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Full text of "Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands from 1809 to 1815"

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Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands, by Captain J. Kincaid

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Title: Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, in the Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands
       from 1809 to 1815

Author: Captain J. Kincaid

Release Date: May 29, 2009 [EBook #28981]

Language: English


*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK RIFLE BRIGADE ***




Produced by StevenGibbs, Christine P. Travers and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net





[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected.
Hyphenation and accentuation have been standardised, all
other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling
has been maintained.

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."






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