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From 1795 to 1818, 
by the late 


Formerly of the XX Xegiment; 


Late of the "SX and 88th Regiments. 

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The folloTJoing ^'Reminiscences'' were written^ by 
my FcUheVy many years after the occurrence of the 
incidents therein described; they must therefore be 
regarded as merely jottings— from memory— of the 
various and eventful scenes^ in which the writer 


London^ Februxiry, 1878. 


OF THESE "reminiscences" 



" Gkneroos as brave, 
AfTeddon, kindness, were to him as needM 
As his daily bread." — Borers, 

Reminiscences of my Military Life, 

From ijgs to 1818, 
By the late Lt.- Colonel Chas. Steevens. 

I ENTERED the Army the 30th of December, 1795, 
having been gazetted an Ensign by purchase in His 
Majesty's XX Regiment, (whilst at Dr. Barrow's 
Academy in Soho Square, London), Lieut. -General 
West-Hyde being the Colonel. I was at this time 
in my nineteenth year, having been born at Billericay, 
Essex, January 15th, 1777. 

The regiment was at that time in the West 
Indies, but in the spring following (1796) they 
returned to England a complete skeleton, and I 
joined them at Exeter in the month of March. The 
present (1839) Sir Charles Des Voeux^ joined the 
regiment with me, being an Ensign in the XX; 
he was an old school-fellow of mine. We were 
quartered at Exeter until the autumn of 1 796, when 
we were ordered to Lichfield. The Regiment at 
this time was commanded by Lieut. -Colonel Forbes 
Champagne, uncle to Sir Charles Des Voeux. 

During our stay here two of our officers^ went to 
the top of the Cathedral spire (by ladder) out of a 
freak ; rather a mad one certainly, it being attended 
with danger. 

* Sir Charles Des Yceax quitted the Begiment in 1800, having lost a leg in the action 
of the 10th September, 1799, near Crahbendam, in Holland. 

' One, I believe the present (1839) Higor^neral Wardlaw. 


6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

We remained at Lichfield only a short time, and 
about March, 1797, we marched to Liverpool, at 
which time I was made Lieutenant without purchase. 
We remained here till the summer of 1 798, and then 
we received a route for Manchester. 

About this time I was sent on the recruiting 
service to Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.^ I was 
there a few weeks, and from thence I was sent 
to Bury, in the same county. 

I cannot forbear mentioning a circumstance that 
took place while I was recruiting at Bury ; though it 
may appear of little consequence, it was not so to me. 
I had been in Bury about three weeks, without anyone 
to speak to, except the man and his wife where I 
lodged, who were very civil to me. 

Just picture to yourself a young recruiting-officer, 
in a small dull country town, wandering about, 
without any society, although daily meeting many 
gentlemen of the place at the reading room, only 
to be gazed at, (for at this time recruiting-officers 
always wore their uniform,) and, perhaps, by some 
looked upon as a scamp ; for, by-the-by, the reason 
why I met with no civility was owing to the 
misconduct of the officer I relieved on the recruiting 
service ; however, as good luck would have it, one 
fine morning the clergyman of the parish, who lived 
opposite to my lodgings and was a family man, called 
upon me and asked me to dine with him, an invita- 
tion I most readily and cheerfully accepted. I was 

I Where my second son, George Steevens, an Ensign in my old Begiment the XX, is 
now (July, 18S9) quartered. He served in the XX Eegiment from 18S8 to 1857 when 
he retired (a Lieat.-Colonel) on half-pay : he died in February, 1867. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 7 

there introduced to several other families, and passed 
a most agreeable time, till I was ordered to Derby 
on the same service, and I left Bury with much 
regret, as I had met there with the greatest attention. 

After I had left Bury some years, I heard, by 
accident, why the clergyman (the Rev. Mr. H-rgr — s) 
had called upon me ; no doubt he must have repeatedly 
seen me going in and out of my lodgings, (his door 
being opposite to mine,) and I daresay fancied I must 
have a dull time of it, being always alone, and had 
therefore compassion on me ; but it appears the 
reason why he called upon me was in consequence 
of a dream he had, having dreamt I was a genilemxin 
the night before he called — and I hope his dream 
was verified; at any rate it was a pleasant dream for 
me, and I shall ever feel indebted to the Rev. Mr. 
H-rgr — s and his family for their kindness. From 
Bury I went to Derby, where I was for six months, 
until the summer of 1799, when I was ordered to 
Windsor to receive volunteers, for the XX Regiment, 
from the old Stafford Militia. 

The regiment remained but a short time at 
Manchester, and from thence they went to Preston 
in the same county, and continued at Preston till 
they were ordered on the expedition to Holland, 
about August, 1799; having previously received 
about 1800 volunteers from the different regiments 
of Militia, which gave us two battalions. The troops 
assembled at Barham Downs, in Kent, a short time 
before our embarkation, which took place at Deal, I 
think in the month of August. 


8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

The XX Regiment were in General Don*s^ 
Division, and brigaded with the 63rd Regiment. 
We landed at the Helder, and our Division joined 
the Army, which had landed there a short time 
before under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, as ours was the 
second embarkation. I forgot to mention that at the 
time of our embarkation at Deal, the Division 
consisted of about 4,000 men, and everything was 
so well arranged, the boats being all ready for us on 
our arrival on the beach, that, from the time the 
Division stepped into the boats, it took only twenty 
minutes before all were on board, and it was tele- 
graphed to the Admiralty. 

On my first arrival in Holland I was quartered 
at the Texel Island, near the mouth of the Scheldt, 
where the Dutch Fleet lay, previous to their surrender 
to our Navy. We had 100 men on the island, com- 
manded by Captain George Paddon of my regiment, 
and Lieutenant Robinson and I were the two sub- 
alterns of the detachment. I had often heard 
of barbers being surgeons, and such was the 
case in the Island of Texel ; for the same person 
who attended our sick was the barber of the place, 
and he lived just outside the fort where we were 
quartered. At night we used to raise our drawbridge, 
and had it all snug to ourselves. We remained in the 
island about three weeks, and then joined " The Old 
and Bold " (as the XX was called) much to our joy, 
for we did not like being away, in case any action 
should take place during our absence. We had been 

I General Don died many years after, Lieat.-Gk)yemor of Gibraltar. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. g 

daily on the look out to receive orders to join our 
regiment, and at last the welcome news arrived. 

The two battalions of the XX Regiment were 
warmly engaged with the enemy on the loth 
September at Crabbendam. The enemy consisted 
of French and Dutch troops, for many Dutch 
opposed us. Our two battalions suffered very much 
in this action, and we had several officers very 
severely wounded, and two of them lost a leg each.^ 
The XX Regiment were highly complimented by 
Sir Ralph Abercrombie for their conduct in the 
above action. The following was in Orders : — 

"The two battalions of the XX Regiment, posted 
opposite to Crabbendam and Zypher-Sluys, did credit to 
the high reputation which that regiment has always bome. 
Lieut-Colonel Smyth of that corps, who had the par- 
ticular charge of that post, received a severe wouud in his 
leg, which will deprive us for a time of his services." 

In this action Lieut. -Colonel Smyth commanded the 
First Battalion and Lieut. -Colonel Clephane^ the 
Second Battalion of the XX. 

Soon after the battle of Crabbendam Sir Ralph 
Abercrombie was superseded in his command by the 
Duke of York. 

' 1st Battalion XX' Reoimxnt. — ^«*wfe<f.— Licut.-Colonel Smyth, severely; 
afterwards Sir George Smyth, and died Major-Qeneral, an excellent officer. 

Major JElobert Boss, afterwards Major-General, and killed at Baltimore, 1814. — Vidfi 
Appendix A, 

Captain Henry Powlett. 

lieutenant John Colbome, afterwards Field-Marshal Lord Seaton 

lientenant Charles Des Yceox, lost a leg; now (1889) Sir Charles Des Yoeoz, Bart. 

lieutenant Christopher Hamilton, lost a leg; now (1889) Msjor-General, commanded 
97th B.egiment for many years. 

lieutenant and Adjutant Samuel South, afterwards (1818) rose to command the XX 

2in> Battalion. — Wounded. — Captain-lieutenant L. Ferdinand Adams. 

3 Lieut.-Colonel Clephane died many years after a Migor-General, having for some 
time been an M.P. 

10 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

The regiment was afterwards engaged in the 
action of the 2nd October, and had two officers 
wounded ;^ and they were very warmly engaged on 
the 6th October near Egmont-op-Zee, in which action 
they had two officers killed, and eight wounded in the 
two battalions.^ I was amongst the number, being very 
severely wounded, and afterwards taken prisoner by 
the French cavalry at Egmont-op-Zee on the 
morning of the 8th ; our Army having commenced 
their retreat on the evening of the 7th, leaving 
their own wounded behind, as well as the wounded 

I was Lieutenant of grenadiers at the time I was 
wounded, but had command of a battalion company ; 
and Ensign Favell and myself, who were the only 
officers of that company, were both wounded before 
a single man of the company were hit, which was a 
proof that we were picked off by the French rifle- 
men, numbers of which they had in front of their 
Army ; we, unfortunately, had but few in front 
of ours, and they, I believe, belonged to the 6oth 
Rifles. The riflemen the enemy had gave them a 

1 Captam Towlett (lot Battalion), and Ensign Mills (2nd Battalion). 

3 IsT Battalion.— jrt/^^.—BreTet lient.-Colonel Philip Bainbrigge, commanding 
Ist Battalion XX Bregiment, and Ensign Mc Cnrrie. 

Wounded, — ^Breyet-Major Campbell, died of his wonnds. 

Captain Newman ; killed in a duel at Malta, in 1802, by lieni-Colonel B— , who 
was dismissed the senrioe in consequence. 

Lieutenant Steerens, seTerely ; taken prisoner. 

Ensign Favell, severely ; taken prisoner and died of his wonnds at Amsterdam. 

2kd. Battalion. — Wounded. — Captain Maister, severely ; afterwards Mi^or-GeneraL 

Captain Wallace ; died of wonnds received in the Pyrenees, 25th July, 1813. 

Captain Torrens, severely. 

Ensign Drewry. 

* lieut-Colonel Bainbrigge and Mig'or Campbell were buried at Eigmont-op-Zee ; the 
latter by the French, as he died of his wounds after the English retired from that place. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. ii 

great advantage over us, and in consequence of their 
having so many light troops many of our officers 
were picked off by them, and the proportion of 
killed and wounded officers was very great ; but we 
are wiser now, and can show as good a front as the 
enemy whenever we have an opportunity to cope 
with them.^ 

I fortunately was carried off the field by a private 
of the 15th Light Dragoons.^ I was placed on his 
horse in front of him, seated sideways, with a 
blanket thrown round me, and a man led the horse, 
as he was very high spirited, and I could not bear 
him to go beyond a foot's pace ; for my wound being 
in the leg I suffered much pain from the position 
in which I was placed. I recollect offering the 
dragoon some money, but he refused to take any- 
thing on my arrival at the town of Egmont-op-Zee. 
I was there placed in a house upon a bed of hay, on 
the floor, with other wounded officers of my own 
regiment, where I was taken prisoner on the 8th. 

The wounded of course passed an anxious night on 
the 7th, expecting the enemy to enter the town every 
moment. As soon as daylight appeared in galloped 
the French cavalry, sword in hand. One came into 
the room where I was lying, attended by my servant, 
Private Thomas Lamb, who was taken prisoner with 
me, as, when I was left behind at Egmont-op-Zee, 

, ' The marked difference between the nniforms of the officers and privates at that 
time also accounted for so many of the former being easily distinguished and picked off. 

' I fell in with him once or twice in England afterwards, as I always found him out 
whenever I happened to be quartered in the same place with the 15th Dragoons, feeling 
very grateful for the care he took of me. 

12 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

he would not leave me, but was determined to share 
my fate. Immediately the Frenchman saw me he 
said " Qui ^tes vous " ? I answered " Un officier 
Anglais ** ; he then said " Les officiers sont braves, 
mais les soldats ne le sont pas," and taking up my 
canteen drank part of its contents, which consisted 
of either white brandy or hoUands ; he then left the 
room ; others came in, amongst whom was a French 
officer ; I was glad to see him, as I expected to be 
well used, and I found it to be the case^ for the 
French officers treated us prisoners with the greatest 
humanity and attention. 

Soon after the French entered Egmont-op-Zee 
preparations were made to remove the wounded out 
of the town towards the rear. Poor Favell and I 
were put into the same open Dutch wagon, and 
were taken that night to Alkmaar, where we were put 
into a hospital for the night. Here our wounds were 
dressed (I mean FavelFs and mine, for my servant 
was not wounded). There were a great many Dutch 
females in the hospital, making bandages and assist- 
ing the wounded ; some appeared to be ladies, for 
there were Dutch officers and men, as well as French 
and English, in the hospital. The French General 
(Le Brun) promised that my servant should remain 
with me, but it was not attended to, and poor Tom 
Lamb was put into prison with the other soldiers 
who were taken, and I heard nothing of him for 
many months. 

We were about a week or ten days reaching 
Breda ; we were laid generally in our clothes upon 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 13 

mattresses, sometimes being carried into an inn. We 
suffered much from the jolting of the wagons, and at 
one time we were obliged to halt for a day or so to 
recruit our strength, for it was very fatiguing 
travelling so many days in open wagons, without our 
clothes being taken off, and the surgeons were fearful 
and apprehensive lest some of us should be thrown 
into a fever. The journey to Breda was very harass- 
ing, the wounded being conveyed in boats by canal, 
as well as in wagons ; but being at that time a young 
man (not twenty-three years of age) I was able to 
undergo the hardships and fatigue to which we were 

Whenever we arrived at a town in the evening 
where we were to halt for the night, I, being 
unable to walk, was carried by the French soldiers 
and placed upon a mattress, either in an inn or 
hospital, and the next morning carried out again and 
replaced in a boat or wagon, just as it happened. 
One day the French soldiers were carrying me 
through the streets with other wounded English 
officers, and a party of Dutch insulted us by hooting, 
etc. The French soldiers immediately drove them 
off with the butt-end of their muskets, and no doubt 
would have floored a few of them if they had not 
made themselves scarce. The French always be- 
haved well to us, but the Dutch were very boorish 
and uncivil 

Previous to our arrival at Breda I parted with 
poor Favell ; he was dangerously wounded in the 
breast, and although we travelled together for several 

14 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

days he never spoke; he was left at Amsterdam, 
where, I believe, he died, poor fellow ; I was many 
years afterwards acquainted with his brother in the 
6 1 St Regiment. 

On our arrival at Breda I was put into a very 
large hospital with some other English officers ; it 
was one of the Stadtholder's palaces converted into 
a hospital. Here also were numerous French and 
Dutch officers and many hundreds of wounded 
soldiers. I was very kindly treated during the 
time I remained in the hospital both by the surgeons 
and physicians who attended the wounded and sick, 
as also by the French officers who were in the same 
room with me. Our party consisted of about eight, 
three of which were of our Army, viz.. Captain John 
McLean,^ 92nd Regiment, an officer of the 35th 
Regiment of the name of Nichols, and myself. 
Lieut. Nichols, poor fellow, died very suddenly ; 
he rose from his bed and limped to my bedside, and 
sitting down had a long chat with me, for at that 
time I could not get up ; he had not returned to 
his bed more than an hour, when a violent hemor- 
rhage took place and he died, poor fellow, in a few 
minutes. I was much shocked, and hardly closed 
my eyes that night, his death was so sudden and 
unexpected. He appeared a nice gentlemanly young 
fellow, and, had his life been spared, no doubt we 
should have been intimate friends. I believe his 
father was a barrister. 

To point out how very attentive and polite the 

1 Now (1839) Sir John Mc Lean, and a Migor-Gteneral. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 15 

French officers were, who were lying wounded in 
the same room where I was in the Breda Hospital, 
they never partook of anything, when our meals 
were brought in, until we three prisoners were 
helped to whatever we preferred ; and the French 
officers never came into the room, where we were 
all lying in our beds, without either taking off or 
touching their caps, as a salute, and saying, " Bon 
jour," or on retiring, " Bon soir, citoyens," the 
term of address always made use of during the 
reign of Napoleon. 

Another instance of their attention to the British 
officers took place as they were conducting us 
through the country, for they never would allow 
the Russian officers (also prisoners of war) to be 
put into the same room with us, whenever we halted 
in any town, but put them in a room by themselves. 
One day, whilst in Breda Hospital, I recollect the 
French officers were very much offended at a host 
of English officers, (who by some unforeseen accident 
had been taken prisoners in one of the actions), 
coming into the room to see us without doffing or 
touching their cocked hats; it just shews to what 
extremes the French frequently carry their politesse. 

One of the officers who came to visit us happened 
to be named Petit; he was a Major in the 35th 
Regiment, and, being a stout, fat-looking man they 
used often to joke about his name being " Petit "; 
and he being one of the number who had hurt their 
feelings by transgressing, as they supposed, the laws 
of politeness, his name was often called in question. 

i6 Reminiscences of my Military Life, 

Another instance of their good feeling towards 
us prisoners of war occurred after the death of 
Lieutenant Nichols. Previous to his interment, 
some of the officers of his regiment (the 35 th) 
expressed a wish to have the coffin opened, and 
they discovered that every article of apparel had 
been taken off the body ; it was reported to the 
superintendent of the hospital, and it was ascertained 
that the man who attended our room, where Lieut. 
Nichols died, had committed the robbery ; the 
French authorities insisted upon his dismissal, and 
he would have lost his situation had we not all 
interceded on his behalf; but as he was particularly 
attentive to us wounded during our sufferings we 
begged him off, and he continued in the hospital. 
I was several weeks in this hospital, and then we 
were all allowed to return to England on our parole ; 
we were conveyed to the H elder sometimes in 
carriages or wagons, and occasionally by canal or 
river: I recollect crossing two branches of the 
Rhine, the Waal and the Maas. 

Fortunately for me, on our arrival at the 
H elder, I fell in with two companies of my 
own regiment commanded by Captain Weldon ;^ 
they were embarked on board a gun-brig, and 
happy I was to join them. We had a quick 
passage, and put into Yarmouth ; the companies 
disembarked here, and then marched to Norwich, 
where the XX regiment was quartered. We were 
in some danger as we approached Yarmouth, it 

1 He died in Sidly, 1806. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. ij 

being a dark night, about the end of November, and 
we hardly knew where we were ; after having passed 
two or three buoys, being in soundings, it was 
thought best to let go the anchor, for there was a 
consultation on the subject, and charts and maps 
were brought into the cabin to endeavour to find 
out where we were by the colour of the buoys, which 
were sometimes white and sometimes not; it was 
blowing fresh, and, unfortunately, the officer who 
commanded the gun-brig, was in that state when 
he did not know the head from the stern, and not 
any one on board seemed to like taking the responsi- 
bility on himself. At last the lieutenants lady^ who 
happened to be on board, gave the word, " Let go 
the anchor," and it was immediately "let go"; and 
in the morning, at daylight, we found ourselves close 
off Yarmouth. This may appear an odd story, but 
I can vouch for the authenticity of it, for I was 
lying in my cot in the cabin, still suffering from my 
wound, and heard and saw all that was going on, 
and glad enough we all were when safe at anchor. 

After I landed at Yarmouth, Lieutenants Russell, 
Robinson, and I got into a cart and proceeded 
to Norwich to join our regiment. At that time, 
being a prisoner of war, I could not remain to do 
duty with the XX; besides, I was still very lame, 
my wound not having yet healed ; I therefore had 
leave of absence, and went to London and remained 
there till I had so far recovered as to be able to 
walk about. I was staying at Mr. Orl ton's house in 
Blackfriar's Road for some weeks, his son being an 

i8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

old friend of mine, now, poor fellow, deceased. At 
this time (January, 1800) I was made Captain in the 
XX by purchase. 

The XX Regiment soon after marched to 
Ashford, in Kent, where they were quartered a few 
months, and were then ordered to Ireland in the 
summer of 1 800 ; here they were quartered in Cork, 
and from thence they embarked for Belle- Isle, a 
small island on the coast of France, not far from 
Finisterre ; after being there a short time they sailed 
for the Mediterranean, and ultimately went to the 
island of Minorca. 

About the month of March ( 1 800) I was exchanged 
for a Dutch officer, having been a few months in 
England on my parole ; I was then with the XX at 
Ashford, and was ordered thence to Canterbury to 
take charge of a detachment of the regiment, con- 
sisting of men who had returned from Holland, 
where they had been prisoners of war. 

The 4th of June, the same year, the detachment 
commenced their march to Liverpool, having, a few 
days previously, received a route to proceed there. 
Our party consisted of about 150 men and several 
officers, for the men of the 2nd Battalion had just 
joined us. When we arrived at Lichfield we found 
a route at the Post Office ordering us to Hilsea 
Barracks, hear Portsmouth, instead of Liverpool ; 
we halted a week at Lichfield, and then started for 
Hilsea. After about six weeks' march from the 
time we left Canterbury we reached the barracks, 
a few miles from Portsmouth. What a cir- 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. ig 

cuitous route ! if we had been ordered to Deal to 
embark for Minorca — one day s march instead of six 
weeks' — what an expense Government might have 
been saved ; but things are managed differently 
now-a-days. I was very glad indeed to see again 
my servant (Lamb), who joined us here, having 
been exchanged ; such a figure as he was, poor 
fellow, having hardly a rag to his back, for the 
French had robbed him of every article but the 
clothes he had on.^ 

While at Hilsea we were daily expecting to be 
ordered to embark for the Mediterranean to join 
the regiment, which was at Minorca, or on its way 
to that island ; at length, after having been about 
three months at Hilsea, we embarked at Spithead, 
(I think in the month of October) on board the 
" Harmony," Transport No. 48. 

On the 6th of November, 1800, while we lay 
at Spithead, we had a most violent gale of wind, 
a complete hurricane ; we had three anchors down, 
and yet drifted ; but at last the ship brought 
up, and we held on by our anchors. Captain 
Rose (XX) and I were lying on the locker look- 
ing out of the cabin window during the gale, 
the vessel pitching most tremendously, when she 
was struck at the stern and shipped a sea which 
sent Rose and myself headlong on the cabin floor, 
but we were young at this time and laughed it off. 

' He continaed my servant for several years afterwards, and was a very faithfiil, 
honest fellow ; he served some years as a non-commissioned officer, and was discharged, 
a sergeant, in 1818 ; I was sorry to hear that he was some time afterwards confined as a 
lunatic in Lancaster Castle. 

20 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

The master's name was Captain Wilson, a most 
excellent sailor ; he seldom or ever quitted the deck, 
either night or day, in bad weather, and we had a 
pretty good share of it ; Wilson was a most civil 
and kind-hearted man, and made our situation in his 
ship as comfortable to all of us as he possibly could. 
Our medical officer was Mr. Howship,^ Hospital 
Mate, who was very attentive to the few sick that 
were on board. 

During the hurricane, which we encountered at 
Spithead, on the 6th November, hardly a man-of-war 
could hold by her anchors ; it was so violent at one 
time that even the Royal William (the Royal Billy, 
as the sailors called her), drifted from her moorings, 
and several ships were stranded ; but Providence 
was kind to us and we rode it out in safety. The 
gale lasted about six hours, from lo a.m. to 4 p.m., 
and it was afterwards a calm evening. During the 
storm, ships were constantly drifting past us, and 
also pieces of wreck, parts of masts, spars, rigging, 
etc. In our vessel we were obliged to have men 
standing by the windlass, to throw buckets of water 
over it, as it frequently took fire by the friction of 
the cable. We sailed once or twice from Spithead, 
but were always driven back by contrary winds ; we 
sailed for the last time about the middle of December 
(1800), but the return of foul winds obliged us to 
put into Falmouth. 

It was a fine sight to see the convoy when 

1^ 1 Mr. Howship is now (1839) a surgeon in great practice, at 21, Savile Row, London, 
and Surgeon of Cnaring Cross Hospital; my eldest son, Charles, was a pupil of his for 
BCYeral years, having studied for the meiucal profession. 


Reminiscences of my Military Life. 21 

in the Channel, for our fleet (the Mediterranean) 
having been joined by the West India fleet, we both 
consisted of about 500 sail, and the weather was 
very pleasant between Spithead and Falmouth. It 
being very difficult to get a large convoy out of that 
harbour without a leading wind, we were therefore 
detained five weeks at Falmouth. 

During the time we were there, several of us used 
to go out shooting, and although we were embarked 
in a small transport, and could not make any great 
display of plate at our table, we had a good supply 
of game, frequently hares, snipe, partridges, etc., 
hanging over the stern ; but latterly our supply was 
completely cut off, for one day I was out shooting 
with a brother officer. Captain Alexander Rose ; we 
had but one gun, and that belonged to me ; I had 
lent him the gun to take a shot or two, and a dog 
happening to come across our path. Rose let fly at 
him, and slightly hit the animal ; he then gave me 
the gun. The farmers came out, hearing the dog 
yelping, and made towards us ; my brother sportsman 
ran off, and I, being in possession of the gun, though 
perfectly innocent of having fired at the dog, was 
obliged to take to my heels, otherwise no doubt I 
should have come in for a little of the *' condign," as 
most likely they would not have believed my story ; 
so that, after this foolish frolic, we went no more on 
shore shooting; instead of our having game, it 
appears game had been made of us ; and in lieu of 
those luxuries we had plenty of salt junk. 

We did not leave Falmouth until the end of 

22 Reminiscences of my Military Life. . 

January, 1801, the convoy being accompanied by 
the "Sea Horse" frigate, Captain Foote, and I 
think, the " Maidstone " frigate. 

During our voyage to Lisbon we had dreadfully 
stormy weather, and a very boisterous passage across 
the Bay of Biscay ; one day we encountered a most 
tremendous heavy, rolling sea, without any wind, in 
the Bay ; such a sea as I never before, nor since, 
witnessed ; it came rolling towards us like mountain 
after mountain. There were many ships in the, 
convoy, and when we happened to be in the trough 
of the sea we could not even discern the top-gallant- 
mast head of any of the other ships ; but when 
we happened to be on the top of one of these 
mountainous waves, the fleet was then visible. I 
never could have supposed it possible for a ship to 
live in such a sea, for when a wave approached us 
it appeared to be far above our top-gallant-mast 
head, and seemed as though it would overwhelm us ; 
but as the wave neared us, our little transport rode 
up it in a most wonderful manner. Our rigging was 
very much strained, and Wilson, our excellent 
Commander, was fearful we should carry away our 
masts ; but through the aid of Divine Providence 
we got through it all safe. 

During our gale we had to lay-to a whole day 
and part of a night; at last Wilson, and several 
others who had the command of transports, being 
apprehensive that we were approaching a lee 
shore, made sail without waiting for orders from 
the Commodore, and stole away in the night, and 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 23 

we fortunately soon reached the Tagus. We then 
found there were some of our convoy missing, 
which were discovered to have been lost on the 
Berlins — some rocks off the coast of Portugal — 
and in one of the transports lost were several 
officers of the 17th Regiment with whom I was 
acquainted, for we had often met ashore at 

We remained at Lisbon about a week to repair 
damages and to have our rigging put in order, under 
the superintendence of our indefatigable Captain. 
I often thought that if he had not been a very 
skilful and steady seaman our situation would 
frequently have been very precarious. All damages 
having been repaired, and our scattered convoy 
collected, we sailed for Minorca, which we reached 
in about three weeks. From the time we embarked 
at Portsmouth till the vessel reached Minorca, at 
the end of March, 1801, the troops had been on 
board six months ; nevertheless they were very 
healthy, and I have always found soldiers very 
happy and contented at sea, which I attribute to 
their easy life, having little to do whilst embarked. 

We found the old XX quartered in several parts 
of the island ; the i st Battalion were at George 
Town, and the 2nd Battalion at Fort George, a fort 
commanding the entrance of the harbour, which led 
to Port Mahon, a remarkably fine, sheltered harbour, 
where an immense fleet of men-of-war could ride in 
safety in any weather. Some of the XX were 
detached along the coast in the martello towers ; I 

24 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

was stationed at Fort George, having been promoted 
Captain into the 2nd Battalion a short time back. 

The following occurrence took place whilst our 
2nd Battalion was quartered at Fort George: — 
There was a battery of two guns, of rather large 
calibre, a short distance from the fort, where there 
was a Captain's Guard, and his orders were not to 
allow any merchant ship, transport, or small ship, to 
come in or go out of the harbour without hailing 
them ; and, with regard to men-of-war, whenever 
they sailed at nighty the orders were that the officer 
of the guard, at the battery, should be apprized 
of it. 

One night a large ship was going out, and the 
officer of the guard. Captain Edmund Byron, of the 
XX Regiment was placed in a rather awkward 
situation ; he had not been made acquainted with 
her sailing, and as soon as she came within hail of 
the battery he ordered the bombardier to hail her, 
but no notice was taken of it ; she was hailed a 
second time, and told if she did not answer or lay-to 
she would be fired at ; still no reply ; so the officer 
commanding the guard ordered the bombardier to 
prime the gun and to fire near her ; the shot however 
passed between her fore and mainmast ; she then 
immediately backed her main-topsail and sent an 
officer on shore. The ship turned out to be His 
Majesty's brig "Speedy," commanded by Lord 
Cochrane,^ and a most gallant officer his lordship 
was. He was highly incensed that his ship should 

> Afterwards Earl Dandonald. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 25 

have been fired at, but the captain of the guard 
explained to the lieutenant who came ashore that he 
had acted agreeably to his orders ; and on Lord 
Cochrane representing the affair to General Fox,^ 
who commanded the troops at the time, no fault 
was found with Captain Byron, as it was im- 
possible for him to know what ship was going 
out. It might have been one of the Danish men- 
of-war which had been captured, several of which 
were there; the officer of the guard ought, there- 
fore, to have been apprized of the " Speedy " sailing ; 
so the complaint made ended in smoke, although a 
shot had been fired. 

If one of these captured men-of-war had 
escaped. Captain Byron, in all probability, would 
have stood a fair chance of losing his commission ; 
his position as captain of that g^ard was therefore 
a responsible one. 

Men-of-war, according to etiquette, never allow 
themselves to be hailed, but in this instance it was 
very properly broken through ; ever afterwards the 
officer of the guard was always informed whenever 
a man-of-war sailed out of the harbour cU night. 

The g^ard house was beautifully situated, having 
a fine, commanding view of the harbour ; I have 
often mounted g^ard there myself, and having a 
good telescope, I found it very valuable and amusing 
when on this duty. 

We did not find Minorca an unpleasant quarter, 
being able to ride a good deal about the island, and 

- — ■ - * > 

* Brother to Charles James Fox, the celebrated statesman. 

26 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

visit our friends at the outposts ; for General Fox 
was extremely liberal in allowing forage to * officers 
of all ranks, to enable them to keep horses ; and 
when we left the island, those that were fit for the 
cavalry were purchased for a troop of dragoons 
which was raised in Minorca, seventy dollars being 
the price allowed ; so I was pretty well remunerated 
for my young black long-tail ; how very different to 
what it is nowadays, as the Commanding Officer of 
an infantry regiment is only allowed forage for one 
horse, though he may have been twenty years in 
command ; and at the time I am now speaking of 
the junior ensign in Minorca had the allowance. 
What would Joe Hume, the clipper of wings, say 
to this ? 

At the time the XX were in the island the 
the regiment was composed of limited service men, 
raised from the Militia and enlisted not to serve out 
of Europe ; but, being very anxious to go to Egypt, 
the officers exerted themselves to get the men to 
volunteer, which they did most cheerfully and 
willingly, and each man received an additional 

We soon after (some time about June, 1801,) 
embarked for Egypt ; the idea of having an oppor- 
tunity of meeting the enemy again made us all 
alive, and we left the island in great spirits, and 
as we went round Cape Mola we gave three hearty 

Sir Ralph Abercrombie had landed in Egypt 
with an army on the 8th March, 1801, he was killed 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 27 

in the action of the 21st March, and General 
(afterwards Lord) Hutchinson succeeded to the 
command. We reached Aboukir Bay in about 
three weeks and soon after landed ; we were 
encamped for sometime close to Pompey's Pillar, 
not far from Alexandria. 

The 1st Battalion of the XX was engaged with 
the French one evening near that place, having 
attacked and driven in their pickets. We found 
the climate excessively hot, and being encamped 
on a sandy plain the heat in our tents was very 
oppressive; most of the officers for some time 
had nothing but the common bell tent, and many 
suffered considerably from fever, dysentery, and 
opthalmia; several of the XX officers were quite 
blind for a time, having the complaint in both 
eyes. Captain Arthur Lloyd suffered greatly from 
opthalmia, and some years afterwards lost his sight.^ 

Quartermaster Hoath^ likewise lost an eye from 
the same cause. Several of the soldiers entirely 
lost their sight, and immense numbers were attacked 
by the complaint. It was a melancholy sight to 
see strings of soldiers leading each other to the 
hospital tent of a morning ; some could see a little 
so as to be able to conduct those who, for a time, 
were quite deprived of sight. 

Violent fever also attacked both officers and 
men, but did not prove fatal in many cases. Captain 

1 Now (1839) Major-General residing in Canada, and qnite blind ; he has a grant of 
land in that country, and has a most active wife, who superintends his aflfairs* 

i Now (1839) on half-pay. 

28 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

Byron and I were both very ill ; and we lost one 
officer by fever, Lieut. Henry William Walker, a 
young man very much liked in the regiment. I 
entirely escaped the opthalmia. 

Whilst we were in Egypt we made parties to go 
and visit the Pyramids. I went with a party of 
about six, and a pleasant time we had of it; I 
cannot recollect the names of all those who went 
with me, but Captain Byron, Lieut. Fulton, and, I 
think. Captain Murdoch Mc Lean,^ all of the XX, 
were among the number. We went from Alexandria 
in a large boat called a " Jerm." 

These boats were large and half-decked, and 
had one immense sail, with a crew of about a 
dozen sailors — Arabs — fine stout fellows. The Nile 
winding so much, the sail was at times of no use ; 
the Arabs then took to the water, like so many large 
Newfoundland dogs, after taking off their dress, 
which consisted frequently of only a long blue 
cotton shirt, from the neck to the ankles. After 
towing the boat round a winding part of the river, 
they plunged into the water some way ahead of 
the boat, and, as the "Jerm" approached them, 
they came alongside, climbed up the sides in all 
directions, and were very soon in their blue dresses 
again. These active fellows were in the water a 
dozen times or more a day, but never for any length 
of time, for the Nile was very rapid, and they never 
took to the water as long as the sail was of use. 

We sailed up the Nile, touching at Rosetta and 

1 Killed at the battle of Maida, Jalj 4, 1806. 

Reminiscences of my Miliary Life. 2g 

some other places on our way, where we used to 
supply ourselves with milk, eggs, fruit, bread, etc. 
We were two days before we reached Grand Cairo ; 
here we fell in with another party, and amongst 
them was an officer of the 31st Regiment, Captain 
Blomer,^ a very old friend and brother officer of mine, 
having served some years in the XX with me. We 
used to lodge together when quartered at Liverpool, 
in 1797 and 1798, and were particularly intimate 
friends ; being both named Charles, we always called 
each other " Charley." 

Whilst in the neighbourhood of Cairo he shot a 
pelican, a nice little bird to fill a shooting jacket 
pocket. I saw it alive at Cairo, it being only 
winged ; what became of it afterwards I forget. 

The day after our arrival at Grand Cairo we 
visited the Pyramids. We went part of the way in 
a boat, as the Nile had overflowed some of the 
country between Cairo and the Pyramids ; it was 
curious enough to be rowing over places which a 
short time previously had been perfectly dry, every 
now and then passing by trees half under water ; 
but, as soon as the Nile subsided, the ground would, 
we were told, become as dry as before. 

We visited the large Pyramid and went over 
the inside of it ; there was a sarcophagus in the 

' My dear friend Captain Blomer was a great entomologist, and had a splendid 
collection of British insects, the collecting of which afforded him mnch amnsement and 
occupation after he retired on half-pay, which he was obliged to do on account of ill* 
health, and, poor fellow, he died in the Isle of Wight, in May, 1836, in consequence of 
the breaking out of an old wound, leaving a widow, and one son who was studying for 
the law. I say a good deal about my kind friend and brother officer, not only on account 
of the affection I had for him, but also because his kindness and good temper were so 
well known to all my family. 


30 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

interior, which some called Pharoah's coffin ; it was 
of dark granite and open. I saw nothing particularly 
striking in the inside of the Pyramid, but altogether 
it was a most wonderful structure ; such a quantity 
of large pieces of stone, so placed as to form high 
steps from the bottom to the top. I went part of 
the way, but had not nerve to reach the summit, 
neither had my friend Byron ; I was much dis- 
appointed not being able to do so ; but I never 
could bear to look down from a height, even when 
quite a boy ; it was not therefore likely I should be 
able to reach the top of such a pyramid. Lieut. 
Fulton reached the top, and so did his servant, who 
was a fine tall fellow in our grenadier company ; he 
was the only one who cleared the base by throwing 
a stone from the top of the Pyramid, as it required 
great strength of arm to throw that distance, and he 
was also the first at the summit, being a very active 
young man. 

After quitting the Pyramid we took a look at 
the Sphynx, but so much of it was buried in the 
sand, that the head and face were only visible, and 
the latter was much defaced ; if it were all uncovered 
no doubt it would be an enormous figure, as the 
head was very large; the face was not very 
handsome. When we had finished gazing at the 
Sphynx our party returned to Cairo, being all much 
gratified with our da/s amusement. 

We could get but little rest at night at Cairo on 
account of the musquitos, which tormented us 
dreadfully, and they were equally troublesome at 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 31 

Rosetta, on our way to and from Cairo, and I 
returned to camp very lame, having been severely 
bitten in the instep, for their bite seemed almost 

While we were at Rosetta we met one or two 
parties, and with one of them was an old brother 
officer, of the XX, Captain Colborne.^ He was 
very much teased with the musquitos one night, 
when many of us were lying down to rest in a 
large room at one of the inns at Rosetta; he 
thought he would hit upon a plan to give the 
musquitos the slip, thinking they were on the walls 
of the room ; he therefore shifted his bed to the 
middle of the room, and, much to our amusement, 
the musquitos attacked him worse than ever, and 
I believe few of us had any rest that night; we 
tried to smoke them out, but all would not do, and 
we arose in the morning very little refreshed. 

On my return, after a very pleasant sail down 
the Nile, I found my regiment still in their encamp- 
ment, where I left them, but we shortly after 
marched a little further into the country, where we 
again soon pitched our tents, and where we suffered 
dreadfully from want of water. We used to have 
watering parties commanded by officers, and had 
about four miles to go over the sandy plain, in very 
hot weather, and, after all, the water was brackish ; 
being carried in the soldiers' canteens it was warm 

1 Now (1839) Lieat.-General Sir John Colborne, o.c.b. uid O.C.&., Oovernor- 
General, Civil and Military, in North America, and afterwards F. M. Lord Seaton, 
G.C.B., etc. 


32 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

when It reached the camp, and a great deal of it 
was drunk on the way, which made our supply 
sometimes but scanty. The water was procured by 
digging large holes in the sand near the underground 
springs, and letting the water oose into these hollows ; 
and, after all our toil and trouble, it was hardly fit to 
drink, but we had no other water, it was therefore 
Hobson's choice. The want of wholesome water 
was unfortunately the cause of much sickness 
amongst us while we were in this encampment. 

We were ordered early one morning to march 
to the Green Hill — why so called I cannot recollect, 
for there appeared no verdure on the place, as far 
as I can remember — it was not a great way from 
our camp ; there were not many shots exchanged 
with the enemy that morning ; the French fired a 
few cannon shot, which did but little execution, and 
I believe but few were put hors de combat. The 
30th Regiment were engaged on this occasion ; it 
was a short business, and we returned very soon 
again to our former encampment. Shortly after 
this the French capitulated and left the country. 

After we had been a few months in Egypt 
we embarked for the island of Malta, which part 
of the regiment reached in about three weeks, 
after a pleasant voyage ; but one ship, the " Madras," 
I think was her name, on board of which we had 
two companies, was nearly lost. It turned out 
that the ship sprung a leak, and the crew and 
troops on board were at the pumps for a fortnight ; 
Sir Richard Bickerton, the Admiral, was on board ; 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. jj 

they came into Malta harbour with about seven feet 
of water in the hold. The officers of the ship, as 
well as those of the troops embarked, took their 
turn at the pumps, and Sir Richard said, if there 
had not been troops on board she must have gone 
down, as numbers kept her afloat ; the crew would 
have been exhausted by their fatigue and over- 
exertion, but having 150 soldiers on board it was 
a great relief to the sailors: happily Providence 
was bountiful, and they arrived in safety. The two 
companies of the XX were under the command 
of Captain Wallace -} Lieut. Edward Jackson^ was 
also on board. The old " Madras," I believe, never 
left Malta after this voyage. 

The ship on board which I came from Egypt 
had a very quick passage ; it blew one morning so 
hard (but it happened to be a fair wind) that the 
number of knots, which we ran in six hours, was, 
as stated in the log, one fourteen, three elevens, and 
two nines, which was good sailing, considering the 
vessel was an old forty-four gun ship and a bad 
sailer; Captain Preston commanded her, but I 
cannot recollect her name. 

We disembarked shortly after our arrival at 
Malta, and were quartered at I sola ; this was about 
November or December, 1801. The ist Battalion 
were at Vittorioso, the opposite side of the harbour 
to us, commanded by Lieut-Colonel George Smyth ; 
the battalion to which I belonged was under the 

' Afterwards Bt Lieut-ColoneL 

* Now (1839) lieat-Colonel Unattached, and a k.h. 


34 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

command of Lieut. -Colonel David Clephane. We 
remained in the island until 1805. 

In 1802 I went on leave to England ; on the 
way home we touched at Gibraltar, and stayed there 
a few days. My friend Captain Byron and I went 
over the " Rock," and visited the casemates and 
chambers, cut out in the rock for the cannon, which 
were very curious. It is a strong place, these 
chambers being one above another in rows, so that on 
the Spanish side of the " Rock " it is particularly 
strong, and there is a battery called the Devil's Tongue 
opposite the neutral ground facing the Spanish lines, 
which is a very formidable battery. We went to 
the top of the '* Rock," where we saw a great many 
monkeys ; the Governor did not allow them to be 
destroyed, so they were very numerous ; you may 
always find them on the side of the **Rock " sheltered 
from the winds. 

We were nearly meeting with an accident as we 
neared the " Rock," and were sailing round one of the 
points to the harbour. Our vessel being high out 
of the water, laden with hemp, and a good deal of 
sail set, a sudden gust of wind almost capsized us, 
and some of us were obliged to hold on, fearing we 
should have fallen overboard. The vessel was an 
old storeship, commanded by a Master in the Navy 
of the name of Price. The wind used to come 
on so unexpectedly, and in such frequent gusts, 
round the " Rock," that there was an order forbidding 
boats to carry sail in the harbour, as these sudden 
squalls were sometimes very violent and dangerous. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. ^S 

It was amusing to watch a curious kind of small 
sea-gull in the harbour that used to dive after the 
fish ; it rose to some height then darted down, with 
its wings closed, with great forcer into the water, and 
appeared to go down some depth ; the noise caused 
by this sudden dash into the water resembled 
throwing a sharp stone edgeways, with great force, 
into a deep stream. 

After remaining a few days at Gibraltar we 
left for England. One night, while sailing before 
the wind with a fine summer breeze, the wind 
suddenly chopped right round ; it was so unexpected, 
so sudden, and blew so strong, that they were obliged 
to cut away the haulyards to let the yards down 
upon the caps, fearing our top-gallant masts, or 
something worse, might have been carried away ; 
however we fortunately received no damage : we 
afterwards had some foul winds, much to the 
annoyance of us landsmen, for I was always a 
bad sailor and not a very patient one. 

After a pleasant passage of about three weeks 
we arrived at Plymouth ; here the ship was put in 
quarantine for three or four days; the passengers 
then landed. My friend Byron stayed a week at 
Plymouth with me, and we then started for London 
to visit our friends. There were some officers of 
other regiments in the ship with us, and, on leaving 
Plymouth several of them proposed walking to 
London dressed as sailors, but told us (who posted 
it) not to notice them if we fell in with them on 
the road ; however, as luck would have it, we saw 


^6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

them standing at an inn door as we drove up to 
change horses, I think it was at Cranford Bridge, 
and by our quizzing them their disguise was dis- 
covered ; they accomplished their journey and were 
much amused with their frolic ; we often met 

I went occasionally to see my relations at 
Billericay, in Essex, and after remaining in England 
until the summer following (1803), once more 
embarked to return to Malta to join my regiment ; 
fifteen of us went out in the same ship, all of the 
XX, Colonel Robert Ross, Dr. Arnott our surgeon. 
Captain Byron, Captain Telford, Lieut. Dumas,^ 
and several others whose names I cannot recollect ; 
the name of the transport was the " Queen," and a 
most civil good seaman the master of her was. We 
embarked at Spithead, and were detained at the 
Isle of Wight by contrary winds ; but at last we 
sailed rather suddenly. A party of us were on 
shore at Ryde, and one fine summer morning about 
the month of August, between three and four o'clock, 
a signal gun was heard, which turned out to be from 
our Commodore s ship for the fleet to get under 
weigh and immediately go to sea ; a pretty rout it 
caused among us, scrambling out of bed and getting 
dressed to repair on board, which was accomplished 
in a very short time ; the ship was under weigh 
when we got along side ; having a fair wind we 
soon lost sight of the island, and ran down Channel 

1 Now (1839) Lieat.-Colone], half-pay, and Deputy Governor of Tilbuiy Fort ; after 
he left the XX he commanded the 3nd (or Queen's) in the West Indies. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 37 

in a very short time, and in a few days were far 
away from Old England. We were most of us 
young men and unmarried, and went to sea in very 
good spirits, looking forward at the end of our 
voyage, to meet again our brother officers at Malta^ 
Mrs. Ross was with her husband (the Colonel), and 
this was the commencement of her campaigning. 

On our way out we touched at Gibraltar, which 
was my second visit to the " Rock," and while there 
many of us used to bathe from our ship in the 
harbour by jumping overboard, for we could swim 
very well, and the weather being excessively hot 
made us enjoy a plunge. One morning my old 
friend Dr. Archibald Arnott and I actually plunged 
into the water at the time there was a shark on the 
opposite side of the vessel ; a foolish experiment 
certainly, but the sharks in the Mediterranean were 
supposed not to be so voracious, or dangerous, as in 
other climates, which accounted for our being so 
daring. The doctor often spoke of it afterwards, 
and used frequently to say to me, " I wonder, 
Steevens, we could have been guilty of such a 
piece of utter folly"; for it was certainly fraught 
with danger, though we had never heard of anyone 
being attacked by sharks in that latitude. You 
never can mistake a shark, for he swims with a 
fin above water. I have often seen them at sea, 
but never witnessed the capture of one, though we 
often tried with baited hooks ; but they are decidedly 
not so voracious in the Mediterranean. 

The 1 3th Regiment were quartered on the " Rock" 


j<? Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

at this time, and the XX having been in the West 
Indies with them some years previously (about 
1793 or 1794), they were very attentive and kind, 
and invited all of us to dinner, which invitation 
we accepted with much pleasure, and they gave us 
a most handsome entertainment. The 13th were 
commanded by the Hon. Colonel Colville ;^ it was a 
fine regiment and in high order. 

The meeting of regiments which have become 
attached to each other is very pleasing and gratifying ; 
frequently they may have not only been in garrison 
together, but may have also faced the enemy and 
fought side by side. 

We remained a day or two at Gibraltar, and 
then sailed for our destination, the island of Malta, 
where we arrived about the end of September or 
beginning of October, 1 803, and found the old XX 
in the garrison of La Valetta, the capital of the 
island ; the regiment was now one battalion, the 
2nd battalion having been reduced at the short 
peace of 1802. 

We had plenty of occupation, as far as drilling 
went, during our stay in Malta; for our Colonel 
(Ross) used frequently to take the XX out into the 
the country at five in the morning, and not bring us 
home until one p.m. This perhaps may appear to 
a military man rather exaggerated, but I can vouch 
for the truth of it, and so can many others. These 
field-days, drills, or whatever they may be called, 
were fatiguing in the extreme to us all, particularly 

I Now (18S9) General the Hon. Sir Charles Colville, o.c.b.» o.c.h. 

Reminiscences of nty Military Life. 3g 

to the men, and they were at last discontinued, by 
an order from the General commanding; these 
drills were looked upon by our Surgeon (my old 
friend Arnott) as very injurious to the health of the 
battalion, as the rest of the men was disturbed at the 
very time they might have had a little sleep, 4 to 
5 a.m. being the coolest time of the 24 hours. I 
have seen the men of my company with their white 
trousers quite wet, as if just washed, entirely from 
excessive perspiration ; we were repeatedly out for 
eight hours during the hot weather; frequently 
crossing the country, scouring the fields over the 
stone walls, the whole of the regiment acting as light 
infantry ; and the best of the joke was, that no other 
corps in the island was similarly indulged. We some* 
times amused ourselves, in the season, with quail 
shooting, for the quails at times were very numerous, 
and afforded the sportsmen much amusement for two 
or three weeks together. They came over in passes, 
thousands at a time, from the coast of Africa, and 
alighted in the island : if the same wind continued, 
that brought them over, they soon disappeared ; but if 
the wind changed soon after their arrival they then 
frequently remained for nearly a month, and we used 
to be almost tired of roast quail, quail pies, etc., at 
the mess table. 

A party of us once went to the island of Gozo, on 
an excursion for a week. It was about fifteen or 
eighteen miles from La Valetta, and we had a 
detachment there under the command of Captain 

40 Remintscefices of my Military Life. 

Bent.i Captain Luke Godfrey ,2 6ist Regiment, an 
old friend of mine and of several others of the XX, 
was likewise of the party ; Assist-Surgeon Miller 
of my regiment, who was particularly fond of 
shooting and used to train sporting dogs, was also 
with us on this excursion of pleasure, besides some 
more whose names I cannot recollect. 

One day, whilst at Gozo, two parties of us were 
out shooting, and we happened during the day to 
fall in with each other ; and while in conversation, 
enquiring what sport each party had met with, one 
of the dogs came to a point, and the rest backed 
him ; there were five dogs, and it so happened they 
were all of the same litter, and all handsome pointers. 
To a sportsman's eye this was a beautiful sight ; 
one of the dogs was mine, his name was " Roger."* 
These dogs had all been trained by my old friend 
and brother officer Miller, who died many years 
afterwards, surgeon of some regiment. I was always 
partial to shooting, which makes me rather dwell 
upon the subject ; we had quails and woodcocks in 
abundance, and after passing a pleasant week 
at Gozo, those who did not belong to the 
detachment stationed there returned to the head- 
quarters of our regiment at Malta, sorry at parting 
with our old friends. 

1 Afterwards Migor Bent, who was, poor fellow, killed at the head of the XX 
Eegiment at the battle of Orthes, 27th Febmary, 1814 ; he was formerly in the 92nd 
Regiment, and was with them at the landing in Egypt, 8th March, 1801. 

> Afterwards Major Godfrey, who died in 1887, on half-pay, in Ireland ; the Gist and 
XX Eegiments were great friends when in garrison together at Malta. 

' Poor " Soger" was shot some years afterwards in England, having shewn symptoms 
of madness. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 4.1 


During the time we were quartered at Malta, 
General Villetta, who commanded, used frequently 
to invite the officers of the garrison to his table, and 
there were public and private balls, besides parties 
and sometimes masquerades. At one of these 
masquerades, given at the palace, some XX officers 
went as Bacchanalians ; they carried a donkey up 
a long flight of stairs^ and entered the ball room in 
procession, with one of their number, as Silenus, 
mounted on the donkey. 

We had delightful bathing here, which was very 
conducive to health, for we required something to 
brace us during the hot months, the nights in the 
summer time being very oppressive; for the ther- 
mometer was repeatedly as high at twelve o'clock at 
night as it was at twelve o'clock in the day; at 
that time, during the day, we generally had a fine 
breeze, but during the night there was hardly a 
breath of air, and windows were not closed for 
months together, as we had no rain nor storms. 
The wet season was in the spring ; the winters were 
very mild, no frost, and at this time of year a fine 
climate for delicate constitutions. I have often 
wondered why invalids do not go to this island 
during the winter, as steam-packets are only about 
ten days reaching Malta from England. The ther- 
mometer during the hot months was generally from 
84° to 88° ; frequently day after day about 86.® 

In the month of March, 1805, we had a great 

1 The animal, frightened at the lights, stnbhornly declined to walk np the eaij 
steps, 80 the pseudo-Bacchanalians, not to be thwarted, carried him up. 


42 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 


number of Spanish prizes brought into Malta, and 
at one time there were not less than a hundred sail 
in the port, some of them very valuable. 

We remained in the island till November 3rd, 
1805, when we left for Italy to join a Russian army 
which had gone to that country. After a tedious 
voyage of about three weeks the troops landed at 
Castel Amare. The British army fell in with the 
Russians off Sicily, and we all arrived together, but 
they disembarked very near Naples, and part of 
them, I believe, at Capua. We had a very 
unpleasant march to Nocera after we landed ; the 
roads were very wet, and we did not reach the place 
until ten o'clock p.m., and afterwards had a great 
difficulty to procure quarters. 

While we were in this country we received an 
order to meet the Russians (about 20,000 men), and 
to be reviewed by the King of Naples, and a tiring 
day we had of it ; we left our quarters about five a.m., 
on the 30th November, and had eight or ten miles 
to go to the ground, situate on the sea shore not far 
distant from the foot of Mount Vesuvius ; the whole 
of the beach for miles was covered with ashes from 
the mountain, and it was hard work getting through 
it, particularly after our march from Nocera; here 
we waited six hours before his Neapolitan Majesty 
made his appearance, which was about one p.m. 
At last the sound of bugles and beating of drums, 
for the men to fall in, gave us notice of His Majesty's 
approach, and a miserable set out it was ; the traces 
of the carriage were merely ropes, so different to 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 43 

what I was accustomed to see in my own country, 
and particularly when royalty appeared; and I do 
not recollect that there were more than two or three 
carriages in his retinue. 

After the Russian and our army had passed the 
King in review order, (which of course took some 
time, for all the officers had to salute His Majesty,) 
we returned to our respective quarters, which I 
recollect we did not reach much before nine o'clock 
p.m. ; a pretty sharp day's work, and all to gratify the 
whim of a maccaroni King. While we were waiting 
for his Majesty, the men piled their arms and lay 
down, (fortunately it was a fine October day), for 
they and all of us were tired with the worry of 
waiting ; being six hours behind time it was a bad 
sample of punctuality ; besides, neither officers nor 
men took any provisions with them, so that we were 
without any food from six in the morning until nine 
at night, having had nothing but grumbling to feast 
upon, which is said to be a soldier's privilege. 

The King of Naples was a very good-looking 
man, and his Queen also was a fine old woman ; one 
of the Princesses I thought rather handsome, and 
the young Prince very much so. We found this 
country much colder than Malta, and the tops of the 
surrounding mountains were frequently covered with 
snow. As there were no barracks here, we were 
quartered in private houses. I lived, with some 
officers, in a gentleman's house about a mile from 
Nocera, and the family were very civil to us; at 
these houses they gave us lodging only. 


44 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

After marching and counter-marching for a few 
weeks, without seeing the enemy or even smelling 
powder, we left the country and proceeded to 
the island of Sicily, where we disembarked a day or 
two after we arrived off Messina, and went into 
several different quarters close at hand ; and, soon 
after, we were stationed along the coast, the Faro of 
Messina, as far as the Light House, which was 
opposite Scylla Rock, the spot of the celebrated 
Charybdis. We were in these quarters a few 
months, and were then ordered on the expedition to 
Calabria, under Major-General Stuart. 

About the 30th of June we embarked in large 
open boats, called feluccas, and were employed 
cruising off that part of Calabria which lay between 
Reggio and Cape Spartivento ; the boats, on an 
emergency, could hold about one hundred men, but 
we had not more than one officer and about eighteen 
or twenty men in each, so, with respect to our force, 
we deceived the French General (Regnier) and his 
army very much. We were out off that part of the 
coast, not with any intention of landing, but merely 
to draw the attention of the French there, whilst 
our army landed at the Bay of St. Euphemia. 

At the expiration of four days we returned to 
Messina harbour, quitted our boats, and on the 3rd 
of July (1806) we embarked in transports and 
immediately set sail for the rest of the army. We 
anchored in the Bay of St. Euphemia early on the 
morning of the 4th ; while we lay at anchor the 
Admiral, Sir Sydney Smith, hailed the ships, saying it 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. - 4.5 

was General Stuart's intention to attack the enemy 
that very morning. 

Without waiting for orders, our gallant chief, 
Colonel Ross, gave directions for the regiment to 
disembark soon after daylight. General Stuart had 
landed with a small army a few days previously and 
they were now engaged, for we could hear the firing 
and see the smoke ; we therefore cheerfully obeyed the 
order and landed forthwith, after filling our havre- 
sacks and canteens, for officers as well as men carried 
their three days* provisions, and their blankets and 
change of linen. In landing, the boats had to go 
through a great deal of surf, and the men spoilt all 
their cartridges, but having some casks of ammunition 
in the boats, we soon replenished their pouches, and 
immediately hurried across the country, through 
woods and marshes, in the direction whence the 
music of cannon and musketry was heard, and we 
reached our little army just at the very nick of 
time, for we came through a wood upon the left of 
the British line, which the French cavalry were 
trying to turn. We immediately formed, and they 
attempted to charge us to turn our left ; but Colonel 
Ross threw back the left wing of the old XX, that 
they might not get round our flank ; and, after 
giving them a few shots, they relinquished the 
attempt ; for a long time, however, they kept hovering 
about us, and made us change our position several 
times ; but we were always ready to receive them. 
The enemy's infantry suffered severely in this action, 
called the battle of Maida, but their cavalry seemed 

^6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

afraid to engage, though we had none of that arm. 

Our army consisted of about 4000 men, and the 
French had between 7000 and 8000 in this engage- 
ment, including some hundreds of cavalry. The 
French were in a strong position on a hill, but their 
Commander, General Regnier, fancied he could 
easily drive us into the sea ; he therefore left his 
position, attacked our army, and got well thrashed ; 
for the number of French killed, wounded, and 
prisoners amounted to nearly our whole force ; the 
field of battle the next morning was a scene awful 
to behold, dead and wounded lying together by 

The Light Infantry Battalion, (composed of ten 
light companies from several regiments, including 
that of the XX under Captain Murdoch Mc Lean,) 
commanded by Colonel Kempt,^ was on the rfght of 
the line, and was very warmly engaged with the 
enemy, particularly with the French Regiment Le 
Premier Leger, which was nearly annihilated by a 
charge of our Light Infantry Battalion and suffered 
great loss, as acknowledged by one of the French 
officers who was taken prisoner. In this bloody 
combat these two regiments advanced towards each 
other, without firing, until they came within pistol 
shot ; our Light Battalion then gave them a volley, 
and the commanding officer (Kempt), seizing a 
favourable opportunity, charged and routed them 
most completely. 

In this gallant struggle poor Captain Mc Lean of 

I Afterwards the Eight Hon. Sir James Bkempt^ o.cb.,, a Lieat.-Geiieral and 
llaster-General of the Ordnance. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 47 

the XX was mortally wounded, and did not survive 
five minutes ; we were most attached friends, having 
been brother officers for ten years, and had passed 
many happy years in each other's society ; there was 
but one days difference in our ages: I greatly 
regretted his loss, and so did many others, as he 
was much liked in the old regiment : he was a brave 
fellow, and, I believe, lost his life by his gallantry. 
It was after the French left had been thus thoroughly 
beaten, that they tried to bring up their right to turn 
the British left, but, as previously described, the oppor- 
tune arrival of the old XX frustrated this attempt. 

It was very remarkable that, considering the 
large number of officers who fell on the side of the 
enemy, the British had but one officer (Captain 
Mc Clean) killed in the field on this day ; there were 
many officers and men wounded, and many men 
killed, but nothing in comparison with what the 
the French lost. Major Powlett, who was attached 
to the Light Infantry Battalion, was very severely 

So terminated the glorious battle of Maida ; we 
did not pursue the enemy on their retreating, as our 
force was too weak, and, besides, it was not our 
policy to do so ; but we bivouacked not far from the 
scene of action. 

I recollect one night, while on bivouack, a large 

> Major Henry Powlett belonged to the 44th Eegiment ; he had preTionsly served 
many years in the XX Regiment, in which he attained the rank of Major, and was 
appointed to the 44th Regiment on the formation of the 2nd Battalion, in July, 1808. 
He died many years afterwards a Lieut-Colonel on half-pay, and Lieut.-GoYenior of 
Carisbrooke Castle. 

48 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

snake crawled over me ; we were at the time lying 
down in high grass; I felt most uncomfortable 
afterwards, and hardly closed my eyes again that 
night. ^ 

At the close of this campaign fever broke out 
amongst the troops, and carried off many officers 
and men ; it was not infectious, but was brought 
on by over fatigue. I escaped, fortunately, and was 
perfectly well during all our fatiguing marches over 
the mountains ; we did not have our clothes off for 
some weeks, sleeping in the open fields under trees. 

Whilst in Calabria we marched to Reggio and 
one or two other places, and, after being in that 
country about a month or so, we returned to Sicily, 
leaving a garrison at Scylla, opposite the Faro Tower, 
on the other side of the Straits of Messina ; I think 
Major David Walker^ of the XX was left in 
command of the garrison. Upon our return to 
Sicily we were quartered at Messina. 

After the death of Captain Mc Lean, the light 
company was commanded by Captain Colborne, 
and in the autumn of 1806, after he was put 
upon the Staff, I took the command of this 
company, and joined them at Contessa, not far from 
Messina, where the Light Infantry Battalion was 
quartered, still under the command of Colonel 
Kempt ; and in that corps was my old chum, Charley 
Blomer, at that time in the light company of the 

* The field of Maida was covered with myrtle boshes, and for many years the 
officers and men of the XX used always to wear a sprig of myrtle in their caps on the 
4th of Jnly, the anniversary of this glorious victory. 

' Afterwards Lieat.-Colonel 58th Begiment, and now (1889) a Migor-Grncra!. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. ^g 

3 1 St Regiment ; naturally enough we saw a great 
deal of each other, and passed many happy hours 

One day a party of four of us visited Mount 
Etna ; it took us nearly a week to get from Messina 
to the top and back again, the distance being about 
ninety miles. From Catania to the top is about 
thirty miles, and all up hill ; rather fatiguing, but we 
rode the whole of the way, except two miles, when 
we were obliged to walk, as the ground was too 
steep for riding. It was a very pleasant ride going 
through the different regions ; first of all the " ashy," 
then the " fertile," afterwards the " woody," and last 
of all the "snowy region." I found it excessively 
cold going up, for I rode fully two miles on snow, 
and then had to walk up the steepest part of the 
mountain on snow; only three of us reached the 
top. The weather became very bad while we were 
at the summit, and it was with difficulty that we 
found our way down again; then came on a very 
heavy fall of snow, and the wind blew pretty hard ; 
the guide was so alarmed that he did not go as far 
with us as he ought ; but we were determined to see 
all we could. There was so much smoke issuing 
from the crater, that I only once saw down into it, 
and now and then I heard a kind of rumbling noise, 
but the mountain that day was reckoned very quiet ; 
I was so much gratified with the sight that I should 
have liked to have gone again. 

During our stay at Messina we had several 
severe shocks of earthquake ; one shock cracked 

50 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

the wall of my bedroom from the ceiling to 
the floor, and down to the bottom of the room 

I was in the Light Infantry Battalion a few 
months, and was then ordered to join my regiment 
at Messina, it being about to move to Milazzo in 
another part of the island. We did not find Milazzo 
healthy, and at one time while there we had nearly 
half our officers and about 300 men ill. I suffered 
a good deal from a swelling in the knee, which I 
believe was rheumatic ; I was lame for months, but 
with the immediate prospect of active service, I did 
not like to go away for a change. We had a very 
hot summer here, thermometer, with a sea breeze, 
sometimes as high as 97° in my room ; even the 
inhabitants felt the heat very much, and used to 
sleep on the flat roof (terrace) of their houses ; one 
day when the scirocco, a hot wind, blew, the ther- 
mometer in my room rose to 100°. 

During the month of April, 1807, while at Milazzo, 
we heard that Admiral Sir John Duckworth had 
forced the passage of the Dardanielles, when the 
" Ajax " was accidentally blown up, having caught 
fire at night ; the Captain, several officers, and about 
400 men were saved ; a great many were lost in 
consequence of their jumping overboard at the com- 
mencement of the accident ; and, as it was blowing 
hard, and was likewise dark at the time, they were 
unable to reach the other ships, or to get on shore. 
The passage which the Admiral forced was very 
narrow, and the batteries were blazing at him in all 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. Si 

directions ; but what did it avail ? the " wooden 
walls " were not at all damaged. 

We remained at Milazzo till the autumn of 1807, 
and then embarked for Lisbon with some other 
troops, under the command of Sir John Moore '} we 
did not land there, (as I believe the French had 
got possession of the place before us,) but made sail 
for old England : we disembarked at Portsmouth in 
January, 1808, and marched to Brabourne Lees 
Barracks, in Kent. 

It was reported, on our arrival at Spithead, that 
we were to be sent back again, as Sir John Moore 
had brought us home without orders; however, it 
was thought better of, and we were allowed to 
land, but I fancy it was rather doubtful whether we 
ought not have been sent back again on our first 
arrival, which would have been a very great dis- 
appointment to us all, as the regiment had been up 
the Mediterranean about eight years, and some of 
the other troops about the same time ; but our stay 
at home was very short, for it will be seen that we 
were off about six months after. 

We remained at Brabourne Lees barracks but 
a short time, and then marched to Colchester 
barracks, in Essex, continued there a few weeks 
and then went to Ipswich barracks, and from 
thence, in the month of August, to Harwich, 
where we embarked and sailed once more for 
Portugal. It was a most sultry day when the troops 
marched to Harwich ; many of the men were quite 

* Killed at the battle of Coranna, January 16tb, 1809. 

52 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

overcome with the excessive heat ; some men of the 
2nd (or Queen's) Regiment died in consequence of 
the hot weather. There were at that time a great 
many young men in the " Queen's " who were not 
able to go through as much fatigue as the old 
soldiers of the XX could bear, which accounted for 
the casualties. 

On the 20th of August, 1808, we disembarked at 
Maceira, near Peniche, and lay on the beach that 
night, and the following morning we took part in the 
battle of Vimiera; we were in Major-General 
Ackland's Brigade, and the army was commanded 
by Sir Arthur Wellesley.^ 

The old 50th were much engaged in this action, 
and behaved very gallantly. Only part of the XX 
were present at the battle of Vimiera, under the 
command of Lieut. -Colonel Campbell, as head- 
quarters could not land for want of boats ; all on 
board were dreadfully annoyed, when they heard the 
firing, that they could not join the remainder of their 
comrades ; but such is the fate of war. 

I was detached during the action and was with 
two companies of the 95th (Rifles) f we were 
engaged in driving some French riflemen out of a 
wood that was in front of the centre of our army ; 
my company (the light company) behaved nobly on 
the occasion ; I had only one man wounded ; 

' Sir Arthur used afterwards often to speak of the Battle of Vimiera, and seemed to 
talk of that action with much pleasure, it being one of the first engagements, in Europe, 
where he commanded. 

* Belonging to the 1st Battalion 95th, and attached to General Ackland's Brigade, 
f^ Sir W. Cope's Eittory of BiJU Brigade p. 27. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 53 

we knocked over several of the enemy, and took 

many prisoners ; the French hid themselves behind 

the trees and kept up a very heavy fire, but we 

advanced on them very rapidly, and drove them 

away in all directions, pouring in volley after volley 

of musketry. Several pieces of cannon were taken 

that day, and the French lost an immense number 

of men. We had one officer killed, Lieut. Brooke, 

and one officer wounded, Lieut. Hogge.^ I was 

excessively ill during the action, and suffered a 

great deal of pain ; but having command of the 

Light Company I could not bear the idea of being 

left on board ship, so I landed with my men, and 

got through the fatigue of that day better than I 

The French at Vimiera were commanded by 
Junot, and they were completely beaten in all points. 

We were encamped afterwards at Becarinha, near 
Cintra, not far from Lisbon. We were hutted when 
we could get wood, otherwise we were exposed to 
all weathers, never taking off our clothes. 

The army in and about Lisbon was under the 
command of Sir Hugh Dairy mple, as, after the 
action. Sir Arthur was superseded in his command, 
two Generals, Sir Harry Burrard and Sir Hugh 
Dairy mple, having been sent out from England ; 
both, I believe, were senior to Sir Arthur 
Wellesley ; and then that unfortunate Convention 
of Cintra was entered into. I call it unfortunate^ 
because the very garrison of Lisbon, under Junot, 

> Now (1839) Lieat-Cdonel, Unattached. 

54 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

who were allowed to embark for their own country 
although prisoners of war, opposed our army again 
in Spain soon after. It was a great pity that 
Convention was ever concluded, as no doubt if Sir 
Arthur Wellesley had not been superseded in his 
command, the result would have been very different ; 
the army was very much dissatisfied, and indeed 
so were the people in England, at the French 
garrison being allowed to escape, consisting, as it 
did, of many thousand men ; if our army had 
advanced and attacked Lisbon, not a man of them 
would have escaped, but they must all have been 
taken prisoners. 

After this treaty was concluded we moved from 
our encampment at Becarinha on our way to Elvas, 
my regiment having been ordered there, and we 
were the first English regiment ever quartered in 
that place ; on our march we crossed the Tagus to 
Aldea Galega, then to Canya, Montemore Nuevo, 
Vende de Due, Aryolas, Estremos, Alberoca, Villa 
Vicosa, and from thence to Elvas, the frontier town 
of Portugal. At Estremos the inhabitants were 
particularly civil and kind to the regiment ; they 
made us a present of a couple of fine bullocks, and 
gave fruit, wine, bread, etc., to the men as well as 
to the officers. The bullocks* horns were decorated 
with ribbons, and they were driven out of the town 
at the head of the regiment. 

We remained at Villa Vicosa a few days, and, 
during our stay, we received a handsome present 
from the Lady Abbess and nuns, and were invited 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. SS 

to go into the convent there. The present consisted 
of two large dishes of sweetmeats and cakes, orna- 
mented with coloured cut paper, flowers, etc. ; they 
were beautifully arranged, and of course very sweet, 
and were a delightful treat to us. We were very 
politely received by the Lady Abbess on our entering 
the convent, and we thought it a high honour to be 
admitted within the walls. We sat chatting to the 
Lady Abbess and the young nuns, for many of them 
spoke French as also Italian ; I managed to get on 
pretty well with the French language, for foreigners 
will always help you out when you are at fault. 
Many of the nuns were both young and handsome, 
and we thought it was a great pity to see so many 
fine young women excluded from society ; but they 
appeared cheerful and happy, and were particularly 
pleasant and agreeable in conversation, and we 
were very sorry when the time came for our 
departure ; we used, now and then, afterwards, to go 
and talk to them through the iron grating, but, if I 
recollect well, the Lady Abbess was always present. 

While at Villa Vicosa I amused myself fishing in 
a pond, close to the palace where I was quartered. 
I fished out of one of the windows, and my tackle 
was not much suited to the angler, for it consisted 
of a piece of stick for a rod, and a string with a 
crooked pin tied to it ; however, one of my subalterns, 
Harding (whom I have mentioned before), managed to 
catch a dish of fish now and then with my assistance ; 
but I am almost ashamed to say what they were, — 
nothing more nor less than gold and silver fish. One 

^6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

day our little mess gave a dish of these fish, for a 
fore-quarter of mutton, to another mess ; for we 
could not all meet at one dinner, but generally a 
company or two of officers dined together, as we 
used frequently to do on service. 

Part of the regiment was quartered at Elvas, and 
part at Fort La Lippe. The inhabitants of Elvas 
were particularly friendly and attentive to us ; and, 
never having seen a British regiment before, they 
made much of the old XX. Our Colonel (Ross) speak- 
ing the language of the country, and also French, very 
fluently, was a great advantage. Previous to our 
occupying Fort La Lippe the French had a garrison 
there, but, being included in the Convention of 
Cintra, they marched out soon after our arrival at 
Elvas, and were escorted to Lisbon to join their 
own army there, and, I believe, opposed us again 
some months after in Spain. At Elvas I was billeted 
at a gentleman's house ; the family consisted of 
himself, wife, and daughter. The daughter had a 
very pretty black horse, which I wanted to purchase ; 
her father was not unwilling, if she were inclined to 
part with it, as it was entirely at her own disposal, 
and I often asked her to let me have the horse. 
One day I was talking to Colonel Ross about it, he 
immediately said, " Shew her twenty guineas, and the 
horse is yours ;" dollars were not so tempting as 
guineas ; nothing like the old guinea with the head 
of good old George III upon it ; that coin passed 
everywhere. As I had nothing but dollars Colonel 
Ross lent me the twenty guineas ; I laid them on 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. j/ 

the table before the young lady, and the black 
horse was immediately mine. The little horse after- 
wards met with a sad fate, having been one of the 
number that were shot near Corunna just before 
that action, more of which affair will be mentioned 
hereafter. Here, as at Villa Vicosa, we used to 
chat with the nuns through the iron grating, and 

one of our officers (Lieut. W ) a handsome 

young fellow, fell in love with one of them, a very 
pretty girl ; the affection seemed reciprocal, and, 
I believe, they were both equally sorry when the 
regiment marched away. 

We afterwards moved into Fort La Lippe; it 
was a very strong place, stood high above the town 
of Elvas, and opposite (at about six or eight miles 
distance) was Badajos, the frontier town of Spain, 
a fortified place ; at this time it was not in the 
possession of the French, but was garrisoned by 
the Spaniards, Fort La Lippe was a fine healthy 
situation, from which we had a very extensive 
view, both of Spain and Portugal : while we 
were here our horses were taken to water, down 
the hill outside the Fort, to a cistern of fine 
spring water : for some days I found my horse 
bled very much at the mouth ; on examination it 
was ascertained to be caused by leeches, several 
having been found about his tongue. 

After being quartered at this Fort some little 
time we marched thence into Spain. Our first 
day's march was to Campo Mayor in Estremadura, 
and from thence to Albuquerque, Alcede, Brosas, 

$8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

Alcantara, Sazza Mayor, Morilezza, Perales, Penio 
Pardas, in old Castile, and Guinelda to Ciudad 
Rodrigo, where we remained some little time; it 
was a large fortified place, and two or three years 
afterwards was once more garrisoned by the 
French, and stormed and taken by our troops, 
but the old XX were not at that time in the 
country. From Ciudad Rodrigo we were ordered 
to Salamanca, and marched to San Martini del 
Rio, and to Canillas di Abaxo, and from thence to 
Salamanca. On our route from Fort La Lippe 
to Salamanca, we passed through an extensive 
forest; it was nearly two days* march to get 
through it, and the first night we halted at a 
small village in the middle of the forest, I think it 
was Perales or Penio Pardas, but I am not certain. 
There were many wolves about at night, and the 
people were obliged to shut up their horses, cattle, 
etc., after dark, for they had been known to eat 
part of an animal alive. 

We remained at Salamanca for some weeks, 
awaiting the arrival of the remainder of our troops, 
which, from the force being so large, were obliged 
to march by different routes. When collected we 
mustered, — including cavalry and artillery, — 40,000 
men. We experienced some fatiguing marches 
between Lisbon and Salamanca, nearly 400 miles ; 
I marched on foot all the time, and I never had 
better health. Sir John Moore was in command of 
the Army, and we thought ourselves very fortunate 
in having so fine a fellow at our head. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. jrp 

Salamanca was a large town on the river Tormes, 
over which there was a handsome bridge to enter 
the town ; it contained a fine Cathedral and several 
Colleges, but the streets were very narrow and dirty. 
In the river was a bird called a diver, which afforded 
some of us a little amusement ; he used to be close 
to the town, and some of the inhabitants related an 
odd story about this diver, which they called by the 
name of " Buonaparte " ; they said it had been there 
about twenty years, and no one could shoot it. 
One morning three of us, poor Bent, Harding, 
(both no more) and I, took our fowling pieces, 
determined, if possible, to shoot this celebrated 
bird ; we found him on the river, and so placed our- 
selves that, whenever he came up after diving, he 
was always between us. We got several shots at 
him, but he was always so quick in getting under 
water after the trigger was pulled, that we never 
could touch him ; and, after firing until our patience 
was quite exhausted, we gave it up. Others, besides 
ourselves, were equally unsuccessful at various times ; 
so we left him as we found him, and when we 
quitted Salamanca " Buonaparte " was still alive. 
If we had had detonating locks no doubt we should 
have bagged him, in spite of the superstitious 
notions many had concerning this bird. 

At Salamanca I was billeted at the house of a 
Spanish gentleman, who drove six mules in his 
carriage, and seemed a person of good fortune ; but 
whether Tory or Radical I know not, but I shpuld 
rather suppose the latter, for he never paid me a 

6o Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

visit, nor shewed me any attention. One of the six 
mules, which this Spanish gentleman drove in his 
carriage, stood so high in the shoulder, that I had the 
curiosity to measure him by my own height, and I 
found that his shoulder came to the top of my light 
infantry cap, and I stood 5ft. 11 in. without it; so 
I conclude that the animal must have been nearly as 
high as the celebrated horse, exhibited in England 
in 1837, which measured twenty hands. The mule 
I have mentioned was much higher than either of 
the other five, but it was by no means a handsome 
or well-proportioned animal. 

In the meadows round about Salamanca were 
immense quantities of mushrooms ; we could have 
gathered bushels of them : we used to have them 
stewed, boiled, and cooked in various ways. I can- 
not exactly say how long we remained at Salamanca, 
but it was a few weeks ; and it was reported that our 
retreat was finally decided upon before we marched 
from that place, for the Spaniards gave us no 
support, and their soldiers were sneaking away to 
their homes in all directions, — frequently a dozen or 
twenty together, — leaving us to fight their battles ; 
and without their assistance our force was too small 
to cope with the enemy, for we had not more than 
24,000 men afterwards at Corunna, and the French 
had about 40,000, — very great odds ; still, as will be 
seen, we were conquerors in that action. 

As soon as we moved from Salamanca it was 
looked upon then as the commencement of Sir John 
Moore's retreat, as it was called.^ From Salamanca 

-^^- -'111. !■ I_ - ■ _ _ . _ M II I 

' Vide Appendix " B." 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 6i 

we went to Cagtilianos di Morisco, Christofal di 
Cuesta, Villa Excusa, Toro, Pedrosa del Rey, Tedra, 
Villapando, Valdieras, Santierbo, Graghal di los 
Campos, Mayorga, Fuente sa Bucco, Benevente, 
Lavaniessa, Astorga, Combaros, Bembibre, Calca- 
velos, Villa Franca, Ferrareas, Nogales, Constantino, 
Lugo ; and from thence we marched one league to 
Milarosa, where we took up a position on high 
ground, a commanding situation, and the French 
were in a position just opposite to us. We remained 
one whole day there, expecting the enemy would 
attack us, but we only looked at each other, and not 
a shot was fired on either side. 

As soon as night came on we retired about three 
leagues, and took up another position, and I think it 
was in this position that we had a little skirmishing, 
the French having attacked us, but it was very 
trifling. From thence we went to Cordeda and then 
to Monillos, which was about a league from Corunna ; 
here our Brigade remained a day or two, and the 
other part of the army was cantoned in and about 
Corunna, as the ships, that were expected for us, 
had not arrived ; otherwise it was intended that the 
army should have embarked immediately on their 
arrival at Corunna; but being delayed the French 
had plenty of time to bring up their force ; we were 
therefore obliged to take up a position. 

We suffered great privations during the retreat, 
which was seriously commenced on Christmas Day, 
1 808 ; and from that time until the battle of Corunna, 
January i6th, 1809, the enemy kept pretty close to 

62 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

us, and at times harassed us a good deal. We were 
very frequently within musket shot of each other, 
and occasionally had a brush with them. 

On the evening of Christmas Day I recollect 
going through a stream of water, and rather a deep 
one ; we might just as well have gone over a small 
bridge close at hand, for we got wet to our waists 
and had no opportunity of drying our clothes, and 
this on a Christmas evening (when our friends at 
home were enjoying themselves at their firesides) 
was no joke ; but General Anstruther, who gave 
the order, thought it would have caused too great a 
delay to take the troops over so narrow a bridge ; 
however I was none the worse, being of an age at 
this time to go through a great deal. 

On this same day we lost one of our men in a 
melancholy way, and a fine young man he was ; he 
was in the Grenadier Company ; he was eating a 
piece of roll or new bread, while walking along and 
talking to his comrades on the march, when part of it 
stuck in his throat and choked him. Our excellent 
kind Surgeon (Arnott)^ was called immediately to his 
assistance, but could not save him, and the poor 
man was soon after buried. 

One day I recollect there was a little skirmish 
with the enemy, for, after the excessive fatigue we 

1 Sargeon Archibald Amott was for many years in the XX Regiment, and 
served with it during yarioos campaigns. He was with the regiment at St. Helena at 
the time the Emperor Napoleon was there, and had the honor of attending the illastrioas 
captive daring his latter days. Napoleon on his death-bed desired that his gold snuff-box 
might be brought to him, when, with his dying hand, he scratched on the lid, with a pen- 
knife, the letter " N," and presented it to Surgeon Amott as a parting memento of his 
esteem and gratitude. 


Reminiscences of my Military Life. 6j 

underwent, we were obliged occasionally to halt to 
recruit ourselves, and then the French used to attack 
us. On this occasion they had a party led on by an 
officer on a grey horse ; a man of the 95th Rifles 
fired at him, and he was seen to fall. Colonel Ross, 
and all of us who witnessed it, were very sorry, as 
he seemed to be a remarkably gallant fellow ; but 
such, alas ! is the fate of war.^ 

The French had much the advantage of us in 
these petty warfares, for I have frequently seen 
their light troops mounted behind their dragoons, so 
that when they they came to a favourable place to 
make an attack, these fellows dismounted quite 
fresh, and our light troops, who had been always 
marching, had to oppose them ; still we managed to 
beat them off. 

At a place called, I think, Calcavelos, a soldier 
of one of the regiments, who was a straggler and 
had been taken prisoner, managed to get again 
into our lines, although severely wounded in several 
places ; his wounds being chiefly about his face 
and arms, he was, poor fellow, able to walk, but the 
French cavalry had cut him about terribly ; he was 
a dreadful object to look at, and greatly to be pitied, 

1 This officer was no doubt General Colbert, who conimanded the advanced guard of 
the French cavalry, the circumstances of whose death are mentioned in Sir William Cope's 
History of ihe Bifle Brigade (p. 84) where we read that on the 8rd January, 1809, when 
the 95th formed the rear-guard of the reserve, during the retreat of Sir John Moore, they 
were attacked, near the village of Calcavelos, by the enemy's cavalry under General Colbert, 
when Thomas Plunket, a private of the 05th, noted for his excellent shooting, shot the 
Erench General dead. Napier, in his Peninsular War, writing of the incident, observes, 
"his fine martial figure, his voice, his gestures, and, above all, his great valour, had 
excited the admiration of the British, and a general feeling of sorrow was predominant 
when the gallant soldier fell." 

64 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

though perhaps his condition had been brought on 
him by his own irregularities ; still we could not help 
feeling for him. Colonel Ross led him through the 
ranks of our regiment, to point out to the men 
the way in which the French would serve them, 
if they lagged behind through drunkenness, I 
believe the poor sufferer, after all, was left behind 
a day or two after, as we had not the means to 
carry him on ; and, in all probability, the surgeon 
said, he would not survive, as he had so many 
wounds. It was supposed he had been drunk when 
taken prisoner, and, having resisted, no doubt the 
enemy ill-used him, for many hundreds of stragglers 
who reached our lines, and had been prisoners, were 
not at all mutilated. 

It was at this same town (Calcavelos), I think, 
that I met with a radical priest, who treated the 
French very differently from our troops; but he 
paid for his folly. We had been quartered in this 
priest's house, but the men of my company had 
been indifferently accommodated, having no straw 
in their rooms ; and when I remonstrated with this 
priest, he said that he could not procure any 
straw, so we were obliged to go without; but he 
appeared very civil, and I concluded that it 
was out of his power to make our rooms more 

We marched out of the town to continue our 
retreat, but unexpectedly we were ordered to return, 
and the different companies of the regiment were 
directed to occupy their old quarters; I took my 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 65 

Light Company back to the priest's house, and lo ! 
and behold ! all the rooms were knee-deep in straw, 
as the French were expected in the town that day, 
if we had not returned ; of course my men were 
very much exasperated against the priest for his 
deceitful conduct, so I was determined to punish 
him in some way ; the priest himself was not forth- 
coming, as you may well suppose. He happened to 
have a little store of bacon in the house, so I had a 
piece served out to each of my men, and after all, I 
believe, it was no great loss to him, for no doubt the 
French would have helped themselves to it as soon 
as they arrived, as was generally their plan ; except 
in this instance, we always paid for what we had ; 
and the night before I had paid the priest for a pint 
of wine and some bacon for each man, but after his 
behaviour I think he was rightly served. 

We suffered a good deal from fatigue, wet, and 
cold, besides the want of provisions. One day I 
had nothing to eat but a few raw turnips. The chief 
brunt of the retreat fell upon us, the regiments com- 
posing the reserve under the command of General 

I commanded the Light Company of the old XX ; 
a fine company it was, and I was not a little proud 
of them. The regiments took the duty of rear-guard 
alternately. One day I was in the rear of all our 
troops, with my Light Company and my two 

I Consisting of the XX, 28tli, 52nd, Olst, and 95th Eegiments and some Artillery ; 
whether there were any more regiments in the reserve I cannot exactly recollect. 

66 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

subalterns, Lieuts. Lutyens and Harding;^ we had 
a large medicine chest in charge, which I had orders 
to destroy, if the bullocks, that were drawing it, 
knocked up, which unfortunately turned out to be 
the case. This detained us some time, the chest 
being so well and closely packed, for it was just as 
it came from Apothecaries' Hall, and was very 
valuable. The chest was taken out of the cart, and 
every bottle, jar, case, etc., thrown out of it and 
broken to pieces, the men using stones and the butt- 
ends of their firelocks ; we afterwards destroyed the 
chest itself by jumping upon it ; in short, I do not 
think we left anything, worth having, for the enemy 
when they came up, which they did very soon after 
we retired. 

We were often within shot of the enemy s first 
file of Dragoons, but we did not fire at each other, 
our object being to reach Corunna as expeditiously 
as possible, and to avoid engaging, our army being 
so inferior in point of numbers, for the strength of 
the French was about double ours. 

At a place called Nogales, on our retreat, there 
was a bridge to be blown up, and my company were 
nearly taken prisoners, through some mistake with 
respect to an order. I received orders to post my 
men on the side of the bridge next the enemy, so as 
to cover it, whilst preparations were being made for 

1 lieat. Lutyens died on board ship, many years afterwards, when coming home from 
the East Indies ; he was then a Captain in the XX Regiment ; and lient. Harding was 
afterwards Captain in the Cape Corps, and died at the Cape a magistrate ; we had passed 
many happy years together. When I think of my old regiment it often causes painful 
reflections, so many of my old friends and companions in the XX being no more. 


Reminiscences of my Military Life. 6y 

blowing it up. However, by some mistake they 
forgot to recall us, and we anxiously listened for 
bugle signal ; still no sound. At last one of my 
subalterns (Harding) said to me he thought we 
ought to retire, or we should be left behind ; for I 
was told, before we took up our position, that we 
should be there but a short time. I took his advice 
and immediately made for the bridge, the advance- 
guard of the French cavalry being but a short 
distance from us, but they did not pursue us. We 
retreated in double quick time, and it was fortunate 
we did so, for, as soon as we had crossed the bridge, 
our engineer (Captain Paisley I believe) blew it up ; 
if the bridge had been blown up a few minutes 
earlier we should have been just in time to be too 
late, and many of us might have been taken prisoners ; 
however, at any rate, we should have tried the 
river, which would have been the only chance of 


During the retreat Captain Byron commanded 
the Grenadier Company of the XX, and we used 
often to say, "who will knock up first, the Grenadiers 
or Light Bobs ?" He soon gave in and went on 
board ship on the sick-list ; Lieut. Telford was one 
of his subalterns.^ 

The French were not much impeded by the 

bridge at Nogales being blown up, for they dis- 
covered a ford not a great way from the bridge, and 
their cavalry soon overtook us, and frequently 
harassed us a good deal. 

* He, poor fellow, now (1839) lies in Cheltenham Churchyard, haying died a Captain 
on half-pay. 

68 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

We witnessed many painful sights ; it was dread- 
ful to see the numbers of dead lying by the road-side, 
consisting of men, and sometimes women and chil- 
dren ; once or twice I saw a little infant lying clos^ to 
its mother, both dead ; also horses, asses, mules, 
and oxen, some frozen to death, having been over- 
come by fatigue ; others were shot, for the orders 
were that whenever any of the animals were unable 
to proceed, they were to be made away with. 

Several officers of my own regiment were walk- 
ing without shoes, but fortunately we came to a 
place where we had some stores under the charge of 
a cominissary, and those who were in want of shoes 
supplied themselves. I threw away an old pair and 
got new ones, but the exchange, though necessary, 
was not a very agreeable one, for I suffered very 
very much from my new shoes being too large and 
from their being so thick, as they were what we 
soldiers called ammunition-shoes, being intended for 
the men. We likewise supplied ourselves with some 
salt provisions and whatever we could take with us. 
We set fire to everything left behind, and some little 
time after we had quitted the place — for it was 
towards night when we moved on — we could see 
the fire raging, most likely in possession of the 
French, for they were always pretty close to us, and 
annoyed us whenever an opportunity offered. 

We were repeatedly soaked with rain, and had 
no opportunity to change our clothes. I have some- 
times had my joints nearly stiff with wet and cold, 
still my health continued perfectly good ; but I have 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 6g 

often thought that if the retreat had lasted many 
days longer, I should have been completely done up, 
for most of us had gone through almost as much as 
we were able to contend with ; we were nearly all 
young men, but still our privations were very trying. 
The regiment used sometimes to march left in front, 
and one day as I was walking alongside Colonel 
Ross, at the head of the regiment, I observed that 
he frequently fell fast asleep and nearly fell off his 
horse, being almost worn out. I also was so over 
fatigued that I very often fell asleep as I walked 
along, waking up to find myself in rear of the 
regiment ; thus adding considerably to my fatigues, 
by having to work my way up to the front again. 

I recollect one day we took up our position to 
cover the retreat of the stragglers, which at this 
time, it was supposed, consisted of about 1500 or 
2000 men. It was a dreadfully wet day, and our 
limbs were stiff with wet and the extreme cold and 
severity of the weather. On this day many hundreds 
of the stragglers came in ; some who had been left 
behind through fatigue and sickness, and many — too 
many — who had strayed through drunkenness ; one 
man, who was supposed to have been dipping his 
canteen into a large butt of wine, was actually 
drowned in it. The scenes of drunkenness were 
truly appalling, such I never before nor since 
witnessed, but it was chiefly among the young 
soldiers, who landed at Corunna and came out to 
join our army. 

Our regiment lost hardly any men, for they were 

yo Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

generally between the ages of twenty-five and thirty- 
five, and able to go through a great deal of fatigue ; 
besides, our Colonel (poor Ross) gave orders, that 
whenever we did happen to get into a town, the 
officers were not to go to their billets, but to remain 
with their men ; the consequence was that we were 
always a check upon our men, and prevented them 
from drinking, for of course they liked a buck-horn 
of wine as well as any other soldiers ; and also, if 
we had been called upon in the night, we were then 
always ready to turn out with our different companies. 

Our stragglers being so numerous, and being 
of course armed, the enemy did not venture to 
attack them ; however, one day the French seemed 
to be making some demonstration for an attack, and 
a sergeant, — I believe one of the 43rd Regiment, — 
formed up the men and made a good fight of it, beat- 
ing off the enemy, I heard afterwards that he was 
very properly rewarded by promotion, for he dis- 
played much judgment and coolness with his bravery, 
and was, no doubt, by his skill and valour, the cause 
of many stragglers rejoining their regiments.^ 

One day, in consequence of the oxen being over- 
come with fatigue while drawing a cart laden with 
dollars, we were obliged to throw the money away, 
amounting to about ;^2 5,000; it happened that, at 
the time we were throwing the money away, we 
were in a high situation, that part of the road being 

I In the HUtorical Becordt of the 4&rd Besfimmt, by Sir B. O. A. Levinge, Bart., it is 
stated that this Sergeant's name was William Newman, 2nd Battalion 48rd Regiment, 
and that for his conspicuous gallantry on this occanon he was appointed Ensign in the 
Ist West India Eegiment. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. yi 

upon a hill and perfectly visible to the enemy. It 
was an unpleasant sight for us to see the little casks 
of dollars thrown down the slope into the valley on 
the side of the road, some of them breaking, when 
out flew the dollars in all directions. Many of the 
soldiers* wives went into the valley and loaded them- 
selves with dollars, and several were, in consequence, 
taken prisoners ; the French, not allowing any 
women to be with their army, sent them back into 
our lines in double-quick, but without the m^ney. 

There ought not to have been any women with 
our army, after we commenced our retreat. Our 
women received a liberal allowance to pay their way 
back to Lisbon ; but, after being absent a few days, 
they again made their appearance, and many of 
them, poor things, perished. One I recollect 
perfectly well, from being a particularly well- 
conducted woman; she had been with the XX 
Regiment about eleven years, and was of a delicate 
constitution, so that she was unable to undergo the 
hardships to which she was subjected. She was 
missed during the retreat; it appeared that her 
daughter — quite a young girl — ^lost her mother 
in the dark one night, and never heard of her 
again. I have said a good deal about this person, 
as her mistress at Liverpool — where she lived as 
servant — ^spoke of her in the highest terms, and 
was sorry she married a soldier. Her end was 
certainly an unfortunate one, but she was an example 
of good conduct. 

The money, which we had thrown away, was 

J2 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

soon in the possession of the French, and fine 
pickings they had; ;^2 5,000 was no bad haul for a 
morning's work. 

Previous to the money being thrown away, it 
was proposed, I heard, that the officers and men 
should carry a certain number of dollars, but whether 
from being so hard pressed by the enemy, we had 
not time to distribute the money, or whether the 
men were unwilling to carry it, I cannot exactly say ; 
but I believe that the latter was the case, for every 
one seemed so fatigued that they wanted no additional 
weight to carry. For my own part I should have 
been sorry to have carried even twenty or thirty 
dollars in my pocket, (such were my feelings at the 
time,) wishing to keep myself as light as I could, and 
I am sure many were of my opinion. 

We had a great laugh, a year or two afterwards, 
at several officers of my regiment who were very 
zealous in carrying some dollars ; they little thought 
Government would have called upon them to return 
what they had received, for the money must have 
been lost if they had not carried it. However, one 
morning (I may say one gloomy morning), very 
unexpectedly, an order was received for the refund- 
ing of the whole of the money with which these 
zealous officers had trudged along the road many a 
weary hour, and they were obliged to hand out what 
they had received, and might think themselves lucky 
they had not the interest to pay ; of course it was a 
great inconvenience to many, and a great annoyance 
to all, to refund money they had every reason to 
suppose was their own. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. yj 

During the retreat a little boy was found, 
whose parents were supposed to have perished. I 
think he was picked up by Colonel Ross, for I 
recollect perfectly well seeing him with a child in 
front of his saddle, but whether or not this little 
boy was the same I cannot exactly say. This 
orphan was taken care of by our regiment and 
brought to England, and one of the soldiers (an 
armourer I recollect he was, but I forget his name) 
adopted him, and treated him as his own child. 
After a few years the poor orphan died, much to the 
grief of the worthy philanthropic soldier. I had 
often seen the boy in the barracks; he was well 
taken care of and was very well behaved, and the 
man who adopted him was much attached to 

Among the numerous things that were destroyed 
during our retreat, was one which most of the 
officers were sorry to part with ; it was our big 
drum, and a most excellent one it was, being a very 
fine mellow-toned instrument ; as it was thought 
very cumbersome to carry our Colonel gave orders 
to have it destroyed ; no sooner said than done ; the 
drum was broken to pieces by jumping upon it 
It seemed a pity to destroy it, for we never had a 
good one afterwards, and we often regretted when 
our band was playing that we had not our old drum, 
the sound of which we had -heard for years on many 
a day s march, arid on many a parade, both abroad 
and at home. 

While we were in the neighbourhood of Corunna 

7^ Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

an immense magazine of gunpowder (4000 barrels) 
was blown up by order of Sir John Moore, that it 
might not fall into the hands of the enemy, and such 
an explosion I never witnessed before ; the sound 
was tremendous, and the volume of smoke, thick 
and black, that ascended was a wonderfully fine 
sight. Lutyens, Harding, and I were sitting in the 
chimney-corner in our cantonment near Corunna, 
when the magazine was blown up ; the soot fell all 
about us, and we were ignorant of the cause of this 
terrible report, until we ran out of the house to see 
what was the matter, when we saw an immense 
column of black smoke rising from the ground ; we 
then knew what had taken place. 

A day or two before the Battle of Corunna I 
witnessed a very different sight, and a very painful 
one too, such as I hope never to see again ; there 
being no ships provided for the embarkation of 
horses, an order was given out for them to be 
destroyed, and it was a cruel sight to witness the 
destruction of our fine English horses ; many of 
them were brought to the edge of the rock over- 
hanging the sea, some shot, and others stabbed, and 
then thrown down ; of course very many of them 
reached the bottom alive, and there lay on the sands, 
poor things, where there were men placed to despatch 
them, frequently with a hammer ; occasionally I saw 
a poor animal clinging to. a rock previous to reaching 
the bottom. I could bear the scene but a short 
time and then went away; I never witnessed 
anything more horrible and painful, it was almost 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 75 

heart-breaking. Many of the horses belonged to 
the Cavalry and Artillery, and many officers' horses 
belonging to the Reserve were amongst the number. 
The nice little black pony, which I bought from the 
lady at Elvas, was one of the poor animals destroyed ; 
he belonged to Colonel Ross, to whom I sold him 
previous to our retreating, for none but Staff and 
Field-Officers were allowed to have horses, forage 
being so scarce ; besides it would have discouraged 
our men to see all the officers mounted. It was a 
sad end for my little black, and I was very sorry 
when I heard of his fate. 

Colonel Ross had a beautiful chestnut Arab, 
which was also one of the horses shot on this day ; 
he had brought him from Egypt to Malta in 
1 80 1, and had been offered a hundred and fifty 
guineas for him in England, by, I believe, Lord 

C ; he was a very handsome charger and 

much admired. 

The day the Reserve arrived at their canton- 
ments near Corunna, I was ordered to remain with 

my company, detached from my regiment ; Sir 
John Moore happened to pass through the village 
where we were, as he was riding round the out- 
posts ; seeing us he rode up to me and asked who 
I was ; I told him I was Captain of the XX Light 
Company ; he immediately said it was a mistake our 
being left there, and ordered me to join my regiment, 
as he wished that the Reserve should have a little 
respite, having recently gone through so much during 
the retreat. I thought that Sir John Moore made 

yd Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

his enquiries and gave his orders to me in such a 
mild gentlemanly way ; I was quite struck with his 
engaging manners, and so were my two subalterns ; 
and I am sure the men of my company seemed, all 
of them, to be equally pleased with him. Alas ! a 
few days afterwards he was no more, " sic fortuna 

At Corunna, one fine winter afternoon, the i6th 
of January, 1 809, when we were all making ourselves 
as comfortable as circumstances would admit, by 
changing our linen, and the men cleaning themselves, 
their arms and accoutrements, (I mean the Reserve, 
for the troops of the other divisions had had oppor- 
tunities before), a sudden firing was heard, both 
cannon and musketry, which made a great stir 
amongst us, and we all equipped ourselves as 
speedily as possible, and in less than half-an-hour 
we were under arms, and marching towards the 
point attacked, for the French had commenced an 
action and were advancing towards our lines. The 
French force amounted to 20,000, and that of the 
English to 14,500 men. On our way there, Lutyens 
and I had a narrow escape ; a cannon shot pitched 
close in our front, but the ground being soft it 
buried itself, and only saluted us by throwing up the 
dirt round about us. It was a severe action and 
lasted until dark (from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) ; many of 
our regiments suffered severely, and we unfortunately 
lost our excellent and brave Commander, Sir John 
Moore ; but the French were completely beaten in 
all points, and as soon as the action was over, it was 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 77 

decided that the troops should be embarked. The 
first to embark were the Reserve, an arrangement 
made a day or two before, by Sir John Moore, in 
consequence of the fatigue they underwent during 
the whole of the retreat. 

A few hours after we had lost our brave Com- 
mander the Reserve embarked ; it was about two 
o'clock in the morning, and a cold morning too in 
the month of January ; happy enough we were to 
get on board ship, and, although it was very dark, 
most of us reached the ships allotted to us. You 
may well suppose that we were rather hungry after 
our previous exertions, and fortunately for my party 
we found on board a fine large camp-kettle of soup, 
the making of which I myself had superintended, in 
the garden of the house where we were quartered 
when the Battle of Corunna commenced ; little 
expecting, at that time, to have eaten it on board 
ship. This soup was of course cold and a perfect 
jelly; it had boiled for hours, and a man of my 
company, being left behind sick, had taken charge 
of it and carried it on board with him. The soup 
was soon demolished, and we then turned into our 
berths, and had the luxury to sleep without our 
clothes, and once more to get into a bed, the first 
time for some weeks. In the morning, soon after 
daylight, we sailed out of the harbour, glad enough 
to get out of the country. 

Previous to our sailing from Corunna we left 
some of our troops on shore to assist the Spaniards 
in covering the embarkation of the remainder of 

j8 Reminiscences of my Military Life, 

our army ; and I believe before night closed all 
were on board and off for " Old England," rejoiced 
to get away after our disastrous retreat. 

It was well known that many Spaniards, who 
were enemies to their own country, frequently gave 
the French information which was detrimental to 
our cause. What commander could therefore stay 
in a country like this ? If Sir John Moore had 
received greater reinforcements, and at an early 
period, it was thought that he might have kept his 
ground, and the result would have been far different 
to what it was ; but Sir John was unsupported in 
all ways. I always looked upon the death of Sir 
John Moore as a great national loss ; the army too 
regretted greatly the death of their gallant Com- 
mander, for he was a fine, noble, brave fellow, and 
most courteous in his manners, whenever he gave 
any orders to the officers or men. He was likewise 
a very clever man and a good general, but he never 
had a force sufficient to cope with the enemy ; and 
the Spaniards behaved in such a dastardly manner, 
running away to their homes, — particularly after we 
had commenced our retreat, — instead of harassing 
the enemy to the utmost of their power ; so that, 
being left to ourselves, our force was nothing, in point 
of numbers, when compared to that of the French ; 
we were therefore obliged to get out of the country. 

Poor Sir John Moore was buried at Corunna. 
I visited his tomb in 1 8 1 2 when on our way to join 
Lord Wellington. The tomb was quite plain, without 
any inscription, having a cannon sunk in the ground 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. yg 

at each corner ; some time afterwards the Spaniards 
put an inscription on it. I believe that the 
Spaniards erected the tomb, as our army were all 
off the day after the action, and had no time to 
make the necessary arrangements. 

In a few days we arrived at Falmouth. Of 
course, naturally enough, some of us were glad to get 
on shore, and, as soon as we reached it, numbers of 
the inhabitants flocked round us to enquire about 
the fate of Sir John Moore's army, as it had been 
reported in England that we were all taken 
prisoners. Such appeared to have been the general 
rumour, as no despatches had reached home for 
some time, and they were at a loss to know what 
had become of us. We soon told them all the news, 
and of the death of our brave Commander, which 
the people appeared truly sorry to hear. 

Our stay at Falmouth was very short. We were 
ordered to Spithead, disembarked soon after, and 
marched to Colchester barracks, where we were 
quartered until about the month of August, 1809, 
when we were ordered on the expedition to 
Walcheren. We marched to Dover Castle, and 
during the week we were marching there it rained 
almost every day, which was rather unfavourable for 
a regiment going to such an aguish country as 
Holland. We remained in the Castle about a week, 
and then embarked on board an old 44-gun ship 
(I forget the name), commanded by Captain Dodd, 
which took the whole of the regiment. Our em- 
barkation took place at Deal, and we sailed from 

8o Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

the Downs the next morning. The Downs at this 
time appeared like an immense forest; it was 
supposed that there were not less than from 800 to 
1000 vessels lying at anchor. 

We sailed with a large fleet and arrived off the 
Dutch coast on the following morning ; our voyage, 
being short, was (to me) very agreeable ; we had a great 
many on board, at least 900, including the ship's crew. 
Although our passage was only twenty-four hours, 
we were sixteen days on board ship from the time 
we embarked until we disembarked. The old XX 
soon disembarked at South Beveland. We were 
likewise quartered in other islands in the Scheldt, 
North Beveland, and Wolversdyke, and most un- 
healthy they proved to the troops. We were in 
these islands a few weeks, and both officers and 
men suffered dreadfully from fever and ague. Captain 
South and our surgeon. Dr. Arnott, were both very 
seriously ill. 

The day we disembarked we marched to a place 
called Heinrich's Kindren, where I remained with 
the regiment one day, and was then ordered, with 
two companies, to the village of Borssele, to take 
possession of two batteries (about a mile off) on the 
dykes near the sea ; and which the French had 
evacuated a few days before, destroying the ammu- 
nition and spiking the guns. 

In this village another officer and I were billeted 
at a private house, where we met with every civility ; 
we lived entirely with the family, for they would not 
allow us to cook a single thing. A division of our 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 8i 

army was at Walcheren, and the French were in 
Flushing, 7cx)0 strong. Constant firing took place 
between our gun-boats and their batteries, and as 
we were only three miles from Flushing across the 
water, we could see all that was going on. The 
village we occupied was in a very pretty little island 
(South Beveland), abounding in vegetables, parti- 
cularly potatoes, which were excellent ; you hardly 
saw a piece of ground uncultivated ; as for the 
towns they were remarkably clean and the houses 
very neat. 

During the whole time we were in these islands 
the regiment never fired a shot in action, nor hardly 
ever saw a Frenchman, except one day just before 
we left Wolversdyke, when some spies came into 
the island and were approaching our quarters in a 
covered cart, driven by a Dutchman ; but they were 
discovered by Colonel Ross, who was ever on the 
alert ; he immediately pursued them with a few of 
the Light Company, who let fly some shots at them, 
but they got off, and we could find no trace of them. 

After remaining in these pestilential islands a 
few weeks, and having almost the whole of our men 
on the sick-list, we quitted the country. As a 
proof of the unhealthiness of these islands I need 
only mention, that the farm-house, at South Beve- 
land, where two companies were quartered under 
my command, — for I was then Major, — was thus 
situated : — a field with a broad ditch of water round 
it, with about three feet of mud at the bottom, over 
which was a plank to cross, and the farm-houses 

82 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

were not far from the ditch ; the consequence was 
that fever and ague daily — indeed I might almost 
say hourly — made their appearance amongst us. 
I myself have seen whole families ill with this 
dreadful complaint, shivering over their fires. If 
therefore the inhabitants of these islands were subject 
to this distressing malady, what could we expect ? 

Those officers who continued in health amused 
themselves with country sports, shooting and fishing. 
We used to kill wild ducks, and also partridges, 
upon Louis Buonaparte's estate, he being nominally 
King of Holland. 

One day, while out with my gun, I met with an 
unfortunate accident. When leaping over a ditch 
with a pole I strained my back ; it was very sudden, 
for as soon as I had leaped over, my feet dropped 
under me as if I had been shot, and I had the 
greatest difficulty in getting back to my quarters ; 
and the lumbago to which I have ever since been 
subject, I mainly attribute to this accident. I was 
laid up for several weeks in these unhealthy quarters, 
but I had no attack of ague until I returned to 

Previous to our embarking in the Scheldt we 
had but few men on parade for they were constantly 
dropping down in the ranks, consequently our numbers 
were daily diminishing, and glad indeed we were 
to get away. The last place we were in was 
Wolversdyke, a small island about four or five miles 
in length and three or four in breadth, from which 
we embarked. When we marched from our can- 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 83 

tonments we left a few men under the command of 
Captain Murray^ to watch the movements of the 
enemy, who were separated from us only a few 
hundred yards by a branch of the Scheldt, they 
being in North Beveland, where they were collect- 
ing boats to transport their men across to our side. 
The orders Captain Murray received were not to 
conceal his men, but to have a sentry or two in the 
church tower, and, after giving us half an hour's start, 
he was to put his men into carriages which were 
waiting for them, and to join us with all expedition. 
By the time he reached us with his men we had not 
far to march to where the "St. Fiorenzo" Frigate 
was at anchor to receive us ; and no doubt, before 
we were all on board, the French had taken posses- 
sion of our old quarters, which we had just left ; and 
quite welcome they were to them, for we were very 
glad to quit such an unhealthy country, where we 
had encountered so much sickness. 

The frigate in which we embarked was com- 
manded by Captain Matson, who was most kind and 
attentive to us. We sailed ooe morning at six o'clock 
and reached Harwich about six the same evening. 
Just before we got under weigh we met with an acci- 
dent which might have been serious, for while getting 
up our anchor the capstan gave way and came clean 
off by the board. The greater part of the men at 
the bars were our soldiers, and not a man of them 
was hurt. Captain Matson paid them a high com- 

I Afterwards Major Marray. He retired in 1818, and died shortly after at his native 
place, Jedbnrgh, in Scotland; we had passed nineteen happy years together in the old XX. 

84 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

pHment for their sailor-like management ; our men 
had very often been on board ship, which made 
them rather handy and useful when their services 
were required. 

After disembarking at Harwich we marched to 
our old quarters in Colchester Barracks, in the 
month of November I think, having been away 
nearly three months ; we had about 600 men sick, 
and before we left England the old XX had 900 
effective men. On our arrival at Colchester Barracks 
many were enquiring, "Where is the regiment?" 
And well they might, for having such a number of 
men sick, and many on duty with the baggage, etc., 
we did not march more than 200 men into the 
barrack yard, a miserable remnant of our former 
numbers. It was the most sickening and heart- 
rending campaign on which I had ever served ; it 
was a melancholy sight to see our regiment march 
into the barracks, when we reflected that hundreds 
who had left them three months before in good 
health, were now seriously ill ; many other regiments 
were similarly circumstanced. 

The Walcheren Expedition, for the time it lasted, 
was more fatal to the troops than anything ever 
experienced in the West Indies for a similar period, 
as allowed by those who had served in those islands ; 
and the misery which we suffered, from ague and 
fever, was far more distressing than the privations 
and hardships which we endured in Sir John Moore s 
retreat. I came home from the latter campaign in 
perfect health, although I had always marched at 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 85 

the head of my Light Company ; but soon after my 
return from the Walcheren expedition I was seized 
with fever and ague, continuing ill for many 
months ; and I did not join my regiment until the 
autumn of 18 10, at Mallow. 

After we returned from Holland we lost two 
officers by sickness, — Captain Robinson and Ensign 
Mills, — and a great number of men. The XX 
remained at Colchester until the summer of 
1 8 ID, at which time they embarked at Harwich 
and sailed for Cork; from thence they went to 
Kinsale and afterwards to Mallow, where they 
were quartered until the spring of 181 2. From 
Mallow they went to Fermoy barracks, stayed there 
during the summer, and then marched to Middleton 
in the same county. 

At the time we arrived at Middleton we were 
under orders to proceed to Spain. The regiment 
remained but a few weeks in Middleton barracks 
before marching to Cove, where we embarked for 
Corunna early in October. I was on board the 
"Dover" frigate (Captain Drury). We had a long 
and tedious passage, being nearly a month on our 
way ; the passage might have been quicker, but we 
got too far down in the Bay of Biscay ; however, we 
had nothing to do but to obey the directions of the 
Commodore (Captain^ Horton), and our voyage was, 
consequently tediously long and irksome. 

One evening, in most beautiful weather, I 
recollect we were tacking about close in to land, 
under the Pyrenees. Some of these rocky mountains 

86 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

were excessively lofty and cragged, and the sun 
shining upon them gave them a most picturesque 
and splendid appearance. I never saw before, nor 
since, such a magnificent scene. Some of the rocks 
rose up into rugged peaks, somewhat similar to 
cathedral turrets, only of a more gigantic description ; 
in short I cannot describe their grandeur. Often 
have I thought of them, for they made a great im- 
pression upon me at the time. It was a particularly 
fine bright evening, and, as we sailed along close 
under these stupendous mountains, it was a beautiful 
sight to see the gleams of the setting sun lighting 
up their lofty rugged summits with a golden hue. 
I little thought at the time that I should so soon be 
marching over the Pyrenees, though not exactly 
over the mountains now in view. 

We landed at Corunna, but remained on shore 
only one day, when we proceeded to Lisbon. We 
were to have marched through the country to join 
Lord Wellington's army, but, as I suppose that it 
was considered a hazardous experiment for so small 
a force as ours to make the attempt, we were 
ordered to resume our voyage to Lisbon. We had 
but a short time, not more than twenty-four hours, 
to stretch our legs on shore ; and we were very- 
sorry to go on board again, as we should have pre- 
ferred a march through the country.- We were also 
disappointed at our stay here being so short, as we 
should have much liked to have gone over the 
ground where the Battle of Corunna was fought in 
. January, 1809. We visited, however, the tomb of 

Remintsceftces of my Military Life. 87 

our brave Commander, Sir John Moore ; but not at 
all expecting that we were going to re-embark the day 
after we landed, we did not make such good use of 
our time as we otherwise should have done, for our 
orders were very sudden and unexpected. Such are 
some of the pleasures of a military life ! 

We had a very long passage to Lisbon also, for 
sailing under convoy makes the voyage frequently 
double the time ; if our frigate had been left to itself 
to make its own way, no doubt we should have 
reached our destination (the Tagus) in half the 

Previous to our landing at Lisbon, an unpleasant 
dispute took place between the captain of the frigate 
and the major in command of the troops (on board), 
all of my regiment. Our disembarkation was not a 
very pleasant one, being attended with great risk, 
for the boat in which the major and I landed — 
a man-of-war's launch— was laden nearly gunwale 
down, and the lieutenant, who had charge of her, 
was perfectly aware of our critical situation, and 
reported it to the captain of the frigate, who 
was on board the launch, and he immediately said 
that he would take charge of the boat himself, and 
he came on shore with us ; we had about three 
miles to go, and, fortunately for us, it was pretty 
calm ; for if we had happened to encounter one of 
those violent and sudden squalls incidental to that 
climate, it might have been attended with serious 
consequences ; everything that belonged to us was 
ordered to be taken out of the frigate and put 

88 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

into the launch, except two horses, which belonged 
to the major and myself. 

Our two horses were upon deck the whole time 
from the Cove of Cork to Lisbon — about seven or 
eight weeks — still they were landed in pretty good 
condition, although we were short of food for them, 
our hay and corn being nearly expended. The corn 
did run out, and we were obliged to give them peas 
occasionally. They had tarpaulins erected over 
them, and they were slung upon the deck near the 
main-mast, where they remained during the whole 
voyage, one on each side. As the horses never 
could lay down, we of course naturally felt anxious 
about them, and we were very happy to get them 
ashore, which was accomplished in safety.^ 

We had also with us a great deal of ammunition, 
all our baggage, besides officers, soldiers, women, 
etc. ; in short it was touch-and-go with us, but we 
providentially reached the land in safety. While 
we were sailing towards the shore we were almost 
all silent, hardly a word was spoken, except occa- 
sionally an order from the captain about the sails, 
no explanation at this time having taken place 
between the two commanders with regard to their 
quarrel, but as soon as we landed high words passed ; 
the consequence was a challenge was sent by the 
captain of the frigate to the officer in command of 
the troops, and I had the uncomfortable post (at his 

1 1 yalued my horse yery mach, having bought him yoang (three years old). At 
this time he was five years old, and I rode him until he was seven ; I then (in 1814) sold 
him for ninety guineas to Major-General Robert Eoss, when I left Spain. Although he 
had been twice wounded in one action-^the action of 25th July, 1813, in the F^ienc 
he was nevertheless perfectly sound. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 8g 

particular request) to attend him as his friend ; and 
being satisfied that his conduct had been correct I 
could not well refuse, and happy I was that nothing 
serious took place after exchanging shots. I wit- 
nessed the whole of this unpleasant affair, but the 
less that is said about it the better ; such occurrences 
as these are painful to think of. 

We remained in Lisbon about a month. Near 
Lisbon there was a very fine aqueduct, the centre 
arch of which was supposed to be sufficiently lofty 
and wide enough to admit a first-rate man-of-war 
through it, with all sail set. This aqueduct was 
across a valley and supplied Lisbon with water. 

We left Lisbon on the 15th December, 181 2, 
and marched into the country to a place called St. 
Joan de Pesquira, which we reached on the 13th of 
January, 181 3, after a march of twenty-nine days. 
Pesquira was situated on the river Douro. Our 
route to this place was first of all to Sacavem, thence 
to Lajuia, Pombal, Coimbra, and Visea. At this 
time we were appointed to the Fusilier Brigade, 
commanded by General Pakenham, and in General 
Cole*s division. The weather was very wet now, 
though very mild, like May in England. 

We were stationed at Pesquira during the winter 
of 181 2, and until the campaign opened in May, 
1 8 1 3 ; our quarters there were miserably cold, for 
the Portuguese had no idea of a comfortable fire- 
place, and frequently there was not a glazed window 
in the house ; the consequence was, when we wanted 
light we were obliged to open a shutter instead of a 

po Rcminiscemes of my Military Life. 

window, so that we admitted cold as well as light 
It was a miserable town, hardly a decent looking 
house in the whole place, except the one where the 
General (Lowry Cole) was quartered. We were 
glad to commence campaigning after passing the 
winter in such wretched comfortless quarters. I 
have sometimes put oiled paper, as a substitute for 
glass, in the windows of my quarters, that I might 
enjoy light without being taxed with the cold ; no 
such comforts anywhere, after all, as in "Old 

After we left Pesquira we were frequently en- 
camped previous to the battle of Vittoria, which 
took place the 21st June, 18 13. Some time before 
the action took place I was sent to a town called 
Meda, at which time my regiment was at Almendra, 
about twelve miles off. I was sent to Meda to take 
charge of the hospital there, where there was a 
great number of sick, belonging chiefly to 'regiments 
that had been in the country two or three years. 
Meda was situated in an open rocky plain, hardly a 
tree to be seen, except in the gardens of private 
houses ; the house in which I had my billet was the 
best one in the place ; my padrone being the head 
man there I had therefore good quarters, and being 
the commandant at Meda I had the advantage of a 
snug berth. There was an excellent garden to the 
house, and the fruit trees were still in blossom when 
I left it. There was one very large tree — a cherry 
tree, I think — which had a most beautiful appear- 
ance, like one entire blossom, something resembling 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. gi 

a large cauliflower, so round and white ; it was quite 
a picture, and the. contrast of the almond and other 
trees, added much to its beauty and to that of the 

The nightingales were very numerous here and 
sang delightfully, even at midnight, and the stillness 
of the place added much to the effect. The notes 
of these birds were not so soft as those in England, 
but much louder, and early in the morning they 
were sometimes very disturbing. One thing which 
was a great luxury in my quarters at' Meda was a 
fire-place, which was rarely to be met with in that 
country ; but it appeared that some British officers 
had occupied these appartments previous to my 
being there, and the padrone (I mean the master of 
the house) had allowed them to make fire-places 
and to build chimneys ; as there are men of all trades 
in regiments masons were soon set to work, and the 
gentleman of the house and his family were so much 
pleased with the improvement, that they had fire- 
places put in several rooms, so that the house was 
far superior to any in Meda; it had a miserable 
appearance to see the families in other houses 
sitting round a pan of charcoal, with their cloaks 
over their shoulders, half starved with the cold. 

I had very little communication with the family, 
not speaking their language, and they did not seem 
much inclined to seek my acquaintance ; but as 
there were a few officers of different regiments 
quartered here, we had a mess and a little society 
amongst ourselves, so that during the short time I 

g2 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

was at Meda I had amusement and occupation, and 
the time passed pleasantly enough. 

I remained at Meda a few weeks, and then the 
hospital was broken up, and I rejoined my regiment 
at Almendra, happy to get back to the old XX. It 
is a distressing sight to witness the removal of the 
sick of a military hospital on service, particularly in 
a country where there is such a want of comfortable 
conveyance as was now experienced. It was a sad 
scene to see the poor creatures, who should have 
been in their beds, some in open carts, others sitting 
on mules or asses, or walking ; but such are the 
scenes in time of war witnessed by military men, 
and, painful as they must be, they cannot be avoided 
but must be endured. 

At Almendra, as at Meda, nightingales abounded 
and were very noisy early in the morning, for the 
room in which a few of us slept had the roof so 
open in some places, that the sound came through 
the tiles, which were also so laid that, although we 
could see the light between them, still the rain 
never came in, and the weather at this time (May) 
being very hot, we suffered no inconvenience from 
the air admitted. The nightingales here were so 
tame that I have both seen and heard them singing 
in the middle of the day in the trees^-close to our 
house — under which the soldiers were cooking their 
dinners, and they were not at all disturbed by the 
smoke of the fires or the talking of the men, but 
continued to sing cheerfully and merrily. 

After I had joined my regiment at Almendra 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. gj 

our stay there was but short, as about this time the 
regiments were breaking up from their cantonments, 
and were about to open the campaign. 

Shortly before leaving Almendra we (the 4th 
Division) were reviewed by Sir Thomas Graham. 
We left Almendra about the middle of May (18 12), 
and marched thence into Spain; our route lay 
through Zanora, Toro, and Palencia. Toro I had 
been in with Sir John Moore's Army in 1809. 
Palencia was a very fine large town with a most 
beautiful cathedral ; I regretted much that we did 
not halt there to see the lions, but Lord Wellington 
seemed determined to push the enemy. On the 
nth June we were encamped near Sardine in Spain, 
having been on the march twenty-five days, all the 
time in close pursuit of the French army, without 
being able to come up with them. We were, at 
this time, only six leagues (two days* march) from 
Burgos, but did not know whether our column was 
to besiege that place, or whether we were to cross 
the Ebro to Vittoria, for Lord Wellington of course 
kept his plans very secret. 

Including Spaniards and Portuguese our army 
amounted to about 110,000 men, of which 40,000 
were British. Lord Wellington frequently passed 
us on the march, and reviewed our division 
once. We used to march every morning between 
three and four o'clock, generally reaching our 
camping ground about 10 a.m. The roads were 
remarkably good, resembling our own in England 
and there were no hills. Salisbury Plain was 

g4 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

a joke to what we met with in the country 
through which we passed, for the eye could not 
reach the extent of the plains over which we 
marched ; they abounded in game, and at one of our 
encampments I am sure that I do not exaggerate 
when I say, that our division killed a hundred hares. 

Until the Battle of Vittoria (21st June, 181 3) 
we were sometimes on the march, at other times 
encamped, occasionally in bivouac or in quarters, 
but more frequently on the move, expecting every 
now and then to meet the enemy ; at last came the 
battle of Vittoria. I recollect being on horseback 
that day (21st June, 18 13) from about five in the 
morning until nine at night, with the exception of 
occasionally dismounting for a short time ; and, as 
we had neither forage for our horses nor food for 
ourselves, until the battle was over, we were 
glad when the enemy retreated, for it was a hard 
day's work, and I think we all earned our day's 
pay. It was a brilliant action, lasting from 9 a.m. 
until dark; but the old XX had only a few men 
put hors de combat to-day — three killed and three 
wounded. It is impossible to be always in the 
thick of it, and we had plenty to do and to contend 
with in many other hard-fought engagements. 

The Brigade, in which my regiment was, con- 
sisted of the 7th Fusileers, XX, and 23rd Fusileers, 
a pretty little brigade, and was in the 4th Division, 
commanded by Lieut.-General Lowry Cole; our 
division was not called the fighting division, but 
the supporters ; the 3rd Division, under General 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. g$ 

Picton, were named the fighting division ; each 
division had some quizzical name given to it. 

I recollect on this day seeing a Portuguese 
regiment (the 21st, I think,) in our division, 
marching as steadily in line, with their colours 
flying, and advancing towards the enemy as if they 
had been moving on a parade ; they were officered 
by British, and the men were generally looked upon 
as very good soldiers, having behaved very bravely 
in many actions. 

During this battle the cannon shot, etc., were 
flying about in all directions, but my horse was 
very steady, though many passed over us as we 
advanced. Joseph Buonaparte (King Joseph, as he 
was called,) was nearly taken prisoner ; he had to 
quit his carriage and mount a horse, and was within 
an ace of falling into our hands ; some of our 
dragoons came up on one side of his carriage, while 
he escaped out of the other, and the road was so 
choked with guns, wagons, and the ddbris of a fight 
and rout, that our men could not get round in time 
to' capture his Majesty. I saw the carriage captured ; 
Lord Wellington got all his plate. 

Our entrance into Vittoria was so unexpected by 
the French, that it was said the dessert was upon 
King Joseph's table ; however, his Majesty had a 
very different kind of dessert ; for instead of grapes 
he had grape-skot. 

The enemy were driven in all directions, and 
lost 151 pieces of cannon, all their baggage, ammu- 
nition, military chest containing a good deal of 


g6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

money — twelve million dollars — and a great number 
of carriages, horses, mules, etc. The road was 
blocked up with a long line of carriages, cannon, 
wagons, carts, horses, and mules, without any 
drivers, extending an immense way, all deserted by 
the enemy. Among them were several private 
carriages ; one contained the Countess of Gazin, the 
wife of a French General, with her servants and some 
other ladies ; but the Duke of Wellington very 
politely sent one of his aides-de-camp to escort them 
into their own lines. 

Our division marched past all these spoils on 
the road, still continuing to pursue the enemy until 
it was dark ; we were not allowed to take anything 
as we moved along, it was look at all things, but 
totuh nothing, much to our disappointment of 
course ; but such a restriction was perfectly right, so 
as to prevent disorder and confusion. It just shews 
the discipline of our men, who could pass such 
treasure and yet refrain from plundering. 

In the afternoon of this day a circumstance took 
place which rather displeased our General, but we 
thought it excusable ; the men had not had anything 
to eat all day, and had been on their legs marching 
for many hours ; we happened to come alongside a 
field of beans, the men immediately broke the ranks, 
dashed into the field, and came out each of them 
loaded with beans pulled up by the roots, which 
they devoured voraciously. Frequently during our 
campaigning our men had to eat boiled wheat ; 
sometimes they imprudently ate it unboiled, which 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. gj 

was very unwholesome, causing illness from indiges- 
tion ; in short, at times we were glad to get anything 
we could. Those who have never served on a 
campaign cannot be aware of the privations to be 
endured when soldiers are on active service ; it 
requires rude health and strength to withstand the 
numerous hardships to which they are subjected. 

We pursued the enemy until darkness overtook 
us, for the French were thoroughly beaten and 
completely routed ; they were driven some way 
beyond Vittoria ; when night came on we bivouacked. 
We did not get any forage for our horses or food 
for ourselves until after nine at night, and then it 
was all chance ; for the men went from our bivouack 
to search for forage in the dark, so that they hardly 
knew which way to steer. However, by good luck, 
they found a field of standing corn, some of which 
they cut and brought to our animals, and they 
devoured it with great voracity. A few other 
officers with myself did not fare badly after all, for 
we procured a cold fowl and something else, part of 
the plunder, I believe, taken in the action ; for 
among what fell into our hands there appeared to 
be a little of almost everything. The only things I 
got were a goat and a saddle cloth ; the goat soon 
came to a melancholy end ; I had it fastened to the 
stirrup of my horse which was picketed not far 
from me, but unfortunately my horse was alarmed at 
something during the night, — ^perhaps at the goat, at 
least I supposed that was the reason, — lashed out, 
and kicked the animal so severely, that I had her 

g8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

carried upon one of my mules for a day or two, in 
hopes she would have recovered, but the poor thing 
died, and I blamed myself for having placed her in 
that dangerous situation, attached to the stirrup. It 
was a very handsome goat, and would have supplied 
me with plenty of milk, a great luxury in these 
times to take with our tea after a fatiguing 

Unfortunately the country where the action took 
place was so mountainous that our cavalry could not 
act. If we could only have engaged the enemy on 
a plain they would have been cut to pieces, for we 
had at least 6000 cavalry in the field that day. At 
one time during the action the Life Guards were 
close to my regiment ; they looked nobly. 

The next morning our bivouack presented a 
curious scene ; men belonging to the Brigade dis- 
posing of various spoils which had been taken, and 
many soldiers* wives were decked out in ladies* 
handsome and valuable dresses, plundered from the 
French wagons, in which there was women's as 
well as men's baggage ; some of the men got a great 
deal of money ; the scene was a perfect rag fair, 
such a variety of good and bad articles. 

I recollect, during the Battle of Vittoria, seeing 
Colonel The Hon. H. Cadogan, of the 71st Regi- 
ment, lying dangerously wounded, attended by two 
or three of his corps ; he was, I believe, an excellent 
officer, and much respected in his regiment; he 
died of his wounds, greatly lamented. 

The French were still almost daily pursued, but 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. pp 

they retreated some way before they again made 
any stand against us, and our brigade had not much 
to do, in the fighting way, until July; we had a 
good deal of marching and bivouacking, but no 
serious engagement, only now and then a little 
skirmishing. On the nth of this month we had 
been forty-seven days on the march, including a 
general action, but I was none the worse for our 
fatigues. We had marched at least 500 miles, 
pursuing the enemy many days after the battle of 
Vittoria. We had terribly cold and wet weather at 
this time, which was very trying. One day when 
encamped at Aybar, near the Pyrenees, we had 
such rain that it beat through our tents, and some 
officers had their baggage floating about. 

Sometimes during our pursuit a gun was taken, 
and now and then a battery, but my regiment had 
not any more fighting of consequence until the 25th 
July (1813) ; on this day the action was sudden and 
unexpected, for between our brigade and the enemy 
was a high hill, called the heights of Roncesvalles, 
and we were not exactly aware of the force which 
the French had behind it The point where this 
engagement commenced was on the top of the 
heights, — which were in front of our brigade, — up 
which the left wing of the XX Regiment was 
advancing ; with this little force was Major-General 
Ross, who commanded the brigade, '.Lieut. -Colonel 
Wauchope commanding the XX, and I (the junior 
major), were likewise with the wing, besides Captain 
George Tovey and some other officers, whose names 

ioo Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

I cannot exactly recollect. We marched up the hill, 
leaving the other wing of the regiment in a wood 
at the foot of it 

Brevet- Major Rose of the XX conmianded the 
Light Companies of the brigade, and advanced in 
front of the left wing, acting as riflemen ; but the 
superior force of the enemy soon drove them in. 
In rear of all was the remainder of the brigade, the 
7th and 23rd Fusiliers ; just as some companies 
who were in advance, under the command of Captain 
Tovey, reached the top of the hill, the French came 
up on the other side and met them, and many were 
bayoneted on both sides ; however, finding the 
enemy were so strong, — having thousands to our 
hundreds, — we were all obliged to retreat down the 
hill in double quick. I had my horse wounded, but 
fortunately escaped untouched, though I had some 
narrow escapes that day.^ 

In this action, called the combat of Roncesvalles, 
we suffered a great deal, particularly in officers. We 
had the misfortune to lose our Adjutant, Lieut. R. 
Buist ; he was the first officer who fell, being killed 
early in the action; he was a fine active fellow, 
although in weight at least eighteen or twenty stone, 
and was very attentive to his duties as Adjutant. 
Lieut. -Colonel Wallace was severely wounded, and 
shortly afterwards died ; I had served in the XX 
with him, poor fellow, from 1795 until 1813 ; he was 
a brave officer. Captains Bent and Champagn^ 
were also wounded, besides some others whose 

' Ff<£f Appendix C. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. loi 

names I cannot call to memory now ; but altogether 
one killed and eight wounded ; we also had a good 
many men killed and wounded. 

My horse was wounded in the neck on the off 
side, and below the ribs on the near side ; a third 
bullet went through the flaps of my saddle, and a 
fourth lodged in my boat-cloak, which was rolled up 
in front of my saddle ; but providentially I escaped 
without a scratch. The ball in my horse's neck was 
extracted by a medical officer, I think of the 23rd 
Fusiliers; the other ball was not found, it was 
supposed to have fallen out. 

On the morning of this engagement we were 
stationed in a village, and were called up early to 
march to the scene of action, it having been dis- 
covered that the enemy were on the move towards 
us in great force ; so away we went, not having many 
miles to go, all ready for a brush with them. Poor 
Buist, the Adjutant, came into my room to call me 
up, and to apprise me of the order to march ; little 
did I think at that time, that in a few hours he would 
be no more ; alas ! how uncertain is life.^ 

After the action we retired into the wood and 
remained there the whole day, the French occupying 
the opposite hill, from which we had been driven by 
such superior numbers in the morning. We were 
firing at each other all day, and were almost every 
moment expecting them to come down and endeavour 
to drive us out of the wood. They had so large a 
force it was astonishing that they allowed us to 

• Vide Appendix D. 


102 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

remain in our position ; but probably they thought 
we had a large reinforcement at hand, which was not 
the case ; if, therefore, they had advanced we must, 
it was supposed, have given way, and it might have 
turned out an unfortunate day for us ; for General 
Cole, with part of the 4th Division, was two miles at 
least from us, on our right ; and if we had been 
driven from our position his force would, in all 
probability, have been cut off. 

I was sent by General Ross to General Cole 
during the action, to ask him for reinforcements, 
but his answer was, " Tell General Ross he must keep 
his post, for I cannot render him any assistance " ; 
as far as I can recollect these were his words. 
Previous to my being sent with the message my 
horse had been wounded, and not having another 
I could not ride quite so fast as I otherwise should ; 
however, I returned with the answer pretty ex- 
peditiously, for at this time my horse had been 
wounded but once. 

As I was returning with the General's answer I 
fell in with, on the road, our poor Scotch piper ; he 
was badly wounded in the thigh, but unfortunately 
I had no means of assisting him, and he must have 
been taken prisoner, and no doubt died of his 
wounds, as the regiment never heard of him 
afterwards; he was a harmless, inoffensive fellow, 
and we regretted his loss. 

General Cole was, as I have shewn, particularly 
anxious that we should keep our ground, which we 
did until night came on, when we were obliged to 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 103 

retreat and to take up a new position, for we were 
completely overpowered by numbers. When we 
left the wood that night, being unable to take away 
those who were severely wounded and totally 
incapable of being moved, we were obliged to leave 
them behind, lying under the trees, poor fellows, 
wrapped up in their blankets. It was melancholy 
to have to resort to this. There was one man of 
ours, I recollect, about whom our Surgeon, my good 
friend Dr. Arnott, was very anxious, being convinced 
that he could not live from the serious wound he had 
received ; but just before we marched off Arnott 
came up to me and said that the poor fellow had 
just expired ; it appeared a great satisfaction to him, 
and so it was to me ; he was an old soldier well 
known to us, and he was in a melancholy state to 
leave behind. 

After quitting the wood we took up a new 
position either on the 26th or 27th ; it was a very 
commanding one on a lofty hill, opposite to which 
the French were posted upon another hill more 
elevated than ours, a deep ravine only separating 
us ; the two armies, in a direct line, being little more 
than a mile from each other. At night it was 
curious to see the fires along their line, and ours must 
have been equally conspicuous to them ; they had a 
large force, upwards of 30,000 men, and Soult 
commanded them. It appeared to be their aim to 
relieve Pamplona, which was but a short distance 
from either of the armies. On the morning of the 
28th July (18 1 3) we were on the look-out expecting 

104 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

an attack, and at last it took place, but the enemy 
were beaten at all points, and could not relieve the 
garrison of Pamplona, which place surrendered to 
our army some little time afterwards. 

During this action the French met with very 
great loss, for they came down the ravine in dense 
columns, and, as we had the command of the heights 
on both sides of the ravine between their army and 
Pamplona, we fired into their columns and did great 
execution. Some of their force attacked our position, 
but they met with determined opposition, and the 
old XX was one amongst the number wh© charged 
them on that day. It was a hard fight while it 
lasted, the French losing more than 5,000 men. 
They must have been dreadfully disappointed, not 
being able to throw supplies into the garrison of 
Pamplona, which was in sight of their army ; and 
the garrison must also have witnessed the action, 
and felt equally annoyed at seeing their army driven 

In this battle^ our regiment was divided into two 
wings, Lieut.-Colonel A. Wauchope commanded 
one wing, and I commanded the other, being now 
second in command, in consequence of our senior 
Major (Brevet Lieut.-Colonel Wallace) having been 
dangerously wounded on the 25th July. We lined 
part of the side of the hill and kept up a heavy fire 
upon the enemy as they advanced. The French on 
that day did not make the attack very early, it being 
a wet morning. If they had attacked us earlier one 

* Called the first battle of Sauroren. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life, 105 

of our divisions would have been absent, I think it 
was the 5 th Division, and Lord Wellington was 
very anxious for them to join us, having observed 
that the French troops were on the move. We 
could see the enemy very distinctly from our position, 
and (with my glass) I observed Soult several times 
that morning mounted on a mule. These mules 
are the safest animals to ride in these mountainous 
countries, which were particularly slippery after much 
rain, and the rain, it was supposed, was the reason 
why Soult did not make his attack at an earlier hour. 

I recollect being very near Lord Wellington 
that morning, and I could occasionally hear his 
Lordship's remarks. He was anxiously looking out 
all the time, with his telescope, for the absent division, 
his glass being directed towards the point where his 
Lordship was every minute expecting to see them 
advancing. At last one of his staff reported they 
were coming ; Lord Wellington then said, " Now they 
may attack us as soon as they like." The absence of 
this division would have been a great diminution to 
our force, for they were about 5,000 men. The 
French were actually beginning to advance before 
the 5th Division hove in sight ; this was enough to 
make any commander fidgetty; this division came 
up on the opposite side of the ravine to that on which 
we were posted, so that their opportune arrival gave 
us the command of both the hills, between which the 
French advanced with Pamplona in their front and 
in sight of them. It was an anxious time for all. 

I do not exactly recollect what loss we had on 

io6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

this day, but Captain Edward Jackson^ of the XX 
was wounded, and a very fine young man, Lieut. 
John Hankey Bainbrigge, lost an arm.* We also had 
several men killed and wounded. At this time we 
were not very strong in officers having had about 1 5 
officers and 240 men put hors-de-combcU in the last 
two actions. Our army suffered nothing, however, 
when compared with the losses of the enemy.* 

After the French had failed in their attack they 
retired to their former position ; the next day they 
retreated and we pursued them. Whilst they were 
on the move in the morning they were somewhat 
astonished by our firing some Shrapnell shells 
amongst them, as we had got a gun up on the 
heights early that morning. It was drawn up, I 
believe, by the sailors, who are famous fellows at 
anything of this kind. I saw the French scampering 
away when the first shot was fijred, not expecting 
we could get a gun up such a height. It carried 
completely across the ravine, and I heard that one 
of the shells did great execution, killing and 
wounding about twenty-four men, as was reported 
to have been said by a French prisoner afterwards 
taken ; and this was not at all improbable, as it 
pitched into a column, which it completely dispersed. 

This day (29th July) we were encamped on the 
mountains near Pamplona, and the French were 
opposite to us, about three or four leagues off. 

1 Afterwards Major in the regiment, and in 1838 an unattached Lieat.-ColoneL He 
died 184<1. 

' Now (1878) Oeneral Bainbrigge : he was for many years Fort-Migor of Guernsey. 
* Lord Wellington in writmg of this action called it ** fair Uudgwn loork!* 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 107 

What with fighting and marching I was nearly 
exhausted with fatigue, for since my horse had been 
wounded I had been obliged to walk, and we 
marched, one time, two nights together; however 
as my horse s wounds healed rapidly I was soon 
able to mount him again. 

After the enemy retreated we continued to follow 
them and were occasionally skirmishing; on the 
1st August we were engaged with the French, as 
also on the 2nd,^ on which day the old XX suffered 
a good deal, having had one officer (Ensign Wrixon, 
quite a youth) killed, and our commanding-officer 
(Lieut.-Colonel Wauchope) dangerously wounded ; I 
then took command of the old regiment in the field.* 

This campaign was certainly a very dismal one, 
for although I had great promotion, still it was in a 
melancholy way, by loss of old friends. At the 
time I took the command of the regiment, in the 
action of the 2nd of August, I was only second 
Major, Brevet Lieut-Colonel Wallace being then ill 
of his wounds received at Roncesvalles, and of 
which he shortly afterwards died. 

After the action of the 2nd of August my regi- 
ment was pretty quiet, as far as not being actually 

' On tbe heights of Echalar. 

3 Lieiit.-CoIonel Wauchope waa desperately wonnded and died a few weeks afterwards, 
poor fellow, when I was appointed Lieat.-CoIoneI of the XX ; I had then been only seven 
or eight weeks Brevet Lient.-Colonel, so rapid was my promotion in this campaign. Poor 
Wanchope was bnried at Passages, where he died. A few days before his death I sat by 
his bedside and wrote a letter to his father in Scotland, which he dictated, asking his 
f&ther to meet him at Portsmouth, as he was daily expecting to embark at Passages for 
that place ; but, alas ! it was not to be. At the time of his death, Lieut, Wm. Chafin 
Grove of the XX was with him. There was always somebody of his regiment in 
attendance ; many of us went to stay with him, bat Grove was always at his quarters, 
and was very kind and attentive. He had the best medical advice, as surgeons of the 
army constantly visited him. 

io8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

engaged with the enemy constitutes quietness ; for 
although we were frequently advancing and taking 
up new positions, it did not fall to our lot to be 
again engaged for some little time ; however, as we 
had had a pretty fair share of honour and glory 
lately, it was therefore not to be expected that we 
could always be fighting. Sometimes we were so 
posted that our brigade could see what was going 
on among some of the other divisions, although in 
reality we had not much to do with it; but the 
country being so mountainous, a part of our army 
might be engaged, and we be mere spectators. 

On the 2 1 St August ( 1 8 1 3), being the anniversary 
of the battle of Vimiera, in Portugal, — which took 
place in 1 808, and was the first action fought in that 
country by Lord Wellington (then Sir Arthur Wel- 
lesley), — he invited all the officers of the 4th Division, 
who were actually in the battle, to dine with him. We 
sat down about fifty, six or eight of which belonged 
to my old regiment. We had a splendid dinner, 
plenty of chamgagne and claret, and an excellent 
dessert consisting of peaches, grapes, etc. His 
Lordship was very affable ; and I recollect that, after 
dinner, he said, looking round the table, how happy 
he was to see so many of his old friends who 
were with him in that action. The toast of the 
2 1 St August, 1808, was afterwards drunk with 
great glee. 

At this time we were encamped near a place 
called Lezaca, in Spain. About the latter end of 
August I paid a visit to the works before 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. io9 

St. Sebastian, which was about six leagues from 
our camp, along a terribly bad road. St. Sebastian 
was situated on the top of a high hill close to the 
sea, and about a mile from Passages, where our poor 
Colonel (Wauchope) was then lying badly wounded, 
and where there was a harbour with a good number 
of transports in it at the time. The place appeared 
very strong, and it was reported that our batteries 
were to open on it the 28th of this month. 

We were now anxiously looking for the publica- 
tion, in the English newspapers, of Lord Wellington's 
Despatches respecting the recent actions, and heard 
that he had not forgotten to mention my regiment 
for their conduct on the 25th July, at Roncesvalles ; 
we also understood that his Lordship had mentioned 
very handsomely the conduct of our division (the 
4th) for their gallantry on the 28th July, when Soult 
attacked us.^ We also read in the Moniteur that 
Soult said that on the 25th July he totally annihilated 
my regiment? We could have told him a very 
different story, for we could have next day brought 
into the field more than four hundred survivors of 
that fight. 

We were encamped near Lezaca for several 
weeks, a much longer time than at any other place 
we had been in since the campaign opened ; still we 
were always obliged to be on the alert, ready to 
move at a moment's notice. 

On the 31st August (18 13) an engagement took 
place between the French and Spaniards, when the 

' Appendix E. ^ Appendix F. 

no Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

latter behaved nobly. We were not engaged on 
that day, being in reserve, and for several hours 
close to Lord Wellington, who seemed the coolest 
man under fire that could possibly be. Our position 
was on a height called the Crown Mountain, whence 
we were spectators during the whole time, with our 
arms piled, and perfectly at ease. We distinctly saw 
the Spaniards and French engaged, the former 
being in a strong position on a height, above a 
town called I run, at the foot of which ran the river 
Bidassoa, which here divided Spain from France. 
We saw the French cross the river, ascend the hill, 
and attack the Spaniards, but they were driven 
back ; still they repeated their attack several times, 
sometimes forcing, for awhile, the Spaniards, and at 
other times being worsted. The Spaniards sent to 
Lord Wellington for a reinforcement, but his Lordship 
had observed the gallant manner in which they were 
behaving themselves, and refused support, saying 
they should have the honour of the victory entirely 
to themselves, as his Lordship was satisfied that they 
would, in the end, be conquerors ; which they were, 
and drove the French again across the river. The 
Spaniards behaved particularly well that day, and 
dashed at the French in noble style. The French 
lost a great number in recrossing the Bidassoa ; we 
were very glad to see the Spaniards retain their 

The mountain being very lofty where the action 
was fought, I could see a long way into France. I 
saw a very fine town, called St. Jean de Luz, and 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. iii 

many others still much further off; we likewise had 
a fine view of the sea, being not more than a league 
from it. 

At the time that the action took place our troops 
were also storming St. Sebastian, an anxious time for 
Lord Wellington. I saw him take out his watch 
several times, for he had (I believe) given orders for 
the place to be stormed at noon, and, hearing heavy 
firing there after that hour, he was evidently very 
anxious to learn the result of it. I remember an 
Aide-de-Camp riding up about 3 p.m. and saying, 
"My Lord, St. Sebastian has fallen " ; they then 
talked together, and his Lordship seemed much 
affected at hearing that many of his old friends had 
been killed. 

At the siege of St. Sebastian I lost my most 
intimate friend in the Regiment, Major Rose ; we 
had been together nearly eighteen years, and I felt 
his loss most deeply. He was a fine high-spirited, 
brave young Scotchman, the handsomest officer in 
the XX, and of an excellent temper ; he was a great 
favourite among all ranks in the regiment, and much 
regretted by everybody, and by no one more than 
myself, as our attachment to each other was like 
brothers. At the time he was killed he was in 
command of about 200 men, — volunteers from the 
various regiments of the 4th Division, — who led the 
stormlng-party at St. Sebastian, and where, poor 
fellow, he fell. When he marched his detachment 
from the 4th Division a day or two before the place 
was stormed, I went part of the way with him, 

112 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

walking alongside his horse ; he was talking to me 
a good deal about the duty on which he was going, 
well-knowing what an arduous one it was, and he 
seemed to have a presentiment that he should never 
return ; for when I took leave of him, and wished 
him every success, and said " God speed you, my 
dear fellow," he said '' God bless you, I shall never 
see you again." I then walked back to the camp to 
my regiment, which I then commanded, and I must 
confess that I felt much out of spirits at what my 
dear friend Rose had said at parting ; and a few 
days after we heard of the sad event of his death, so 
that his words had proved too true, " I shall never 
see you again " ; and much hurt we all were at the 
melancholy tidings. 

We suffered severely both in officers and men 
during this summer campaign, having had five 
officers killed, nineteen wounded, and 271 men 
killed and wounded ; I was the only Field-Officer 
in the old XX who escaped unhurt. 

My regiment was not seriously engaged with the 
enemy for some time, and about the middle of September 
(18 1 3) we were encamped near the Bridge of Yanzi. 
At this time we found our tents very cold and damp 
at night, for the rain frequently came down in 
torrents, and beat through them ; but there was 
nothing to do but to grin and bear it. 

I recollect one day (I forget the date), when the 
French attacked a body of Portuguese troops, some 
little distance from our position, I was observing, to 
an officer of my own regiment, that the Portu- 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 113 

guese were driving the enemy ; Lord Wellington, 
who was standing very near at the time, turned 
round and remarked, "What is that you said. 
Sir ?" I answered that the Portuguese were 
driving the French, his Lordship then said, " I saw 
that." Lord Wellington appeared to be always 
on the look out and let nothing escape him. At 
another time, I recollect, the French took up a 
position with a large force exactly opposite the left 
of our line which was likewise in position. Lord 
Wellington, with his Staff, was reconnoitring and 
was heard to say that afternoon " not a man of them 
will be there in the morning." His Lordship's pre- 
diction was verified, as the enemy moved during 
the night for the purpose of attacking the right of 
our line, no doubt thinking we should wait expecting 
to be attacked, on our left, by the force opposite to 
us on the previous evening; but the great Com- 
mander was up to their ruse, and moved his force 
that same night as soon as it was dark, so that, in 
the morning, the enemy seeing us again opposite to 
them were completely foiled in their plans, and 
thoroughly outwitted by the great Captain, the noble 
and gallant Wellington. 

In the middle of October we lay encamped on 
the heights above Sara, France, in sight of Bayonne 
which was situated in a most delightful fertile plain ; 
we were longing to leave our position in almost 
inaccessible mountains, which we found very cold 
and wet at this advanced season of the year, the rain 
sometimes coming down in torrents. We still 

//^ Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

continued to have frequent skirmishes with the 
enemy, but our losses were slight. 

One day I went to St. Sebastian, and of all 
the ruinous places I ever visited this surpassed any- 
thing I had seen before ; it seemed to have been a 
large town, and at this time there was hardly a house 
standing ; even the churches were very much injured 
by the shot and shells, and the castle itself, although 
situated on a high rock above the town, was a 
complete ruin. I visited the breaches where the 
troops entered, and where many a fine fellow fell ; a 
melancholy sight it was. 

On the night of the i6th October we had a 
dreadful storm, and the wind blew so violently, that 
it was with difficulty we could keep our tents 
standing : the rain came down in such torrents that 
it beat through my tent, and almost everything in it 
was drenched. 

My horse had now quite recovered from his 
wounds, but looked thin on account of the bad 
weather to which he was exposed, for he was never 
under shelter ; and, besides, we had to send about 
twenty miles over the mountains for forage, and as 
each horse had to fetch his own supply, the poor 
animals underwent greater hardships than we did. 

We were in daily expectation of an attack by the 
enemy, and kept on the alert day and night, for the 
order was not to take off our clothes. 

Our Division (the 4th) was quartered, for about 
a fortnight, at a village called Ascain, whence we 
marched at daylight on the morning of the 8th of 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 115 

December and encamped. The next morning the 
enemy attacked the centre of our line, and our 
division went in support, but the enemy were 
repulsed, and we were not engaged.^ On the 
loth December the enemy attacked our left^ and 
the day after the right of our line, but they were 
completely beaten in every attack they made, and 
retired with great loss. We had a good deal of 
marching, for the 4th Division were at every point 
where the troops were engaged, being the supporters, 
and therefore having to move wherever our assistance 
was required ; consequently we had more marching 
than any other division. For eight days we were 
without our baggage, and for two or three nights 
without tents, exposed to rain and sometimes frost. 

On the evening of the nth, just after dark, 
when the action was over for that day, and the 
French were retiring from their position, we were 
all agreeably surprised by the arrival of three 
German regiments, who had deserted and ceme 
over to our brigade — the Fusilier Brigade. They 
were very fine looking fellows, and their officers 
came over with them ; they were without their 
baggage, which had been left at Bayonne ; their 
bands were also there ; however they had plenty of 
bugles, and took good care to blow them as soon as 
they were safe in our lines. It was about ten o*clock 
when they arrived, and we gave them a very good 
supper, for they got three bullocks and plenty of 
rum and biscuit; they were then marched to 

' This was on the occasion of the passage of the Nive. 

Ii6 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

St. Jean de Luz; there were about 1300 of them, 
and their grenadiers were the finest men I ever saw. 
Some of them told me that when they went into 
action they used to bite off the balls and merely to 
fire blank cartridges at us, shewing how averse they 
were to the French, and how much they respected 
our nation. They said that there was another 
infantry regiment, and likewise one of dragoons, 
ready to follow their comrades* example ; but it was 
feared that Soult would now send them to the rear, 
and not give them the opportunity of deserting. 

We were all getting very tired of the campaign, 
which seemed to weary the most zealous. The 
advanced season of the year rendered the constant 
exposure to cold and wet weather most trying. We 
used often to say, when in cantonments near 
Arrauntz on Christmas- Day, 181 3, how differently 
our friends at home were employed. They were 
enjoying sumptuous fare compared with us, who were 
glad to get our food in any shape and at any time, 
being always on the alert, and having to breakfast and 
dine whenever an opportunity offered. My regiment 
being at this time so scattered about at different 
houses, we could not eat our Christmas dinner 
together. Some of the houses were nearly a mile 
apart, and the roads were dreadfully muddy ; and as 
for riding to each others quarters, not having any- 
thing for our animals to eat, we were obliged to let 
them graze all day to keep them from starving ; my 
poor favourite horse continued to look very thin, 
much more so than his master^ who was very 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. iiy 

well, although occasionally threatened with ague. 

The part of the army we were with at this time 
was between the Nive and the Nivelle, but Sir 
R. Hill had a large force over the Nive, with his 
right resting on the Adour, and he had a good many 
cavalry with him. We were about six or seven 
miles from Bayonne, not knowing whether we were 
to besiege that place or not. 

I had plenty to do now, being in command of 
the regiment ; it was very weak from the severe losses 
we had sustained, but we hoped to get a good 
number of volunteers from the Militia. 

The surrounding country was very beautiful and 
there was excellent shooting in the neighbourhood, 
but we had no dogs ; and besides this the weather 
was so stormy that there was little pleasure in going 
out of doors, and I was glad to sit by a fireside, a 
great novelty to us. I wanted to visit Pamplona, 
but it was too far off; being obliged to be always on 
the alert, we could not go far from our cantonments. 

At eight o'clock, on the night of the 3rd January, 
1 8 14, we went away very suddenly from Arrauntz. 
After a few hours marching we fortunately got 
housed for the night, for we had left without baggage 
or tents. We made off again at 4 a.m. on the 4th, 
marched all day, and encamped at night. The next 
day we did the same, and on the morning of the 6th 
we started again to drive the enemy over the river 
Arran. About three o'clock in the afternoon of that 
day we came up with them ; they were posted on 
the heights at a short distance from the river ; the 

Ii8 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

3rd Division was on our right and part of the 2nd 
Division on our left, ours (the 4th Division) being 
in the centre ; the enemy were attacked in all three 
points, and in about an hour and a half they were 
driven across with very little loss on either side ; 
our brigade were not engaged, but we saw the 
whole business. I was standing near Lord Welling- 
ton during almost the whole of the time ; he was 
looking very earnestly through his glass, and seemed 
much pleased with the conduct of his troops. 

After the affair was over we bivouacked for the 
night, — our tents being, in the rear, — ^and a very 
cold night we had of it ; fortunately it did not rain, 
and the next morning we marched into cantonments 
at a place called Usteritz, where we remained some 
weeks ; in fact the weather was so very wet that the 
roads became impassable, and neither army could 

One day, while here, some of our men in charge 
of several mules, belonging to officers of different 
regiments, were out foraging, when they were all 
captured by the enemy; some of the mules were 
mine, but I did not regret the loss of the mules, so 
much as I did that of the men, for they were all old 
soldiers and very good men, a great loss to the 

The house in which I lived at Usteritz was very 
pleasantly situated, close to the river Nive. It was 
a water-mill, and the inhabitants were very poor 
people, but very civil. The only objection I had to 
it was the clack of the mill, as well as the noise 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. iig 

of the water-fall close under my window, but I got 
accustomed to these sounds. All kinds of provisions 
here were very dear : three shillings a pound for 
butter and cheese ; half-a-crown a pound for sugar ; 
tea sometimes as much as ten and twenty shillings a 
pound ; meat two shillings a pound ; a dollar for a 
quire of paper, and everything else in proportion. 
We were also very badly off for money, having at 
this time six months pay due to us. We were about 
a league from Bayonne, which seemed a fine town. 

My regiment now had not been seriously 
engaged with the enemy, for some time, and as 
the campaign appeared to have come to a close, — 
for the Dutch at this time had risen to shake off 
their yoke — and it was supposed that the French 
would have been obliged to quit the lower Pyrenees, 
I therefore took the opportunity of obtaining leave 
of absence in the month of February (1814) and 
proceeded to England on urgent private affairs. 
However, it so happened that the campaign was 
unexpectedly resumed, and two actions were after- 
wards fought, — the battle of Orthes, 27th April, and 
the battle of Toulouse, loth April, (18 14). The XX, 
at the battle of Orthes, was commanded by Major 
Bent, who, poor fellow, unfortunately fell that day, as 
also did Captain St. Aurin ; several officers were 
wounded and many men killed and wounded in this 
action : at the battle of Toulouse the regiment had a 
few men killed and wounded. 

Major Bent had been wounded 25th July, 181 3, 
and also at the landing in Egypt, 8th March, i 

120 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

when in the 92 nd Regiment ; he was a very good 
officer, and had been many years in the XX ; I 
much regretted his loss, as we were great friends. 

The battle of Toulouse ought never to have 
been fought, as the French commander well knew 
that peace had been made, but never apprized Lord 
Wellington of it. It was therefore a useless sacrifice 
of men on that day, entirely owing to the conduct of 
the French General. 

Brevet-Major Russell succeeded to the command 
of the XX Regiment at Orthes, and brought them 
to Ireland after they quitted France, where they 
embarked at Bordeaux.^ 

I joined the XX at Waterford the 19th of 
August, 1 8 14, — having been absent a few months 
and being now married, — and resumed the command 
of the regiment. During part of the time that the 
XX was at Waterford I was staying at Tramore, a 
small watering-place ; there were fine sands here, so 
wide at low water and so extensive, that the races 
were held on them in the summer. The distance 
from Waterford being not more than seven or eight 
miles, I could constantly ride in to visit my regiment. 

We had a good deal of pleasant society whilst 
in Waterford, and found the inhabitants very kind 
and attentive to the regiment. A young man 
joined us here, son of the Mayor of the place, 
named Henry Sargent ; a fine young lad, who, 

1 Brevet-Major Rassell afterwards retired on half-pay, and is now (1838) gone to 
New South Wales with his large family. He was in the XX Regiment with me for 
nineteen years, and was for some time my subaltern in the Light Company ; we were 
therefore very old friends, and I trust and hope he may succeed in his undertaking in 
New South Wales. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 121 

poor fellow, died afterwards in India, a Lieutenant 
in the 44th Regiment. 

We remained at Waterford until the autumn of 
1 81 5, at which time we marched to Templemore 
Barracks, County Tipperary. One advantage of 
being quartered at Templemore was the regiment 
being concentrated, which was seldom the case in 
any quarter in Ireland, there being such numerous 
detachments, a state of things which is very injurious 
to the discipline of a corps ; however, we had the 
good fortune to be kept together during the whole 
of our stay here, which was for about six months, 
and our barracks were very commodious. It was a 
very retired place ; only a few families round about 
us, Sir John Garden, Bart., Dowager Lady Monck, 
Captain Webb, and Mr. Carden, of Barnane, who 
were all very attentive to us, and to many of the 
other officers. 

We had sometimes very unpleasant duties to 
perform in Ireland, parties going out to seize stills, 
to prevent illicit distillation of whiskey. These 
parties were generally commanded by subaltern 
officers. Sometimes, also, parties were ordered out 
to search for arms, sometimes to assist driving in 
cattle for rent, and occasionally to search for people 
who had been guilty of attending unlawful meetings 
at night, etc. 

I once went out with the regiment to search for 
arms, with Sir John Carden, a Magistrate; after 
traversing many miles of country, visiting numerous 
cabins, and searching them, we could not find a 

122 Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

single stand of arms ; if there were any they were 
so concealed that we could not discover them. It 
was supposed they were secreted under ground. 

In Ireland, unfortunately for the military, soldiers 
were often employed in duties which, in England, 
were invariably performed by the civil power, and 
which frequently were very unpleasant for them. 

From Templemore we went to Boyle, county of 
Roscommon, where we continued from the spring of 
1816, to the summer of 1818. In this quarter we 
were much detached, the regiment being in nineteen 
different places, among them Cashcarrigan, Ballina- 
more, Killeshandra in county Cavan, Elphin, Driim- 
sna, and various others. Part of the regiment was 
also at Sligo, under Major South, so that at head 
quarters (Boyle) I had only about 300 men, and but 
few officers under my immediate command. Our 
barrack was one large house, which had formerly 
belonged to the Kingston family, but had been 
purchased by the Government : it held most of the 
men, and several officers. In this house my son 
Charles^ was born, on the 5th of April, 1818; 
soldiers were both above and below us, the officers* 
quarters being the centre range, so that I may say 
he was born to be a soldier. 

I had very comfortable rooms in this house, and 
I liked Boyle as a quarter very well. The river 
Boyle ran close by the barrack wall : in this river I 
amused myself fly fishing, and there were two or 

> He entered i\m Anny in 1840, senred in the 2nd West India, 28th, and S2nd 
Eegiments, and fell in action at Chinhat, daring the Siege of Lncknow, Jane 80th, 
1857, Captain 82nd Regiment. 

Reminiscences of my Military Life. 123 

three fine lakes within a short distance, one, Lough 
Kay, which belonged to Lord Lorton; and his 
lordship was kind enough to allow the officers to 
fish in them, and he also lent them a boat I myself 
have caught trout in Lough Kay six pounds weight, 
and some weighing nine pounds were also taken. 

There were several families round about Boyle, 
who paid great attention to many of the officers ; 
we visited Lord and Lady Lorton, and two families 
of the name of El wood, one at HoUybrook, and the 
other at Ballymore, besides some others. Lord 
Lorton*s place, Rockingham, was a magnificent seat, 
and his lordship was very kind to his tenants ; many 
men were constantly employed on the estate, and 
Lord Lorton resided very much at Rockingham. 

In November, 181 7, the unexpected death of 
H. R. H. The Princess Charlotte of Wales took 
place, and on the occcision of her interment, on the 
1 8th of that month, the troops were directed to 
attend Divine Service.^ 

After continuing at Boyle until the summer of 
1 818, we were ordered to Dublin. At the time we 
marched to Dublin, the weather was so particularly 
sultry, that we used to start about two o'clock or 
never later than three in the morning, so as to have 
our marches over before the heat of the day com- 
menced ; and I found it a good plan, for our route 
was completed without much fatigue, and little or no 
sickness took place. 

General Sir George Beckwith was Commander 

' Appendix, 6. 

124- Reminiscences of my Military Life. 

of the forces in Ireland, and previous to our arrival 
in Dublin, I had heard he was a reserved stiff man, 
but I found him far otherwise ; for when I had my 
first interview with the General, he very cordially 
shook me by the hand, and said he was very happy 
to see me and my regiment ; that his father had been 
in the old XX; and during the time we were in 
Dublin we found the General a pleasant officer to 
serve under; he was likewise extremely hospitable 
and gave numerous entertainments, dinner-parties, 
etc., and was always particularly attentive to young 
officers. It only shews that characters sometimes, 
are, in reality, very different to what they are 
represented to be. 

I remained with the regiment in Dublin until 
the autumn of 1818, when I obtained leave of 
absence, and came over to Cheltenham ; and on the 
1 8th December, 1 8 1 8, I was gazetted out of the old 
XX Regiment, — having retired from the service by 
the sale of my commission, — and I was succeeded 
by Lieut. -Colonel Samuel South. 

Lieut. 'Colonel Steevens received a gold medal for 
the actions on the Pyrenees (July 28th to August 2ndy 
iSij) ; and also the silver war medal^ with seven 
clasps, for Egypt y Maida^ Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, 
Nivelle^ Nive. 





Extracts from Naval and Military Despatches, relative to the 
death of Major-General Robert Ross, who fell in the attack on 
Baltimore, September 12 th, 1814 : — 

Rear-Admiral G, Cockbum^ in a despatch to Vice-Admiral^ The 
Hon. Sir Alexander Cochrane^ dated I£,M.& " Severn J^ in 
the PatapscOy September IS thy i8i4y writes: — 

" It is with the most heartfelt sorrow I have to add, that in 
this short and desultory skirmish my gallant and highly valued 
friend, the Major-General, received a musket ball through his arm 
into his breast, which proved fatal to him on his way to the 
waterside for re-embarkation. Our country. Sir, has lost in him 
one of its best and bravest soldiers, and those who knew him, as 
I did, a friend most honoured and beloved ; and I trust. Sir, I 
may be forgiven for considering it a sacred duty I owe to him to 
mention here, that whilst his wounds were binding up and we 
were placing him on the bearer which was to carry him off the 
field, he assured me that the wounds he had received in the 
performance of his duty to his country caused him not a pang ; 
but he felt alone anxiety for a wife and family dearer to him than 
his life, whom in the event of the fatal termination he foresaw, he 
recommended to the protection and notice of His Majesty's 
Government and the country." 

Colonel Brooky in a despatch dated IT, M.S. " Tonnant,* ChesapeakCy 
Sept. ijthy i8i4y writes : — 

" At this moment the gallant General received a wound which 
proved mortal He only survived to recommend a young and 
unprovided family. Thus fell, at an early age, one of the brightest 
ornaments of his profession ; one who, whether at the head of a 
regiment, a brigade, or corps, had alike displayed the talents of 


command; who was not less beloved in his private than 
enthusiastically admired in his public character. If it were 
permitted to a soldier to lament those who fall in battle, we 
may in this instance claim that melancholy privilege.'' 

From Vice-Admiral^ The Hon, Sir Alexander Cochrane^ Com- 
mander-in-Chief on the North American Station^ to the 
Admiralty^ dated H.M.& '' Tonnant^' Chesapeake, Sept, 
iphy 1814: — 

"It is a tribute due to the memory of this gallant and 
respected officer to pause in my relation while I lament the loss 
that His Majesty's service and the Army, of which he was one of 
the brightest ornaments, have sustained by his death. The 
unanimity and the zeal which he manifested on every occasion, 
while I had the honour of serving with him, gave life and ease to 
the most arduous undertakings. Too heedless of his personal 
security when in the field, his devotion to the care and 
honour of his army has caused the termination of his valuable 


Route of the Reserve during the retreat of Sir John Moore, 
from Lisbon to Corunna, from notes by Lieut W. W. Harding, of 
the Light Company XX Regiment : — 

From the Camp at Becarinlia to Aldea Oal^a ; 
„ Aldea Oalega to Cana 6 leagues. 

To Montemore naevo 

4 „ 

„ Vende de due " 

7 „ 

„ Aiyolas 

8 „ 

„ Estremos 

2 „ 

„ Alberoca 

2 „ 

„ Villa Vicosa 

8 „ 

„ El^as 

4 ., 

(In Spain, Estremadura) :- 


To Campo Mayor 

8 leagues. 

„ Albnqnerqne 

8 „ 

„ Alcede 

4 ,. 

„ Brosas 

6 „ 

„ Alcantara 

5 ,. 

„ Sazza Mayor 

8 „ 



To Morilezzs 5 leagued 

Pezales 2i 
Penio Pardas (01dCastile)4 

Oninelda 2 

Ciudad Rodrigo 3i 

San Martini del Rio 5 

Camillas di Abaxo 6^ 

Salamanca 8 
Castilianos de Morisco 1 

Cristofal di Cueste ^ 

Villa Excusor 6 

Toro 4 

Pedrosa del Rey 8 

Tedra 2i 

Yillapando 4 

Yaldieras 5 

Santierbo 6 
Oraglial di los campos 8 

Mayorga 5 

Fuente sa bucco 6 

Benevente 2 

Lavaniesa 7 

Astorga 4 

Combaros 2 

Bembibre 6 

Calcavelos 4 

Villa Franca 6 

Ferrareas 4 

Nogales 6 

Constantino 5 

Lugo 5 

Milarosa 1 

Position 8 

Position 8 

Cordeda 6 

Monilos 1 

Corunna 1 









































About 200 leagues s= upwards of 800 miles. 



(Copied from the U. 5. Journal for October , iS^g.) 

"When Soult advanced into the Pyrenees, in 1813, with the 
intention of relieving Pampeluna, the Pass of Maia (I think it 
was) was held by the 4th Division. I forget whether my 


informant told me that an outpost had been surprised, but certain 
it is their Division was very much surprised one fine morning, to 
find the rugged ground in front of their encampment occupied by 
the enemy, who, without any ceremony, began blazing into their 
tents. Such things cannot occur without exciting especial 
wonder. The soldiers, half-dressed, began hurrying to arms, 
women and donkeys screaming, staff-officers madly galloping 
about ordering and expecting impossibilities. The balls came 
flying thicker and faster from the enemy's rapidly increasing 
numbers, and the moment was fraught with disaster, when a 
gallant centurion, a choice spirit of the old 20th, at once came 
forth in character; his hundred bayonets quickly rallied at his 
call, and needing no order, with an enemy in front and disorder 
among his friends, he at once gave his own orders, " Fix bayonets, 
trail arms, double quick, forward " ; in five minutes there was not 
a living Frenchman in the field; their skirmishers fled before 
him, and, in the sight of their whole Division, he with his single 
Company^ with desperate and reckless charge, dashed into the 
head of a whole column of French infantry which had already 
gained the heights, overthrew them, and sent their whole mass 
rolling headlong and panic stricken into the valley below ; it was 
one of the most brilliant feats of the war; it gave his division 
time to form and to commence that orderly and splendid retreat 
which terminated on the victorious field in front of Pampeluna. 

"George Tovey, where are you? for I have scarcely seen, 
scarcely exchanged two words with you, since these glorious days 
departed; twenty-six years have rolled over my head since 
this tale was told me by a brother officer of yours; the details 
may therefore be faulty, though substantially correct. I call 
upon you, as the hero ©f it, to inform the world whether you 
ever saw a British bayonet used ; for if you brought your gallant 
band from that triumphant fray with bloodless weapons, you have 
been woefully belied. 

" Lieut-Colonel George Tovey, I say, come forth ! for if you 
do not, by my pen I swear that I will continue telling tales of the 
same kind against you, until I kindle such a flame in your cheek 
as may set fire to your scarlet coat, and make a hole in your 


half-pay, which it can but ill afford; for though the illustrious 

Wellington rewarded you, at the moment, with a Brevet-Majority, 

it was all that the miserable policy of the rulers of that day, at 

home, permitted him to bestow. Men of minor note, have since 

been exhibiting their pictures in panoramas and print-shop 

windows, while all that the public has ever seen or heard of you 

is, when some hungry hotel keeper at Cheltenham, or elsewhere, 

finds Lieut-Colonel tacked to your name and sticks it in the 

newspaper as a lure for others, not knowing or caring who George 

Tovey is ; this must no longer be, and again I say. Come forth, 

and for the honour of the bayonet answer for your charge ! 

" You may not thank me for the call, but I know the public 

will, for drawing aside the curtain which has so long hung 

between them and you." 

(Signed) J. KINCAID. 

Reply to the above Letter y copied from the U, 5. Journal for 
November, i8jg. 


" Mr. Editor, — In the last number of your journal there is a 
letter from the gallant rifleman (Captain Kincaid), who, during 
the last French War, had so many opportunities of appreciating 
the value of a British soldier. 

"As there are one or two trifling inaccuracies, and I have 
been, besides, called upon by name to pronounce upon the 
authenticity of the bayonet encounter he has related, I shall do 
so as briefly as possible. 

"In the first place, the 4th Division, on the 25th July, 1813, 
did not occupy the Pass of Maya; they were between it and 

" Secondly, the Division had been expecting an attack that 
morning, and the XX Regiment were lying in column by their 
arms. It was daylight when a German Sergeant of the Brunswick 
Oel Corps, who had been out in front, came in haste to tell us 
that the enemy were close upon us, and that they had made the 
Spanish Picquet (who were posted to give us intelligence) 


prisoners, without firing a shot. The left wing of the XX was 
moved instantly to form upon some strong ground in the direction 
they were coming, and, while doing so, the enemy's light troops 
opened so galling a fire, that Major-General Ross, who was on 
the spot, called out for a company to go in front; without 
waiting for orders, I pushed out with mine, and, in close order and 
double quick cleared away the skirmishers from a sort of plateau. 
They did not wait for us, and, on reaching the opposite side, we 
came so suddenly on the head of the enem/s infantry column, 
who had just gained a footing on the summit of the hill, that the 
men of my company absolutely paused in astonishment, for we 
YftTQ/ctce to fctu with them, and the French officer called to us to 
disarm; I repeated bayonet away, bayonet away, and rushing 
headlong amongst them, we fairly turned them back into the 
descent of the hill; and such was the panic and confusion 
occasioned among them by our sudden onset, that this small 
party, for such it was compared to the French column, had rime 
to regain the Regiment, but my military readers may rest assured 
that it was required to be done in double quick. The enemy had 
many men killed, and the leading French ofl&cer fell close at my 
feet with two others, all bayoneted, 

" The Company, with which I was the only officer present on 
this occasion, did not amount to more than between seventy and 
eighty men, and we had eleven killed and fourteen wounded. I 
appeal to those of the 4th Division who witnessed this affair, 
whether I have arrogated to myself more than this handful of 
British soldiers are entitled to. 

" I have now responded to the call of the brave Rifleman, and 

followed up his random shot by a bayonet thrust; and as it is, in 

all probability, my last, either in the field or in print, I shall 

conclude by strongly advising our young soldiers to receive with 

caution the lucubrations of theorists, when opposed to the 

practical essays of the Duke of Wellington and other great 

Commanders, who have figured in history since the first invention 

of the bayonet 


"GEORGE TOVEY, Lieut-ColoneL 

" Stanmore, i6th October, 1839* 


"N.B. — ^A powerful man of the name of Budworth, returned 
with only the blood-soiled socket of the bayonet on his piece ; and 
he declared he had killed away imtil his bayonet broke ; and I 
am confident, from the reckless and intrepid nature of the man, 
that he had done so." 


Extracts from an Official Report and Napier^ s ^^Peninstdar War^^ 
respecting the " Combat of Roncesvalles.^* 

"General Cole to Lord Wellington, Heights in front of 
Pamplona, July 27th, 1813. 

" The enemy having in the course of the night turned those 
posts, were now perceived moving in very considerable force along 
the ridge, leading to the Puerto de Mendichurri, I therefore 
proceeded in that direction, and found that their advance had 
nearly reached the road leading from Roncesvalles Pass to Los 
Aldnides, from which it is separated by a small wooded valley. 
Owing to the difficulty of the communication the head of Major- 
General Ross's Brigade could not arrive there sooner. The 
Major-General, however, with great decision, attacked them with 
the Brunswick Company and three companies of the Twentieth, aU 
he had time to form. These actually closed with the enemy, and 
bayoneted several in the ranks. They were, however, forced to 
yield to superior numbers, and to retire across the valley. The 
enemy attempted to follow them, but were repulsed with loss, the 
remainder of the Brigade having come up. 

" The 2oth Regiment, imder the command of Lieut -Colonel 
Wauchope, were principally engaged on the 25th, and the 
conduct of the three companies, which, with the Brunswick 
Company, formed the advance, was particularly distinguished. 
Major-General Ross mentions particularly Captain Tovey of that 

Extract from Colonel W. F. P. Napier* s ^^ History of the 
Peninsular War^^ vol, 6. 

" Before this message^ could reach Cole, the head of Ross's 

> A message sent by General Campbell to General Cole, apprising him of 
Reille*s force. 


column^ composed of a wing of the 20th Regiment and a company 
of Brunswickers, was on the summit of the Lindouz, where, most 
of unexpectedly, it encountered Reille's advanced guard; the 
moment was critical, but Ross, an eager, hasty, soldier, called 
aloud to charge, and Captain Tovey of the Twentieth, running 
forward with his company, crossed a slight wooded hollow, and 
full against the front of the Sixth French Light Infantry dashed 
with the bayonet Brave men fell by that weapon on both sides, 
but numbers prevailing, these daring soldiers were pushed back 
again by the French. Ross, however, gained his object, the 
remainder of the Brigade had come up and the Pass of Atalosti 
was secured, yet with a loss of 140 men of the Twentieth 
Regiment and forty-one of the Brunswickers." 


Extracts from Wellington's Despatch, dated San Estevan, ist 
August, 1 81 3, respecting the ctctions of the Pyrenees. 

** In the action which took place on this day (July 25th) the 

20th Regiment distinguished themselves 

In the course of this contest (July 28) the gallant 4th Division, 
which had so frequently been distinguished in this Army, 
surpassed their former good conduct Every regiment charged 
with the bayonet, and the 40th, 7th, 20th, and 23rd four different 
times. Their Officers set them the example, and Major-Genend 
Ross had two horses shot imder him." 


Extract from an Official Report from Marshal Soult to the Minister 
of War, after the combat at Roncesvalles, on the 2Sth yuly, 


"Linzoin, 26 Juiller, 18 13. 

" Leurs pertes out dgalement i\.i considerables, soit k Fattaque 

du Lindoux par le G^ndral Reille ou le 2ome Regiment a ixi 

presque detruit, k la suite d'une charge k la baionette, executfe 

par un bataillon du 6me leger, soit k Tattaque d'Altobisca par le 

Gfenhal Clauzel." 



"Western District Order. 

"Assistant Adjutant General's Office, 

"Athlone, 1 6th November, 1817. 

"Tuesday next, the i8th instant, being the day appointed 
for the interment of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte 
of Wales and her Infant, the troops in the Western District will, 
on this most afflicting and solemn event, attend Divine Service ; 
and the Officer Commanding at the different stations will be 
pleased to call upon the respective Garrison Chaplains to deliver 
a discourse suitable to the occasion. 

" The deep impression, which the untimely loss of the nation's 
future hope must have stamped upon every feeling mind, renders 
it unnecessary for Major-General BuUer to attempt to expatiate 
upon its woes. He is fully aware in addressing those who have 
gallantly shed their blood in support of the honor and dignity of 
the British Empire, that they have hearts to deplore the untimely 
loss of that exemplary Princess, who, (if Providence had permitted,) 
was one day destined to sway its sceptre. 

" By order of Major-General BuUer, 

(Signed) " J. P. Murray, Lieut -Colonel, A. A. G. 

" The Officer Commanding 

" 20th Regim^t, Boyle."