance; a victory of that

kind being a doubtful and most unsatisfactory one to the performers,

with each occupying the same ground _after_, that they did _before_;

and the whole merit resting with the side which did not happen to

begin it.

 

We remained about two months in cantonments, to recover the effects of

the late sieges; and as by that time all the perforated skins and

repairable cracked limbs had been mended, the army was assembled in

front of Ciudad Rodrigo, to commence what may be termed the second

campaign of 1812.

 

The enemy retired from Salamanca on our approach, leaving garrisons in

three formidable little forts, which they had erected on the most

commanding points of the city, and which were immediately invested by

a British division.

 

Salamanca, as a city, appeared to me to be more ancient than

respectable; for, excepting an old cathedral and a new square, I saw

nothing in it worth looking at, always saving and excepting their

pretty little girls, who (the deuce take them) cost me two nights good

sleep. For, by way of _doing a little dandy_ in passing through such a

celebrated city, I disencumbered the under part of my saddle of the

blanket, and the upper part of the boat-cloak with which it was

usually adorned; and the penalty which I paid for my gentility was,

sleeping the next two nights in position two miles in front of the

town, while these useful appendages were lying on the baggage two

miles in rear of it.

 

The heights of St. Christoval, which we occupied as a position to

cover the siege, were strong, but quite unsheltered, and unfurnished

with either wood or water. We were indebted for our supplies of the

latter to the citizens of Salamanca; while stubbles and dry grass were

our only fuel.

 

Marmont came down upon us the first night with a thundering cannonade,

and placed his army _en masse_ on the plain before us, almost within

gun shot. I was told that, while Lord Wellington was riding along the

line, under a fire of artillery, and accompanied by a numerous staff,

that a brace of greyhounds, in pursuit of a hare, passed close to him.

He was, at the moment, in earnest conversation with General Castanos;

but the instant he observed them, he gave the view hallo, and went

after them at full speed, to the utter astonishment of his foreign

accompaniments. Nor did he stop until he saw the hare killed; when he

returned, and resumed the commander-in-chief, as if nothing had

occurred.

 

The enemy, next morning, commenced a sharp attack on our advanced

post, in the village of Moresco; and, as it continued to be fed by

both sides, there was every appearance of its bringing on a general

action; but they desisted towards the afternoon, and the village

remained divided between us.

 

Marmont, after looking at us for several days, did not think it

prudent to risk an attack on our present post; and, as the

telegraph-rockets from the town told him that his garrison was reduced

to extremity, he crossed the Tormes, on the night of the 26th June, in

the hopes of being able to relieve them from that side of the river.

Our division followed his movement, and took post, for the night, at

Aldea Lingua. They sent forward a strong reconnoitring party at

daylight next morning, but they were opposed by General Bock's brigade

of heavy German dragoons, who would not permit them to see more than

was necessary; and, as the forts fell into our hands the same night,

Marmont had no longer an object in remaining there, and fell back,

behind the Douro, occupying the line of Toro and Torodesillas.

 

By the accidental discharge of a musket, one day last year, the ramrod

entered the belly, passed through the body, and the end of it stuck in

the back-bone of one of the soldiers of our division, from whence it

was actually hammered out with a stone. The poor fellow recovered, and

joined his regiment, as well as ever he had been, and was, last night,

unfortunately drowned, while bathing in the Tormes.

 

When the enemy retired, our division advanced and occupied Rueda, a

handsome little town, on the left bank of the Douro.

 

It abounded in excellent wines, and our usual evening dances began

there to be graced by a superior class of females to what they had

hitherto been accustomed. I remember that, in passing the house of the

sexton, one evening, I saw his daughter baking a loaf of bread; and,

falling desperately in love with both her and the loaf, I carried the

one to the ball and the other to my quarters. A woman was a woman in

those days; and every officer made it a point of duty to marshal as

many as he could to the general assembly, no matter whether they were

countesses or _sextonesses_; and although we, in consequence,

frequently incurred the most indelible disgrace among the better

orders of our indiscriminate collection, some of whom would retire in

disgust; yet, as a sufficient number generally remained for our

evening's amusement, and we were only birds of passage, it was a

matter of the most perfect indifference to us what they thought; we

followed the same course wherever we went.

 

The French army having, in the mean time, been largely reinforced;

and, as they commanded the passage of the Douro, we were in hourly

expectation of an offensive movement from them. As a precautionary

measure, one-half of our division bivouacked, every night, in front of

the town. On the evening of the 16th of July, it was our turn to be

in quarters, and we were in the full enjoyment of our usual evening's

amusement, when the bugles sounded to arms.

 

As we had previously experienced two false alarms in the same

quarters, we thought it more than probable that this might prove one

also; and, therefore, prevailed upon the ladies to enjoy themselves,

until our return, upon the good things which we had provided for their

refreshment, and out of which I hope they drew enough of consolation

for our absence, as we have not seen them since.

 

After forming on our alarm-post, we were moved off, in the dark, we

knew not whither; but every man following the one before him, with the

most implicit confidence, until, after marching all night, we found

ourselves, on the following morning, at daylight, near the village of

Castrejon, where we bivouacked for the day.

 

I was sent on piquet on the evening of the 17th, to watch a portion of

the plain before us; and, soon after sunrise on the following morning,

a cannonade commenced, behind a hill, to my right; and, though the

combatants were not visible, it was evident that they were not dealing

in blank-cartridge, as mine happened to be the pitching-post of all

the enemy's round shot. While I was attentively watching its progress,

there arose, all at once, behind the rising ground to my left, a yell

of the most terrific import; and, convinced that it would give

instantaneous birth to as hideous a body, it made me look, with an eye

of lightning, at the ground around me; and, seeing a broad deep ditch

within a hundred yards, I lost not a moment in placing it between my

piquet and the extraordinary sound, I had scarcely effected the

movement, when Lord Wellington, with his staff, and a cloud of French

and English dragoons and horse artillery intermixed, came over the

hill at full cry, and all hammering at each others' heads in one

confused mass, over the very ground I had that instant quitted. It

appeared that his Lordship had gone there to reconnoitre, covered by

two guns and two squadrons of cavalry, who, by some accident, were

surprised, and charged by a superior body of the enemy, and sent

tumbling in upon us in the manner described. A piquet of the

forty-third had formed on our right, and we were obliged to remain

passive spectators of such an extraordinary scene going on within a

few yards of us, as we could not fire without an equal chance of

shooting some of our own side. Lord Wellington and his staff, with the

two guns, took shelter, for the moment, behind us, while the cavalry

went sweeping along our front, where, I suppose, they picked up some

reinforcement, for they returned, almost instantly, in the same

confused mass; but the French were now the flyers; and, I must do them

the justice to say, that they got off in a manner highly creditable to

themselves. I saw one, in particular, defending himself against two of

ours; and he would have made his escape from both, but an officer of

our dragoons came down the hill, and took him in flank, at full speed,

sending man and horse rolling, headlong, on the plain.

 

I was highly interested, all this time, in observing the

distinguished characters which this unlooked-for _turn-up_ had

assembled around us. Marshal Beresford and the greater part of the

staff remained with their swords drawn, and the Duke himself did not

look more than half-pleased, while he silently despatched some of them

with orders. General Alten, and his huge German orderly dragoon, with

their swords drawn, cursed, the whole time, to a very large amount;

but, as it was in German, I had not the full benefit of it. He had an

opposition swearer in Captain Jenkinson, of the artillery, who

commanded the two guns, and whose oaths were chiefly aimed at himself

for his folly, as far as I could understand, in putting so much

confidence in his covering party, that he had not thought it necessary

to unfix the catch which horse-artillerymen, I believe, had to prevent

their swords quitting the scabbards when they are not wanted, and

which, on this occasion, prevented their jumping forth when they were

so unexpectedly called for.

 

The straggling enemy had scarcely cleared away from our front, when

Lord Combermere came, from the right, with a reinforcement of cavalry;

and our piquet was, at the same moment, ordered to join the battalion.

 

The movements which followed presented the most beautiful military

spectacle imaginable. The enemy were endeavouring to turn our left;

and, in making a counteracting movement, the two armies were marching

in parallel lines, close to each other, on a perfect plain, each ready

to take advantage of any opening of the other, and exchanging round

shot as they moved along. Our division brought up the rear of the

infantry, marching with the order and precision of a field-day, in

open column of companies, and in perfect readiness to receive the

enemy in any shape; who, on their part, had a huge cavalry force close

at hand, and equally ready to pounce upon us. Our movement was

supported by a formidable body of our own dragoons; and, as we drew

near the bank of the small river Guerrena, our horse-artillery

continued to file in the same line, to attract the attention of the

enemy, while we gradually distanced them a little, and crossed the

river into a position on the high grounds beyond it. The enemy passed

the river, on our left, and endeavoured to force that part of the

position; but the troops who were stationed there drove them back,

with great loss; and at dark the firing ceased.

 

During the early part of the 19th there appeared to be no movements on

either side; but, in the afternoon, having fallen asleep in my tent, I

was awoke by the whistling of a cannon shot; and was just beginning to

abuse my servant for not having called me sooner, when we were ordered

to stand to our arms; and, as the enemy were making a movement to our

right, we made a corresponding one. The cannonade did not cease until

dark, when we lay down by our arms, the two armies very near to each

other, and fully expecting a general action on the morrow.

 

July 20th.--We stood to our arms an hour before daylight, and Lord

Wellington held out every inducement for his opponent to attack him;

but Marmont evaded it, and continued his movement on our right, which

obliged us to continue ours, towards Salamanca; and we were a great

part of this day in parallel lines with them, the same as on the 18th.

 

July 21st.--We crossed the Tormes just before dark this evening, about

two miles above Salamanca, the enemy having passed it higher up.

Before reaching our ground, we experienced one of the most tremendous

thunderstorms that I ever witnessed. A sheet of lightning struck the

head of our column, where I happened to be riding, and deprived me of

the use of my optics for at least ten minutes. A great many of our

dragoon horses broke from their piqueting during the storm, and

galloped past us into the French lines. We lay by our arms on the

banks of the river, and it continued to rain in torrents the whole of

the night.

 

 

BATTLE OF SALAMANCA.

 

July 22d.--A sharp fire of musketry commenced at day light in the

morning; but, as it did not immediately concern us, and was nothing

unusual, we took no notice of it; but busied ourselves in getting our

arms and our bodies disengaged from the rust and the wet, engendered

by the storm of the past night.

 

About ten o'clock, our division was ordered to stand to their arms,

and then moved into position, with our left resting on the Tormes, and

our right extending along a ridge of rising ground, thinly

interspersed with trees, beyond which the other divisions were formed

in continuation, with the exception of the third, which still remained

on the opposite bank of the river.

 

The enemy were to be seen in motion on the opposite ridges, and a

straggling fire of musketry, with an occasional gun, acted as a sort

of prelude to the approaching conflict. We heard, about this time,

that Marmont had just sent to his _ci-devant_ landlord, in Salamanca,

to desire that he would have the usual dinner ready for himself and

staff at six o'clock; and so satisfied was "mine host" of the

infallibility of the French Marshal, that he absolutely set about

making the necessary preparations.

 

There assuredly never was an army so anxious as ours was to be brought

into action on this occasion. They were a magnificent body of

well-tried soldiers, highly equipped, and in the highest health and

spirits, with the most devoted confidence in their leader, and an

invincible confidence in themselves. The retreat of the four preceding

days had annoyed us beyond measure, for we believed that we were

nearly equal to the enemy in point of numbers; and the idea of our

retiring before an equal number of any troops in the world was not to

be endured with common patience.

 

We were kept the whole of the forenoon in the most torturing state of

suspense through contradictory reports. One passing officer telling

us that he had just heard the order given to attack, and the next

asserting, with equal confidence, that he had just heard the order to

retreat; and it was not until about two o'clock in the afternoon, that

affairs began to wear a more decided aspect; and when our own eyes and

ears at length conveyed the wished-for tidings that a battle was

inevitable; for we saw the enemy beginning to close upon our right,

and the cannonade had become general along the whole line. Lord

Wellington, about the same time, ordered the movement which decided

the fate of the day--that of bringing the third division, from beyond

the river on our left, rapidly to our extreme right, turning the

enemy, in their attempt to turn us, and commencing the offensive with

the whole of his right wing. The effect was instantaneous and

decisive, for although some obstinate and desperate fighting took

place in the centre, with various success, yet the victory was never

for a moment in doubt; and the enemy were soon in full retreat,

leaving seven thousand prisoners, two eagles, and eleven pieces of

artillery in our hands. Had we been favoured with two hours more

daylight, their loss would have been incalculable, for they committed

a blunder at starting, which they never got time to retrieve; and,

their retreat was, therefore, commenced in such disorder, and with a

river in their rear, that nothing but darkness could have saved them.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XI.

 

     Distinguished Characters. A Charge of Dragoons. A Charge against

     the Nature of Things. Olmeda and the French General, Ferez.

     Advance towards Madrid. Adventures of my Dinner. The Town of

     Segovia. El Palacio del Rio Frio. The Escurial. Enter Madrid.

     Rejoicings. Nearly happy. Change of a Horse. Change of Quarters.

     A Change confounded. Retire towards Salamanca. Boar-Hunt,

     Dinner-Hunt, and Bull-Hunt. A Portuguese Funeral conducted by

     Rifle Undertakers.

 

 

The third division, under Sir Edward Pakenham, the artillery, and some

regiments of dragoons, particularly distinguished themselves. But our

division, very much to our annoyance, came in for a very slender

portion of this day's glory. We were exposed to a cannonade the whole

of the afternoon; but, as we were not permitted to advance until very

late, we had only an opportunity of throwing a few straggling shot at

the fugitives, before we lost sight of them in the dark; and then

bivouacked for the night near the village of Huerta, (I think it was

called).

 

We started after them at daylight next morning; and, crossing at a

ford of the Tormes, we found their rear-guard, consisting of three

regiments of infantry, with some cavalry and artillery, posted on a

formidable height above the village of Serna. General Bock, with his

brigade of heavy German dragoons, immediately went at them; and,

putting their cavalry to flight, he broke through their infantry, and

took or destroyed the whole of them. This was one of the most gallant

charges recorded in history. I saw many of these fine fellows lying

dead along with their horses, on which they were still astride, with

the sword firmly grasped in the hand, as they had fought the instant

before; and several of them still wearing a look of fierce defiance,

which death itself had been unable to quench.

 

We halted for the night at a village near Penaranda. I took possession

of the church; and finding the floor strewed with the paraphernalia of

priesthood, I selected some silk gowns, and other gorgeous trappings,

with which I made a bed for myself in the porch, and where, "if all

had been gold that glittered," I should have looked a jewel indeed;

but it is lamentable to think, that, among the multifarious blessings

we enjoy in this life, we should never be able to get a dish of glory

and a dish of beef-steak on the same day; in consequence of which, the

heart, which ought properly to be soaring in the clouds, or, at all

events, in a castle half way up, is more generally to be found

grovelling about a hen-roost, in the vain hope, that, if it cannot get

hold of the hen herself, it may at least hit upon an egg; and such, I

remember, was the state of my feelings on this occasion, in

consequence of my having dined the three preceding days on the half of

my inclinations.

 

We halted the next night in the handsome little town of Olmeda, which

had just been evacuated by the enemy. The French General, Ferez, died

there, in consequence of the wounds which he received at the battle of

Salamanca, and his remains had, the night before, been consigned to

the earth, with the highest honours, and a canopy of laurel placed

over his grave: but the French had no sooner left the town, than the

inhabitants exhumed the body, cut off the head, and spurned it with

the greatest indignity. They were in hopes that this line of conduct

would have proved a passport to our affections, and conducted us to

the spot, as to a trophy that they were proud of; but we expressed the

most unfeigned horror and indignation at their proceeding; and,

getting some soldiers to assist us, we carefully and respectfully

replaced his remains in the grave. His _was_ a noble head; and even in

death, it looked the brave, the gallant soldier. Our conduct had such

an effect on the Spaniards, that they brought back the canopy, of

their own accord, and promised, solemnly, that the grave should,

henceforth, rest undisturbed.

 

July 26th.--We arrived on the banks of the Douro, within a league of

Valladolid, where we halted two days; and Lord Wellington, detaching a

division of infantry and some cavalry to watch the movements of the

defeated army, proceeded with the remainder of us towards Madrid.

 

August 1st.--On approaching near to our bivouac this afternoon, I saw

a good large farm-house, about a mile off the road; and, getting

permission from my commandant, I made a cast thereto, in search of

something for dinner. There were two women belonging to the German

Legion, smoking their pipes in the kitchen, when I arrived; and,

having the highest respect for their marauding qualifications, I began

to fear that nothing was to be had, as they were sitting there so

quietly. I succeeded, however, in purchasing two pair of chickens;

and, neglecting the precaution of unscrewing their necks, I grasped a

handful of their legs, and, mounting my horse, proceeded towards the

camp; but I had scarcely gone a couple of hundred yards, when they

began opening their throats and flapping with their wings, which

startled my horse and sent him off at full speed. I lost the rein on

one side, and, in attempting to pull him up with the other, I brought

his foot into a rut, and down he came, sending me head-foremost into a

wet ditch! When I got on my legs, and shook myself a little, I saw

each particular hen galloping across the field, screeching with all

its might, while the horse was off in a different direction; and,

casting a rueful look at the chickens, I naturally followed him, as

the most valuable of the collection. Fortunately, a heavy boat-cloak

caused the saddle to roll under his belly; and finding that he could

not make way in consequence, he quietly waited for me about a quarter

of a mile off. When I had remounted, I looked back to the scene of my

disaster, and saw my two German _friends_ busily employed in catching

the chickens. I rode towards them, and they were, no doubt, in hopes

that I had broken my neck, that they might have the sacking of me,

also; for, as I approached, I observed them concealing the fowls under

their clothes, while the one took up a position behind the other.

After reconnoitring them a short time, I rode up and demanded the

fowls, when the one looked at the other, and, in well-feigned

astonishment, asked, in _Dutch_, what I could possibly mean? then gave

me to understand that they could not comprehend English; but I

immediately said, "Come, come! none of your gammon; you have got my

fowls, here's half a dollar for your trouble in catching them, so hand

them out." "Oh!" said one of them, in English, "it is de fowl you

want," and they then produced them. After paying them the stipulated

sum, I wished them all the compliments of the season, and thought

myself fortunate in getting off so well; for they were each six feet

high, and as strong as a horse, and I felt convinced that they had

often thrashed a better man than myself in the course of their

military career.

 

August 7th.--Halted near the ancient town of Segovia, which bears a

strong resemblance to the old town of Edinburgh, built on a lofty

ridge, that terminates in an abrupt summit, on which stands the

fortified tower, celebrated in the Adventures of Gil Blas. It is a

fine old town, boasts of a superb Roman aqueduct, and is famous for

ladies' shoes.

 

Our bivouac, this evening, was on the banks of El Rio Frio, near to a

new hunting-palace of the King of Spain. It was a large quadrangular

building, each side full of empty rooms, with nothing but their youth

to recommend them.

 

On the 9th, we crossed the Guadarama mountains, and halted, for the

night, in the park of the Escurial.

 

I had, from childhood upwards, considered this palace as the eighth

wonder of the world, and was, therefore, proportionately disappointed

at finding it a huge, gloomy, unmeaning pile of building, looking

somewhat less interesting than the wild craggy mountain opposite, and

without containing a single room large enough to flog a cat in. The

only apartment that I saw worth looking at was the one in which their

_dead kings live_!

 

 

ENTERED MADRID,

 

August 13th, 1812.

 

As we approached the capital, imagination was busy in speculating on

the probable nature of our reception. The peasantry, with whom we had

hitherto been chiefly associated, had imbibed a rooted hatred to the

French, caused by the wanton cruelties experienced at their hands,

both in their persons and their property; otherwise they were a

cheerful, hospitable, and orderly people, and, had they been permitted

to live in peace and quietness, it was a matter of the most perfect

indifference to them whether Joseph, Ferdinand, or the ghost of Don

Quixotte was their king. But the citizens of Madrid had been living

four years in comparative peace, under the dominion of a French

government, and in the enjoyment of all the gaieties of that

luxurious court; to which, if I add that we entertained, at that time,

some slight jealousy regarding the pretensions of the French officers

to the favours of the fair, I believe the prevailing opinion was that

_we_ should be considered as the intruders. It was, therefore, a

matter of the most unexpected exultation, when we entered it, on the

afternoon of the 13th of August, to find ourselves hailed as

liberators, with the most joyous acclamations, by surrounding

multitudes, who continued their rejoicings for three successive days.

By day, the riches of each house were employed in decorations to its

exterior; and, by night, they were brilliantly illuminated, during

which time all business was suspended, and the whole population of the

city crowded the streets, emulating each other in heaping honours and

caresses upon us.

 

King Joseph had retired on our approach, leaving a garrison in the

fortified palace of El Retiro; but they surrendered some days

afterwards, and we remained there for three months, basking in the

sunshine of beauty, harmony, and peace. I shall ever look back to that

period as the most pleasing event of my military life.

 

The only bar to our perfect felicity was the want of money, as,

independent of long arrears, already due, the military chest continued

so very poor that it could not afford to give us more than a

fortnight's pay during these three months; and, as nobody could,

would, or should give cash for bills, we were obliged to sell silver

spoons, watches, and every thing of value that we stood possessed of,

to purchase the common necessaries of life.

 

My Irish _criado_, who used to take uncommon liberties with my

property, having been two or three days in the rear, with the baggage,

at the time of the battle of Salamanca, took upon himself to exchange

my baggage-horse for another; and his apology for so doing was, that

the one he had got was twice as big as the one he gave! The additional

size, however, so far from being an advantage, proved quite the

reverse; for I found that he could eat as much as he could carry,

and, as he was obliged to carry all that he had to eat, I was forced

to put him on half allowance, to make room for my baggage; in

consequence of which, every bone in his body soon became so _pointed_

that I could easily have hung my hat on any part of his hind quarters.

I therefore took advantage of our present repose to let him have the

benefit of a full allowance, that enabled me to effect an exchange

between him and a mule, getting five dollars to the bargain, which

made me one of the happiest and, I believe, also, one of the richest

men in the army. I expended the first dollar next day, in getting

admission to a bullfight, in their national amphitheatre, where the

first thing that met my astonished eyes was a mad bull giving the

finishing _prode_ to my unfortunate big horse.

 

Lord Wellington, with some divisions of the army, proceeded, about the

beginning of September, to undertake the siege of Burgos, leaving

those at Madrid, under the orders of Sir Rowland Hill, so that,

towards the end of October, our delightful sojourn there drew

perceptibly to a close, for it was known that King Joseph, with the

forces under Soult and Jourdan, now united, were moving upon Aranjuez,

and that all, excepting our own division, were already in motion, to

dispute the passage of the Tagus, and to cover the capital. About four

o'clock on the morning of the 23d of October, we received orders to be

on our alarm-posts at six, and, as soon as we had formed, we were

marched to the city of Alcala.

 

October 27th.--We were all this day marching to Arganda, and all night

marching back again. If any one thing is more particularly damned than

another it is a march of this kind.

 

October 30th--An order arrived, from Lord Wellington, for our corps of

the army to fall back upon Salamanca; we, therefore, returned to

Madrid, and, after halting outside the gates until we were joined by

Skerret's division, from Cadiz, we bade a last sorrowful adieu to our

friends in the city, and commenced our retreat.

 

October 31st.--Halted for the night in the park of the Escurial. It is

amusing, on a division's first taking up its ground, to see the

numbers of hares that are, every instant, starting up among the men,

and the scrambling and shouting of the soldiers for the prize. This

day, when the usual shout was given, every man ran, with his cap in

his hand, to endeavour to capture poor _puss_, as he imagined, but

which turned out to be two wild boars, who contrived to make room for

themselves so long as there was nothing but men's caps to contend

with; but they very soon had as many bayonets as bristles in their

backs. We re-crossed the Guadarama mountains next morning.

 

November 2d.--Halted, this night, in front of a small town, the name

of which I do not recollect. It was beginning to get dark by the time

I had posted our guards and piquets, when I rode into it, to endeavour

to find my messmates, who, I knew, had got a dinner waiting for me

somewhere.

 

I entered a large square, or market-place, and found it crowded with

soldiers of all nations, most of them three-parts drunk, and in the

midst of whom a mad bull was performing the most extraordinary feats,

quite unnoticed, excepting by those who had the misfortune to attract

his attention. The first intimation that I had of him was his charging

past me, and making a thrust at our quarter-master, carrying off a

portion of his regimental trousers. He next got a fair toss at a

Portuguese soldier, and sent him spinning three or four turns up in

the air. I was highly amused in observing the fellow's astonishment

when he alighted, to see that he had not the remotest idea to what

accident he was indebted for such an evolution, although he seemed

fully prepared to quarrel with any one who chose to acknowledge any

participation in the deed; but the cause of it was, all the time,

finding fresh customers, and, making the grand tour of the square with

such velocity, I began to fear that I should soon be on his list also,

if I did not take shelter in the nearest house, a measure no sooner

thought of than executed. I, therefore, opened a door, and drove my

horse in before me; but there instantly arose such an uproar within,

that I began to wish myself once more on the outside on any terms, for

it happened to be occupied by English, Portuguese, and German

bullock-drivers, who had been seated round a table, scrambling for a

dinner, when my horse upset the table, lights, and every thing on it.

The only thing that I could make out amid their confused curses was,

that they had come to the determination of putting the cause of the

row to death; but, as I begged to differ with them on that point, I

took the liberty of knocking one or two of them down, and finally

succeeded in extricating my horse, with whom I retraced my way to the

camp, weary, angry, and hungry. On my arrival there, I found an

orderly waiting to show me the way to dinner, which once more restored

me to good humour with myself and all the world; while the adventure

afforded my companions a hearty laugh, at my expense.

 

November 6th.--In the course of this day's march, while our battalion

formed the rear-guard, at a considerable distance in the rear of the

column, we found a Portuguese soldier, who had been left by his

regiment, lying in the middle of the road, apparently dead; but, on

examining him more closely, we had reason to think that he was merely

in a state of stupor, arising from fatigue and the heat of the

weather,--an opinion which caused us no little uneasiness. Although we

did not think it quite fair to bury a living man, yet we had no means

whatever of carrying him off; and to leave him where he was, would, in

all probability, have cost us a number of better lives than his had

ever been, for the French, who were then in sight, had hitherto been

following us at a very respectable distance; and, had they found that

we were retiring in such a hurry as to leave our half-dead people on

the road, they would not have been Frenchmen if they did not give us

an extra push, to help us along. Under all the circumstances of the

case, therefore, although our doctor was of opinion that, with time

and attention, he might recover, and not having either the one or the

other to spare, the remainder of us, who had voted ourselves into a

sort of board of survey, thought it most prudent to find him dead;

and, carrying him a little off the road to the edge of a ravine, we

scraped a hole in the sand with our swords, and placed him in it. We

covered him but very lightly, and left his head and arms at perfect

liberty; so that, although he might be said to have had both feet in

the grave, yet he might still have scrambled out of it, if he could.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XII.

 

     Reach Salamanca. Retreat from it. Pig Hunting, an Enemy to

     Sleep-Hunting. Putting one's Foot in it. Affair on the 17th of

     November. Bad Legs sometimes last longer than good ones. A Wet

     Birth. Prospectus of a Day's Work. A lost _déjûné_ better than a

     found one. Advantages not taken. A disagreeable Amusement. End of

     the Campaign of 1812. Winter Quarters. Orders and Disorders

     treated. Farewell Opinion of Ancient Allies. My House.

 

 

November 7th.--Halted this night at Alba de Tormes, and next day

marched into quarters in Salamanca, where we rejoined Lord Wellington

with the army from Burgos.

 

On the 14th, the British army concentrated on the field of their

former glory, in consequence of a part of the French army having

effected the passage of the river, above Alba de Tormes. On the 15th,

the whole of the enemy's force having passed the river, a cannonade

commenced early in the day; and it was the general belief that, ere

night, a second battle of Salamanca would be recorded. But, as all the

French armies in Spain were now united in our front, and out-numbered

us so far, Lord Wellington, seeing no decided advantage to be gained

by risking a battle, at length ordered a retreat, which we commenced

about three in the afternoon. Our division halted for the night at the

entrance of a forest about four miles from Salamanca.

 

The heavy rains which usually precede the Spanish winter had set in

the day before; and, as the roads in that part of the country cease to

be roads for the remainder of the season, we were now walking nearly

knee deep, in a stiff mud, into which no man could thrust his foot,

with the certainty of having a shoe at the end of it when he pulled it

out again; and, that we might not be miserable by halves, we had, this

evening, to regale our chops with the last morsel of biscuit that

they were destined to grind during the retreat.

 

We cut some boughs of trees to keep us out of the mud, and lay down to

sleep on them, wet to the skin; but the cannonade of the afternoon had

been succeeded, after dark, by a continued firing of musketry, which

led us to believe that our piquets were attacked, and, in momentary

expectation of an order to stand to our arms, we kept ourselves awake

the whole night, and were not a little provoked when we found, next

morning, that it had been occasioned by numerous stragglers from the

different regiments, shooting at the pigs belonging to the peasantry

which were grazing in the wood.

 

November 16th.--Retiring from daylight until dark through the same

description of roads. The French dragoons kept close behind, but did

not attempt to molest us. It still continued to rain hard, and we

again passed the night in a wood. I was very industriously employed,

during the early part of it, feeling, in the dark, for acorns, as a

substitute for bread.

 

November 17th.--At daylight this morning the enemy's cavalry advanced

in force; but they were kept in check by the skirmishers of the 14th

light dragoons, until the road became open, when we continued our

retreat. Our brigade-major was at this time obliged to go to the rear,

sick, and I was appointed to act for him.

 

We were much surprised, in the course of the forenoon, to hear a sharp

firing commence behind us, on the very road by which we were retiring;

and it was not until we reached the spot that we learnt that the

troops who were retreating, by a road parallel to ours, had left it

too soon, and enabled some French dragoons, under cover of the forest,

to advance unperceived to the flank of our line of march, who, seeing

an interval between two divisions of infantry, which was filled with

light baggage and some passing officers, dashed at it, and made some

prisoners in the scramble of the moment, amongst whom was

Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Paget.

 

Our division formed on the heights above Samunoz to cover the passage

of the rivulet, which was so swollen with the heavy rains, as only to

be passable at particular fords. While we waited there for the passage

of the rest of the army, the enemy, under cover of the forest, was, at

the same time, assembling in force close around us; and the moment

that we began to descend the hill, towards the rivulet, we were

assailed by a heavy fire of cannon and musketry, while their powerful

cavalry were in readiness to take advantage of any confusion which

might have occurred. We effected the passage, however, in excellent

order, and formed on the opposite bank of the stream, where we

continued under a cannonade and engaged in a sharp skirmish until

dark.

 

Our loss on this occasion was considerable, but it would have been

much greater, had not the enemy's shells buried themselves so deep in

the soft ground, that their explosions did little injury. It appeared

singular to us, who were not medical men, that an officer and several

of our division, who were badly wounded on this occasion, in the leg,

and who were sent to the rear on gun-carriages, should have died of a

mortification in the limb which was _not_ wounded.

 

When the firing ceased, we received the usual order "to make ourselves

comfortable for the night," and I never remember an instance in which

we had so much difficulty in obeying it; for the ground we occupied

was a perfect flat, which was flooded more than ankle deep with water,

excepting here and there, where the higher ground around the roots of

trees, presented circles of a few feet of visible earth, upon which we

grouped ourselves. Some few fires were kindled, at which we roasted

some bits of raw beef on the points of our swords, and eat them by way

of a dinner. There was plenty of water to apologize for the want of

better fluids, but bread sent no apology at all.

 

Some divisions of the army had commenced retiring as soon as it was

dark, and the whole had been ordered to move, so that the roads might

be clear for us before daylight. I was sent twice in the course of the

night to see what progress they had made; but such was the state of

the roads, that even within an hour of daylight, two divisions,

besides our own, were still unmoved, which would consequently delay us

so long, that we looked forward to a severe harassing day's fighting;

a kind of fighting, too, that is the least palatable of any, where

much might be lost, and nothing was to be gained. With such prospects

before us, it made my very heart rejoice to see my brigadier's servant

commence boiling some chocolate and frying a beef-steak. I watched its

progress with a keenness which intense hunger alone could inspire, and

was on the very point of having my desires consummated, when the

general, getting uneasy at not having received any communication

relative to the movements of the morning, and, without considering how

feelingly my stomach yearned for a better acquaintance with the

contents of his frying-pan, desired me to ride to General Alten for

orders. I found the general at a neighbouring tree; but he cut off all

hopes of my timely return, by desiring me to remain with him until he

received the report of an officer whom he had sent to ascertain the

progress of the other divisions.

 

While I was toasting myself at his fire, so sharply set that I could

have eaten one of my boots, I observed his German orderly dragoon, at

an adjoining fire, stirring up the contents of a camp-kettle, that

once more revived my departing hopes, and I presently had the

satisfaction of seeing him dipping in some basins, presenting one to

the general, one to the aide-de-camp, and a third to myself. The mess

which it contained I found, after swallowing the whole at a draught,

was neither more nor less than the produce of a piece of beef boiled

in plain water; and, though it would have been enough to have

physicked a dromedary at any other time, yet, as I could then have

made a good hole in the dromedary himself, it sufficiently satisfied

my cravings to make me equal to any thing for the remainder of the

day.

 

We were soon after ordered to stand to our arms, and, as day lit up, a

thick haze hung on the opposite hills, which prevented our seeing the

enemy; and, as they did not attempt to feel for us, we, contrary to

our expectations, commenced our retreat unmolested; nor could we quite

believe our good fortune when, towards the afternoon, we had passed

several places where they could have assailed us, in flank, with great

advantage, and caused us a severe loss, almost in spite of fate; but

it afterwards appeared that they were quite knocked up with their

exertions in overtaking us the day before, and were unable to follow

further. We halted on a swampy height, behind St. Espiritu, and

experienced another night of starvation and rain.

 

I now felt considerably more for my horse than myself, as he had been

three days and nights without a morsel of any kind to eat. Our

baggage-animals, too, we knew were equally ill off, and, as they

always preceded us a day's march, it was highly amusing, whenever we

found a dead horse, or a mule, lying on the road-side, to see the

anxiety with which every officer went up to reconnoitre him, each

fearing that he should have the misfortune to recognize it as his own.

 

On the 19th of November we arrived at the convent of Caridad, near

Ciudad Rodrigo, and once more experienced the comforts of our baggage

and provisions. My boots had not been off since the 13th, and I found

it necessary to cut them to pieces, to get my swollen feet out of

them.

 

This retreat terminated the campaign of 1812. After a few days' delay,

and some requisite changes about the neighbourhood, while all the

world were getting shook into their places, our battalion finally took

possession of the village of Alameida for the winter, where, after

forming a regimental mess, we detached an officer to Lamego, and

secured to ourselves a bountiful supply of the best juice of the

grape which the neighbouring banks of the Douro afforded. The quarter

we now occupied was naturally pretty much upon a par with those of the

last two winters, but it had the usual advantages attending the march

of intellect. The officers of the division united in fitting up an

empty chapel, in the village of Galegos, as an amateur theatre, for

which, by the by, we were all regularly cursed, from the altar, by the

bishop of Rodrigo. Lord Wellington kept a pack of foxhounds, and the

Hon. Captain Stewart, of ours, a pack of harriers, so that these, in

addition to our old _Bolero_ meetings, enabled us to pass a very

tolerable winter.

 

The neighbouring plains abounded with hares; it was one of the most

beautiful coursing countries, perhaps, in the world; and there was,

also, some shooting to be had at the numerous vultures preying on the

dead carcasses which strewed the road-side on the line of our last

retreat.

 

Up to this period Lord Wellington had been adored by the army, in

consideration of his brilliant achievements, and for his noble and

manly bearing in all things; but, in consequence of some disgraceful

irregularities which took place during the retreat, he immediately

after issued an order, conveying a sweeping censure on the whole army.

His general conduct was too upright for even the finger of malice

itself to point at; but as his censure, on this occasion, was not

strictly confined to the guilty, it afforded a handle to disappointed

persons, and excited a feeling against him, on the part of

individuals, which has probably never since been obliterated.

 

It began by telling us that we had suffered no privations; and, though

this was hard to be digested on an empty stomach, yet, taking it in

its more liberal meaning, that our privations were not of an extent to

justify any irregularities, which I readily admit; still, as many

regiments were not guilty of any irregularities, it is not to be

wondered if such should have felt, at first, a little sulky to find,

in the general reproof, that no loop-hole whatever had been left for

them to creep through; for, I believe I am justified in saying that

neither our own, nor the two gallant corps associated with us, had a

single man absent that we could not satisfactorily account for. But it

touched us still more tenderly in not excepting us from his general

charge of inexpertness in camp arrangements; for, it was _our belief_,

and in which we were in some measure borne out by circumstances, that,

had he placed us, at the same moment, in the same field, with an equal

number of the best troops in France, that he would not only have seen

our fires as quickly lit, but every Frenchman roasting on them to the

bargain, if they waited long enough to be _dressed_; for there,

perhaps, never was, nor ever again will be, such a war-brigade as that

which was composed of the forty-third, fifty-second, and the rifles.

 

That not only censure, but condign punishment was merited, in many

instances, is certain; and, had his lordship dismissed some officers

from the service, and caused some of the disorderly soldiers to be

shot, it would not only have been an act of justice, but, probably, a

necessary example. Had he hanged every commissary, too, who failed to

issue the regular rations to the troops dependent on him, unless they

proved that they were starved themselves, it would only have been a

just sacrifice to the offended stomachs of many thousands of gallant

fellows.

 

In our brigade, I can safely say, that the order in question excited

"more of sorrow than of anger;" we thought that, had it been

_particular_, it would have been just; but, as it was _general_, that

it was inconsiderate; and we, therefore, regretted that he who had

been, and still was, the god of our idolatry, should thereby have laid

himself open to the attacks of the ill-natured.

 

Alameida is a Spanish village, situated within a stone's throw of the

boundary-line of the sister-kingdom; and, as the head-quarters of the

army, as well as the nearest towns, from whence we drew our supplies,

lay in Portugal, our connexions, while we remained there, were chiefly

with the latter kingdom; and, having passed the three last winters on

their frontier, we, in the month of May, 1813, prepared to bid it a

final adieu, with very little regret. The people were kind and

hospitable, and not destitute of intelligence; but, somehow, they

appeared to be the creatures of a former age, and showed an indolence

and want of enterprise which marked them born for slaves; and,

although the two cacadore regiments attached to our division were, at

all times, in the highest order, and conducted themselves gallantly in

the field, yet, I am of opinion that, as a nation, they owe their

character for bravery almost entirely to the activity and gallantry of

the British officers who organized and led them. The veriest cowards

in existence must have shown the same front under such discipline. I

did not see enough of their gentry to enable me to form an opinion

about them; but the middling and lower orders are extremely filthy

both in their persons and in their houses, and they have all an

intolerable itch for gambling. The soldiers, though fainting with

fatigue on the line of march, invariably group themselves in

card-parties whenever they are allowed a few minutes' halt; and a

non-commissioned officer, with half-a-dozen men on any duty of

fatigue, are very generally to be seen as follows, viz. one man as a

sentry, to watch the approach of the superintending officer, one man

at work, and the non-commissioned officer, with the other four, at

cards.

 

The cottages in Alameida, and, indeed, in all the Spanish villages,

generally contain two mud-floored apartments: the outer one, though

more cleanly than the Irish, is, nevertheless, fashioned after the

same manner, and is common alike to the pigs and the people; while the

inner looks more like the gun-room of a ship-of-war, having a

sitting-apartment in the centre, with small sleeping-cabins branching

from it, each illuminated by a port-hole, about a foot square. We did

not see daylight "through a glass darkly," as on London's

Ludgate-hill, for there the air circulated freely, and mild it came,

and pure, and fragrant, as if it had just stolen over a bed of roses.

If a man did not like _that_, he had only to shut his port, and remain

in darkness, inhaling his own preferred sweetness! The outside of my

sleeping-cabin was interwoven with ivy and honeysuckle, and, among the

branches, a nightingale had established itself, and sung sweetly,

night after night, during the whole of the winter. I could not part

from such a pleasing companion, and from a bed in which I had enjoyed

so many tranquil slumbers, without a sigh, though I was ungrateful

enough to accompany it with a fervent wish that I might never see them

again; for I looked upon the period that I had spent there as so much

time lost.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XIII.

 

     A Review. Assembly of the Army. March to Salamanca. To Aldea

     Nueva. To Toro. An Affair of the Hussar Brigade. To Palencia. To

     the Neighbourhood of Burgos. To the Banks of the Ebro. Fruitful

     sleeping place. To Medina. A Dance before it was due. Smell the

     Foe. Affair at St. Milan. A Physical River.

 

 

May, 1813.--In the early part of this month our division was reviewed

by Lord Wellington, preparatory to the commencement of another

campaign; and I certainly never saw a body of troops in a more

highly-efficient state. It did one's very heart good to look at our

battalion that day, seeing each company standing a hundred strong, and

the intelligence of several campaigns stamped on each daring, bronzed

countenance, which looked you boldly in the face, in the fullness of

vigour and confidence, as if it cared neither for man nor devil.

 

On the 21st of May, our division broke up from winter-quarters, and

assembled in front of Ciudad Rodrigo, with all excepting the left wing

of the army, which, under Sir Thomas Graham, had already passed the

Douro, and was ascending its right bank.

 

An army which has seen some campaigns in the field, affords a great

deal of amusement in its assembling after winter-quarters. There is

not only the greeting of long-parted friends and acquaintances in the

same walks of life, but, among the different divisions which the

nature of the service generally threw a good deal together, there was

not so much as a mule or a donkey that was not known to each

individual, and its absence noticed; nor a scamp of a boy, or a common

Portuguese trull, who was not as particularly inquired after, as if

the fate of the campaign depended on their presence.

 

On the 22d, we advanced towards Salamanca, and, the next day, halted

at Samunoz, on our late field of action. With what different feelings

did we now view the same spot! In our last visit, winter was on the

face of the land, as well as on our minds; we were worn out with

fatigue, mortification, and starvation; now, all was summer and

sunshine. The dismal swamps had now become verdant meadows; we had

plenty in the camp, vigour in our limbs, and hope in our bosoms.

 

We were, this day, joined by the household brigade of cavalry from

England; and, as there was a report in the morning that the enemy were

in the neighbourhood, some of the life-guards concluded that every

thing in front of their camp must be a part of them, and they,

accordingly, apprehended some of the light dragoon horses, which

happened to be grazing near. One of their officers came to dine with

me that day, and he was in the act of reporting their capture, when my

orderly-book was brought at the moment, containing an offer of reward

for the detection of the thieves!

 

On the 27th, we encamped on the banks of the Tormes, at a ford, about

a league below Salamanca. A body of the enemy, who had occupied the

city, suffered severely before they got away, in a brush with some

part of Sir Rowland Hill's corps; chiefly, I believe, from some of his

artillery.

 

On the 28th, we crossed the river, and marched near to Aldea Nueva,

where we remained stationary for some days, under Sir Rowland Hill;

Lord Wellington having proceeded from Salamanca to join the left wing

of the army, beyond the Douro.

 

On the 2d of June, we were again put in motion; and, after a very long

march, encamped near the Douro, opposite the town of Toro.

 

Lord Wellington had arrived there the day before, without being

opposed by the enemy; but there had been an affair of cavalry, a short

distance beyond the town, in which the hussar brigade particularly

distinguished themselves, and took about three hundred prisoners.

 

On the morning of the 3d, we crossed the river; and, marching through

the town of Toro, encamped about half a league beyond it. The enemy

had put the castle in a state of repair, and constructed a number of

other works to defend the passage of the river; but the masterly eye

of our chief, having seen his way round the town, spared them the

trouble of occupying the works; yet, loth to think that so much labour

should be altogether lost, he garrisoned their castle with the three

hundred taken by the hussar brigade, for which it made a very good

jail.

 

On the 4th, we were again in motion, and had a long, warm, fatiguing

march; as, also, on the 5th and 6th. On the 7th, we encamped outside

of Palencia, a large rickety looking old town; with the front of every

house supported by pillars, like so many worn out old bachelors on

crutches.

 

The French did not interfere with our accommodation in the slightest,

but made it a point to leave every place an hour or two before we came

to it; so that we quietly continued our daily course, following nearly

the line of the Canal de Castile, through a country luxuriant in

corn-fields and vineyards, until the 12th, when we arrived within two

or three leagues of Burgos, (on its left,) and where we found a body

of the enemy in position, whom we immediately proceeded to attack; but

they evaporated on our approach, and fell back upon Burgos. We

encamped for the night on the banks of a river, a short distance to

the rear. Next morning, at daylight, an explosion shook the ground

like an earthquake, and made every man jump upon his legs; and it was

not until some hours after, when Lord Wellington returned from

reconnoitring, that we learnt that the castle of Burgos had been just

blown up, and the town evacuated by the enemy.

 

We continued our march on the 13th, through a very rich country.

 

On the 14th, we had a long harassing day's march, through a rugged

mountainous country, which afforded only an occasional glimpse of

fertility, in some pretty little valleys with which it was

intersected.

 

We started at daylight on the 15th, through a dreary region of solid

rock, bearing an abundant crop of loose stones, without a particle of

soil or vegetation visible to the naked eye in any direction. After

leaving nearly twenty miles of this horrible wilderness behind us, our

weary minds clogged with an imaginary view of nearly as much more of

it in our front, we found ourselves, all at once, looking down upon

the valley of the Ebro, near the village of Arenas, one of the

richest, loveliest, and most romantic spots that I ever beheld. The

influence of such a scene on the mind can scarcely be believed. Five

minutes before we were all as _lively_ as stones. In a moment we were

all fruits and flowers; and many a pair of legs, that one would have

thought had not a kick left in them, were, in five minutes after, seen

dancing across the bridge, to the tune of "the downfal of Paris,"

which struck up from the bands of the different regiments.

 

I lay down that night in a cottage garden, with my head on a melon,

and my eye on a cherry-tree, and resigned myself to a repose which

did not require a long courtship.

 

We resumed our march at daybreak on the 16th. The road, in the first

instance, wound through orchards and luxurious gardens, and then

closed in to the edge of the river, through a difficult and formidable

pass, where the rocks on each side, arising to a prodigious height,

hung over each other in fearful grandeur, and in many places nearly

met together over our heads.

 

After following the course of the river for nearly two miles, the

rocks on each side gradually expanded into another valley, lovely as

the one we had left, and where we found the fifth division of our army

lying encamped. They were still asleep; and the rising sun, and a

beautiful morning, gave additional sublimity to the scene; for there

was nothing but the tops of the white tents peeping above the fruit

trees; and an occasional sentinel pacing his post, that gave any

indication of what a nest of hornets the blast of a bugle could bring

out of that apparently peaceful solitude.

 

Our road now wound up the mountain to our right; and, almost satiated

with the continued grandeur around us, we arrived, in the afternoon,

at the town of Medina, and encamped a short distance beyond it.

 

We were welcomed into every town or village through which we passed,

by the peasant girls, who were in the habit of meeting us with

garlands of flowers, and dancing before us in a peculiar style of

their own; and it not unfrequently happened, that while they were so

employed with one regiment, the preceding one was diligently engaged

in pulling down some of their houses for firewood--a measure which we

were sometimes obliged to have recourse to, where no other fuel could

be had, and for which they were, ultimately, paid by the British

Government; but it was a measure that was more likely to have set the

poor souls dancing mad than for joy, had they foreseen the

consequences of our visit.

 

June 17th.--We had not seen any thing of the enemy since we left the

neighbourhood of Burgos; but, after reaching our ground this evening,

we were aware that some of their videttes were feeling for us.

 

On the morning of the 18th, we were ordered to march to San Milan, a

small town, about two leagues off; and where, on our arrival on the

hill above it, we found a division of French infantry, as strong as

ourselves, in the act of crossing our path. The surprise, I believe,

was mutual, though I doubt whether the pleasure was equally so; for we

were red hot for an opportunity of retaliating for the Salamanca

retreat; and, as the old saying goes, "there is no opportunity like

the present." Their leading brigade had nearly passed before we came

up, but not a moment was lost after we did. Our battalion dispersing

among the brushwood, went down the hill upon them; and, with a

destructive fire, broke through their line of march, supported by the

rest of the brigade. Those that had passed made no attempt at a stand,

but continued their flight, keeping up as good a fire as their

circumstances would permit; while we kept hanging on their flank and

rear, through a good rifle country, which enabled us to make

considerable havoc among them. Their general's aide-de-camp, amongst

others, was mortally wounded; and a lady, on a white horse, who

probably was his wife, remained beside him, until we came very near.

She appeared to be in great distress; but, though we called to her to

remain, and not to be alarmed, yet she galloped off as soon as a

decided step became necessary. The object of her solicitude did not

survive many minutes after we reached him. We followed the retreating

foe until late in the afternoon. On this occasion, our brigade came in

for all the blows, and the other for all the baggage, which was

marching between the two French brigades; the latter of which, seeing

the scrape into which the first had fallen, very prudently left it to

its fate, and dispersed on the opposite mountains, where some of them

fell into the hands of a Spanish force that was detached in pursuit;

but, I believe, the greater part succeeded in joining their army the

day after the battle of Vittoria.

 

We heard a heavy cannonade all day to our left, occasioned, as we

understood, by the fifth division falling in with another detachment

of the enemy, which the unexpected and rapid movements of Lord

Wellington was hastening to their general point of assembly.

 

On the early part of the 19th, we were fagging up the face of a

mountain, under a sultry hot sun, until we came to a place where a

beautiful clear stream was dashing down the face of it, when the

division was halted, to enable the men to refresh themselves. Every

man carries a cup, and every man ran and swallowed a cup full of

it--it was salt water from the springs of Salinas; and it was truly

ludicrous to see their faces after taking such a voluntary dose. I

observed an Irishman, who, not satisfied with the first trial, and

believing that his cup had been infected by some salt breaking loose

in his haversack, he washed it carefully and then drank a second one,

when, finding no change, he exclaimed,--"by J----s, boys, we must be

near the sea, for the water's getting salt!" We, soon after, passed

through the village of Salinas, situated at the source of the stream,

where there is a considerable salt manufactory. The inhabitants were

so delighted to see us, that they placed buckets full of it at the

doors of the different houses, and entreated our men to help

themselves as they passed along. It rained hard in the afternoon, and

it was late before we got to our ground. We heard a good deal of

firing in the neighbourhood in the course of the day, but our division

was not engaged.

 

We retained the same bivouac all day on the 20th; it was behind a

range of mountains within a short distance of the left of the enemy's

position, as we afterwards discovered; and though we heard an

occasional gun, from the other side of the mountain in the course of

the day, fired at Lord Wellington's reconnoitring party, the peace of

our valley remained undisturbed.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XIV.

 

     Battle of Vittoria. Defeat of the Enemy. Confusion among their

     Followers. Plunder. Colonel Cameron. Pursuit, and the Capture of

     their Last Gun. Arrive near Pampeluna. At Villalba. An Irish

     method of making a useless Bed useful.

 

 

BATTLE OF VITTORIA,

 

June 21st, 1813.

 

Our division got under arms this morning before daylight, passed the

base of the mountain by its left, through the camp of the fourth

division, who were still asleep in their tents, to the banks of the

river Zadora, at the village of Tres Puentes. The opposite side of the

river was occupied by the enemy's advanced posts, and we saw their

army on the hills beyond, while the spires of Vittoria were visible

in the distance. We felt as if there was likely to be a battle; but as

that was an event we were never sure of, until we found ourselves

actually in it, we lay for some time just out of musket shot,

uncertain what was likely to turn up, and waiting for orders. At

length a sharp fire of musketry was heard to our right; and, on

looking in that direction, we saw the head of Sir Rowland Hill's

corps, together with some Spanish troops, attempting to force the

mountain which marked the enemy's left. The three battalions of our

regiment were, at the same moment, ordered forward to feel the enemy,

who lined the opposite banks of the river, with whom we were quickly

engaged in a warm skirmish. The affair with Sir Rowland Hill became

gradually warmer, but ours had apparently no other object than to

amuse those who were opposite to us, for the moment; so that, for

about two hours longer, it seemed as if there would be nothing but an

affair of outposts. About twelve o'clock, however, we were moved

rapidly to our left, followed by the rest of the division, till we

came to an abrupt turn of the river, where we found a bridge,

unoccupied by the enemy, which we immediately crossed, and took

possession of, what appeared to me to be, an old field-work, on the

other side. We had not been many seconds there before we observed the

bayonets of the third and seventh divisions glittering above the

standing corn, and advancing upon another bridge, which stood about a

quarter of a mile further to our left, and where, on their arrival,

they were warmly opposed by the enemy's light troops, who lined the

bank of the river, (which we ourselves were now on,) in great force,

for the defence of the bridge. As soon as this was observed by our

division, Colonel Barnard advanced with our battalion, and took them

in flank with such a furious fire as quickly dislodged them, and

thereby opened a passage for these two divisions free of expense,

which must otherwise have cost them dearly. What with the rapidity of

our movement, the colour of our dress, and our close contact with the

enemy, before they would abandon their post, we had the misfortune to

be identified with them for some time, by a battery of our own guns,

who, not observing the movement, continued to serve it out

indiscriminately, and all the while admiring their practice upon us;

nor was it until the red coats of the third division joined us, that

they discovered their mistake.

 

The battle now commenced in earnest; and this was perhaps the most

interesting moment of the whole day. Sir Thomas Graham's artillery,

with the first and fifth divisions, began to be heard far to our left,

beyond Vittoria. The bridge, which we had just cleared, stood so near

to a part of the enemy's position, that the seventh division was

instantly engaged in close action with them at that point.

 

On the mountain to our extreme right the action continued to be

general and obstinate, though we observed that the enemy were giving

ground slowly to Sir Rowland Hill. The passage of the river by our

division had turned the enemy's outpost, at the bridge, on our right,

where we had been engaged in the morning, and they were now

retreating, followed by the fourth division. The plain between them

and Sir Rowland Hill was occupied by the British cavalry, who were now

seen filing out of a wood, squadron after squadron, galloping into

form as they gradually cleared it. The hills behind were covered with

spectators, and the third and the light divisions, covered by our

battalion, advanced rapidly, upon a formidable hill, in front of the

enemy's centre, which they had neglected to occupy in sufficient

force.

 

In the course of our progress, our men kept picking off the French

videttes, who were imprudent enough to hover too near us; and many a

horse, bounding along the plain, dragging his late rider by the

stirrup-irons, contributed in making it a scene of extraordinary and

exhilarating interest.

 

Old Picton rode at the head of the third division, dressed in a blue

coat and a round hat, and swore as roundly all the way as if he had

been wearing two cocked ones. Our battalion soon cleared the hill in

question of the enemy's light troops; but we were pulled up on the

opposite side of it by one of their lines, which occupied a wall at

the entrance of a village immediately under us. During the few minutes

that we stopped there, while a brigade of the third division was

deploying into line, two of our companies lost two officers and thirty

men, chiefly from the fire of artillery bearing on the spot from the

French position. One of their shells burst immediately under my nose,

part of it struck my boot and stirrup-iron, and the rest of it kicked

up such a dust about me that my charger refused to obey orders; and,

while I was spurring and he capering, I heard a voice behind me, which

I knew to be Lord Wellington's, calling out, in a tone of reproof,

"look to keeping your men together, sir;" and though, God knows, I had

not the remotest idea that he was within a mile of me at the time,

yet, so sensible was I that circumstances warranted his supposing that

I was a young officer, cutting a caper, by way of bravado, before him,

that worlds would not have tempted me to look round at the moment.

The French fled from the wall as soon as they received a volley from a

part of the third division, and we instantly dashed down the hill, and

charged them through the village, capturing three of their guns; the

first, I believe, that were taken that day. They received a

reinforcement, and drove us back before our supports could come to our

assistance; but, in the scramble of the moment, our men were knowing

enough to cut the traces, and carry off the horses, so that, when we

retook the village, immediately after, the guns still remained in our

possession. The battle now became general along the whole line, and

the cannonade was tremendous. At one period, we held one side of a

wall, near the village, while the French were on the other, so that

any person who chose to put his head over from either side was sure of

getting a sword or a bayonet up his nostrils. This situation was, of

course, too good to be of long endurance. The victory, I believe, was

never for a moment doubtful. The enemy were so completely

out-generalled, and the superiority of our troops was such, that to

carry their positions required little more than the time necessary to

march to them. After forcing their centre, the fourth division and our

own got on the flank and rather in rear of the enemy's left wing, who

were retreating before Sir Rowland Hill, and who, to effect their

escape, were now obliged to fly in one confused mass. Had a single

regiment of our dragoons been at hand, or even a squadron, to have

forced them into shape for a few minutes, we must have taken from ten

to twenty thousand prisoners. After marching along side of them for

nearly two miles, and as a disorderly body will always move faster

than an orderly one, we had the mortification to see them gradually

heading us, until they finally made their escape. I have no doubt but

that our mounted gentlemen were doing their duty as they ought in

another part of the field; yet, it was impossible to deny ourselves

the satisfaction of cursing them all, because a portion had not been

there at such a critical moment. Our elevated situation, at this

time, afforded a good view of the field of battle to our left, and I

could not help being struck with an unusual appearance of unsteadiness

and want of confidence among the French troops. I saw a dense mass of

many thousands occupying a good defensible post, who gave way in the

greatest confusion, before a single line of the third division, almost

without feeling them. If there was nothing in any other part of the

position to justify the movement, and I do not think there was, they

ought to have been flogged, every man, from the general downwards.

 

The ground was particularly favourable to the retreating foe, as every

half-mile afforded a fresh and formidable position, so that, from the

commencement of the action to the city of Vittoria, a distance of six

or eight miles, we were involved in one continued hard skirmish. On

passing Vittoria, however, the scene became quite new and infinitely

more amusing, as the French had made no provision for a retreat; and,

Sir Thomas Graham having seized upon the great road to France, the

only one left open was that leading by Pampeluna; and it was not open

long, for their fugitive army, and their myriads of followers, with

baggage, guns, carriages, &c. being all precipitated upon it at the

same moment, it got choked up about a mile beyond the town, in the

most glorious state of confusion; and the drivers, finding that one

pair of legs was worth two pair of wheels, abandoned it all to the

victors.

 

Many of their followers who had light carriages, endeavoured to make

their escape through the fields; but it only served to prolong their

misery.

 

I shall never forget the first that we overtook: it was in the midst

of a stubble-field, for some time between us and the French

skirmishers, the driver doing all he could to urge the horses along;

but our balls began to whistle so plentifully about his ears, that he

at last dismounted in despair, and, getting on his knees, under the

carriage, began praying. His place on the box was quickly occupied by

as many of our fellows as could stick on it, while others were

scrambling in at the doors on each side, and not a few on the roof,

handling the baskets there so roughly, as to occasion loud complaints

from the fowls within. I rode up to the carriage, to see that the

people inside were not improperly treated; but the only one there was

an old gouty gentleman, who, from the nature of his cargo, must either

have robbed his own house, or that of a very good fellow, for the

carriage was literally laden with wines and provisions. Never did

victors make a more legal or useful capture; for it was now six in the

evening, and it had evidently been the old gentleman's fault if he had

not already dined, whereas it was our misfortune, rather than our

fault, that we had not tasted anything since three o'clock in the

morning, so that when one of our men knocked the neck off a bottle,

and handed it to me, to take a drink, I nodded to the old fellow's

health, and drank it off without the smallest scruple of conscience.

It was excellent claret, and if he still lives to tell the story, I

fear he will not give us the credit of having belonged to such a

_civil_ department as his appeared.

 

We did not cease the pursuit until dark, and then halted in a field of

wheat, about two miles beyond Vittoria. The victory was complete. They

carried off only one howitzer out of their numerous artillery, which,

with baggage, stores, provisions, money, and every thing that

constitutes the _matériel_ of an army, fell into our hands.

 

It is much to be lamented, on those occasions, that the people who

contribute most to the victory should profit the least by it; not that

I am an advocate for plunder--on the contrary, I would much rather

that all our fighting was for pure _love_; but, as every thing of

value falls into the hands of the followers, and scoundrels who skulk

from the ranks for the double purpose of plundering and saving their

dastardly carcasses, what I regret is, that the man who deserts his

post should thereby have an opportunity of enriching himself with

impunity, while the true man gets nothing; but the evil I believe is

irremediable. Sir James Kempt, who commanded our brigade, in passing

one of the captured waggons in the evening, saw a soldier loading

himself with money, and was about to have him conveyed to the camp as

a prisoner, when the fellow begged hard to be released, and to be

allowed to retain what he had got, telling the general that all the

boxes in the waggon were filled with gold. Sir James, with his usual

liberality, immediately adopted the idea of securing it, as a reward

to his brigade, for their gallantry; and, getting a fatigue party, he

caused the boxes to be removed to his tent, and ordered an officer and

some men from each regiment to parade there next morning, to receive

their proportions of it; but, when they opened the boxes, they found

them filled with _hammers, nails, and horse-shoes_!

 

Among the evil chances of that glorious day, I had to regret the

temporary loss of Colonel Cameron,--a bad wound in the thigh having

obliged him to go to England. Of him I can truly say, that, as a

_friend_, his heart was in the right place, and, as a _soldier_, his

right place was at the head of a regiment in the face of an enemy. I

never saw an officer feel more at home in such a situation, nor do I

know any one who could fill it better.

 

A singular accident threw me in the way of a dying French officer, who

gave me a group of family portraits to transmit to his friends; but,

as it was not until the following year that I had an opportunity of

making the necessary inquiries after them, they had then left their

residence, and were nowhere to be heard of.

 

As not only the body, but the mind, had been in constant occupation

since three o'clock in the morning, circumstances no sooner permitted

(about ten at night) than I threw myself on the ground, and fell into

a profound sleep, from which I did not awake until broad daylight,

when I found a French soldier squatted near me, intensely watching for

the opening of my _shutters_. He had contrived to conceal himself

there during the night; and, when he saw that I was awake, he

immediately jumped on his legs, and very obsequiously presented me

with a map of France, telling me that as there was now a probability

of our visiting his native country, he could make himself very useful,

and would be glad if I would accept of his services. I thought it

unfair, however, to deprive him of the present opportunity of seeing a

little more of the world himself, and, therefore, sent him to join the

rest of the prisoners, which would insure him a trip to England, free

of expense.

 

About midday, on the 22d, our three battalions, with some cavalry and

artillery, were ordered in pursuit of the enemy.

 

I do not know how it is, but I have always had a mortal objection to

be killed the day after a victory. In the actions preceding a battle,

or in the battle itself, it never gave me much uneasiness, as being

all in the way of business; but, after surviving the great day, I

always felt as if I had a right to live to tell the story; and I,

therefore, did not find the ensuing three days' fighting half so

pleasant as they otherwise would have been.

 

Darkness overtook us this night without our overtaking the enemy; and

we halted in a grove of pines, exposed to a very heavy rain. In

imprudently shifting my things from one tree to another, after dark,

some rascal contrived to steal the velisse containing my dressing

things, than which I do not know a greater loss, when there is no

possibility of replacing any part of them.

 

We overtook their rear-guard early on the following day, and, hanging

on their line of march until dark, we did them all the mischief that

we could. They burnt every village through which they passed, under

the pretence of impeding our movements; but, as it did not make the

slightest difference in that respect, we could only view it as a

wanton piece of cruelty.

 

On the 24th, we were again engaged in pressing their rear the greater

part of the day; and, ultimately, in giving them the last kick, under

the walls of Pampeluna, where we had the glory of capturing their

last gun, which literally sent them into France without a single piece

of ordnance.

 

Our battalion occupied, that night, a large, well-furnished, but

uninhabited chateau, a short distance from Pampeluna.

 

We got under arms early on the morning of the 25th; and, passing by a

mountain-path, to the left of Pampeluna, within range of the guns,

though they did not fire at us, circled the town, until we reached the

village of Villalba, where we halted for the night. Since I joined

that army, I had never, up to that period, been master of any thing in

the shape of a bed; and, though I did not despise a bundle of straw,

when it could conveniently be had, yet my boat-cloak and blanket were

more generally to be seen, spread out for my reception on the bare

earth. But, in proceeding to turn into them, as usual, this evening, I

was not a little astonished to find, in their stead, a comfortable

mattress, with a suitable supply of linen, blankets, and pillows; in

short, the very identical bedding on which I had slept, the night

before, in the chateau, three leagues off, and which my rascal of an

Irishman had bundled altogether on the back of my mule, without giving

me the slightest hint of his intentions. On my taking him to task

about it, and telling him that he would certainly be hanged, all that

he said in reply was, "by J--s, they had more than a hundred beds in

that house, and not a single soul to sleep in them." I was very much

annoyed, at the time, that there was no possibility of returning them

to their rightful owner, as, independent of its being nothing short of

a regular robbery, I really looked upon them as a very unnecessary

encumbrance; but being forced, in some measure, to indulge in their

comforts, I was not long in changing my mind; and was, ultimately, not

very sorry that the possibility of restoration never did occur.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XV.

 

     March to intercept Clausel. Tafalla. Olite. The dark End of a

     Night March to Casada. Clausel's Escape. Sanguessa. My Tent

     struck. Return to Villalba. Weighty Considerations on Females.

     St. Esteban. A Severe Dance. Position at Bera. Soult's Advance,

     and Battle of the Pyrenees. His Defeat and subsequent Actions. A

     Morning's Ride.

 

 

June 26th, 1813.--Our division fell in this morning, at daylight, and,

marching out of Villalba, circled round the southern side of

Pampeluna, until we reached the great road leading to Tafalla, where

we found ourselves united with the third and fourth divisions, and a

large body of cavalry; the whole under the immediate command of Lord

Wellington, proceeded southward, with a view to intercept General

Clausel, who, with a strong division of the French army, had been at

Logrona, on the day of the battle of Vittoria, and was now

endeavouring to pass into the Pyrenees by our right. We marched until

sun set, and halted for the night in a wood.

 

On the morning of the 27th we were again in motion, and passing

through a country abounding in fruits, and all manner of delightful

prospects; and through the handsome town of Tafalla, where we were

enthusiastically cheered by the beauteous occupants of the numerous

balconies overhanging the streets. We halted, for the night, in an

olive-grove, a short distance from Olite.

 

At daylight next morning we passed through the town of Olite, and

continued our route until we began to enter among the mountains, about

midday, when we halted two hours, to enable the men to cook, and again

resumed our march. Darkness overtook us, while struggling through a

narrow rugged road, which wound its way along the bank of the Arragon;

and we did not reach our destination, at Casada, until near midnight,

where, amid torrents of rain, and in the darkness of the night, we

could find nothing but ploughed fields on which to repose our weary

limbs, nor could we find a particle of fuel to illuminate the

cheerless scene.

 

  Breathed there a man of soul so dead,

  Who would not to himself have said,

  This is--a confounded comfortless dwelling.

 

Dear Sir Walter,--pray excuse the _Casadians_, from your curse

entailed on home haters, for if any one of them ever succeeds in

getting beyond the mountain, by the road which I traversed, he ought

to be anathematized if ever he seek his home again.

 

We passed the whole of the next day in the same place. It was

discovered that Clausel had been walking blindly into the _lion's

den_, when the _alcaldé_ of a neighbouring village had warned him of

his danger, and he was thereby enabled to avoid us, by turning off

towards Zaragossa. We heard that Lord Wellington had caused the

informer to be hanged. I hope he did, but I don't believe it.

 

On the 30th we began to retrace our steps to Pampeluna, in the course

of which we halted two nights at Sanguessa, a populous mountain town,

full of old rattle-trap houses, a good many of which we pulled down

for firewood, by way of making room for improvements.

 

I was taking advantage of this extra day's halt to communicate to my

friends the important events of the past fortnight, when I found

myself all at once wrapped into a bundle, with my tent-pole, and sent

rolling upon the earth, mixed up with my portable table and writing

utensils, while the devil himself seemed to be dancing a hornpipe over

my body! Although this is a sort of thing that one will sometimes

submit to, when it comes by way of illusion, at its proper time and

place, such as a midnight visit from a night-mare; yet, as I seemed

now to be visited by a horse as well as a mare, and that, too, in the

middle of the day, and in the midst of a crowded camp, it was rather

too much of a joke, and I therefore sung out most lustily. I was not

long in getting extricated, and found that the whole scene had been

arranged by two rascally donkies, who, in a frolicsome humour, had

been chasing each other about the neighbourhood, until they finally

tumbled into my tent, with a force which drew every peg, and rolled

the whole of it over on the top of me! It might have been good sport

to them, but it was none to me!

 

On the 3d of July, we resumed our quarters in Villalba, where we

halted during the whole of the next day; and were well supplied with

fish, fresh-butter, and eggs, brought by the peasantry of Biscay, who

are the most _manly_ set of _women_ that I ever saw. They are very

square across the shoulders; and, what between the quantity of fish,

and the quantity of yellow petticoats, they carry a load which an

ordinary mule might boast of.

 

A division of Spaniards having relieved us in the blockade of

Pampeluna, our division, on the 5th of July, advanced into the

Pyrenees.

 

On the 7th, we took up our quarters in the little town of St. Esteban,

situated in a lovely valley, watered by the Bidassoa. The different

valleys in the Pyrenees are very rich and fertile. The towns are clean

and regular, and the natives very handsome. They are particularly

smart about the limbs, and in no other part of the world have I seen

any thing, natural or artificial, to rival the complexions of the

ladies, _i.e._ to the admirers of pure red and white.

 

We were allowed to remain several days in this enchanting spot, and

enjoyed ourselves exceedingly. They had an extraordinary style of

dancing, peculiar to themselves. At a particular part of the tune,

they all began thumping the floor with their feet, as hard and as fast

as they were able, not in the shape of a figure or flourish of any

kind, but even down pounding. I could not, myself, see any thing

either graceful or difficult in the operation; but they seemed to

think that there was only one lady amongst them who could do it in

perfection; she was the wife of a French Colonel, and had been left in

the care of her friends, (and his enemies): she certainly could pound

the ground both harder and faster than any one there, eliciting the

greatest applause after every performance; and yet I do not think that

she could have caught a _French_ husband by her superiority in that

particular step.

 

After our few days halt, we advanced along the banks of the Bidassoa,

through a succession of beautiful little fertile valleys, thickly

studded with clean respectable looking farm-houses and little

villages, and bounded by stupendous, picturesque, and well wooded

mountains, until we came to the hill next to the village of Bera,

which we found occupied by a small force of the enemy, who, after

receiving a few shots from our people, retired through the village

into their position behind it. Our line of demarcation was then

clearly seen. The mountain which the French army occupied was the last

ridge of the Pyrenees; and their sentries stood on the face of it,

within pistol shot of the village of Bera, which now became the

advanced post of our division. The Bidassoa takes a sudden turn to the

left at Bera, and formed a natural boundary between the two armies

from thence to the sea; but all to our right was open, and merely

marked a continuation of the valley of Bera, which was a sort of

neutral ground, in which the French foragers and our own frequently

met and helped themselves, in the greatest good humour, while any

forage remained, without exchanging either words or blows. The left

wing of the army, under Sir Thomas Graham, now commenced the siege of

St. Sebastian; and as Lord Wellington had, at the same time, to cover

both that and the blockade of Pampeluna, our army occupied an extended

position of many miles.

 

Marshal Soult having succeeded to the command of the French army, and

finding, towards the end of July, that St. Sebastian was about to be

stormed, and that the garrison of Pampeluna were beginning to get on

short allowance, he determined on making a bold push for the relief

of both places; and, assembling the whole of his army, he forced the

pass of Maya, and advanced rapidly upon Pampeluna. Lord Wellington was

never to be caught napping. His army occupied too extended a position

to offer effectual resistance at any of their advanced posts; but, by

the time that Marshal Soult had worked his way up to the last ridge of

the Pyrenees, and within sight of "the haven of his wishes," he found

his lordship waiting for him, with four divisions of the army, who

treated him to one of the most signal and sanguinary defeats that he

ever experienced.

 

Our division, during the important movements on our right, was

employed in keeping up the communication between the troops under the

immediate command of Lord Wellington and those under Sir Thomas

Graham, at St. Sebastian. We retired, the first day, to the mountains

behind Le Secca; and, just as we were about to lie down for the night,

we were again ordered under arms, and continued our retreat in utter

darkness, through a mountain path, where, in many places, a false step

might have rolled a fellow as far as the other world. The consequence

was, that, although we were kept on our legs during the whole of the

night, we found, when daylight broke, that the tail of the column had

not got a quarter of a mile from their starting-post.

 

On a good broad road it is all very well; but, on a narrow bad road, a

night march is like a night-mare, harassing a man to no purpose.

 

On the 26th, we occupied a ridge of mountain near enough to hear the

battle, though not in a situation to see it; and remained the whole of

the day in the greatest torture, for want of news. About midnight we

heard the joyful tidings of the enemy's defeat, with the loss of four

thousand prisoners. Our division proceeded in pursuit, at daylight, on

the following morning.

 

We moved rapidly by the same road on which we had retired, and, after

a forced march, found ourselves, when near sunset, on the flank of

their retiring column, on the Bidassoa, near the bridge of Janca, and

immediately proceeded to business.

 

The sight of a Frenchman always acted like a cordial on the spirits of

a rifleman; and the fatigues of the day were forgotten, as our three

battalions extended among the brushwood, and went down to "knock the

dust out of their hairy knapsacks,"[2] as our men were in the habit of

expressing themselves; but, in place of knocking the dust out of them,

I believe that most of their knapsacks were knocked in the dust; for

the greater part of those who were not _floored_ along with their

knapsacks, shook them off, by way of enabling the owner to make a

smarter scramble across that portion of the road on which our leaden

shower was pouring; and, foes as they were, it was impossible not to

feel a degree of pity for their situation: pressed by an enemy in the

rear, an inaccessible mountain on their right, and a river on their

left, lined by an invisible foe, from whom there was no escape, but

the desperate one of running the gauntlet. However, "as every ---- has

his day," and this was ours, we must stand excused for making the most

of it. Each company, as they passed, gave us a volley; but as they had

nothing to guide their aim, except the smoke from our rifles, we had

very few men hit.

 

         [Footnote 2: The French knapsack is made of unshorn

         goat-skin.]

 

Amongst other papers found on the road that night, one of our officers

discovered the letter-book of the French military secretary, with his

correspondence included to the day before. It was immediately sent to

Lord Wellington.

 

We advanced, next morning, and occupied our former post, at Bera. The

enemy still continued to hold the mountain of Echelar, which, as it

rose out of the right end of our ridge, was, properly speaking, a part

of our property; and we concluded, that a sense of justice would have

induced them to leave it of their own accord in the course of the day;

but when, towards the afternoon, they shewed no symptoms of quitting,

our division, leaving their kettles on the fire, proceeded to eject

them. As we approached the mountain, the peak of it caught a passing

cloud, that gradually descended in a thick fog, and excluded them from

our view. Our three battalions, however, having been let loose, under

Colonel Barnard, we soon made ourselves "Children of the Mist;" and,

guided to our opponents by the whistling of their balls, made them

descend from their "high estate;" and, handing them across the valley

into their own position, we then retired to ours, where we found our

tables ready spread, and a comfortable dinner waiting for us.

 

This was one of the most gentleman-like day's fighting that I ever

experienced, although we had to lament the vacant seats of one or two

of our messmates.

 

August 22d.--I narrowly escaped being taken prisoner this morning,

very foolishly. A division of Spaniards occupied the ground to our

left, beyond the Bidassoa; and, having mounted my horse to take a look

at their post, I passed through a small village, and then got on a

rugged path winding along the edge of the river, where I expected to

find their outposts. The river, at that place, was not above

knee-deep, and about ten or twelve yards across; and though I saw a

number of soldiers gathering chestnuts from a row of trees which lined

the opposite bank, I concluded that they were Spaniards, and kept

moving onwards; but, observing, at last, that I was an object of

greater curiosity than I ought to be, to people who had been in the

daily habit of seeing the uniform, it induced me to take a more

particular look at my neighbours; when, to my consternation, I saw the

French eagle ornamenting the front of every cap. I instantly wheeled

my horse to the right about; and seeing that I had a full quarter of a

mile to traverse at a walk, before I could get clear of them, I began

to whistle, with as much unconcern as I could muster, while my eye was

searching, like lightning, for the means of escape, in the event of

their trying to cut me off. I had soon the satisfaction of observing

that none of them had firelocks, which reduced my capture to the

chances of a race; for, though the hill on my right was inaccessible

to a horseman, it was not so to a dismounted Scotchman; and I,

therefore, determined, in case of necessity, to abandon my horse, and

shew them what I could do on my own bottom at a pinch. Fortunately,

they did not attempt it; and I could scarcely credit my good luck,

when I found myself once more in my own tent.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XVI.

 

     An Anniversary Dinner. Affair with the Enemy, and Fall of St.

     Sebastian. A Building Speculation. A Fighting one, storming the

     Heights of Bera. A Picture of France from the Pyrenees. Returns

     after an Action. Sold by my Pay-Serjeant. A Recruit born at his

     Post. Between Two Fires, a Sea and a Land one. Position of La

     Rhune. My Picture taken in a Storm. Refreshing Invention for

     wintry Weather.

 

 

The 25th of August, being our regimental anniversary, was observed by

the officers of our three battalions with all due conviviality. Two

trenches, calculated to accommodate seventy gentlemen's legs, were dug

in the green sward; the earth between them stood for a table, and

behind was our seat, and though the table could not boast of _all_

the delicacies of a civic entertainment, yet

 

  "The worms they crept in, and the worms they crept out,"

 

As the earth almost quaked with the weight of the feast, and the enemy

certainly did, from the noise of it. For so many fellows holding such

precarious tenures of their lives could not meet together in

commemoration of such an event, without indulging in an occasional

cheer--not a whispering cheer, but one that echoed far and wide into

the French lines, and as it was a sound that had often pierced them

before, and never yet boded them any good, we heard afterwards that

they were kept standing at their arms the greater part of the night in

consequence.

 

At the time of Soult's last irruption into the Pyrenees, Sir Thomas

Graham had made an unsuccessful attempt to carry St. Sebastian by

storm, and having, ever since, been prosecuting the siege with

unremitting vigour, the works were now reduced to such a state as to

justify a second attempt, and our division sent forth their three

hundred volunteers to join the storming party.[3] The morning on which

we expected the assault to take place, we had turned out before

daylight, as usual, and as a thick fog hung on the French position,

which prevented our seeing them, we turned in again at the usual time,

but had scarcely done so, when the mist rode off on a passing breeze,

showing us the opposite hills bristling with their bayonets, and their

columns descending rapidly towards us. The bugles instantly sounded to

arms, and we formed on our alarm posts. We thought at first that the

attack was intended for us, but they presently began to pass the

river, a little below the village of Bera, and to advance against the

Spaniards on our left. They were covered by some mountain guns, from

which their first shell fell short, and made such a breach in their

own leading column, that we could not resist giving three cheers to

their marksman. Leaving a strong covering party to keep our division

in check at the bridge of Bera, their main body followed the

Spaniards, who, offering little opposition, continued retiring towards

St. Sebastian.

 

         [Footnote 3: Lieutenants Percival and Hamilton commanded

         those from our battalion, and were both desperately wounded.]

 

We remained quiet the early part of the day, under a harmless fire

from their mountain guns; but, towards the afternoon, our battalion,

with part of the forty-third, and supported by a brigade of Spaniards,

were ordered to pass by the bridge of Le Secca, and to move in a

parallel direction with the French, along the same ridge of hills.

 

The different flanking-posts of the enemy permitted the forty-third

and us to pass them quietly, thinking, I suppose, that it was their

interest to keep the peace; but not so with the Spaniards, whom they

kept in a regular fever, under a smart fire, the whole way. We took up

a position at dark, on a pinnacle of the same mountain, within three

or four hundred yards of them. There had been a heavy firing all day

to our left, and we heard, in the course of the night, of the fall of

St. Sebastian, as well as of the defeat of the force which we had seen

following the Spaniards in that direction.

 

As we always took the liberty of abusing our friends, the

commissaries, whether with or without reason, whenever we happened to

be on short allowance, it is but fair to say that when our supporting

Spanish brigadier came to compare notes with us here, we found that we

had three days' rations in the haversack against his none. He very

politely proposed to relieve us from half of ours, and to give a

receipt for it, but we told him that the trouble in carrying it was a

pleasure!

 

At daylight next morning we found that the enemy had altogether

disappeared from our front. The heavy rains during the past night had

rendered the Bidassoa no longer fordable, and the bridge of Bera being

the only retreat left open, it was fortunate for them that they took

advantage of it before we had time to occupy the post with a

sufficient force to defend the passage, otherwise they would have been

compelled, in all probability, to have laid down their arms.

 

As it was, they suffered very severely from two companies of our

second battalion, who were on piquet there. The two captains

commanding them were, however, killed in the affair.

 

We returned in the course of the day and resumed our post at Bera, the

enemy continuing to hold theirs beyond it.

 

The ensuing month passed by, without producing the slightest novelty,

and we began to get heartily tired of our situation. Our souls, in

fact, were strung for war, and peace afforded no enjoyment, unless the

place did, and there was none to be found in a valley of the Pyrenees,

which the ravages of contending armies had reduced to a desert. The

labours of the French on the opposite mountain had, in the first

instance, been confined to fortification; but, as the season advanced,

they seemed to think that the branch of a tree, or a sheet of

canvass, was too slender a barrier between them and a frosty night,

and their fortified camp was gradually becoming a fortified town, of

regular brick and mortar. Though we were living under the influence of

the same sky, we did not think it necessary to give ourselves the same

trouble, but reasoned on their proceedings like philosophers, and

calculated, from the aspect of the times, that there was a probability

of a speedy transfer of property, and that it might still be reserved

for us to give their town a name; nor were we disappointed. Late on

the night of the 7th of October, Colonel Barnard arrived from

head-quarters, with the intelligence that the next was to be the day

of trial. Accordingly, on the morning of the 8th, the fourth division

came up to support us, and we immediately marched down to the foot of

the enemy's position, shook off our knapsacks before their faces, and

went at them.

 

The action commenced by five companies of our third battalion

advancing, under Colonel Ross, to dislodge the enemy from a hill which

they occupied in front of their entrenchments; and there never was a

movement more beautifully executed, for they walked quietly and

steadily up, and swept them regularly off without firing a single shot

until the enemy had turned their backs, when they then served them out

with a most destructive discharge. The movement excited the admiration

of all who witnessed it, and added another laurel to the already

crowded wreath which adorned the name of that distinguished officer.

 

At the first look of the enemy's position, it appeared as if our

brigade had got the most difficult task to perform; but, as the

capture of this hill showed us a way round the flank of their

entrenchments, we carried one after the other, until we finally gained

the summit, with very little loss. Our second brigade, however, were

obliged to take "the bull by the horns," on their side, and suffered

more severely; but they rushed at every thing with a determination

that defied resistance, carrying redoubt after redoubt at the point of

the bayonet, until they finally joined us on the summit of the

mountain, with three hundred prisoners in their possession.

 

We now found ourselves firmly established within the French territory,

with a prospect before us that was truly refreshing, considering that

we had not seen the sea for three years, and that our views, for

months, had been confined to fogs and the peaks of mountains. On our

left, the Bay of Biscay lay extended as far as the horizon, while

several of our ships of war were seen sporting upon her bosom. Beneath

us lay the pretty little town of St. Jean de Luz, which looked as if

it had just been framed out of the Lilliputian scenery of a toy-shop.

The town of Bayonne, too, was visible in the distance; and the view to

the right embraced a beautiful well-wooded country, thickly studded

with towns and villages, as far as the eye could reach.

 

Sir Thomas Graham, with the left wing of the army, had, the same

morning, passed the Bidassoa, and established them, also, within the

French boundary. A brigade of Spaniards, on our right, had made a

simultaneous attack on La Rhune, the highest mountain on this part of

the Pyrenees, and which, since our last advance, was properly now a

part of our position. The enemy, however, refused to quit it; and the

firing between them did not cease until long after dark.

 

The affair in which we were engaged terminated, properly speaking,

when we had expelled the enemy from the mountain; but some of our

straggling skirmishers continued to follow the retiring foe into the

valley beyond, with a view, no doubt, of seeing what a French house

contained.

 

Lord Wellington, preparatory to this movement, had issued an order

requiring that private property, of every kind, should be strictly

respected; but we had been so long at war with France, that our men

had been accustomed to look upon them as their natural enemies, and

could not, at first, divest themselves of the idea that they had not a

right to partake of the good things abounding about the cottage-doors.

Our commandant, however, was determined to see the order rigidly

enforced, and it was, therefore, highly amusing to watch the return of

the depredators. The first who made his appearance was a bugler,

carrying a goose, which, after he had been well beaten about the head

with it, was transferred to the provost-marshal. The next was a

soldier, with a calf; the soldier was immediately sent to the

quarter-guard, and the calf to the provost-marshal. He was followed by

another soldier, mounted on a horse, who were, also, both consigned to

the same keeping; but, on the soldier stating that he had only got the

horse in charge from a volunteer, who was at that time attached to the

regiment, he was set at liberty. Presently the volunteer himself came

up, and, not observing the colonel lying on the grass, called out

among the soldiers, "Who is the ---- rascal that sent my horse to the

provost-marshal?" "It was I!" said the colonel, to the utter confusion

of the querist. Our chief was a good deal nettled at these

irregularities; and, some time after, on going to his tent, which was

pitched between the roofless walls of a house, conceive his

astonishment at finding the calf and the goose hanging in his own

larder! He looked serious for a moment, but, on receiving an

explanation, and after the row he had made about them, the thing was

too ridiculous, and he burst out laughing. It is due to all concerned

to state that they had, at last, been honestly come by, for I, as one

of his messmates, had purchased the goose from the proper quarter, and

another had done the same by the calf.

 

Not anticipating this day's fight, I had given my pay-serjeant

twenty-five guineas, the day before, to distribute among the company;

and I did not discover, until too late, that he had neglected to do

it, as he disappeared in the course of the action, and was never

afterwards heard of. If he was killed, or taken prisoner, he must have

been a prize to somebody, though he left me a blank.

 

Among other incidents of the day, one of our men had a son and heir

presented to him by his Portuguese wife, soon after the action. She

had been taken in labour while ascending the mountain; but it did not

seem to interfere with her proceedings in the least, for she, and her

child, and her donkey, came all three screeching into the camp,

immediately after, telling the news, as if it had been something very

extraordinary, and none of them a bit the worse.

 

On the morning of the 9th, we turned out, as usual, an hour before

daylight. The sound of musketry, to our right, in our own hemisphere,

announced that the French and Spaniards had resumed their unfinished

argument of last night, relative to the occupation of La Rhune; while,

at the same time, "from our throne of clouds," we had an opportunity

of contemplating, with some astonishment, the proceedings of the

nether world. A French ship of war, considering St. Jean de Luz no

longer a free port, had endeavoured, under cover of the night, to

steal alongshore to Bayonne; and, when daylight broke, they had an

opportunity of seeing that they were not only within sight of their

port, but within sight of a British gun-brig, and, if they entertained

any doubts as to which of the two was nearest, their minds were

quickly relieved, on that point, by finding that they were not within

reach of their port, and strictly within reach of the _guns_ of the

brig, while two British frigates were bearing down with a press of

canvass. The Frenchman returned a few broadsides; he was double the

size of the one opposed to him, but, conceiving his case to be

hopeless, he at length set fire to the ship, and took to his boats. We

watched the progress of the flames until she finally blew up, and

disappeared in a column of smoke. The boats of our gun-brig were

afterwards seen employed in picking up the odds and ends.

 

Our friends, the Spaniards, I have no doubt, would have been very glad

to have got rid of their opponents in the same kind of way, either by

their going without the mountain, or by their taking it with them. But

the mountain stood, and the French stood, until we began to wish the

mountain, the French, and the Spaniards at the devil; for, although we

knew that the affair between them was a matter of no consequence

whichever way it went, yet it was impossible for us to feel quite at

ease, while a fight was going on so near; it was, therefore, a great

relief when, in the afternoon, a few companies of our second brigade

were sent to their assistance, as the French then retired without

firing another shot. Between the French and us there was no humbug, it

was either peace or war. The war, on both sides, was conducted on the

grand scale, and, by a tacit sort of understanding, we never teased

each other unnecessarily.

 

The French, after leaving La Rhune, established their advanced post on

Petite La Rhune, a mountain that stood as high as most of its

neighbours; but, as its name betokens, it was but a child to its

gigantic namesake, of which it seemed as if it had, at a former

period, formed a part; but, having been shaken off, like a useless

_galloche_, it now stood gaping, open-mouthed, at the place it had

left, (and which had now become our advanced post,) while the enemy

proceeded to furnish its jaws with a set of teeth, or, in other words,

to face it with breast-works, &c. a measure which they invariably had

recourse to in every new position.

 

Encamped on the face of La Rhune, we remained a whole month idle

spectators of their preparations, and dearly longing for the day that

should afford us an opportunity of penetrating into the more

hospitable-looking low country beyond them; for the weather had become

excessively cold, and our camp stood exposed to the utmost fury of the

almost nightly tempest. Oft have I, in the middle of the night, awoke

from a sound sleep, and found my tent on the point of disappearing in

the air, like a balloon; and, leaving my warm blankets, been obliged

to snatch the mallet, and rush out in the midst of a hailstorm, to peg

it down. I think that I now see myself looking like one of those gay

creatures of the elements who dwelt (as Shakspeare has it) among the

rainbows!

 

By way of contributing to the warmth of my tent, I dug a hole inside,

which I arranged as a fire-place, carrying the smoke underneath the

walls, and building a turf-chimney outside. I was not long in proving

the experiment, and, finding that it went exceedingly well, I was not

a little vain of the invention. However, it came on to rain very hard

while I was dining at a neighbouring tent, and, on my return to my

own, I found the fire not only extinguished, but a fountain playing

from the same place, up to the roof, watering my bed and baggage, and

all sides of it, most refreshingly. This showed me, at the expense of

my night's repose, that the rain oozed through the thin spongy surface

of earth, and, in particular places, rushed down in torrents between

the earth and the rock which it covered; and any incision in the

former was sure to produce a fountain.

 

It is very singular that, notwithstanding our exposure to all the

severities of the worst of weather, that we had not a single sick man

in the battalion while we remained there.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XVII.

 

     Battle of the Nivelle, and Defeat of the Enemy. A Bird of Evil

     Omen. Chateau D'Arcangues. Prudence. An Enemy's Gratitude.

     Passage of the Nive, and Battles near Bayonne, from 9th to 13th

     December.

 

 

BATTLE OF THE NIVELLE,

 

November 10th, 1813.

 

The fall of Pampeluna having, at length, left our further movements

unshackled by an enemy in the rear, preparations were made for an

attack on their position, which, though rather too extended, was

formidable by nature, and rendered doubly so by art.

 

Petite La Rhune was allotted to our division, as their first point of

attack; and, accordingly, the 10th being the day fixed, we moved to

our ground at midnight, on the 9th. The abrupt ridges in the

neighbourhood enabled us to lodge ourselves, unperceived, within

half-musket-shot of their piquets; and we had left every description

of animal behind us in camp, in order that neither the barking of dogs

nor the neighing of steeds should give indication of our intentions.

Our signal of attack was to be a gun from Sir John Hope, who had now

succeeded Sir Thomas Graham in the command of the left wing of the

army.

 

We stood to our arms at dawn of day, which was soon followed by the

signal-gun; and each commanding officer, according to previous

instructions, led gallantly off to his point of attack. The French

must have been, no doubt, astonished to see such an armed force spring

out of the ground almost under their noses; but they were,

nevertheless, prepared behind their entrenchments, and caused us some

loss in passing the short space between us; but the whole place was

carried within the time required to walk over it; and, in less than

half-an-hour from the commencement of the attack, it was in our

possession, with all their tents left standing.

 

Petite La Rhune was more of an outpost than a part of their position,

the latter being a chain of stupendous mountains in its rear; so that

while our battalion followed their skirmishers into the valley

between, the remainder of our division were forming for the attack on

the main position, and waiting for the co-operation of the other

divisions, the thunder of whose artillery, echoing along the valleys,

proclaimed that they were engaged, far and wide, on both sides of us.

About midday our division advanced to the grand attack on the most

formidable looking part of the whole of the enemy's position, and,

much to our surprise, we carried it with more ease and less loss than

the outpost in the morning, a circumstance which we could only account

for by supposing that it had been defended by the same troops, and

that they did not choose to sustain two _hard_ beatings on the same

day. The attack succeeded at every point; and, in the evening, we had

the satisfaction of seeing the left wing of the army marching into St.

Jean de Luz.

 

Towards the end of the action, Colonel Barnard was struck with a

musket-ball, which carried him clean off his horse. The enemy, seeing

that they had shot an officer of rank, very maliciously kept up a

heavy firing on the spot, while we were carrying him under the brow of

the hill. The ball having passed through the lungs, he was spitting

blood, and, at the moment, had every appearance of being in a dying

state; but, to our joy and surprise, he, that day month, rode up to the

battalion, when it was in action, near Bayonne; and, I need not add,

that he was received with three hearty cheers.

 

A curious fact occurred in our regiment at this period. Prior to the

action of the Nivelle, an owl had perched itself on the tent of one of

our officers (Lieut. Doyle). This officer was killed in the battle,

and the owl was afterwards seen on Capt. Duncan's tent. His

brother-officers quizzed him on the subject, by telling him that he

was the next on the list; a joke which Capt. D. did not much relish,

and it was prophetic, as he soon afterwards fell at Tarbes.

 

The movements of the two or three days following placed the enemy

within their entrenchments at Bayonne, and the head-quarters of our

battalion in the Chateau D'Arcangues, with the outposts of the

division at the village of Bassasarry and its adjacents.

 

I now felt myself both in a humour and a place to enjoy an interval of

peace and quietness. The country was abundant in every comfort; the

chateau was large, well-furnished, and unoccupied, except by a

bed-ridden grandmother, and young Arcangues, a gay rattling young

fellow, who furnished us with plenty of good wine, (by our paying for

the same,) and made one of our mess.

 

On the 20th of November a strong reconnoitring party of the enemy

examined our chain of posts. They remained a considerable time within

half-musket-shot of one of our piquets, but we did not fire, and they

seemed at last as if they had all gone away. The place where they had

stood bounded our view in that direction, as it was a small sand-hill

with a mud-cottage at the end of it; after watching the spot intensely

for nearly an hour, and none shewing themselves, my curiosity would

keep no longer, and, desiring three men to follow, I rode forward to

ascertain the fact. When I cleared the end of the cottage, I found

myself within three yards of at least a dozen of them, who were seated

in a group behind a small hedge, with their arms laid against the wall

of the cottage, and a sentry with sloped arms, and his back towards

me, listening to their conversation.

 

My first impulse was to gallop in amongst them, and order them to

surrender; but my three men were still twenty or thirty yards behind,

and, as my only chance of success was by surprise, I thought the risk

of the delay too great, and, reining back my horse, I made a signal to

my men to retire, which, from the soil being a deep sand, we were

enabled to do without the slightest noise; but all the while I had my

ears pricked up, expecting every instant to find a ball whistling

through my body; however, as none of them afterwards shewed themselves

past the end of the cottage, I concluded that they had remained

ignorant of my visit.

 

We had an affair of some kind, once a week, while we remained there;

and as they were generally trifling, and we always found a good dinner

and a good bed in the chateau on our return, we considered them rather

a relief than otherwise.

 

The only instance of a want of professional generosity that I ever had

occasion to remark in a French officer, occurred on one of these

occasions. We were about to push in their outposts, for some

particular purpose, and I was sent with an order for Lieutenant

Gardiner of ours, who was on piquet, to attack the post in his front,

as soon as he should see a corresponding movement on his flank, which

would take place almost immediately. The enemy's sentries were so

near, as to be quite at Mr. Gardiner's mercy, who immediately said to

me, "Well, I wo'n't kill these unfortunate rascals at all events, but

shall tell them to go in and join their piquet." I applauded his

motives, and rode off; but I had only gone a short distance when I

heard a volley of musketry behind me; and, seeing that it had come

from the French piquet, I turned back to see what had happened, and

found that the officer commanding it had no sooner got his sentries so

generously restored to him, than he instantly formed his piquet and

fired a volley at Lieutenant Gardiner, who was walking a little apart

from his men, waiting for the expected signal. The balls all fell

near, without touching him, and, for the honour of the French army, I

was glad to hear afterwards that the officer alluded to was a

militia-man.

 

 

BATTLES NEAR BAYONNE,

 

December 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th, 1813.

 

The centre and left wing of our army advanced on the morning of the

9th of December, and drove the enemy within their entrenchments,

threatening an attack on their lines. Lord Wellington had the double

object, in this movement, of reconnoitring their works, and effecting

the passage of the Nive with his right wing. The rivers Nive and Adour

unite in the town of Bayonne, so that while we were threatening to

storm the works on one side, Sir Rowland Hill passed the Nive, without

opposition, on the other, and took up his ground, with his right on

the Adour and his left on the Nive, on a contracted space, within a

very short distance of the walls of the town. On our side we were

engaged in a continued skirmish until dark, when we retired to our

quarters, under the supposition that we had got our usual week's

allowance, and that we should remain quiet again for a time.

 

We turned out at daylight on the 10th; but, as there was a thick

drizzling rain which prevented us from seeing any thing, we soon

turned in again. My servant soon after came to tell me that Sir Lowry

Cole, and some of his staff, had just ascended to the top of the

chateau, a piece of information which did not quite please me, for I

fancied that the general had just discovered our quarter to be better

than his own, and had come for the purpose of taking possession of it.

However, in less than five minutes, we received an order for our

battalion to move up instantly to the support of the piquets; and, on

my descending to the door, to mount my horse, I found Sir Lowry

standing there, who asked if we had received any orders; and, on my

telling him that we had been ordered up to support the piquets, he

immediately desired a staff-officer to order up one of his brigades to

the rear of the chateau. This was one of the numerous instances in

which we had occasion to admire the prudence and forethought of the

great Wellington! He had foreseen the attack that would take place,

and had his different divisions disposed to meet it. We no sooner

moved up, than we found ourselves a party engaged along with the

piquets; and, under a heavy skirmishing fire, retiring gradually from

hedge to hedge, according as the superior force of the enemy compelled

us to give ground, until we finally retired within our home, the

chateau, which was the first part of our position that was meant to be

defended in earnest. We had previously thrown up a mud rampart around

it, and loop-holed the different outhouses, so that we had nothing now

to do, but to line the walls and shew determined fight. The

forty-third occupied the church-yard to our left, which was also

partially fortified; and the third Cácadores and our third battalion,

occupied the space between, behind the hedge-rows, while the fourth

division was in readiness to support us from the rear. The enemy came

up to the opposite ridge, in formidable numbers, and began blazing at

our windows and loop-holes, and shewing some disposition to attempt it

by storm; but they thought better of it and withdrew their columns a

short distance to the rear, leaving the nearest hedge lined with their

skirmishers. An officer of ours, Mr. Hopewood, and one of our

serjeants, had been killed in the field opposite, within twenty yards

of where the enemy's skirmishers now were. We were very anxious to get

possession of their bodies, but had not force enough to effect it.

Several French soldiers came through the hedge, at different times,

with the intention, as we thought, of plundering, but our men shot

every one who attempted to go near them, until towards evening, when a

French officer approached, waving a white handkerchief and pointing to

some of his men who were following him with shovels. Seeing that his

intention was to bury them, we instantly ceased firing, nor did we

renew it again that night.

 

The forty-third, from their post at the church, kept up an incessant

shower of musketry the whole of the day, at what was conceived, at the

time, to be a very long range; but from the quantity of balls which

were afterwards found sticking in every tree, where the enemy stood,

it was evident that their birth must have been rather uncomfortable.

 

One of our officers, in the course of the day, had been passing

through a deep road-way, between two banks, with hedge-rows, when, to

his astonishment, a dragoon and his horse tumbled heels over head into

the road, as if they had been fired out of a cloud. Neither of them

were the least hurt; but it must have been no joke that tempted him to

take such a flight.

 

Soult expected, by bringing his whole force to bear on our centre and

left wing, that he would have succeeded in forcing it, or, at all

events, of obliging Lord Wellington to withdraw Sir Rowland Hill from

beyond the Nive; but he effected neither, and darkness left the two

armies on the ground which they had fought on.

 

General Alten and Sir James Kempt took up their quarters with us in

the chateau: our sentries and those of the enemy stood within

pistol-shot of each other in the ravine below.

 

Young Arcangues, I presume, must have been rather disappointed at the

result of the day; for, even giving him credit for every kindly

feeling towards us, his wishes must still have been in favour of his

countrymen; but when he found that his chateau was to be a bone of

contention, it then became his interest that we should keep possession

of it; and he held out every inducement for us to do so; which, by the

by, was quite unnecessary, seeing that our own comfort so much

depended on it. However, though his supplies of claret had failed some

days before, he now discovered some fresh cases in the cellar, which

he immediately placed at our disposal; and, that our dire resolve to

defend the fortress should not be melted by weak woman's wailings, he

fixed an arm-chair on a mule, mounted his grandmother on it, and sent

her off to the rear, while the balls were whizzing about the

neighbourhood in a manner to which even she, poor old lady, was not

altogether insensible, though she had become a mounted heroine at a

period when she had given up all idea of ever sitting on any thing

more lively than a coffin.

 

During the whole of the 11th each army retained the same ground, and

though there was an occasional exchange of shots at different points,

yet nothing material occurred.

 

The enemy began throwing up a six-gun battery opposite our chateau;

and we employed ourselves in strengthening the works, as a

precautionary measure, though we had not much to dread from it, as

they were so strictly within range of our rifles, that he must have

been a lucky artilleryman who stood there to fire a second shot.

 

In the course of the night a brigade of Belgians, who were with the

French army, having heard that their country had declared for their

legitimate king, passed over to our side, and surrendered.

 

On the 12th there was heavy firing and hard fighting, all day, to our

left, but we remained perfectly quiet. Towards the afternoon, Sir

James Kempt formed our brigade, for the purpose of expelling the enemy

from the hill next the chateau, to which he thought them rather too

near; but, just as we reached our different points for commencing the

attack, we were recalled, and nothing further occurred.

 

I went, about one o'clock in the morning, to visit our different

piquets; and seeing an unusual number of fires in the enemy's lines, I

concluded that they had lit them to mask some movement; and taking a

patrole with me, I stole cautiously forward, and found that they had

left the ground altogether. I immediately returned, and reported the

circumstance to General Alten, who sent off a despatch to apprize Lord

Wellington.

 

As soon as day began to dawn, on the morning of the 13th, a tremendous

fire of artillery and musketry was heard to our right. Soult had

withdrawn every thing from our front in the course of the night, and

had now attacked Sir Rowland Hill with his whole force. Lord

Wellington, in expectation of this attack, had, last night, reinforced

Sir Rowland Hill with the sixth division; which enabled him to occupy

his contracted position so strongly, that Soult, unable to bring more

than his own front to bear upon him, sustained a signal and sanguinary

defeat.

 

Lord Wellington galloped into the yard of our chateau, soon after the

attack had commenced, and demanded, with his usual quickness, what was

to be seen? Sir James Kempt, who was spying at the action from an

upper window, told him; and, after desiring Sir James to order Sir

Lowry Cole to follow him with the fourth division, he galloped off to

the scene of action. In the afternoon, when all was over, he called in

again, on his return to head-quarters, and told us, "that it was the

most glorious affair that he had ever seen; and that the enemy had

absolutely left upwards of five thousand men, killed and wounded, on

the ground."

 

This was the last action in which we were concerned, near Bayonne. The

enemy seemed quite satisfied with what they had got; and offered us no

further molestation, but withdrew within their works.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XVIII.

 

     Change of Quarters. Change of Diet. Suttlers. Our new Quarter. A

     long-going Horse gone. New Clothing. Adam's lineal Descendants.

     St. Palais. Action at Tarbes. Faubourg of Toulouse. The green

     Man. Passage of the Garonne. Battle of Toulouse. Peace. Castle

     Sarrazin. A tender Point.

 

 

Towards the end of the month, some divisions of the French army having

left Bayonne, and ascended the right bank of the Adour, it produced a

corresponding movement on our side, by which our division then

occupied Ustaritz, and some neighbouring villages; a change of

quarters we had no reason to rejoice in.

 

At Arcangues, notwithstanding the influence of our messmate, "the

Seigneur du Village," our table had, latterly, exhibited gradual

symptoms of decay. But _here_, our voracious predecessors had not

only swallowed the calf, but the cow, and, literally, left us nothing;

so that, from an occasional turkey, or a pork-pie, we were now, all at

once, reduced to our daily ration of a withered pound of beef. A great

many necessaries of life could certainly be procured from St. Jean de

Luz, but the prices there were absolutely suicidical. The suttlers'

shops were too small to hold both their goods and their consciences;

so that, every pin's worth they sold cost us a dollar; and as every

dollar cost us seven shillings, they were, of course, not so plenty as

bad dinners. I have often regretted that the enemy never got an

opportunity of having the run of their shops for a few minutes, that

they might have been, in some measure, punished for their sins, even

in this world.

 

The house that held our table, too, was but a wretched apology for the

one we had left. A bitter wind continued to blow; and as the granary

of a room which we occupied, on the first floor, had no fire-place, we

immediately proceeded to provide it with one, and continued filling

it up with such a load of bricks and mortar that the first floor was

on the point of becoming the ground one; and, having only a choice of

evils, on such an emergency, we, as usual, adopted that which appeared

to us to be the least, cutting down the only two fruit-trees in the

garden to prop it up with. We were rather on doubtful terms with the

landlord before, but this put us all square--no terms at all.

 

Our animals, too, were in a woful plight, for want of forage. We were

obliged to send our baggage ones, every week, for their rations of

corn, three days' march, through oceans of mud, which ought, properly,

to have been navigated with boats. The whole cavalcade always moved

under the charge of an officer, and many were the anxious looks that

we took with our spy-glasses, from a hill overlooking the road, on the

days of their expected return, each endeavouring to descry his own.

Mine came back to me twice; but "the pitcher that goes often to the

well" was verified in his third trip, for--he perished in a muddy

grave.

 

His death, however, was not so unexpected as it might have been, for,

although I cannot literally say that he had been dying by inches,

seeing that he had walked all the way from the frontiers of Portugal,

yet he had, nevertheless, been doing it on the grand scale--by miles.

I only fell in with him the day before the commencement of the

campaign, and, after reconnoitring him with my usual judgement, and

seeing that he was in possession of the regulated quantity of eyes,

legs, and mouth, and concluding that they were all calculated to

perform their different functions, I took him, as a man does his wife,

for better and for worse; and it was not until the end of the first

day's march that I found he had a broken jaw-bone, and could not eat,

and I had, therefore, been obliged to support him all along on spoon

diet; he was a capital horse, only for that!

 

It has already been written, in another man's book, that we always

require just a little more than we have got to make us perfectly

happy; and, as we had given this neighbourhood a fair trial, and _that

little_ was not to be found in it, we were very glad when, towards the

end of February, we were permitted to look for it a little further on.

We broke up from quarters on the 21st, leaving Sir John Hope, with the

left wing of the army, in the investment of Bayonne, Lord Wellington

followed Soult with the remainder.

 

The new clothing for the different regiments of the army had, in the

mean time, been gradually arriving at St. Jean de Luz; and, as the

commissariat transport was required for other purposes, not to mention

that a man's new coat always looks better on his own back than it does

on a mule's, the different regiments marched there for it in

succession. It did not come to our turn until we had taken a stride to

the front, as far as La Bastide; our retrograde movement, therefore,

obliged us to bid adieu to our division for some time.

 

On our arrival at St. Jean de Luz, we found our new clothing, and some

new friends in the family of our old friend, Arcangues, which was one

of the most respectable in the district, and who showed us a great

deal of kindness. As it happened to be the commencement of Lent, the

young ladies were, at first, doubtful as to the propriety of joining

us in any of the gaieties; but, after a short consultation, they

arranged it with their consciences, and joined in the waltz right

merrily. Mademoiselle was really an exceedingly nice girl, and the

most lively companion in arms (in a waltz) that I ever met.

 

Our clothing detained us there two days; on the third, we proceeded to

rejoin the division.

 

The pride of ancestry is very tenaciously upheld among the Basques,

who are the mountaineers of that district. I had a fancy that most of

them grew wild, like their trees, without either fathers or mothers,

and was, therefore, much amused, one day, to hear a fellow, with a Tam

O'Shanter's bonnet, and a pair of bare legs, tracing his descent from

the first man, and maintaining that he spoke the same language too.

He might have added, if further proof were wanting, that he, also,

wore the same kind of shoes and stockings.

 

On the 27th February, 1814, we marched, all day, to the tune of a

cannonade; it was the battle of Orthes; and, on our arrival, in the

evening, at the little town of St. Palais, we were very much annoyed

to find the seventy-ninth regiment stationed there, who handed us a

general order, desiring that the last-arrived regiment should relieve

the preceding one in charge of the place. This was the more vexatious,

knowing that there was no other regiment behind to relieve us. It was

a nice little town, and we were treated, by the inhabitants, like

friends and allies, experiencing much kindness and hospitality from

them; but a rifleman, in the rear, is like a fish out of the water; he

feels that he is not in his place. Seeing no other mode of obtaining a

release, we, at length, began detaining the different detachments who

were proceeding to join their regiments, with a view of forming a

battalion of them; but, by the time that we had collected a

sufficient number for that purpose, we received an order, from

head-quarters, to join the army; when, after a few days' forced

marches, we had, at length, the happiness of overtaking our division a

short distance beyond the town of Aire. The battle of Orthes was the

only affair of consequence that had taken place during our absence.

 

We remained stationary, near Aire, until the middle of March, when the

army was again put in motion.

 

On the morning of the 19th, while we were marching along the road,

near the town of Tarbes, we saw what appeared to be a small piquet of

the enemy, on the top of a hill to our left, looking down upon us,

when a company of our second battalion was immediately sent to

dislodge them. The enemy, however, increased in number, in proportion

to those sent against them, until not only the whole of the second,

but our own, and the third battalion were eventually brought into

action; and still we had more than double our number opposed to us;

but we, nevertheless, drove them from the field with great slaughter,

after a desperate struggle of a few minutes, in which we had eleven

officers killed and wounded. As this fight was purely a rifle one, and

took place within sight of the whole army, I may be justified in

giving the following quotation from the author of "Twelve Years'

Military Adventure," who was a spectator, and who, in allusion to this

affair, says, "Our rifles were immediately sent to dislodge the French

from the hills on our left, and our battalion was ordered to support

them. Nothing could exceed the manner in which the ninety-fifth set

about the business.... Certainly I never saw such skirmishers as the

ninety-fifth, now the rifle brigade. They could do the work much

better and with infinitely less loss than any other of our best light

troops. They possessed an individual boldness, a mutual understanding,

and a quickness of eye, in taking advantage of the ground, which,

taken altogether, I never saw equalled. They were, in fact, as much

superior to the French _voltigeurs_, as the latter were to our

skirmishers in general. As our regiment was often employed in

supporting them, I think I am fairly qualified to speak of their

merits."

 

We followed the enemy until dark, when, after having taken up our

ground and lit our fires, they rather maliciously opened a cannonade

upon us; but, as few of their shots took effect, we did not put

ourselves to the inconvenience of moving, and they soon desisted.

 

We continued in pursuit daily, until we finally arrived on the banks

of the Garonne, opposite Toulouse. The day after our arrival an

attempt was made, by our engineers, to throw a bridge across the

river, above the town; and we had assembled one morning, to be in

readiness to pass over, but they were obliged to abandon it for want

of the necessary number of pontoons, and we returned again to

quarters.

 

We were stationed, for several days, in the suburb of St. Ciprien,

where we found ourselves exceedingly comfortable. It consisted chiefly

of the citizens' country houses, and an abundance of the public tea

and fruit accommodations, with which every large city is surrounded,

for the temptation of Sunday parties; and, as the inhabitants had all

fled hurriedly into town, leaving their cellars, generally speaking,

well stocked with a tolerable kind of wine, we made ourselves at home.

 

It was finally determined that the passage of the river should be

tried below the town, and, preparatory thereto, we took ground to our

left, and got lodged in the chateau of a rich old West-India-man. He

was a tall ramrod of a fellow, upwards of six feet high, withered to a

cinder, and had a pair of green eyes, which looked as if they belonged

to somebody else, who was looking through his eye-holes; but, despite

his imperfections, he had got a young wife, and she was nursing a

young child. The "Green Man" (as we christened him) was not, however,

so bad as he looked; and we found our billet such a good one, that

when we were called away to fight, after a few days' residence with

him, I question, if left to our choice, whether we would not have

rather remained where we were!

 

A bridge having, at length, been established, about a league below the

town, two British divisions passed over; but the enemy, by floating

timber and other things down the stream, succeeded in carrying one or

two of the pontoons from their moorings, which prevented any more from

crossing either that day or the succeeding one. It was expected that

the French would have taken advantage of this circumstance, to attack

the two divisions on the other side; but they thought it more prudent

to wait the attack in their own strong hold, and in doing so I believe

they acted wisely, for these two divisions had both flanks secured by

the river, their position was not too extended for their numbers, and

they had a clear space in their front, which was flanked by artillery

from the commanding ground on our side of the river; so that,

altogether, they would have been found ugly customers to any body who

chose to meddle with them.

 

The bridge was re-established on the night of the 9th, and, at

daylight next morning, we bade adieu to the _Green Man_, inviting him

to come and see us in Toulouse in the evening. He laughed at the idea,

telling us that we should be lucky fellows if ever we got in; and, at

all events, he said, that he would bet a _déjeûné à la forchette_ for

a dozen, that we did not enter it in three days from that time. I took

the bet, and won, but the old rogue never came to pay me.

 

We crossed the river, and advanced sufficiently near to the enemy's

position to be just out of the reach of their fire, where we waited

until dispositions were made for the attack, which took place as

follows:--

 

Sir Rowland Hill, who remained on the left bank of the Garonne, made a

show of attacking the bridge and suburb of the town on that side.

 

On our side of the river the Spanish army, which had never hitherto

taken an active part in any of our general actions, now claimed the

post of honour, and advanced to storm the strongest part of the

heights. Our division was ordered to support them in the low grounds,

and, at the same time, to threaten a point of the canal; and Picton,

who was on our right, was ordered to make a false attack on the canal.

These were all that were visible to us. The remaining divisions of the

army were in continuation to the left.

 

The Spaniards, anxious to monopolize all the glory, I rather think,

moved on to the attack a little too soon, and before the British

divisions on their left were in readiness to co-operate; however, be

that as it may, they were soon in a blaze of fire, and began walking

through it, at first, with a great show of gallantry and

determination; but their courage was not altogether screwed up to the

sticking point, and the nearer they came to the critical pass, the

less prepared they seemed to meet it, until they all finally faced to

the right-about, and came back upon us as fast as their heels could

carry them, pursued by the enemy.

 

We instantly advanced to their relief, and concluded that they would

have rallied behind us; but they had no idea of doing any thing of the

kind; for, when with _Cuesta_ and some of the other Spanish generals,

they had been accustomed, under such circumstances, to run a hundred

miles at a time; so that, passing through the intervals of our

division, they went clear off to the rear, and we never saw them more.

The moment the French found us interpose between them and the

Spaniards they retired within their works.

 

The only remark that Lord Wellington was said to have made on their

conduct, after waiting to see whether they would stand after they got

out of the reach of the enemy's shot, was, "well, d---- me, if ever I

saw ten thousand men run a race before!" However, notwithstanding

their disaster, many of their officers certainly evinced great

bravery, and on their account it is to be regretted that the attack

was made so soon, for they would otherwise have carried their point

with little loss, either of life or credit, as the British divisions

on the left soon after stormed and carried all the other works, and

obliged those who had been opposed to the Spaniards to evacuate theirs

without firing another shot.

 

When the enemy were driven from the heights, they retired within the

town, and the canal then became their line of defence, which they

maintained the whole of the next day; but in the course of the

following night they left the town altogether, and we took possession

of it on the morning of the 12th.

 

The inhabitants of Toulouse hoisted the white flag, and declared for

the Bourbons the moment that the French army had left it; and, in the

course of the same day, Colonel Cooke arrived from Paris, with the

extraordinary news of Napoleon's abdication. Soult has been accused of

having been in possession of that fact prior to the battle of

Toulouse; but, to disprove such an assertion, it can only be necessary

to think, for a moment, whether he would not have made it public the

day after the battle, while he yet held possession of the town, as it

would not only have enabled him to keep it, but, to those who knew no

better, it might have given him a shadow of claim to the victory, if

he chose to avail himself of it; and I have known a victory claimed by

a French marshal on more slender grounds. In place of knowing it then,

he did not even believe it now; and we were absolutely obliged to

follow him a day's march beyond Toulouse before he agreed to an

armistice.

 

The news of the peace, at this period, certainly sounded as strangely

in our ears as it did in those of the French marshal, for it was a

change that we never had contemplated. We had been born in war, reared

in war, and war was our trade; and what soldiers had to do in peace,

was a problem yet to be solved among us.

 

After remaining a few days at Toulouse, we were sent into quarters, in

the town of Castel-Sarazin, along with our old companions in arms,

the fifty-second, to wait the necessary arrangements for our final

removal from France.

 

Castel-Sarazin is a respectable little town, on the right bank of the

Garonne; and its inhabitants received us so kindly, that every officer

found in his quarter a family home. We there, too, found both the time

and the opportunity of exercising one of the agreeable professions to

which we had long been strangers, that of making love to the pretty

little girls with which the place abounded; when, after a three

months' residence among them, the fatal order arrived for our march to

Bordeaux, for embarkation, the buckets full of salt tears that were

shed by men who had almost forgotten the way to weep was quite

ridiculous. I have never yet, however, clearly made out whether people

are most in love when they are laughing or when they are crying. Our

greatest love writers certainly give the preference to the latter.

_Scott_ thinks that "love is loveliest when it's bathed in tears;" and

_Moore_ tells his mistress to "give smiles to those who love her

less, but to keep her tears for him;" but what pleasure he can take in

seeing her in affliction, I cannot make out; nor, for the soul of me,

can I see why a face full of smiles should not be every bit as

valuable as one of tears, seeing that it is so much more pleasant to

look at.

 

I have rather wandered, in search of an apology for my own countenance

not having gone into mourning on that melancholy occasion; for, to

tell the truth, (and if I had a visage sensible to such an impression,

I should blush while I tell it,) I was as much in love as any body, up

nearly to the last moment, when I fell out of it, as it were, by a

miracle; but, probably, a history of love's last look may be

considered as my justification. The day before our departure, in

returning from a ride, I overtook my love and her sister, strolling by

the river's side, and, instantly dismounting, I joined in their walk.

My horse was following, at the length of his bridle-reins, and, while

I was engaged in conversation with the sister, the other dropped

behind, and, when I looked round, I found her mounted _astride_ on my

horse! and with such a pair of legs, too! It was rather too good; and

"Richard was himself again."

 

Although released, under the foregoing circumstances, from individual

attachment, that of a general nature continued strong as ever; and,

without an exception on either side, I do believe, that we parted with

mutual regret, and with the most unbounded love and good feeling

towards each other. We exchanged substantial proofs of it while

together; we continued to do so after we had parted; nor were we

forgotten when we were _no more_! It having appeared, in some of the

newspapers, a year afterwards, that every one of our officers had been

killed at Waterloo, that the regiment had been brought out of the

action by a volunteer, and the report having come to the knowledge of

our Castel-Sarazin friends, they drew up a letter, which they sent to

our commanding officer, signed by every person of respectability in

the place, lamenting our fate, expressing a hope that the report

might have been exaggerated, and entreating to be informed as to the

particular fate of each individual officer, whom they mentioned by

name. They were kind good-hearted souls, and may God bless them!

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XIX.

 

     Commencement of the War of 1815. Embark for Rotterdam. Ship's

     Stock. Ship struck. A Pilot, a Smuggler, and a Lawyer. A Boat

     without Stock. Join the Regiment at Brussels.

 

 

I have endeavoured, in this book of mine, to measure out the peace and

war in due proportions, according to the spirit of the times it speaks

of; and, as there appears to me to be as much peace in the last

chapter as occurred in Europe between 1814 and 1815, I shall, with the

reader's permission, lodge my regiment, at once, on Dover-heights, and

myself in Scotland, taking a shot at the last of the woodcocks, which

happened to be our relative positions, when Bonaparte's escape from

Elba once more summoned the army to the field.

 

The first intimation I had of it was by a letter, informing me of the

embarkation of the battalion for the Netherlands, and desiring me to

join them there, without delay; and, finding that a brig was to sail,

the following day, from Leith to Rotterdam, I took a passage on board

of her. She was an odd one to look at, but the captain assured me that

she was a good one to go; and, besides, that he had provided every

thing that was elegant for our entertainment. The latter piece of

information I did not think of questioning until too late to profit by

it, for I had the mortification to discover, the first day, that his

whole stock consisted in a quarter of lamb, in addition to the ship's

own, with a few cabbages, and five gallons of whiskey.

 

After having been ten days at sea, I was awoke, one morning before

daylight, with the ship's grinding over a sand-bank, on the coast of

Holland; fortunately, it did not blow hard, and a pilot soon after

came alongside, who, after exacting a reward suitable to the

occasion, at length, consented to come on board, and extricated us

from our perilous situation, carrying the vessel into the entrance of

one of the small branches of the river leading up to Rotterdam, where

we came to anchor. The captain was very desirous of appealing to a

magistrate for a reduction in the exorbitant demand of the pilot; and

I accompanied him on shore for that purpose. An Englishman made up to

us at the landing-place, and said that his name was C----, that he had

made his fortune by smuggling, and, though he was not permitted to

spend it in his native country, that he had the greatest pleasure in

being of service to his countrymen. As this was exactly the sort of

person we were in search of, the Captain explained his grievance; and

the other said that he would conduct him to a gentleman who would soon

put that to rights. We, accordingly, walked to the adjoining village,

in one of the houses of which he introduced us, formally, to a tall

Dutchman, with a pipe in his mouth and a pen behind his ear, who,

after hearing the story, proceeded to commit it, in large characters,

to a quire of foolscap.

 

The cautious nature of the Scotchman did not altogether like the

appearance of the man of business, and demanding, through the

interpreter, whether there would be any thing to pay for his

proceedings? he was told that it would cost five guineas. "Five

devils," said Saunders; "What is it for?" "For a protest," said the

other. "D--n the protest," said the captain; "I came here to save five

guineas, and not to pay five more." I could stand the scene no longer,

and rushed out of the house, under the pretence of seeing the village;

and on my return to the ship, half an hour afterwards, I found the

captain fast asleep. I know not whether he swallowed the remainder of

the five gallons of whiskey, in addition to his five-guinea grievance,

but I could not shake him out of it, although the mate and I tried,

alternately, for upwards of two hours; and indeed I never heard

whether he ever got out of it,--for when I found that they had to go

outside to find another passage up to Rotterdam, I did not think it

prudent to trust myself any longer in the hands of such artists, and,

taking leave of the sleeper, with a last ineffectual shake, I hired a

boat to take me through the passage in which we then were.

 

We started with a stiff fair wind, and the boatman assured me that we

should reach Rotterdam in less than five hours (forty miles); but it

soon lulled to a dead calm, which left us to the tedious operation of

tiding it up; and, to mend the matter, we had not a fraction of money

between us, nor any thing to eat or drink. I bore starvation all that

day and night, with the most christian-like fortitude; but, the next

morning, I could stand it no longer, and sending the boatman on shore,

to a neighbouring house, I instructed him either to beg or steal

something, whichever he should find the most prolific; but he was a

clumsy hand at both, and came on board again with only a very small

quantity of coffee. It, however, afforded some relief, and in the

afternoon we reached the town of Dort, and, on lodging my baggage in

pawn with a French inn-keeper, he advanced me the means of going on to

Rotterdam, where I got cash for the bill which I had on a merchant

there. Once more furnished with the "sinews of war," with my feet on

_terra firma_, I lost no time in setting forward to Antwerp, and from

thence to Brussels, when I had the happiness of rejoining my

battalion, which was then quartered in the city.

 

Brussels was, at this time, a scene of extraordinary preparation, from

the succession of troops who were hourly arriving, and in their

formation into brigades and divisions. We had the good fortune to be

attached to the brigade of our old and favourite commander, Sir James

Kempt, and in the fifth division, under Sir Thomas Picton. It was the

only division quartered in Brussels, the others being all towards the

French frontier, except the Duke of Brunswick's corps, which lay on

the Antwerp road.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XX.

 

     Relative Situation of the Troops. March from Brussels. The Prince

     and the Beggar. Battle of Quatre-Bras.

 

 

As our division was composed of crack regiments, under crack

commanders, and headed by fire-eating generals, we had little to do

the first fortnight after my arrival, beyond indulging in all the

amusements of our delightful quarter; but, as the middle of June

approached, we began to get a little more on the _qui vive_, for we

were aware that Napoleon was about to make a dash at some particular

point; and, as he was not the sort of general to give his opponent an

idea of the when and the where, the greater part of our army was

necessarily disposed along the frontier, to meet him at his own

place. They were of course too much extended to offer effectual

resistance in their advanced position; but as our division and the

Duke of Brunswick's corps were held in reserve, at Brussels, in

readiness to be thrust at whatever point might be attacked, they were

a sufficient additional force to check the enemy for the time required

to concentrate the army.

 

On the 14th of June it was generally known, among the military circles

in Brussels, that Buonaparte was in motion, at the head of his troops;

and though his movement was understood to point at the Prussians, yet

he was not sufficiently advanced to afford a correct clue to his

intentions.

 

We were, the whole of the 15th, on the most anxious look out for news

from the front; but no report had been received prior to the hour of

dinner. I went, about seven in the evening, to take a stroll in the

park, and meeting one of the Duke's staff, he asked me, _en passant_,

whether my pack-saddles were all ready? I told him that they were

nearly so, and added, "I suppose they wo'n't be wanted, at all events,

before to-morrow?" to which he replied, in the act of leaving me, "If

you have any preparation to make, I would recommend you not to delay

so long." I took the hint, and returning to quarters, remained in

momentary expectation of an order to move. The bugles sounded to arms

about two hours after.

 

To the credit of our battalion, be it recorded, that, although the

greater part were in bed when the assembly sounded, and billetted over

the most distant parts of that extensive city, every man was on his

alarm-post before eleven o'clock, in a complete state of marching

order: whereas, it was nearly two o'clock in the morning before we

were joined by the others.

 

As a grand ball was to take place the same night, at the Duchess of

Richmond's, the order for the assembling of the troops was accompanied

by permission for any officer who chose to remain for the ball,

provided that he joined his regiment early in the morning. Several of

ours took advantage of it.

 

Brussels was, at that time, thronged with British temporary residents;

who, no doubt, in the course of the two last days, must have heard,

through their military acquaintance, of the immediate prospect of

hostilities. But, accustomed, on their own ground, to hear of those

things as a piece of news in which they were not personally concerned;

and never dreaming of danger, in streets crowded with the gay uniforms

of their countrymen; it was not until their defenders were summoned to

the field, that they were fully sensible of their changed

circumstances; and the suddenness of the danger multiplying its

horrors, many of them were now seen running about in the wildest state

of distraction.

 

Waiting for the arrival of the other regiments, we endeavoured to

snatch an hour's repose on the pavement; but we were every instant

disturbed, by ladies as well as gentlemen; some stumbling over us in

the dark--some shaking us out of our sleep, to be told the news--and

not a few, conceiving their immediate safety depending upon our

standing in place of lying. All those who applied for the benefit of

my advice, I recommended to go home to bed, to keep themselves

perfectly cool, and, to rest assured that, if their departure from the

city became necessary, (which I very much doubted,) they would have at

least one whole day to prepare for it, as we were leaving some beef

and potatoes behind us, for which, I was sure, we would fight, rather

than abandon!

 

The whole of the division having, at length, assembled, we were put in

motion about three o'clock on the morning of the 16th, and advanced to

the village of Waterloo, where, forming in a field adjoining the road,

our men were allowed to prepare their breakfasts. I succeeded in

getting mine, in a small inn, on the left hand side of the village.

 

Lord Wellington joined us about nine o'clock; and, from his very

particular orders, to see that the roads were kept clear of baggage,

and everything likely to impede the movements of the troops, I have

since been convinced that his lordship had thought it probable that

the position of Waterloo might, even that day, have become the scene

of action; for it was a good broad road, on which there were neither

the quantity of baggage nor of troops moving at the time, to excite

the slightest apprehension of confusion. Leaving us halted, he

galloped on to the front, followed by his staff; and we were soon

after joined by the Duke of Brunswick, with his corps of the army.

 

His highness dismounted near the place where I was standing, and

seated himself on the road-side, along with his adjutant-general. He

soon after despatched his companion on some duty; and I was much

amused to see the vacated place immediately filled by an old

beggar-man; who, seeing nothing in the black hussar uniform beside him

denoting the high rank of the wearer, began to grunt and scratch

himself most luxuriously! The duke shewed a degree of courage which

few would, under such circumstances; for he maintained his post until

the return of his officer, when he very jocularly said, "Well, O----n,

you see that your place was not long unoccupied!"--How little idea had

I, at the time, that the life of the illustrious speaker was limited

to three short hours!

 

About twelve o'clock an order arrived for the troops to advance,

leaving their baggage behind; and though it sounded warlike, yet we

did not expect to come in contact with the enemy, at all events, on

_that_ day. But, as we moved forward, the symptoms of their immediate

presence kept gradually increasing; for we presently met a cart-load

of wounded Belgians; and, after passing through Genappe, the distant

sound of a solitary gun struck on the listening ear. But all doubt on

the subject was quickly removed; for, on ascending the rising ground,

where stands the village of Quatre Bras, we saw a considerable plain

in our front, flanked on each side by a wood; and on another acclivity

beyond, we could perceive the enemy descending towards us, in most

imposing numbers.

 

Quatre Bras, at that time, consisted of only three or four houses;

and, as its name betokens, I believe, stood at the junction of four

roads; on one of which we were moving; a second, inclined to the

right; a third, in the same degree, to the left; and the fourth, I

conclude, must have gone backwards; but, as I had not an eye in that

direction, I did not see it.

 

The village was occupied by some Belgians, under the Prince of Orange,

who had an advanced post in a large farm-house, at the foot of the

road, which inclined to the right; and a part of his division, also,

occupied the wood on the same side.

 

Lord Wellington, I believe, after leaving us at Waterloo, galloped on

to the Prussian position at Ligny, where he had an interview with

Blucher, in which they concerted measures for their mutual

co-operation. When we arrived at Quatre Bras, however, we found him in

a field near the Belgian outpost; and the enemy's guns were just

beginning to play upon the spot where he stood, surrounded by a

numerous staff.

 

We halted for a moment on the brow of the hill; and as Sir Andrew

Barnard galloped forward to the head-quarter group, I followed, to be

in readiness to convey any orders to the battalion. The moment we

approached, Lord Fitzroy Somerset, separating himself from the duke,

said, "Barnard, you are wanted instantly; take your battalion and

endeavour to get possession of that village," pointing to one on the

face of the rising ground, down which the enemy were moving; "but if

you cannot do that, secure that wood on the left, and keep the road

open for communication with the Prussians." We instantly moved in the

given direction; but, ere we had got half-way to the village, we had

the mortification to see the enemy throw such a force into it, as

rendered any attempt to retake it, with our numbers, utterly hopeless;

and as another strong body of them were hastening towards the wood,

which was the second object pointed out to us, we immediately brought

them to action, and secured it. In moving to that point, one of our

men went raving mad, from excessive heat. The poor fellow cut a few

extraordinary capers, and died in the course of a few minutes.

 

While our battalion-reserve occupied the front of the wood, our

skirmishers lined the side of the road, which was the Prussian line of

communication. The road itself, however, was crossed by such a shower

of balls, that none but a desperate traveller would have undertaken a

journey on it. We were presently reinforced by a small battalion of

foreign light troops, with whose assistance we were in hopes to have

driven the enemy a little further from it; but they were a raw body of

men, who had never before been under fire; and, as they could not be

prevailed upon to join our skirmishers, we could make no use of them

whatever. Their conduct, in fact, was an exact representation of

Mathews's ludicrous one of the American militia, for Sir Andrew

Barnard repeatedly pointed out to them which was the French, and

which our side; and, after explaining that they were not to fire a

shot until they joined our skirmishers, the word "March!" was given;

but _march_, to them, was always the signal to fire, for they stood

fast, and began blazing away, chiefly at our skirmishers too; the

officers commanding whom were every time sending back to say that we

were shooting them; until we were, at last, obliged to be satisfied

with whatever advantages their appearance could give, as even that was

of some consequence, where troops were so scarce.

 

Buonaparte's attack on the Prussians had already commenced, and the

fire of artillery and musketry, in that direction, was tremendous; but

the intervening higher ground prevented us from seeing any part of it.

 

The plain to our right, which we had just quitted, had, likewise,

become the scene of a sanguinary and unequal contest. Our division,

after we left it, deployed into line, and, in advancing, met and

routed the French infantry; but, in following up their advantage,

they encountered a furious charge of cavalry, and were obliged to

throw themselves into squares to receive it. With the exception of one

regiment, however, which had two companies cut to pieces, they were

not only successful in resisting the attack, but made awful havock in

the enemy's ranks, who, nevertheless, continued their forward career,

and went sweeping past them, like a whirlwind, up to the village of

Quatre Bras, to the confusion and consternation of the numerous

useless appendages of our army, who were there assembled, waiting the

result of the battle.

 

The forward movement of the enemy's cavalry gave their infantry time

to rally; and, strongly reinforced with fresh troops, they again

advanced to the attack. This was a crisis in which, according to

Buonaparte's theory, the victory was theirs, by all the rules of war,

for they held superior numbers, both before and behind us; but the

gallant old Picton, who had been trained in a different school, did

not choose to confine himself to rules in those matters; despising

the force in his rear, he advanced, charged, and routed those in his

front, which created such a panic among the others, that they galloped

back through the intervals in his division, with no other object in

view but their own safety. After this desperate conflict, the firing,

on both sides, lulled almost to a calm for nearly an hour, while each

was busy in renewing their order of battle. The Duke of Brunswick had

been killed early in the action, endeavouring to rally his young

troops, who were unable to withstand the impetuosity of the French;

and, as we had no other cavalry force in the field, the few British

infantry regiments present, having to bear the full brunt of the

enemy's superior force of both arms, were now considerably reduced in

numbers.

 

The battle, on the side of the Prussians, still continued to rage in

an unceasing roar of artillery. About four, in the afternoon, a troop

of their dragoons came, as a patrole, to inquire how it fared with us,

and told us, in passing, that they still maintained their position.

Their day, however, was still to be decided, and, indeed, for that

matter, so was our own; for, although the firing, for the moment, had

nearly ceased, I had not yet clearly made up my mind which side had

been the offensive, which the defensive, or which the winning. I had

merely the satisfaction of knowing that we had not lost it; for we had

met fairly in the middle of a field, (or, rather unfairly, considering

that they had two to one,) and, after the scramble was over, our

division still held the ground they fought on. All doubts on the

subject, however, began to be removed about five o'clock. The enemy's

artillery once more opened; and, on running to the brow of the hill,

to ascertain the cause, we perceived our old light-division general,

Count Alten, at the head of a fresh British division, moving gallantly

down the road towards us. It was, indeed, a joyful sight; for, as

already mentioned, our division had suffered so severely that we could

not help looking forward to a renewal of the action, with such a

disparity of force, with considerable anxiety; but this reinforcement

gave us new life, and, as soon as they came near enough to afford

support, we commenced the offensive, and, driving in the skirmishers

opposed to us, succeeded in gaining a considerable portion of the

position originally occupied by the enemy, when darkness obliged us to

desist. In justice to the foreign battalion, which had been all day

attached to us, I must say that, in this last movement, they joined us

cordially, and behaved exceedingly well. They had a very gallant young

fellow at their head; and their conduct, in the earlier part of the

day, can, therefore, only be ascribed to its being their first

appearance on such a stage.

 

Leaving General Alten in possession of the ground which we had

assisted in winning, we returned in search of our division, and

reached them about eleven at night, lying asleep in their glory, on

the field where they had fought, which contained many a bloody trace

of the day's work.

 

The firing, on the side of the Prussians, had altogether ceased

before dark, but recommenced, with redoubled fury, about an hour

after; and it was then, as we afterwards learnt, that they lost the

battle.

 

We lay down by our arms, near the farm-house already mentioned, in

front of Quatre Bras; and the deuce is in it if we were not in good

trim for sleeping, seeing that we had been either marching or fighting

for twenty-six successive hours.

 

An hour before daybreak, next morning, a rattling fire of musketry

along the whole line of piquets made every one spring to his arms; and

we remained looking as fierce as possible until daylight, when each

side was seen expecting an attack, while the piquets were blazing at

one another without any ostensible cause: it gradually ceased, as the

day advanced, and appeared to have been occasioned by a patrole of

dragoons getting between the piquets by accident: when firing

commences in the dark it is not easily stopped.

 

June 17th.--As last night's fighting only ceased with the daylight,

the scene, this morning, presented a savage unsettled appearance; the

fields were strewed with the bodies of men, horses, torn clothing, and

shattered cuirasses; and, though no movements appeared to be going on

on either side, yet, as occasional shots continued to be exchanged at

different points, it kept every one wide awake. We had the

satisfaction of knowing that the whole of our army had assembled on

the hill behind in the course of the night.

 

About nine o'clock, we received the news of Blucher's defeat, and of

his retreat to Wavre. Lord Wellington, therefore, immediately began to

withdraw his army to the position of Waterloo.

 

Sir Andrew Barnard was ordered to remain as long as possible with our

battalion, to mask the retreat of the others; and was told, if we were

attacked, that the whole of the British cavalry were in readiness to

advance to our relief. I had an idea, however, that a single rifle

battalion in the midst of ten thousand dragoons, would come but

indifferently off in the event of a general crash, and was by no

means sorry when, between eleven and twelve o'clock, every regiment

had got clear off, and we followed, before the enemy had put any thing

in motion against us.

 

After leaving the village of Quatre Bras, and passing through our

cavalry, who were formed on each side of the road, we drew up, at the

entrance of Genappe. The rain, at that moment, began to descend in

torrents, and our men were allowed to shelter themselves in the

nearest houses; but we were obliged to turn out again in the midst of

it, in less than five minutes, as we found the French cavalry and ours

already exchanging shots, and the latter were falling back to the more

favourable ground behind Genappe; we, therefore, retired with them,

_en masse_, through the village, and formed again on the rising ground

beyond.

 

While we remained there, we had an opportunity of seeing the different

affairs of cavalry; and it did one's heart good to see how cordially

the life-guards went at their work: they had no idea of any thing but

straight-forward fighting, and sent their opponents flying in all

directions. The only _young_ thing they showed was in every one who

got a roll in the mud, (and, owing to the slipperiness of the ground,

there were many,) going off to the rear, according to their Hyde-Park

custom, as being no longer fit to appear on parade! I thought, at

first, that they had been all wounded, but, on finding how the case

stood, I could not help telling them that theirs was now the situation

to verify the old proverb, "the uglier the better soldier!"

 

The roads, as well as the fields, had now become so heavy, that our

progress to the rear was very slow; and it was six in the evening

before we drew into the position of Waterloo. Our battalion took post

in the second line that night, with its right resting on the

Namur-road, behind La Haye Sainte, near a small mud-cottage, which Sir

Andrew Barnard occupied as a quarter. The enemy arrived in front, in

considerable force, about an hour after us, and a cannonade took place

in different parts of the line, which ended at dark, and we lay down

by our arms. It rained excessively hard the greater part of the night;

nevertheless, having succeeded in getting a bundle of hay for my

horse, and one of straw for myself, I secured the horse to his bundle,

by tying him to one of the men's swords stuck in the ground, and,

placing mine under his nose, I laid myself down upon it, and never

opened my eyes again until daylight.

 

 

 

 

CHAP. XXI.

 

     Battle of Waterloo. "A Horse! a Horse!" Breakfast. Position.

     Disposition. Meeting of _particular_ Friends. Dish of Powder and

     Ball. Fricassee of Swords. End of First Course. Pounding.

     Brewing. Peppering. Cutting and Maiming. Fury. Tantalizing.

     Charging. Cheering. Chasing. Opinionizing. Anecdotes. The End.

 

 

BATTLE OF WATERLOO,

 

18th June, 1815.

 

When I awoke, this morning, at daylight, I found myself drenched with

rain. I had slept so long and so soundly that I had, at first, but a

very confused notion of my situation; but having a bright idea that my

horse had been my companion when I went to sleep, I was rather

startled at finding that I was now alone; nor could I rub my eyes

clear enough to procure a sight of him, which was vexatious enough;

for, independent of his value _as a horse_, his services were

indispensable; and an adjutant might as well think of going into

action without his arms as without such a supporter. But whatever my

feelings might have been towards him, it was evident that he had none

for me, from having drawn his sword and marched off. The chances of

finding him again, amid ten thousand others, were about equal to the

odds against the needle in a bundle of hay; but for once the single

chance was gained, as, after a diligent search of an hour, he was

discovered between two artillery horses, about half a mile from where

he broke loose.

 

The weather cleared up as the morning advanced; and, though every

thing remained quiet at the moment, we were confident that the day

would not pass off without an engagement, and, therefore, proceeded to

put our arms in order, as, also, to get ourselves dried and made as

comfortable as circumstances would permit.

 

We made a fire against the wall of Sir Andrew Barnard's cottage, and

boiled a huge camp-kettle full of tea, mixed up with a suitable

quantity of milk and sugar, for breakfast; and, as it stood on the

edge of the high road, where all the big-wigs of the army had occasion

to pass, in the early part of the morning, I believe almost every one

of them, from the Duke downwards, claimed a cupful.

 

About nine o'clock, we received an order to retain a quantity of spare

ammunition, in some secure place, and to send every thing in the shape

of baggage and baggage-animals to the rear. It, therefore, became

evident that the Duke meant to give battle in his present position;

and it was, at the same time, generally understood that a corps of

thirty thousand Prussians were moving to our support.

 

About ten o'clock, an unusual bustle was observable among the

staff-officers, and we soon after received an order to stand to our

arms. The troops who had been stationed in our front during the night

were then moved off to the right, and our division took up its

fighting position.

 

Our battalion stood on what was considered the left centre of the

position. We had our right resting on the Namur-road, about a hundred

yards in rear of the farm-house of La Haye Sainte, and our left

extending behind a broken hedge, which run along the ridge to the

left. Immediately in our front, and divided from La Haye Sainte only

by the great road, stood a small knoll, with a sand-hole in its

farthest side, which we occupied, as an advanced post, with three

companies. The remainder of the division was formed in two lines; the

first, consisting chiefly of light troops, behind the hedge, in

continuation from the left of our battalion reserve; and the second,

about a hundred yards in its rear. The guns were placed in the

intervals between the brigades, two pieces were in the road-way on our

right, and a rocket-brigade in the centre.

 

The road had been cut through the rising ground, and was about twenty

or thirty feet deep where our right rested, and which, in a manner,

separated us from all the troops beyond. The division, I believe,

under General Alten occupied the ground next to us, on the right. He

had a light battalion of the German legion, posted inside of La Haye

Sainte, and the household brigade of cavalry stood under cover of the

rising ground behind him. On our left there were some Hanoverians and

Belgians, together with a brigade of British heavy dragoons, the

royals, and Scotch greys.

 

These were all the observations on the disposition of our army that my

situation enabled me to make. The whole position seemed to be a gently

rising ground, presenting no obstacle at any point, excepting the

broken hedge in front of our division, and it was only one in

appearance, as it could be passed in every part.

 

Shortly after we had taken up our ground, some columns, from the

enemy's left, were seen in motion towards Hugamont, and were soon

warmly engaged with the right of our army. A cannon ball, too, came

from the Lord knows where, for it was not fired at us, and took the

head off our right hand man. That part of their position, in our own

immediate front, next claimed our undivided attention. It had hitherto

been looking suspiciously innocent, with scarcely a human being upon

it; but innumerable black specks were now seen taking post at regular

distances in its front, and recognizing them as so many pieces of

artillery, I knew, from experience, although nothing else was yet

visible, that they were unerring symptoms of our not being destined to

be idle spectators.

 

From the moment we took possession of the knoll, we had busied

ourselves in collecting branches of trees and other things, for the

purpose of making an _abatis_ to block up the road between that and

the farm-house, and soon completed one, which we thought looked

sufficiently formidable to keep out the whole of the French cavalry;

but it was put to the proof sooner than we expected, by a troop of our

own light dragoons, who, having occasion to gallop through, astonished

us not a little by clearing away every stick of it. We had just time

to replace the scattered branches, when the whole of the enemy's

artillery opened, and their countless columns began to advance under

cover of it.

 

The scene at that moment was grand and imposing, and we had a few

minutes to spare for observation. The column destined as _our_

particular _friends_, first attracted our notice, and seemed to

consist of about ten thousand infantry. A smaller body of infantry and

one of cavalry moved on their right; and, on their left, another huge

column of infantry, and a formidable body of cuirassiers, while beyond

them it seemed one moving mass.

 

We saw Buonaparte himself take post on the side of the road,

immediately in our front, surrounded by a numerous staff; and each

regiment, as they passed him, rent the air with shouts of "_vive

l'Empereur_," nor did they cease after they had passed; but, backed by

the thunder of their artillery, and carrying with them the _rubidub_

of drums, and the _tantarara_ of trumpets, in addition to their

increasing shouts, it looked, at first, as if they had some hopes of

scaring us off the ground; for it was a singular contrast to the stern

silence reigning on our side, where nothing, as yet, but the voices of

our great guns, told that we had mouths to open when we chose to use

them. Our rifles were, however, in a very few seconds, required to

play their parts, and opened such a fire on the advancing skirmishers

as quickly brought them to a stand still; but their columns advanced

steadily through them, although our incessant _tiralade_ was telling

in their centre with fearful exactness, and our post was quickly

turned in both flanks, which compelled us to fall back and join our

comrades, behind the hedge, though not before some of our officers and

theirs had been engaged in personal combat.

 

When the heads of their columns shewed over the knoll which we had

just quitted, they received such a fire from our first line, that they

wavered, and hung behind it a little; but, cheered and encouraged by

the gallantry of their officers, who were dancing and flourishing

their swords in front, they at last boldly advanced to the opposite

side of our hedge, and began to deploy. Our first line, in the mean

time, was getting so thinned, that Picton found it necessary to bring

up his second, but fell in the act of doing it. The command of the

division, at that critical moment, devolved upon Sir James Kempt, who

was galloping along the line, animating the men to steadiness. He

called to me by name, where I happened to be standing on the right of

our battalion, and desired "that I would never quit that spot." I told

him that "he might depend upon it:" and in another instant I found

myself in a fair way of keeping my promise more religiously than I

intended; for, glancing my eye to the right, I saw the next field

covered with the cuirassiers, some of whom were making directly for

the gap in the hedge, where I was standing. I had not hitherto drawn

my sword, as it was generally to be had at a moment's warning; but,

from its having been exposed to the last night's rain, it had now got

rusted in the scabbard, and refused to come forth! I was in a

precious scrape. Mounted on my strong Flanders mare, and with my good

old sword in my hand, I would have braved all the chances without a

moment's hesitation; but, I confess, that I felt considerable doubts

as to the propriety of standing there to be sacrificed, without the

means of making a scramble for it. My mind, however, was happily

relieved from such an embarrassing consideration, before my decision

was required; for the next moment the cuirassiers were charged by our

household brigade; and the infantry in our front giving way at the

same time, under our terrific shower of musketry, the flying

cuirassiers tumbled in among the routed infantry, followed by the

life-guards, who were cutting away in all directions. Hundreds of the

infantry threw themselves down, and pretended to be dead, while the

cavalry galloped over them, and then got up and ran away. I never saw

such a scene in all my life.

 

Lord Wellington had given orders that the troops were, on no account,

to leave the position to follow up any temporary advantage; so that

we now resumed our post, as we stood at the commencement of the

battle, and with three companies again advanced on the knoll.

 

I was told, it was very ridiculous, at that moment, to see the number

of vacant spots that were left nearly along the whole of the line,

where a great part of the dark dressed foreign troops had stood,

intermixed with the British, when the action began.

 

Our division got considerably reduced in numbers during the last

attack; but Lord Wellington's fostering hand sent Sir John Lambert to

our support, with the sixth division; and we now stood prepared for

another and a more desperate struggle.

 

Our battalion had already lost three officers killed, and six or seven

wounded; among the latter were Sir Andrew Barnard and Colonel Cameron.

 

Some one asking me what had become of my horse's ear, was the first

intimation I had of his being wounded; and I now found that,

independent of one ear having been shaved close to his head, (I

suppose by a cannon-shot,) a musket-ball had grazed across his

forehead, and another gone through one of his legs, but he did not

seem much the worse for either of them.

 

Between two and three o'clock we were tolerably quiet, except from a

thundering cannonade; and the enemy had, by that time, got the range

of our position so accurately that every shot brought a ticket for

somebody's head.

 

An occasional gun, beyond the plain, far to our left, marked the

approach of the Prussians; but their progress was too slow to afford a

hope of their arriving in time to take any share in the battle.

 

On our right, the roar of cannon and musketry had been incessant from

the time of its commencement; but the higher ground, near us,

prevented our seeing anything of what was going on.

 

Between three and four o'clock, the storm gathered again in our front.

Our three companies on the knoll were soon involved in a furious

fire. The Germans, occupying La Haye Sainte, expended all their

ammunition, and fled from the post. The French took possession of it;

and, as it flanked our knoll, we were obliged to abandon it also, and

fall back again behind the hedge.

 

The loss of La Haye Sainte was of the most serious consequence, as it

afforded the enemy an establishment within our position. They

immediately brought up two guns on our side of it, and began serving

out some grape to us; but they were so very near, that we destroyed

their artillerymen before they could give us a second round.

 

The silencing of these guns was succeeded by a very extraordinary

scene, on the same spot. A strong regiment of Hanoverians advanced in

line, to charge the enemy out of La Haye Sainte; but they were

themselves charged by a brigade of cuirassiers, and, excepting one

officer, on a little black horse, who went off to the rear, like a

shot out of a shovel, I do believe that every man of them was put to

death in about five seconds. A brigade of British light dragoons

advanced to their relief, and a few, on each side, began exchanging

thrusts; but it seemed likely to be a drawn battle between them,

without much harm being done, when our men brought it to a crisis

sooner than either side anticipated, for they previously had their

rifles eagerly pointed at the cuirassiers, with a view of saving the

perishing Hanoverians; but the fear of killing their friends withheld

them, until the others were utterly overwhelmed, when they instantly

opened a terrific fire on the whole concern, sending both sides to

flight; so that, on the small space of ground, within a hundred yards

of us, where five thousand men had been fighting the instant before,

there was not now a living soul to be seen.

 

It made me mad to see the cuirassiers, in their retreat, stooping and

stabbing at our wounded men, as they lay on the ground. How I wished

that I had been blessed with Omnipotent power for a moment, that I

might have blighted them!

 

The same field continued to be a wild one the whole of the afternoon.

It was a sort of duelling-post between the two armies, every half-hour

showing a meeting of some kind upon it; but they never exceeded a

short scramble, for men's lives were held very cheap there.

 

For the two or three succeeding hours there was no variety with us,

but one continued blaze of musketry. The smoke hung so thick about,

that, although not more than eighty yards asunder, we could only

distinguish each other by the flashes of the pieces.

 

A good many of our guns had been disabled, and a great many more

rendered unserviceable in consequence of the unprecedented close

fighting; for, in several places, where they had been posted but a

very few yards in front of the line, it was impossible to work them.

 

I shall never forget the scene which the field of battle presented

about seven in the evening. I felt weary and worn out, less from

fatigue than anxiety. Our division, which had stood upwards of five

thousand men at the commencement of the battle, had gradually dwindled

down into a solitary line of skirmishers. The twenty-seventh regiment

were lying literally dead, in square, a few yards behind us. My horse

had received another shot through the leg, and one through the flap of

the saddle, which lodged in his body, sending him a step beyond the

pension-list. The smoke still hung so thick about us that we could see

nothing. I walked a little way to each flank, to endeavour to get a

glimpse of what was going on; but nothing met my eye except the

mangled remains of men and horses, and I was obliged to return to my

post as wise as I went.

 

I had never yet heard of a battle in which every body was killed; but

this seemed likely to be an exception, as all were going by turns. We

got excessively impatient under the tame similitude of the latter part

of the process, and burned with desire to have a last thrust at our

respective _vis-à-vis_; for, however desperate our affairs were, we

had still the satisfaction of seeing that theirs were worse. Sir John

Lambert continued to stand as our support, at the head of three good

old regiments, one dead (the twenty-seventh) and two living ones; and

we took the liberty of soliciting him to aid our views; but the Duke's

orders on that head were so very particular that the gallant general

had no choice.

 

Presently a cheer, which we knew to be British, commenced far to the

right, and made every one prick up his ears;--it was Lord Wellington's

long wished-for orders to advance; it gradually approached, growing

louder as it grew near;--we took it up by instinct, charged through

the hedge down upon the old knoll, sending our adversaries flying at

the point of the bayonet. Lord Wellington galloped up to us at the

instant, and our men began to cheer him; but he called out, "no

cheering, my lads, but forward, and complete your victory!"

 

This movement had carried us clear of the smoke; and, to people who

had been for so many hours enveloped in darkness, in the midst of

destruction, and naturally anxious about the result of the day, the

scene which now met the eye conveyed a feeling of more exquisite

gratification than can be conceived. It was a fine summer's evening,

just before sunset. The French were flying in one confused mass.

British lines were seen in close pursuit, and in admirable order, as

far as the eye could reach to the right, while the plain to the left

was filled with Prussians. The enemy made one last attempt at a stand

on the rising ground to our right of La Belle Alliance; but a charge

from General Adams's brigade again threw them into a state of

confusion, which was now inextricable, and their ruin was complete.

Artillery, baggage, and every thing belonging to them, fell into our

hands. After pursuing them until dark, we halted about two miles

beyond the field of battle, leaving the Prussians to follow up the

victory.

 

This was the last, the greatest, and the most uncomfortable heap of

glory that I ever had a hand in, and may the deuce take me if I think

that every body waited there to see the end of it, otherwise it never

could have been so troublesome to those who did. We were, take us all

in all, a very bad army. Our foreign auxiliaries, who constituted more

than half of our numerical strength, with some exceptions, were little

better than a raw militia--a body without a soul, or like an inflated

pillow, that gives to the touch, and resumes its shape again when the

pressure ceases--not to mention the many who went clear out of the

field, and were only seen while plundering our baggage in their

retreat.

 

Our heavy cavalry made some brilliant charges in the early part of the

day; but they never knew when to stop, their ardour in following their

advantages carrying them headlong on, until many of them "burnt their

fingers," and got dispersed or destroyed.

 

Of that gallant corps, the royal artillery, it is enough to say, that

they maintained their former reputation--the first in the world--and

it was a serious loss to us, in the latter part of the day, to be

deprived of this more powerful co-operation, from the causes already

mentioned.

 

The British infantry and the King's German legion continued the

inflexible supporters of their country's honour throughout, and their

unshaken constancy under the most desperate circumstances showed that,

though they might be destroyed, they were not to be beaten.

 

If Lord Wellington had been at the head of his old Peninsula army, I

am confident that he would have swept his opponents off the face of

the earth immediately after their first attack; but with such a

heterogeneous mixture under his command, he was obliged to submit to a

longer day.

 

It will ever be a matter of dispute what the result of that day would

have been without the arrival of the Prussians: but it is clear to me

that Lord Wellington would not have fought at Waterloo unless Blucher

had promised to aid him with 30,000 men, as he required that number

to put him on a numerical footing with his adversary. It is certain

that the promised aid did not come in time to take any share whatever

in the battle. It is equally certain that the enemy had, long before,

been beaten into a mass of ruin, in condition for nothing but running,

and wanting but an apology to do it; and I will ever maintain that

Lord Wellington's last advance would have made it the same victory had

a Prussian never been seen there.

 

The field of battle, next morning, presented a frightful scene of

carnage; it seemed as if the world had tumbled to pieces, and

three-fourths of every thing destroyed in the wreck. The ground

running parallel to the front of where we had stood was so thickly

strewed with fallen men and horses, that it was difficult to step

clear of their bodies; many of the former still alive, and imploring

assistance, which it was not in our power to bestow.

 

The usual salutation on meeting an acquaintance of another regiment

after an action was to ask who had been hit? but on this occasion it

was "Who's alive?" Meeting one, next morning, a very little fellow, I

asked what had happened to them yesterday? "I'll be hanged," says he,

"if I know any thing at all about the matter, for I was all day

trodden in the mud and galloped over by every scoundrel who had a

horse; and, in short, that I only owe my existence to my

insignificance."

 

Two of our men, on the morning of the 19th, lost their lives by a very

melancholy accident. They were cutting up a captured ammunition-waggon

for firewood, when one of their swords striking against a nail, sent a

spark among the powder. When I looked in the direction of the

explosion, I saw the two poor fellows about twenty or thirty feet up

in the air. On falling to the ground, though lying on their backs or

bellies, some extraordinary effort of nature, caused by the agony of

the moment, made them spring from that position, five or six times, to

the height of eight or ten feet, just as a fish does when thrown on

the ground after being newly caught. It was so unlike a scene in real

life that it was impossible to witness it without forgetting, for a

moment, the horror of their situation.

 

I ran to the spot along with others, and found that every stitch of

clothes had been burnt off, and they were black as ink all over. They

were still alive, and told us their names, otherwise we could not have

recognized them; and, singular enough, they were able to walk off the

ground with a little support, but died shortly after.

 

Among other officers who fell at Waterloo, we lost one of the wildest

youths that ever belonged to the service. He seemed to have a

prophetic notion of his approaching end, for he repeatedly told us, in

the early part of the morning, that he knew the devil would have him

before night. I shall relate one anecdote of him, which occurred while

we were in Spain. He went, by chance, to pass the day with two

officers, quartered at a neighbouring village, who happened to be,

that day, engaged to dine with the clergyman. Knowing their visitor's

mischievous propensities, they were at first afraid to make him one of

the party; but, after schooling him into a suitable propriety of

behaviour, and exacting a promise of implicit obedience, they, at

last, ventured to take him. On their arrival, the ceremony of

introduction had just been gone through, and their host seated at an

open window, when a favourite cat of his went purring about the young

gentleman's boots, who, catching it by the tail, and giving it two or

three preparatory swings round his head, sent it flying out at the

window where the parson was sitting, who only escaped it by suddenly

stooping. The only apology the youngster made for his conduct was,

"Egad, I think I astonished that fellow!" but whether it was the cat

or the parson he meant I never could learn.

 

About twelve o'clock, on the day after the battle, we commenced our

march for Paris. I shall, therefore, leave my readers at Waterloo, in

the hope that, among the many stories of romance to which that and the

other celebrated fields gave birth, the foregoing unsophisticated one

of an eye-witness may not have been found altogether uninteresting.

 

THE END

 

ERRATA.

Page 7, line 13, _read_ "of lively."

Page 9, line 18, _read_ "reinforced" _instead of_ "reenforced."

Page 25, line 17, _read_ "her's" _instead of_ "hers."

Page 27, line 3, _read_ "with him!!!"

Page 73, line 8, _read_ "when we" _instead of_ "when it."

Page 154, line 21, _read_ "17th" _instead of_ "19th."

Page 178, line 14, _read_ "re-crossed" _instead of_ "re-crosed."

Page 219, line 17, _read_ "held one side" _instead of_ "held on one

side."

Page 266, line 13, _read_ "dying state;" _instead of_ "dying; state."

Page 269, lines 14 and 15, _read_ "to remark in a French officer,

occurred" _instead of_ "to remark was that of a French officer, which

occurred."