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Title: A British Rifle Man - The Journals and Correspondence of Major George Simmons, Rifle Brigade, During the Peninsular War and the Campaign of Waterloo
Author: Simmons, George
Language: English
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A BRITISH RIFLE MAN

The Journals and Correspondence of Major George Simmons,
Rifle Brigade, During the Peninsular War and the Campaign of
Waterloo

Edited, with Introduction, by
Lieut.-Colonel Willoughby Verner
Late Rifle Brigade
Author of 'Sketches in the Soudan,' etc.

With Three Maps



London
A. & C. Black, Soho Square
1899

All rights reserved



  To

  GENERAL HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS

  THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT AND STRATHEARN,

  COLONEL-IN-CHIEF OF THE RIFLE BRIGADE,
  FORMERLY (1803-1816) STYLED THE 95TH RIFLES AND
  (1800-1802) THE RIFLE CORPS,

  THIS VOLUME
  IN WHICH A BRITISH RIFLE MAN RECOUNTS HIS PERSONAL
  KNOWLEDGE OF MANY OF THE DEEDS THAT HAVE
  MADE THE NAME OF THE REGIMENT
  SO FAMOUS
  IS (BY PERMISSION) DEDICATED
  BY HIS MOST HUMBLE AND OBEDIENT SERVANT

  WILLOUGHBY VERNER,

  LIEUTENANT-COLONEL, LATE OF THE RIFLE BRIGADE.



SKETCH MAPS


Illustrating the operations on the Coa and Agueda      _Facing page_ 198

Illustrating movements during the Campaigns of 1809-12     "    "    272

Illustrating movements during the Campaigns of 1813-14     "    "    350



CONTENTS


Introduction      Page xi


Commencement of the Peninsular War. Campaign of 1808      1


Campaign of 1809      2


CHAPTER I

Letter No. I., To his Parents, from Hythe and Dover, dated 21st May
1809—Journal, May-July 1809—Letter No. II., To his Parents, from
Castello Branco, dated 18th July 1809      4


CHAPTER II

Journal, July-December 1809—Letter No. III., To his Parents, from Campo
Mayor, dated September 1809—Letter No. IV., To his Parents, from Campo
Mayor, dated 29th October 1809—Journal, December 1809      19


Campaign of 1810      43


CHAPTER III

Journal, 1st January-27th February 1810—Letter No. V., To his Parents,
from Villar Torpin, dated 28th February 1810—Journal, 4th March-30th
April 1810—Letter No. VI., To his Father, from Villar de Ciérvos, dated
30th April 1810      44


CHAPTER IV

Journal, 7th May-8th August 1810—Letter No. VII., To his Parents, from
Lisbon, dated 10th August 1810      66


CHAPTER V

Journal, August-September 1810—Letter No. VIII., To his Parents, from
Pedroso, Lisbon, dated 30th September 1810—Journal, October-December
1810—Letter No. IX., To his Parents, from Lisbon, dated 16th December
1810      98


Campaign of 1811      127


CHAPTER VI

Letter No. X., To his Parents, from Lisbon, dated 11th January
1811—Journal, January-25th March 1811—Letter No. XI., To his Parents,
from Mello, dated 26th March 1811      129


CHAPTER VII

Journal, 26th March-26th May 1811—Letter No. XII., To his Parents, from
Espeja, dated 18th May 1811      158


CHAPTER VIII

Journal, 26th May-21st August 1811—Letter No. XIII., To his Parents,
from Martiago, dated 26th August 1811—Journal, 29th August-30th
September 1811—Letter No. XIV., To Lieutenant Maud Simmons, 34th
Regiment, 2nd Division, Portugal, from Aldea Velha, Portugal, dated 1st
October 1811—Journal, 1st October-20th December 1811—Letter No. XV., To
his Parents, from Atalaya, Spain, dated 8th December 1811      185


Campaign of 1812      213


CHAPTER IX

Journal, 4th January-30th July 1812      216


CHAPTER X

Journal, 1st-31st August 1812—Letter No. XVI., To his Parents, from
Madrid, dated 8th September 1812—Journal, 1st September-31st December
1812—Letter No. XVII., To his Parents, from Alameda, Spain, dated 12th
December 1812—Letter No. XVIII., To his Father, from Alameda, Spain,
dated 29th December 1812      245


Campaign of 1813      273


CHAPTER XI

Letter No. XIX., To his Father, from Alameda, dated 30th April
1813—Letter No. XX., From Lieutenant Joseph Simmons to his
Parents, from Alameda, dated 5th May 1813 (Postscript by George
Simmons)—Journal, 1st May-30th August 1813      275


CHAPTER XII

Letter No. XXI., To his Parents, from Vera, Pyrenees, dated 30th August
1813—Postscript, dated 4th September 1813—Journal, 31st August-31st
December 1813—Letter No. XXII., To his Parents, from St. Jean-de-Luz,
France, dated 7th December 1813, and Postscript      302


Campaign of 1814      331


CHAPTER XIII

Journal, 12th January-21st March 1814—Battle of Orthez—The Action of
Tarbes—Letter No. XXIII., To his Parents, from Tarbes, France, dated
27th March 1814 (finished by Maud Simmons)—Journal, 13th April-23rd
July 1814      333


Campaign of 1815      354


CHAPTER XIV

Journal, 25th April-June 1815—Letter No. XXIV., To his Parents, from
Brussels, dated 19th May 1815—Journal, 15th-18th June 1815—Letter No.
XXV., To his Parents, from Brussels, undated, but bearing a postmark of
1st July 1815—Letter No. XXVI., To his Parents, from Brussels, dated
21st July 1815—Letter No. XXVII., To his Parents, from Brussels, dated
18th September 1815      355


Conclusion      378


Appendix I., Letter from General Sir Harry Smith, 1846, after
Aliwal      381

Appendix II., Medical Certificates      384



INTRODUCTION


George Simmons, the writer of the following letters and journals, was
born on 2nd May 1785. His parents resided at Beverley, in Yorkshire.
The family consisted of nine sons and three daughters.

Since some of their names constantly recur in Simmons's letters, a
brief account of them will be useful. Maud, the second son, obtained a
commission in the 34th Foot in 1809. The third, Joseph, after beginning
life as an attorney's clerk, joined his eldest brother's corps, the
95th Rifles, as a Volunteer in 1812, and shortly afterwards was granted
a commission in it. All three brothers served in the Peninsular War.
The fourth brother, John, appears to have been a source of some trouble
to his parents, and eventually ran away from home and entered the
Mercantile Marine. His career at sea was a brief one. His ship was very
soon attacked and captured by a French privateer, and he was killed
in the engagement. The daughters, especially the second, Ann, "My
dear Ann" of many a letter, were the object of constant solicitude to
George, and of much good advice and many anxious forebodings. These
details of the family are rendered necessary by the fact that for some
cause or other the eldest brother appears to have constituted himself
as the adviser and protector, and to some extent the supporter, of
his parents. His father seems to have been in extremely straitened
circumstances, and to have lacked the capability of looking after his
family. George was evidently a very steady young fellow, and, realising
that his father was unable to fight the battle of life, he set to work
and studied medicine with a view to being able to support his parents.
In 1805, when Napoleon's threatened invasion had caused all the
manhood of England to enrol themselves for the defence of the country,
George was given a commission as Assistant-Surgeon in the Royal South
Lincolnshire Militia, commanded by Colonel Waldo-Sibthorp, M.P. In this
corps he served for nearly four years, and during that time gained the
friendship of his Colonel, who subsequently assisted him in various
ways.

The Lincoln Militia were quartered in Hythe Barracks in the spring of
1809, as were both Battalions of the 95th Rifles. The latter were in
a very shattered condition, having only recently returned from the
disastrous campaign of Coruña. In order to fill up their depleted
ranks, volunteers were called for from the Militia, and every Militia
officer who could induce a hundred men to join the service was granted
a commission. No difficulty, however, was experienced in obtaining
recruits for "The Rifles," as they were styled. Although a very
"young" regiment, having been raised only nine years previously, the
peculiar nature of their arm—the rifle—and their exceptionally active
employment, coupled with the fact that they had already made their
name at Copenhagen under Lord Nelson, at Monte Video, and only recently
at Roliça, Vimeiro, and Coruña, caused many more to volunteer for
service in their ranks than could be taken.

In the words of Sir William Cope, the historian of the Rifle Brigade:—

 The regiment had already became so famous and popular, that not only
 were the deficiencies filled up in a very short time, but more than a
 thousand volunteers presented themselves beyond the numbers required.
 It was therefore resolved by the Authorities to add a 3rd Battalion to
 the regiment.

George Simmons, partly for reasons already given, but no doubt also
owing to strong military instincts and a true British desire to "fight
the French," easily induced a number of his Militiamen to volunteer
for the Rifles, and thereby became entitled to a second-lieutenant's
commission himself—there were no "ensigns" in the Rifles in those days.

It was at this juncture that his friend and benefactor, Colonel
Sibthorp, unwilling to lose his Assistant-Surgeon, and doubting the
wisdom of his going out to Portugal amid the circumstances, made use of
influence at the Horse Guards to cause the issue of the commission to
be delayed, trusting that, with time for reflection, George might be
induced to abandon his project.

Our history opens with a letter from George in May 1809 to his parents
at Beverley, announcing that he is about to embark at Dover for
Portugal with the 1st Battalion 95th Rifles, and recounting Colonel
Sibthorp's well-meant but inopportune efforts to retain his services
in the Militia.

It will be seen that one of his chief reasons for quitting the Militia
and joining the Army was "the interests of his family," to whom he
hoped to be of use; he wished "to assist the boys to go to school."

There is something very touching, albeit at the same time painfully
incongruous, in worthy George Simmons's unceasing efforts thus to
assist his family with small remittances from his hardly-won pay as
a subaltern. To us soldiers of the end of the century the idea of a
young man seeking a commission with a view to supporting his parents
and assisting in the education of his brothers and sisters is so
supremely absurd that at first one is inclined to look upon George as a
well-meaning visionary. Facts, however, disprove the suspicion. Readers
of these letters will learn how throughout the six campaigns in the
Peninsula between 1809 and 1814, and also during and after the Waterloo
campaign, Lieutenant Simmons, although thrice very severely wounded and
put to much expense, managed constantly to remit a portion of his pay,
and no inconsiderable portion of good advice as well, to his parents,
who were sadly in need of both.

The letters in this volume are truthful accounts, written from many a
bivouac and battlefield in Portugal, Spain, France, and Belgium, of
the daily experiences of a young British officer taking his part in
the great wars which were the main cause of Napoleon's downfall. Only
now and then, where George Simmons has alluded to family matters of an
entirely private nature, has it been considered desirable to excise
the latter. But his views, correct or the reverse, of the military
situation of the moment, his opinions of his chiefs and contemporaries,
his anxieties about the welfare of his parents, brothers, and sisters,
and his unceasing efforts to aid them, all forming as they do an
integral part of his daily work, thoughts, and aspirations, have been
left absolutely untouched.

To readers unacquainted with military matters it may be explained that
these letters and journals claim to possess additional interest, since
they are written by an officer who happened to belong to a regiment
which saw more fighting in the Peninsula than any other in the British
Army.

The Rifles formed part of the famous Light Division which was
perpetually in the forefront of the battle, and they were the only
regiment of British soldiers armed with the then newly introduced
weapon—the rifle—in contradistinction to Brown Bess, the smooth-bore
musket carried by the remainder of the Infantry. It is true that
certain corps, notably the 5th Battalion of the 60th Royal American
Regiment[1] and the Duke of Brunswick Oels' Corps, also were armed with
rifles; but, as these were composed of Germans and other foreigners,
and their companies at times distributed among various Brigades, the
same interest did not attach to them, nor were they able to take such
a leading part in the fighting as the three Battalions of the 95th
Rifles, who were present in whole or in part at every great battle in
the long and bloody struggle in the Peninsula, save Albuera only.

But although the regiment was composed of three battalions, it never
mustered more than seventeen companies in the Peninsula, and at
Waterloo only fourteen were present. It took its share not only in
the general actions, sieges, and stormings in common with the other
regiments, but also was constantly engaged in innumerable "affairs,"
as they are styled, which caused an unceasing drain on its strength—a
drain from which regiments belonging to other Divisions were usually
exempt. The reason for this was that the Light Brigade, or, as it was
subsequently styled, the Light Division, was used during the campaigns
in the Peninsula as a permanent covering or outpost force. Thus in 1810
it acted as a Corps of Observation on the Coa, far in advance of the
rest of the army, and took part in the affairs of Barba del Puerco,
Gallegos, etc., as well as in the severe fighting at the Combat of the
Coa, at which no other troops were engaged. Again, in 1811, Craufurd's
Brigade formed the advanced guard in the pursuit of Massena, and hence
was constantly in collision with the enemy.

These events are well described by Simmons, and it will be seen that a
similar condition of affairs prevailed in the subsequent campaigns of
1812-14. The normal strength of an infantry battalion in the Peninsula
was ten companies, and whilst noting that the 95th Rifles had the great
advantage of having three battalions in the field, which naturally gave
them a greater chance than others of seeing fighting, it is only fair
to remember that there were usually only from fifteen to seventeen
companies, and _not_ thirty, as is commonly supposed.

Several regiments had two battalions serving in the Peninsula, and
hence were as strong numerically as the Rifles.

The "Baker" rifle, with which the regiment was armed, was in every
sense an arm of precision up to 300 yards, and at ranges of 400 and
500 yards it was possible to hit a mark with it. This alone gave
the Riflemen an immense advantage over their comrades armed with
smooth-bore muskets, and, as proved by the experiments at Woolwich,
it was greatly superior to the rifles of Continental and American
manufacture in use at the time.

This rifle was invented by Ezekiel Baker, a London gunmaker, towards
the close of the last century, and was the first rifle regularly
adopted into the British service. It was tried at Woolwich in February
1800 by order of the Board of Ordnance, and was selected as the arm
of the Rifle Corps, then in process of being raised. On this occasion
eleven shots out of twelve were placed in a six-foot circular target at
300 yards' distance. The following is a description of the Baker rifle:
Weight 9½ lbs., barrel seven-grooved and 30 inches in length, rifling
one quarter turn in barrel, bullet spherical, 20 to the pound, charge
of powder 84 grains, flint-lock. The ball was placed in the centre
of a greased leather patch and rammed home, considerable force being
necessary to effect this. At first, wooden mallets were issued to the
Riflemen to facilitate the process of ramming home, but these were very
shortly discontinued (_circa_ 1803). A supply of greased patches was
carried in a small box with spring brass lid in the side of the butt of
the rifle.

As regards rapidity of fire, the maximum rate at which perfectly steady
shots could be taken was reckoned to be one per minute.

This weapon was the one used by the Rifle Corps in their maiden
action at Ferrol in 1800, and at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801,
where the Riflemen fought under Lord Nelson and were distributed as
sharp-shooters among various British ships of the line. It was further
used in South America in 1807-8 and throughout the Peninsula campaigns
of 1808-14, and also at Waterloo. In 1838 it was supplanted by the
percussion-lock Brunswick rifle, having thus been in use in the service
for a longer period than has any rifled firearm.

The smooth-bore musket, commonly known as "Brown Bess," was a much
heavier and longer weapon, throwing a spherical ball of 14 to the
pound, and the uncertainty of its fire is well evidenced by the
expression "as random as a common musket," which is to be met with
in treatises on rifle-shooting at the beginning of the century. This
weapon was in use up to the year 1853. It would not carry straight for
100 yards, and its effective range was barely double that distance.
Such was "the musket, that queen of weapons," as it has been styled,
with which the British infantry won all its great victories from the
time of Marlborough until the conquest of the Punjaub in 1849.

That even greater results were not obtained from the rifle during the
Peninsular War is due to the fact that the 95th Riflemen were naturally
often compelled to conform to the general movements of large bodies
of troops armed with smooth-bores. Their utility was in consequence
frequently unduly circumscribed by the exigencies of the moment.

It was, however, in the affairs of outposts and advanced guards, and on
occasions when individual action was both permissible and practicable,
that the value of the rifle became most apparent. Thus at the action of
Tarbes on March 14, 1814, the three Battalions of the 95th attacked and
ousted from an exceptionally strong position a French Division. George
Simmons was severely wounded in this fight. An eye-witness belonging
to another corps thus describes the attack, and in words which convey
a good idea of the methods of Riflemen under such circumstances: "Our
Rifles were immediately sent to dislodge the French from the hills on
our left, and our Battalion was ordered to support them. Nothing could
exceed the manner in which the 95th set about this business. Certainly
I never saw such skirmishers as the 95th, now the Rifle Brigade. They
could do the work much better and with infinitely _less loss_ than any
other of our best Light troops. They possessed an individual boldness,
a mutual understanding, and a quickness of eye in taking advantage of
the ground, which, taken altogether, I never saw equalled. They were,
in fact, as much superior to the French Voltigeurs as the latter were
to our skirmishers in general. As our regiment was often employed
in supporting them, I think I am fairly qualified to speak of their
merits."[2]

Unquestionably the most pressing military problem of the present day
is how to conduct an attack on troops armed (as all infantry are now)
with magazine rifles, which, owing to their flat trajectory and
extraordinary rapidity and precision of fire, are overwhelming in their
effects against favourable targets up to 2000 yards.

The object-lesson most recently before us is that of the fight at
Khartoum, where the absolute impossibility of masses of men advancing
under modern artillery and rifle fire, although known to students
of war, was practically demonstrated again to the whole world. The
unusually heavy losses experienced by our troops in the fighting on the
Indian Frontier in 1897 were mostly due to the able manner in which the
Afridis and other tribesmen took advantage of the ground and worked in
unison (as did the Riflemen at Tarbes and on many another battlefield)
to assist and support one another, and thus develop their fire so as
to obtain the maximum value from it with the minimum exposure and loss
to themselves. The accounts by officers who served in that campaign
bear a striking resemblance to some of the instances narrated by
George Simmons of the methods of fighting of the Riflemen during the
Peninsular War. Thus the French captain's description in Chapter V. of
the attack of the British Riflemen at Vimeiro, and the heavy losses he
sustained, especially in officers, is almost an exact repetition of
some of the accounts of the fights in the Tirah Campaign of 1897.

Sir John Kincaid, who served throughout the Peninsular War, and was
adjutant of the 1st Battalion 95th Rifles at Waterloo, says truly
that his corps, as "the Light regiment of the Light Division, fired
the first and last shot in almost every battle, siege, or skirmish,
in which the army was engaged during the war." But he hastens to add
that he considered the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry _as a part of the
Rifles_, "for they bore a share in everything, and although the nature
of our arm generally gave us more employment in the way of skirmishing,
yet, whenever it came to a pinch, independent of a suitable mixture
of them among us, we had only to look behind to see a line in which
we might place _a degree of confidence almost equal to our hopes in
heaven_; nor were we ever disappointed. There never was a corps of
Riflemen in the hands of such supporters."

It is notoriously dangerous to prophesy, but I am presumptuous enough
to believe that the difficult problem of the conduct of attacks in
the future will in all probability be solved by adopting some system
based on the methods originated and carried out so successfully by the
first regiment of Riflemen in the British service during the Peninsular
War, of which the account of their attack on the French position at
Tarbes, given by the author of _Twelve Years' Military Adventure_, is
a good example. It is, of course, an integral part of the system that
the firing line should be intelligently and effectively supported, so
as to give those committed to the forefront of the battle that superb
_confidence_, both in themselves and in their comrades behind, so
admirably described by Kincaid.

Such confidence can only come from careful training and fellowship in
peace time, followed by experience on active service under fire, and
this is precisely what the celebrated Light Division was fortunate
enough to obtain. For it was largely due to the marvellous training of
the Light Brigade, consisting of these _same three regiments_, under
Sir John Moore at Shorncliffe during the years 1803 to 1805 that the
gallant Craufurd was able to achieve the splendid results he did, first
with the "Light Brigade," and later with his famous "Light Division."

But there was another element which should on no account be ignored,
and which unquestionably had much to do with the successful training
under Moore. On the Rifle Corps being first raised in 1800, the
Colonel, Coote Manningham, set to work to train the officers and men
thoroughly in the duties of Riflemen in the field. In that year he
issued a small book entitled _Regulations for the Rifle Corps_. The
most noticeable point in this is the great importance he attached to
what is known as the "Company system." Starting with the axiom that "In
a regiment of Riflemen, each company must be formed upon the principle
of being separate from, and totally independent of, another," the whole
of the book is permeated with the same ideas. Thus it is laid down that
transfers of officers or men from one company to another are not to be
made unless absolutely necessary, since "Riflemen, being liable to act
very independently of each other, and in numerous small detachments
in the field, will feel the comfort and utility of their own officer,
non-commissioned officers, and comrades with them, and the service will
be benefited by the tie of friendship."

Captains were held responsible for the whole training of their men,
and were directed "to offer premiums" for those who became good rifle
shots. These were to be styled "marksmen" and to wear "a green cockade!"

The _Regulations_ are of especial interest nowadays, since they show
that as early as the first year of this century there were soldiers,
such as Coote Manningham and his second-in-command, Lieutenant-Colonel
the Hon. William Stewart (to whom no small share of their compilation
is most justly ascribed), who realised the importance of educating the
soldier of that day and also in treating him with consideration.

Thus a regimental school was founded and a library provided, periodical
examinations were held of the scholars, and lectures on military
subjects were given to officers and men. An excellent series of
lectures given by Coote Manningham to the 95th Rifles at Shorncliffe in
1803 is still extant.[3]

From the foregoing it will be gathered that the men of the 95th had a
thoroughly sound training, based on the soundest of principles—that
of the COMPANY in peace and war. This company system was introduced
into the 43rd Light Infantry and into the 52nd Light Infantry about
1803. Added to this came the excellent Brigade training under Moore at
Shorncliffe. It is amusing to think that the system of "Company" and
"Brigade" training has only of recent years been adopted at our chief
military school—Aldershot.

It was the outcome of Moore's untiring efforts, on which was engrafted
the fiery spirit of Craufurd's remarkable personality, that caused
the troops of the Light Division, after the death of their leader at
the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, to maintain their high character as
skilful and intrepid warriors. So long as the English language is
spoken will Napier's heart-stirring description of the storming of
Badajoz by the Light Division endure: "How deadly the strife was at
this point may be gathered from this; the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of
the Light Division lost more men than the seven regiments of the Third
Division engaged at the castle!... Who shall do justice to the bravery
of the British soldiers? to the noble emulation of the officers? Who
shall measure out the glory of ... O'Hare of the Rifles, who perished
on the breach at the head of the stormers, and with him nearly all
the volunteers for that desperate service? Who shall describe ... the
martial fury of that desperate Rifleman who, in his resolution to win,
thrust himself beneath the chained sword-blades, and there suffered the
enemy to dash his head to pieces with the ends of their muskets? Who
can sufficiently honour ... the resolution of Ferguson of the 43rd,
who, having at Rodrigo received two deep wounds, was here, with his
hurts still open, leading the stormers of his regiment, the third time
a volunteer, and the third time wounded?"

It is a significant fact, and not very complimentary to the
intelligence of the military authorities of the period, that the 95th
were not granted several so-called "Honours" (or names of battles)
to wear on their appointments, albeit they were present and took an
active share in them. Notable among these is "Pyrenees," in which
region the Rifles lost 15 officers and 264 non-commissioned officers
and men, killed and wounded. A full account of the heavy fighting at
this time will be found in George Simmons's letters. In 1849, when the
long-deferred medal for the great war was at last issued, no fewer than
294 men of the Rifle Brigade were granted the clasp for "Pyrenees,"
although to this day the regiment does not carry the "Honour" on its
appointments.

The vast difference between a corps, for technical reasons (such,
for example, as the Colonel having been granted the gold medal for
having commanded his regiment in a fight), being given an "Honour,"
and its having been present and performed gallant service at the same
engagement, is best illustrated by the remarkable fact that in 1849
no fewer than _three thousand four hundred and sixty-nine clasps_ for
Peninsula battles and sieges were issued to survivors of the 95th—a
far greater number than were granted to any other regiment, and over
_twenty-four times as many_ as were issued to some which to this day
carry more Peninsula Honours.

As regards the compilation of this volume, the original journals are
contained in three small pocket-books, in paper covers, measuring only
a few inches square and weighing ¾ oz., 1 oz., and 2 oz. respectively.
These were carried by George Simmons in his head-dress throughout the
wars, and hence he was always able to make notes from day to day of
events as they occurred. These small books form the framework, so to
speak, of the more voluminous journals, which were evidently written
subsequently, when more time was available for such a purpose.

The journal which is now published is chiefly taken from the latter,
but all dates, etc., have been verified from the smaller books.
Concurrently with the journal, a series of letters to his parents
from the seat of war, covering the whole period between May 1809 and
September 1815, are here reproduced without alteration, save and except
in the orthography of proper names and of Spanish and French towns, etc.

When possible, the signature of officers concerned, as given in the
"Pay Lists and Muster Rolls" at the Record Office, has been adopted in
rendering their names. Certain Spanish names, the spelling of which,
although notoriously wrong, has been consecrated by usage, have been
retained in the form most familiar to Englishmen.

No little difficulty was experienced in locating many of the places
mentioned by Simmons, whose rendering of Spanish names was at times
very erratic. This, however, is excusable when it is remembered that
the whole British army, from the Duke downwards, habitually ignored
the most elementary rules of orthography in the Spanish language.
Sir William Napier himself was one of the greatest offenders in this
way. To this day about half a dozen of the names of great battles in
Spain and Portugal worn as "Honours" by regiments on their Colours are
incorrectly spelt!

No two atlases agree as to Spanish spelling, but I was fortunate in
obtaining a very fair Spanish map, entitled "Mapa Civil y Militar de
España y Portugal," by Dauty and Malo, published in 1857, which I have
taken as the basis of the rough sketch maps which illustrate these
pages.

Even this, however, is at places difficult to follow nowadays, owing
to changes in names of places. Thus the town at the junction of the
rivers Tagus and Zezere known as "Punhete" in 1809, and shown as such
in 1857, is marked as "Constançia" in more modern atlases.

A very clear map of the Peninsula, published in 1810 in London (which
no doubt was largely used during the subsequent campaigns), is so
utterly at variance with this Spanish map, not only in the spelling of
names, but also in the position of towns and the course of rivers, that
it is practically useless.

A word of explanation as to the title. When the Corps was first raised,
Riflemen—being at the time a novelty—were styled Rifle Men. In one of
the earliest "Clothing Warrants" of the regiment they are described as
"the Regiment of Rifle Men."

George Simmons in his journals and letters adopted this form of
spelling, and hence it has been retained as characteristic of the
fashion of that period.

      Willoughby Verner,
      Lieut.-Colonel.

  Royal Military College,
  Sandhurst, _March 1899_.



A British Rifle Man



COMMENCEMENT OF THE PENINSULAR WAR


CAMPAIGN OF 1808

 The Peninsular War commenced in the year 1808, on 1st August of which
 year Major-General Sir Arthur Wellesley disembarked at Mondego Bay
 and marched on Lisbon, at that time occupied by a French army under
 Marshal Junot. The latter sent General Laborde with a Division to
 oppose Wellesley's advance, and on 15th August the first skirmish
 took place at Obidos. On this occasion the 95th Rifles had an officer
 killed (Lieut. Bunbury), the first British officer who fell in the
 Peninsular War. On 17th August, Wellesley defeated Laborde at the
 battle of Roliça, and four days later he met and defeated Junot at the
 battle of Vimeiro. Then followed the Convention of Cintra, under the
 terms of which Junot was permitted to embark his army of 25,000 men at
 Lisbon and the French evacuated Portugal.

 The British Government now sent out strong reinforcements to the
 Peninsula, and appointed Sir John Moore to the chief command. Moore's
 forces concentrated in the vicinity of Salamanca, and then advanced to
 engage Soult, who was holding the line of the Carrion river. Meanwhile
 the Spanish armies had been defeated at all points, and the French
 army, commanded by Napoleon in person and numbering over 100,000
 men, was set at liberty to attack Moore, whose forces only amounted
 to 25,000 men. In spite of these appalling odds, Moore conducted an
 admirable retreat, and at Rueda, Sahagun, Benavente, and Mayorga his
 cavalry obtained brilliant successes over the French.

 On 1st January 1809 Napoleon entered Astorga, only to find that he
 was too late to destroy the English army, which had evaded his blow
 and was in retreat on Vigo and Coruña. Leaving Soult to continue the
 pursuit, the Emperor now returned to France.

 Moore carried out his retirement in a masterly manner; at Caçabelos,
 Constantin, and Lugo he checked his pursuers and inflicted heavy
 losses on their advancing columns. The retreat terminated with the
 battle of Coruña, fought on 16th January 1809, when the gallant Moore
 was killed, but not before he had heavily defeated the French and thus
 secured the embarkation of his forces.


 CAMPAIGN OF 1809

 The French army in Spain was ordered by Napoleon to reoccupy Portugal,
 and Marshal Soult was directed to march, _via_ Oporto, on Lisbon,
 Marshal Ney to hold Galicia, and Marshal Victor to invade Portugal
 south of the Tagus.

 The British Government sent out Sir Arthur Wellesley to Portugal with
 strong reinforcements. Wellesley marched on Oporto and seized the
 passage of the Douro on 12th May, and drove Soult back into Galicia.
 Victor meanwhile had reached Talavera de la Reyna on the Tagus, and
 was supported by King Joseph and Marshal Jourdan.

 Wellesley now advanced and joined the Spanish General Cuesta near
 Talavera. Victor thereupon fell back, and, Cuesta following him up
 alone, was severely handled by King Joseph and driven back behind the
 Alberche river.

 The French army, under King Joseph with Jourdan and Victor, now
 advanced and crossed the Alberche, and, after several sharp combats,
 the battle of Talavera was fought on 28th July. After a desperate
 struggle, the French were finally driven back at all points, and early
 on the following morning retired across the Alberche.

 On the same day, the Light Division under General Craufurd, consisting
 of the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion 95th
 Rifles, reached the field and immediately took up the outposts. This
 Division, after a march of 20 miles, was in bivouac at Malpartida,
 when Craufurd received a report that the British were hard pressed at
 Talavera. He at once started "with a resolution not to halt until he
 reached the field of battle.... The troops pressed on with impetuous
 speed, and, leaving only seventeen stragglers behind, in twenty-six
 hours crossed the field of battle, a strong compact body, having
 during that time marched 62 English miles in the hottest season of the
 year, each man carrying from fifty to sixty pounds weight."[4]

 Soult being joined by Ney, Mortier, and Kellermann, now moved against
 Wellesley's line of communications, and the latter, leaving Cuesta
 to watch King Joseph on the Alberche, marched to oppose him. Cuesta,
 however, abandoned his post and fell back on Wellesley, closely
 pursued by Victor. At the same time the English General learned that
 Soult, having received reinforcements, had now a force of over 53,000
 as against his 17,000 British troops; and he was in consequence forced
 to recross the Tagus at Puente del Arzobispo and retire on Portugal.

 Thus ended the campaign of 1809, during which the British losses
 amounted to over 3500; and, owing to the hopeless conduct of both the
 Spanish Government and the Spanish generals, all the advantages which
 should have accrued to the British, from the successful operations on
 the Douro in May and the victory of Talavera in July, were rendered
 nugatory, and the French, in the words of Napier, were left with "all
 the credit of the campaign."



CHAPTER I

Letter No. I

_To his Parents, from Hythe and Dover, dated 21st May 1809_

 Announces the embarkation of the 1st Battalion 95th Rifles—Colonel
 Sibthorp endeavours to dissuade him from going out, but fails.

_Journal—25th May-17th July 1809_

 Embarkation at Dover, the voyage out, landing at Lisbon—The Rifles
 are posted to Major-General Craufurd's Brigade, and march to join Sir
 Arthur Wellesley, who is moving against Marshal Victor on the line of
 the Tagus—Halt at Castello Branco.

Letter No. II

_To his Parents, from Castello Branco, dated 18th July 1809_

 Describes landing at Lisbon—His opinion of Portuguese manners
 and morals—Account of the advance and nature of the country
 traversed—Conduct of the French to the Portuguese.


Letter No. I

      Hythe, _21st May 1809_.

My dear Parents—The long-wished-for day has come at last. I am this
morning marching, with as fine a body of men as ever left England, for
Dover, where we embark. I believe a very great army will accompany us.
Our destination is a profound secret, and as I am not inquisitive,
it gives me little concern; I daresay I shall soon enough see some
diversion. The rumour goes, Austria or Portugal. Our men are in very
high spirits, and we have a most excellent band of music and thirty
bugle-horns, which through every country village strikes up the old
tune, "Over the hills and far away." This, my dear parents, is the
happiest moment of my life; and I hope, if I come where there is an
opportunity of showing courage, your son will not disgrace the name of
a British soldier.

Col. Sibthorp arrived here the other day, and directly sent to speak to
me. I waited upon him, and told him it was impossible for me to recall
what I had stated to the men who had done me the honour of preferring
to be with me and the regiment I was pleased to sanction, to any
others. When he found me inflexible, he then felt extremely hurt at
frustrating my views; and, to make up for putting a stop to me being
gazetted, he immediately wrote to the Commander-in-Chief and begged
to recommend me as a very deserving young man, and stated exactly the
reasons which induced him to endeavour to stop me entering the Line;
he also hoped he would take into consideration the manner I had acted
in procuring, entirely through my own exertions, the number of men
for His Majesty's service, and have my commission antedated. He said
I deserved great credit for my resolution in not being dissuaded from
my project, as I had determined to follow the profession of a soldier;
and my conduct in his regiment hurt him exceedingly to lose me, but he
hoped I should meet with friends wherever I went, and his friendship
he should always be proud of showing me at all times. He sent for
me to breakfast with him, and before I came away presented me with
twenty-five guineas, which just came at a time when I should have been
obliged to borrow to equip myself for service. The Colonel recommended
me very strongly to the notice of Colonel Beckwith, whom I now have
the honour to serve under, and from whom I have received every mark of
esteem, with a promise to do me every kindness in his power. I felt
some anxiety at leaving my brother officers, who vied with each other
in showing their friendship and kindness on all occasions. My Captain
gave me an elegant sabre, and another gave me a large cloak—Rifle Men
being generally obliged to sleep in the fields (on service), and their
cloaks are their beds upon all occasions. I never shall experience more
friendship from any set of men. Some will say, pray why do you leave
them when you can be so happy (this was my late Colonel's observation),
but my reasons I cannot explain to every one. I am confident there
would have been little chance of promoting the interests of my family
as I was situated; and as a soldier, with perseverance, I must in time
have promotion, which will soon enable me to be of use to my family;
and at all times it will be my greatest pleasure and pride to take care
that the boys go regularly to a good school, and I have no doubt of
seeing them one day men of some experience through my interposition.

I have left two large boxes in the stores of the 1st Battalion 95th
Regiment at Hythe Barracks. One, which I brought out of Yorkshire
with me, is filled with clothes and linen; the other with my bed and
bedstead. If I should not return to England again, I think it would be
worth your while to have them home, as they would pay the carriage and
they could come by sea.

You would see by the newspapers, if you did not hear from me, you may
always know where the Regiment was stationed. I deem it necessary to
give this notice for fear of mistakes, as, if I happened to be popped
off, in my last moments it would be a comfort to me to think I had left
you all I was in possession of. Should you not procure my boxes by
that means, write to Captain Platt of the Royal South Lincoln Regiment
of Militia, there stationed, and you will at all times be enabled to
find out; he will soon forward them to you. Do not laugh at my giving
such strict injunctions, as I like to do everything concerning myself
methodically, and then I have nothing to fear.

Maud,[5] I daresay, will be in this Expedition; if not it may be some
time before we meet. As most likely you will have his address, write
and tell him I am gone. As soon as I arrive at our destination I shall
take the earliest opportunity of letting you have the particular
occurrences which may befall me. Until then, farewell.

I have in the Navy a friend who, I expect, will soon be made Captain;
and have, if that takes place, a chance to procure a berth for my
brothers. Make them good scholars, I have not the least doubt of soon
taking them off your hands. I hope you will obey this command, and read
this part to Joseph and John, which, if they wish one day to shine in
the world, they will now strive to pay every attention.

I have left in my box some letters from Colonel Sibthorp, which I
shall feel pleasure another day to read to you, as it is impossible
to express the fatherly and friendly manner he has at all times
condescended to address me with. Being in such a hurry to embark, it
is with some difficulty I have time to address you at all, and I had
almost forgotten to mention my dear Ann, who, I hope, will forgive me,
and not attribute it to my neglect. My blessing to the children; and,
if it pleases God to spare my life, I hope on my return to see you all.
My best wishes to uncle, aunt, and friends.—I am affectionately yours,

      George Simmons.

[Sidenote: Dover, May 25th]

Do not mention my letters, I beg of you. It was a most beautiful sight
to see us embark, and the lovely creatures cheering the men as they
passed.


_Journal—25th May-15th July 1809_

[Sidenote: 1809 May 25th]

The 1st Battalion 95th Regiment had been under orders to embark at
a moment's notice for some days. The order arrived last night, and
at two o'clock this morning the Battalion was formed in the Barrack
Square, consisting of 1000 as fine young fellows as were ever collected
to fight their country's battles. For my part, my heart was as light as
a feather when we marched off; and, if I may judge from appearances,
every person had the same feelings. We entered Dover about six o'clock
and marched through it. The windows were crowded with inhabitants; some
greeted us, but in general the women seemed sorry to see us depart,
knowing well that numbers must never return to their native land again.

The Battalion embarked in three transports, _Fortune_, _Malabar_,
and _Laurel_, and sailed immediately for the Downs, where we came
to anchor. The 1st Battalion 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry joined us
here, which with ourselves formed a Light Brigade, under the command
of Major-General Robert Craufurd, who took post on board the _Nymph_
frigate, 44 guns, commanded by the Honourable Captain Percy, and also
the _Kangaroo_ sloop of war under his command. Foul winds and sometimes
very stormy until 3rd June.

The Commodore hoisted the signal for sailing at daylight. The fleet got
under weigh towards evening and stood down the Channel.

[Sidenote: 1809 June 4th]

Saw the Isle of Wight at daylight; we neared it and anchored at St.
Helens.

[Sidenote: 5th]

The weather very squally. The fleet weighed and moved close to Cowes,
where we were detained by contrary winds for six days.

[Sidenote: 11th]

The wind seeming to become favourable, the fleet was put once more into
motion, but proving a false alarm, we brought up opposite Yarmouth,
and were again detained with foul winds until the 18th.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Yesterday a boat upset coming to our ship, the _Fortune_, from the
Commodore's, and a young midshipman and one sailor met with a watery
grave. The midshipman was coming to invite Captain Pakenham to dinner.
Our fleet sailed now in good earnest with a fair wind, passed the
Needles, and bid adieu to the shores of Old England.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Saw land ahead at daybreak, which was found to be Cabo Prior, near
Coruña in Spain; weathered Cape Finisterre. At noon the Commodore
chased a strange sail; it proved to be a Spanish brig, and being a
friend she was allowed to proceed.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Sailed along the coast of Portugal, passed the mouth of the Douro at 4
P.M.

[Sidenote: 26th]

The _Kangaroo_ took her departure for England.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Passed through the inner passage of the Berlengas, having previously
taken on board a Portuguese pilot. The Berlengas are a cluster of small
rocky islands; on the largest of them the Portuguese have established a
battery.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Saw the Rock of Lisbon at daybreak. It is a bold mountain, whose sombre
front overhangs the sea. About noon we entered the Tagus, and our fleet
came to anchor close to Lisbon, which from the sea appeared a most
magnificent place indeed. On landing the charm ceased, as the streets
are exceedingly filthy. The quays are built of stone, and very good
along the river.

The Citadel is on a commanding eminence in the town, from whence in
every direction you may observe churches, monasteries, convents, etc.
The most magnificent church is that of S. Roche. The French, under
Junot, robbed this church of many valuables, but the priests were
fortunate enough to save some things by hiding them from the grasp of
these rapacious plunderers. We remained on board for four days waiting
for orders.

A number of Portuguese and transport boats came alongside each ship for
the purpose of conveying us up the Tagus. The tide began to flow about
midnight; we entered the boats and proceeded up the river. The boats
were crowded with men and we rowed on slowly up the river, anxious for
the approach of day, which at last arrived. The men were tugging at the
oars all day, and occasionally the boats ran upon banks of sand.

[Sidenote: 1809 July 3rd]

At dusk we arrived at the village of Vallada, where we halted, and for
the first time in my life I was treated with a bivouac. Hungry, wet,
and cold, and without any covering, we lay down by the side of the
river. I put one hand in my pocket and the other in my bosom, and lay
shivering and thinking of the glorious life of a soldier until I fell
fast asleep.

[Sidenote: 4th]

We fell in at daylight. I found the dew had wet me through, but the sun
soon made his appearance and dried me.

Marched into the town of Santarem, and halted two days until the whole
of the Brigade and the baggage animals purchased in Lisbon arrived.
The town is surrounded with hills that are covered with innumerable
olive-trees, a great source of wealth to the inhabitants. The place
has a most respectable appearance, the ground very fertile, and plenty
of wine, grapes, oranges, and vegetables of every description in the
greatest abundance. I made my way immediately with many hungry fellows
to a _bodéga_. Breakfast was instantly produced, but the quantity of
each article did not at all agree with our ideas of a breakfast, so
that we were continually calling out for more of this thing and the
other in broken Portuguese, which bothered the landlord so much that
he took to his heels and we saw no more of him. I got a billet upon
a blacksmith, and found his family very kind. They brought me fruit,
wine, and cakes, but, as I do not understand one word of the language
properly, everything was done by signs.

[Sidenote: 5th]

I went on guard as supernumerary with Lieutenant Macleod at a convent.
At night I had lain down on a marble slab near the men, when a monk
requested me to rise and follow him. He led me upstairs and into a
large apartment, where a number of his brotherhood were assembled, and
soon had the table filled with rich food, plenty of fruits, and good
wines in abundance. I passed a few hours very agreeably with these
hospitable monks, who all appeared, from their roundity of body, to pay
more attention to feeding than praying.

[Sidenote: 7th]

This morning at daylight I left the hospitable blacksmith, who filled
my calabash with wine and my haversack with food. I slung these across
my shoulder and marched to Golegão, which is a small town on the banks
of the Tagus.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Marched to Punhete and Tancos. The former town stands on the junction
of the Zezere and Tagus, and the latter on the Tagus. In the river is
an island with an old castle in ruins named Almorel; I paid it a visit.


A bridge of boats enabled us to pass the Zezere near Punhete.

[Sidenote: 9th]

A short sultry march brought us to Abrantes, which being an hospital
station, there was no room for us in the town. We crossed the river
over a bridge of boats, and took up our bivouac.

Abrantes is a town of some importance, with a citadel and
fortifications round it. Marshal Junot took his title as Duke of
Abrantes from it.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Marched to Gavião; weather exceedingly hot.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched over an uninteresting and hilly country to Niza, which has a
wall all round it in ruins, and the remains of an old Moorish castle in
tolerable preservation. One observes on entering the town that several
storks have built their nests near the gateway, which the inhabitants
seem to be very careful of preserving, as they say that good luck
attends those who are fortunate enough to be honoured by these birds
building their nests in their grounds or upon their houses.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Marched to Villa Velha, and crossed the Tagus over a bridge of boats,
and bivouacked upon the opposite bank. The scenery at this place is
very bold and romantic indeed, particularly by the pass. The country
round has a barren appearance, except that portion covered with the gum
cistus. The village is poor and miserable enough.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched to Sarnadas, a miserable place.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched to Castello Branco; halted two days in this town, which has
many good houses in it. The Bishop's house and gardens are superior to
any other. The small river Ocreza runs close to the town.


Letter No. II

      Castello Branco, _18th July 1809_.

My dear Parents—After experiencing a very favourable voyage, we came in
sight of Lisbon on the 27th of June, and cast anchor before the town on
the 28th. We received orders not to disembark the troops immediately. I
therefore went on shore with a party of our officers. I must confess I
felt much disappointed with the place, as a stranger seeing the town at
a distance would conceive it a beautiful city; but on a nearer view you
find out all its imperfections. Elegantly-built houses, without windows
or curtains for them, and as dirty as possible; some few exceptions to
this, I allow. The people in general are dirty in the extreme, their
houses never whitewashed, and, stink worse than an English pig-sty.
All the nastiness is thrown out of windows in the evening, and, having
no scavengers to sweep the streets, you may judge the state of them
in some measure; and in hot weather it is very offensive to the nose
of an Englishman. I went to see several churches, which afforded me
some amusement and excited my pity, to see a people, through ignorance
and gross superstition, duped by a set of worthless priests under the
plea of religion. I dined at an English hotel, and afterwards went to
the opera. The dancing was too indelicate to give pleasure; at least I
felt it so, and blessed my stars I was an Englishman. The Portuguese
ladies seemed to enjoy the performance with great rapture, which must
make a Briton turn from them with disgust, and awake in the soul those
refined sentiments for delicacy and virtue which characterise our
British dames; and at all public entertainments a man possessing any
degree of feeling for the honour of the sex, must be disgusted with
such immodest performances.

As I have very few moments to spare, I must endeavour to dedicate all
my leisure time to recruiting myself for the next day's march. On
the 30th of June our Regiment, the 43rd and 52nd, disembarked into
flat-bottomed boats about nine o'clock in the evening and sailed up
the Tagus. As the wind was not very favourable, we were obliged to be
continually rowing; I frequently took a spell with them. We landed
at Vallada, about 90 miles from Lisbon, on the evening of the 1st
of July, and directly formed in divisions. Marched about 10 miles
up the country; halted upon a common; each man took his greatcoat
and contentedly lay down; and for the first time in my life I slept
very comfortably upon the ground. After sleeping three hours, the
bugles sounded. We again commenced our march to Santarem, a large
town situated in the interior of Portugal. I was tired, but curiosity
led me all over the town, and, wandering from one place to another,
I found myself in a nunnery. The girls said I was a Portuguese, as
I was very much tanned by the sun (the officers joke me frequently
upon the same subject). After amusing myself at the gratings with the
nuns, and receiving some little presents, I left them and went to
a convent of friars. I supped with the grand priest; several monks
were also present. I then went to the play, came home to my lodgings
about half-past eleven o'clock, lay down till half-past one, and was
upon the road marching at two. We continue marching every day in this
manner, halting occasionally for half an hour, so that we manage to get
to our destined place about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, which is
generally upon a piece of ground shaded with trees. There we rest till
one or two the next morning and start as before. I never enjoyed better
health, and no difficulty appears a hardship; my feet never blister,
and I am always ready to commence the march with the first, and sleep
as well upon the ground with a stone for my pillow as upon a bed of
down. The weather is intolerably hot, and some men have died from the
heat of the sun when marching. Our men, generally speaking, are healthy.

This country in some parts which we have passed through abounds with
grapes, peaches, oranges, lemons, and fruits of every kind. The country
we are at present in yields very little, being a continued series of
immense mountains, which are difficult in ascending. We are often
troubled to procure water; I always make a practice of carrying a
supply for myself, also provisions in my haversack for two or three
days' support, so am very seldom at a loss. Wine is very cheap, but bad.

The French have carried away or eaten up all before them, and we often
pass through villages entirely deserted by the poor unfortunate people.
Sights of this kind will become habitual as we enter Spain; from the
rapid progress we make, in a few days we shall pass the frontiers of
Portugal.

The French in some towns in Spain have murdered numbers of the
inhabitants, and plundered the rest of every movable that was worth
their taking—in short, their conduct has been barbarous in the extreme.
Sir Arthur Wellesley, we hear, is rapidly advancing towards Madrid,
and we are endeavouring to join him as soon as possible. It will be a
little time before we have a general engagement unless the French make
an advance and meet us. At present their army occupies a very strong
position about forty miles from Madrid and in our line of march. It is
supposed we shall give them battle as soon as we come up with them. The
army has great confidence in Sir Arthur Wellesley, and are exceedingly
anxious for the day of battle. I am a young soldier, but hope I shall
do my duty when put to the trial. My Colonel has ever treated me
with every mark of respect, and has put me into a company under the
patronage of an old warrior, whose bravery has often been shown to
the regiment. I have not had an opportunity of writing to Maud. I
expect he will soon be here. I hope he has managed to surmount all the
difficulties he had to encounter. A few years will put us, I hope,
above a repetition of the same, as, if I live, we will be together.
Endeavour to give the boys at home a liberal education, and I can soon
provide for them as gentlemen.

My love to my dear mother. I hope she will not make herself unhappy on
my account. If I am fortunate in the service I have embarked in, my
greatest earthly pleasure will be to let my family reap the benefits.
I only pray my father will strain every nerve to educate them, and the
rest, leave to me. My love to my dear sisters Ann and Betsy. I hope Ann
is now a comfort to her mother. I do not forget her. Should I return,
I will endeavour to come and spend a few months with you. My respects
to Uncle and Aunt and friends.—I remain, with every good wish, your
dutiful son,

      Geo. Simmons.

As I am continually on the move I cannot inform you where to direct for
me, but if you have nothing of moment to impart you need not write; or
should you write, direct as follows: Lt. Simmons, 1st Batt. 95th or
Rifle Regiment, Spain or elsewhere. I particularly charge my father not
to expose my letters to any one.



CHAPTER II

_Journal—18th July-10th December 1809_

 Advance of the Light Division—The forced march on Talavera—Arrival
 on the field of Talavera—Marshal Cuesta abandons his position at
 Talavera, and at same time Marshal Soult threatens the British line
 of retreat—Sir Arthur Wellesley is forced to retire—The retreat to
 Portugal—Simmons loses General Craufurd's private canteen cart—Wrath
 of General Craufurd—Cantoned at Campo Mayor—Simmons gets typhus
 fever—Great sickness amongst British troops.

Letter No. III

_To his Parents, from Campo Mayor, dated September 1809_

 The forced march on Talavera—Scene on the battlefield—French dead and
 French prisoners—Kindness of French to English prisoners—Return to
 Portugal—Meeting with brother Maud—Forecasts as to his future military
 career—Messages to his family.

Letter No. IV

_To his Parents, from Campo Mayor, dated 29th October 1809_

 Life in cantonments—Movements of the French—Vanity and incapacity of
 the Spanish officers—Opinion of the army of Lord Wellington—A letter
 from brother Maud—Advice to his parents and messages to his sister.

_Journal—11th-31st December 1809_

 The Light Division ordered to form a Corps of Observation on the
 Coa—March from Campo Mayor to Coimbra _en route_ for the Coa.


_Journal—18th July-10th December 1809_

[Sidenote: 1809 July 18th]

Marched to Ladocir.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched to Zibreira, a tolerable village close to the Spanish frontier.
Country hilly.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Entered Spain by crossing the river Herjas, which takes its name from
the Castle of Herjas; it runs close to the walls, and is the boundary
between Spain and Portugal for some considerable distance. Halted at
Zarza la Mayor.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Moraleja.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Marched to Coria, which is a nice little city surrounded by a wall, and
stands upon a plain. The river Alagon runs close to it. The cathedral
is a fine building. I went into it and heard some sacred music played
upon the organ by a blind man. The people since we entered Spain are
much cleaner in their persons and houses than the Portuguese, but the
Portuguese are more hospitable and attentive to our wants.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marched to Galisteo, a town strongly situated and walled all round,
upon the Alagon.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched to Malpartida and saw at a distance the Gata mountains with
their summits covered with snow.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched to the river Tietar and crossed by a bridge of boats; the day
exceedingly hot and the column much fatigued. Arrived at Venta de
Bazagona.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched to Navalmoral. Heat very oppressive.

[Sidenote: 28th]

[Sidenote: 29th]

Marched very early to the town of Calzada, where an express arrived
from Sir Arthur Wellesley directing the Brigade to make the least
possible delay in joining the army. The Brigade, after a short rest,
marched to Oropesa, where it halted four hours to cook, having marched
under a scorching sun. We again commenced the march all night in very
deep and sandy roads, and arrived early upon the field of battle at
Talavera de la Reyna this morning, completing thirty miles during the
night, having marched sixty-two English miles in twenty-six hours.[6]
The Brigade was aware that the British army was engaged with the
enemy. Every one amongst us was anxious to participate if possible
in the glorious cause, but we only arrived in time enough to see the
dead and the wounded, which was a novel sight to me, and affected
me exceedingly. I almost wished myself well out of the scrape I had
voluntarily entered into, but we had little time to reflect, as the
Brigade was ordered to take up the chain of advance posts on the
Alberche, which runs into the Tagus above Talavera. On the 27th the
British and Spanish armies in position were attacked partially, but
the French were obliged to retire back to their position. The Duke de
Belluno, Marshal Victor, made a general attack with all his forces this
morning (28th) upon the British, but Sir Arthur Wellesley repulsed the
enemy at all points. King Joseph was with the French. The Spaniards
under General Cuesta occupied the right of the position and the
enclosures, but _Johnny_ knew very well if he could dislodge John Bull,
the Spaniards would soon leave him in possession of the field. During
this sanguinary action numbers of the soldiers fell wounded amongst the
long grass and fields of standing corn, which was set on fire from the
bursting of shells. Many of these men were frightfully burnt, not being
able to move away, and others literally burnt to death.

[Sidenote: 30th]

We were employed all this day in collecting the dead bodies and putting
them into large heaps mixed with faggots and burning them. The stench
from so many dead bodies was volatile and offensive beyond conception,
as the heat of the weather was very great. Some little firing took
place between the outposts.

[Sidenote: 31st]

Continued burning the dead as before. Talavera is a good-sized town
upon the right bank of the Tagus, over which there is a well-built
stone bridge. It is about fourteen leagues from Madrid.

In consequence of the Light Brigade having arrived, the enemy have not
shown a disposition to repeat their attack.

[Sidenote: 1809 August 1st]

At daybreak the enemy's piquets were gone, leaving a number of fires to
deceive us. Patrols crossed the Alberche.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

The British army fell back to Oropesa, as the Spanish general, Cuesta,
had undertaken to keep the French in check at Talavera whilst Sir
Arthur Wellesley made this movement to bring Marshal Soult to action,
who had passed the Sierra de Gata, and had arrived at Plasencia with an
army under his command.

[Sidenote: 4th]

The Spanish general was menaced with an attack by Marshal Victor; the
Spaniard, _butt_ uppermost—that is, his musket carried in the opposite
way from other folk's—making the best of his way in the most irregular
and unsoldier-like manner out of the reach of the French army. Our
astonishment and vexation were beyond conception, knowing that the
sick and wounded Englishmen had fallen (through the cowardice of the
Spaniards) into the hands of the enemy, and also that our army was now
placed in a most critical situation between the two French armies. The
only retreat open was by the bridge at Puente del Arzobispo; we passed
it; the advanced guard of Soult's army, consisting of cavalry, was
close to it.

The bridge was secured by a body of infantry, and we had now the river
between us. The British army at the battle of Talavera numbered about
20,000, and lost 6000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. The French, who
were 45,000 strong, had 10,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners, and lost
twenty pieces of cannon. The Spanish army of about 30,000 lost nothing
of consequence sufficient to comment upon.

The French army was supplied by the villagers with a number of
articles, while our army was nearly starving, although there was no
want of money in our camp, but our Spanish friends infested every
road for miles and robbed the peasantry who were bringing bread and
vegetables to us for sale, so that they were completely prevented
from rendering us any assistance. I rode several miles from our camp
in search of bread, and luckily bought some from a peasant who had
plenty hidden in his house, and would have gladly brought to our camp
but durst not, from the dread of being robbed by the Spanish soldiers.
Colonel Donkin's Brigade, consisting of the 45th, 87th, 88th, and five
companies of the 60th (5th Battalion) and our Brigade, formed the 3rd
Division under Brig.-General Craufurd.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched in the middle of the night, and continued marching for fourteen
hours, the weather very hot and no water to be obtained, as the
rivulets in our course were all dried up. The soldiers were very much
fatigued. Bivouacked on a barren hill near no human habitation.

[Sidenote: 6th]

A very tiresome march over a wild country to the village of Casas del
Puerto and Romangordo. Colonel Donkin's Brigade in bivouac at the
former, and ours at or near the latter village, posting piquets on the
bank of the Tagus and at the broken bridge of Almaraz. Marshal Soult's
advanced posts were on the opposite bank of the river. Our Brigade
moved every evening after sunset near the river, and there remained all
night with our arms ready in case the enemy should attempt to ford the
river.

This was a nasty damp place, and the exhalations from the vegetable
matter which was corrupting from the heat of the sun, and the
half-dried swamps that were swarming with vermin, laid the foundation
of disease amongst our men. We called the place we occupied by day
_Dough boy Hill_; a more appropriate name for it would have been
_Starvation Hill_, as a small quantity of goat's flesh and a little
coarse pea-flour was all we obtained here daily. The flour was made up
into little cakes by each individual and put upon a thin stone over a
fire until sufficiently done.

[Sidenote: 20th]

We marched from this abominable place of starvation and misery at
midnight, passed through Deleitosa, and, some distance farther,
bivouacked in a large forest of cork trees and on the banks of the Rio
del Monte. The men in making fires, set fire to the long grass, which
grows luxuriantly, and, from the dryness of the season, is a thing
almost impossible to prevent. We fell in, in a great hurry. Some part
of the forest trees took fire also, but the ground was cleared of the
grass near us, and the danger ceased.

[Sidenote: 21st]

At sunset we moved a short distance and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Marched over a plain country to near La Matilla. Bivouacked on the
banks of the river Almonte. At a short distance passed Truxillo,
celebrated as the birthplace of Pizarro.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched to Caceres. Halted in an olive grove until the evening,
and then moved a short distance for the night. This place has the
appearance of being wealthy. The inhabitants were more kind to the
soldiers as we passed than I had witnessed since my arrival in Spain,
the women offering bread and milk to them. We observed several large
convents. One in particular attracted our notice, being perched on the
top of a high rock.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marched to Arroyo del Puerco, the day being very hot indeed and the men
exceedingly fatigued. Rested in the shade under the trees during the
meridian heat; moved two leagues in the evening and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched to Salorino, a very hot and harassing day's toil.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched to Valencia de Alcantara, which is a frontier town (fortified
as far as the citadel goes) and walled round.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 28th]

The Division moved to the banks of a river named Sever, and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Passed the frontier between Spain and Portugal. General Craufurd
put the provost-marshal under arrest and ordered him to be marched
a prisoner with the provost guard. It was my duty on this occasion
to be put in charge of this guard. I had several delinquents also in
charge. I was ordered to pick up all stragglers and to take care that
no baggage was left by me upon the road. The only baggage I found was
the General's light cart filled with wine and eatables. I tried every
means to make the mules draw this load, but without effect. A soldier
of my party volunteered to mount the first mule, and with the slings of
the rifles we laid on handsomely on both sides of the stubborn animals.
We at last started them, but they set off with the greatest fury, away
went my rifleman, and luckily he was not hurt. The road happened to be
very steep, so that the animals could not avoid increasing their pace
every moment. The cart was dashed to pieces, and the mules were also
sadly injured. We passed a curious town situated on a very high rocky
hill, called Marvão. It is the Portuguese barrier, and lies opposite
Valencia de Alcantara. On entering Castello de Vide I proceeded first
to lodge the prisoners in a secure place, and then to inform the
General how well I had endeavoured to perform his orders. He had a
party at dinner, and was expecting his light cart every moment with its
contents in the best possible order. When I related the sad catastrophe
he became nearly furious, and directed me to march up the prisoners to
their respective regiments, to obtain drummers, and in the front of
each regiment to flog the culprits—in fact, to become a provost-marshal
for the occasion. I was highly indignant at such usage for having
exerted myself zealously to serve him. I went with my party to Colonel
Beckwith, and made him acquainted with the instructions I had received
from the General. He admonished the stragglers for having left the
line of march, and told them to go and join their regiments and not
transgress again. He took the responsibility off my shoulders, and I
went to my corps. I heard no more of this business, but this General
Officer never forgave me.

We were bivouacked among large chestnut trees for three days, the
weather extremely sultry; we then were indulged with quarters in the
town for five days.

[Sidenote: 1809 Sept. 7th]

The Division marched to Portalegre, in Alentejo. The town is large and
populous. It has several convents in it. I visited them, but did not
find the nuns either beautiful or great devotees; they seemed to like
a good joke and nonsense as well as most folks. The regiments under
General Lightburn passed us to join the army, viz. 2nd Battalion 5th
Foot, 1st Battalion 11th, 2nd Battalion 34th, 39th, 42nd and 57th. My
brother visited me here. I gave him my watch. He slept at my quarters.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Marched to Arronches, a walled town near the rivers Alegrete and Caya.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Marched into Campo Mayor, and remained there three months. Our General
treated us occasionally with a field day. Numbers of the finest men in
the Division were carried off by disease, typhus fever being alarmingly
prevalent through the greater part of the British army. Headquarters at
Badajoz. The cavalry in advance at Merida and Albuquerque. Estremoz and
adjacent towns and villages were filled with our troops.

[Sidenote: Sept.-Dec. 10th]

The river Guadiana passes for a great way through a flat country, whose
banks in the rainy season are overflowed; consequently when the river
diminishes from dryness and the heat of the weather, its banks become
impregnated with myriads of vermin and also with vegetable matter in a
state of putrefaction. In every stagnant pool these exhalations poison
the surrounding atmosphere with pestilential vapours. The people of
the country leave it for some months at this season, and a common
observation among them is that strangers who come here at this season
seldom leave it again, _i.e._ they die. The town of Campo Mayor is
fortified, and has also a citadel. It stands on a plain abounding with
corn. At about the distance of a league a small river named the Caya
flows. This river forms the boundary line between the two countries.
Campo Mayor was besieged by the Spaniards in 1801, and fell in nineteen
days. I got a bad typhus fever here, and the priest wanted to confess
me and save me from everlasting perdition! I recovered very slowly
until the order for leaving this part of the country arrived. In a few
days, even on the line of march, I became well. My brother, in the 34th
Regiment, also suffered from the effects of this contagion.

Badajoz is the frontier Spanish fortification, and is of much more
importance, being very strong and upon the left bank of the Guadiana,
over which is a fine strong Roman bridge in good preservation, 700
paces long and 14 wide. This place is the capital of Estremadura,
and a Bishop's See. Fort San Christoval is an outwork upon the right
bank of the river, and commands the town. Elvas is a fortified town
of Portugal, of considerable importance, and about four leagues from
Badajoz. It is placed upon a rising piece of ground about a league
from the Guadiana, and has two outworks to support the town. Fort de
Lippe is placed upon a high hill and justly called a masterpiece in
fortification. The other fort, Santa Lucia, stands upon a smaller
hill, and communicates with the town by a covered way. Elvas is
supplied with water by an aqueduct. The water is brought a considerable
distance. If the place was invested regularly the aqueduct might easily
be destroyed, which would be a most serious inconvenience to the
inhabitants. The general hospital was at this place. Above 4000 British
soldiers were buried here during our stay in cantonments.

Albuquerque is a walled town of Spain, about three leagues from Campo
Mayor. It has a fort situated upon a hill close to the town. This
place gives the title to a Duke, who possesses many privileges and
an extensive range of forests, in which are plenty of wild boars and
wolves, hunted frequently by those who are fond of such amusement.


Letter No. III

      Campo Mayor, Portugal,
      _September 1809_.

Dear Parents—My last letter was written at Castello Branco, which I
hope you received. I must now enter into a long detail of proceedings,
the result of which has not proved of any service to England or Spain
as yet, and I am afraid there is no likelihood our services in this
quarter ever will, unless we have a sufficient disposable force to
cope with the French, who are much more numerous than we expected. I
will now bid adieu to the land of plenty, a land well according with
the Scripture phrase—flowing with milk and honey.

We very soon passed the frontiers of Portugal and entered Spain by
forced marches, generally of twenty English miles by day and sometimes
much more, the weather extremely hot and sultry and the roads very
bad. Sometimes we met with stupendous mountains, whose summits were
enveloped in the clouds; the villages in general were deserted by the
unfortunate inhabitants, and houses, churches, and everything they
possessed were one entire scene of ruin; some towns were completely
burnt to the ground, even the corn-fields (of this year's produce)
were generally laid waste by fire wherever the French had been. We
daily experienced great hardships from want of a proper supply of
bread and food of every kind. Sometimes with difficulty we got a
little, when every man endeavoured to get as much as possible for
himself, and I generally was not backward in contriving to satisfy
the cravings of a hungry stomach, as well as the oldest soldier among
them. From such fatiguing marches, and often bad food and water, by
day exposed to burning sun, and by night to the heavy dews, sleeping
generally upon the ground, you will not wonder at the men becoming
unhealthy, which daily obliged men to fall out on the march. Even the
strongest in outward appearance would lie down, or rather fall down,
and say positively they could not go any farther. The officers of our
regiment—most of them rode on horses or mules—did not experience the
fatigues so materially. As I had no money to spare, I was obliged to
walk, and, God knows, if illness had intervened or I had not been able
to march, my case would have been dismal; but, thank the Almighty, He
has blessed me with an excellent constitution, and all the hardships
I have met with have not made the least impression upon me. A little
John Bull-like, when hunger stared me in the face I put on a sorrowful
countenance, but by some means or other a sheep or pig came in my way
and I soon turned butcher. No sooner dead than roasted or grilled. I
assure you I have dined thus many times and felt much more real content
and pleasure than at a sumptuous feast. We now and then met with fields
of corn, and if the men were allowed to halt, they soon filled their
haversacks with ears, and boiled it when they arrived at the end of the
march.

An express arrived from Sir Arthur Wellesley desiring the Brigade
would lose no time in making a speedy junction with the Grand Army,
and the last twenty-four hours' march is almost unparalleled by any
soldiers after the fatigues we had already experienced. I had only
six ounces of mouldy bread and some bad water, which I got by the
road occasionally in passing, to support me for twenty-four hours,
in which time we marched fifty-two miles, resting three hours on the
ground. We certainly should have found a much greater difficulty in
accomplishing it had we not met several wounded British officers
riding from the field of action, who told us what was passing when
they left. Every man seemed anxious to push on, and all were in high
spirits, hoping soon to be on the field of battle and to assist their
brave countrymen. The cannons distinctly sounding on our ears as we
came near. I forgot to say that the dastardly Spaniards were running
in all directions, the field being covered with the panic-struck. They
received many a hearty curse as they passed us. After all our efforts,
we arrived on the field of battle just soon enough to be too late. The
horrid sights were beyond anything I could have imagined. Thousands
dead and dying in every direction, horses, men, French and English, in
whole lines who had cut each other down, and, I am sorry to say, the
Spaniards butchering the wounded Frenchmen at every opportunity, and
stripping them naked, which gave admission to the attacks of myriads
of pernicious flies and the heat of a burning sun. You may be sure
everything was done on our part and the commanding officer's to put a
stop to such horrid brutality and give assistance, but the ground being
covered for at least five miles with dead and dying, and we expecting
another attack, the army was drawn up in a line ready to receive the
enemy. Our regiment was posted in front of the army, but the French
thought proper to have no more of it at the present, and retreated
about three miles and beyond a river, which secured their front.

The French are very fine tall men, well dressed and accoutred. I saw a
colonel surrounded by his Grenadiers who had fallen by coming to the
charge with an English regiment, whose desperate courage and strength
of arm no troops in the world can cope with in that sort of warfare.
I have not time or room to dwell longer upon this subject; some other
time it possibly may be in my power to give a clearer account. The
papers, I have no doubt, will explain the business, and also inform
you how, from superior force, we were obliged to waive all advantage
gained by the gallant action at Talavera. The French followed us, the
wounded were all taken prisoners, and, I am happy to say, used very
well. The French are a brave and generous enemy, and their humanity to
the English prisoners is generous to the extreme.

We have once more arrived in Portugal, after a tedious march and under
the continual expectation of having a battle with the French army,
sometimes being only two miles distant from them, and frequently on
piquet within gunshot of each other, though as yet I have never had the
honour of being fired at.

I must not boast, we shall have enough of it before long, I daresay, as
it is believed the French are concentrating their forces, and will come
to see us shortly in a friendly way. The Spanish officers in general
are traitors or cowards, and of course the men will not fight when
their leaders set off. The Portuguese fight better.

I saw my brother some days back; he has not been out of Portugal.
Of course the hardships experienced have been trivial. He is plump
and hearty. I walked over a mountainous country above twenty miles
to shake hands with him once again. Stayed two days. He marched one
way. I returned, and had on my arrival to commence instantly another
march. We again met at Portalegre on 17th September, and I gave him a
good dinner, wine, grapes, etc. (having once more got into the land
of plenty). He slept with me, and marched at three o'clock in the
morning. He would change sashes with me. He is a fine spirited boy,
enjoys good health and bears fatigue well. I gave him all the advice
in my power, and it will give me pleasure if it is of service. He is
now very economical. I believe his regiment will go to the East Indies
from here. If I escape from Portugal with a whole skin I think of going
to the West Indies for promotion. As I have commenced to soldier, I
must fight for promotion as a soldier, and everything I have yet seen
are trifles compared to what I have often experienced in England. Oh!
father, when the mind is at ease, a fig for the body! Danger is merely
ideal to a man of spirit.

I am sincerely the friend and well-wisher of your family. As this may
not arrive, I have not written the regiment. Do not let this letter be
seen or talked about as any of mine. Right or wrong, I have no time to
read this epistle, and as it is the scrawl of a few moments, you must
excuse the diction; we cannot write when we please. My love to my dear
Ann. It is a lucky thing I did not fold the letter up in my hurry. My
blessing for her.

Take care of the boys—I mean their learning. I had nearly bought my
mother a snuff-box, but the difference of six shillings in the bargain
occurs. I shall be able to bring or send one possibly, should things
stand square with me, in a little time. God bless her. I never lie down
on the ground to take my night's repose without praying for the welfare
of my dear parents and family. Something strikes me in my reveries that
I am yet to comfort and cherish them when age shall put it out of their
power.


Letter No. IV

      Campo Mayor, _29th October 1809_.

My dear Parents—I hope by this time you will have received my letters.
If so, the present state of affairs is not altogether foreign to you.
The Brigade has been stationed here about six weeks, which has made my
lank and sunburnt countenance return nearly to its pristine appearance.
In my last letters I observed that from the commencement of campaigning
I had not felt ill except from starvation. My good landlady and I being
upon excellent terms, she indulges me to excess in dainty dishes and a
good bed. I had forgotten that there was a great difference in being
always exposed to the weather (I mean the sun) and now seldom. One day,
being intolerably hot, I exposed myself as usual, and have had a very
severe attack of ague, which has returned three times, and obliged me
to put my medical skill to the test after the above severe battles.
I drove my enemy from his intrenched position, and he has never
since dared to resume the attack, so have proved the best general.
I regularly rise with the sun, and go to exercise every morning. I
pay that attention to my present profession which another day (if
not suddenly stopped in my course) may be attended with success. I
thought I merited it in the profession which necessity and great
disappointments obliged me to relinquish. Col. Sibthorp's last words
were, "Simmons, you give me much uneasiness at leaving my regiment, and
I feel for your future welfare, and you may have greater hardships
than it is possible to conceive." I instantly said, as I had pledged my
honour to his men, I hope he could not for a moment entertain so mean
an opinion of me or think me a weathercock. He then could say no more,
but parted with me with as much affection as a near relation—I mean a
parent. I hope you will not for a moment conceive I mean to feel regret
at relinquishing the medical profession; far otherwise. I am as happy
as my present situation will admit of, and, thank the Almighty, have no
reason as yet to be to the contrary. A soldier thinks of nothing that
has passed by; it is only the present time that concerns him; he is a
careless and thoughtless being. I wish I could say he was a little more
prepared for a speedy exit into a future state.

I will now endeavour to give you a slight sketch of the present state
of affairs. Our men are exceedingly unhealthy, and the hospitals are
crowded. Several officers of other regiments have died suddenly, and
numbers of men also have died from the effects of fatigue in our march
from Talavera.

The French, from the best reports I can learn, have 30,000 men at and
near Almaraz and Puente del Arzobispo. Another French force of 100,000
men are concentrating and collecting near Madrid. The whole of our army
is not more than 25,000 men, so some day shortly we shall have hard
fighting and hard running. We laugh heartily at the bombast which you
are gagged with, and seem to swallow, relating to the brave Spaniards.
John Bull will soon be in another way of thinking. The Spaniards are as
much afraid of the French as a child is of the rod. If you refer back
to a paper giving an account of our unforeseen retreat over (using the
words expressed in a French bulletin) an impassable mountain, you will
see in how dastardly a manner the grand and illustrious Spaniards set
off and left us no other resource than the above retreat. Otherwise
we were in the highest spirits in expectation of breakfasting in a
day or two with Marshal Soult at Plasencia. You can well conceive
the consternation at the sight of General Cuesta's army. Our gallant
commander, Lord Wellington, I am sorry to perceive, has already enemies
at home; they are illiberal rascals that can think only of puffing
forth such falsities. The old adage, "Great men have many enemies."
I may confidently say that every soldier entertains the highest
opinion of his Lordship, and if we face the French, where there is any
possibility for a general to lead on his army with credit to himself,
he certainly is the man to perform it.

I am sorry to find our army in Flushing has not succeeded in the grand
attack intended upon Antwerp and carrying off the fleet. I some days
back wrote to Maud; the Brigade he is attached to is stationed about
five leagues from this place, Torre Mayor in Spain. He sings out
bitterly at the scarcity of provisions. He is in good spirits, I am
happy to say, much respected by his brother officers, and I am under no
apprehension of him ever forfeiting their good opinion. I have put him
upon an economical plan of paying for every article as he procures it,
or go without it. He informs me he owes the tailor of the regiment he
left £10. I have not the least doubt as soon as I return to England to
be able to settle that business. The young rogue took a fancy to my
watch (I forfeited to Joseph in town). I hope to purchase him a better
some other day. He must forgive me. He gave me my knapsack for shirts
and stockings. (I lost my own. I took it from the back of a Frenchman
at Talavera who had paid the debt of nature by the bayonet, and it
has proved very serviceable.) While writing this, I have this moment
received a letter from him. He writes in high spirits and enjoys good
health; he informs me of a shocking accident which happened to a poor
boy. Being on guard, the boy attracted his notice, and was playing and
amusing himself with his antic tricks when a man passed through the
guard-room leading a mule (a restive one). He was carrying a loaded
musket also, which, coming in contact with the horse's side, discharged
its contents. Maud had the luck to escape, but the poor boy was shot,
and expired instantly.

His words struck me rather forcibly on the occasion, which were to
this effect: "The Spaniards came in numbers to the spot, and from the
howling of the men and women, whose _concord_ and _discord_, will give
me the blue devils before the morning." I have written to-day and
begged in his next he will explain the latter sentence. I expect him
here soon to spend a day or two. I remain, with every good wish to
my dear friends—with me my brother also joins in duty and love—yours
sincerely,

      G. & M. Simmons.

I beg you will answer this as soon as possible, as my brother is, as
well as myself, anxious to hear from you. _Do not show my letters._

My brother informs me Joseph is with an attorney at Hull. I hope, if he
likes his situation, in a few years I shall be enabled to assist him.
Pay great attention to all your children's learning; make them good
scholars, and they will have little to apprehend. I hope Joseph is a
good boy. My dear mother, I am sometimes afraid, thinks too much of her
graceless boy. I know I am not deserving any better name. I hope yet
at some future day to be a comfort to her. I assure you the welfare of
my family is always uppermost in my mind. I hope my sister is well and
happy. I beg she will ever be upon her guard in forming new friends
or acquaintances, as we see every day the misfortunes young women are
subject to by such connections. I have too high an opinion of my dear
sister to think she will do so. I am convinced her prudence and good
sense, with the advice of the best of mothers, will be her guard from
forming connections with imprudent people. Give her this advice. I
bought a shawl here for five dollars, rather a whimsical thing, which I
hope to send you, at least when I return to England; we have some idea
of coming back, you see.

Write soon. I am particularly anxious to hear from you, as is also my
brother. Direct to me, Lieut. Simmons, 1st Battalion, 95th or Rifle
Regiment, Grand Army, Portugal (or elsewhere).


_Journal—11th December-31st December 1809_

[Sidenote: 1809 Dec. 11th]

This day we have been stationed at Campo Mayor three months, and are
now ordered to prepare for a march. I am recovering from fever. The
convalescent and sick are ordered to be sent to Elvas, but I am allowed
to proceed, by my own wish, with my regiment.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched to Arronches and halted.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched to Portalegre, where the Brigade assembled, consisting of 1st
Battalions 43rd and 52nd, and ours, the 95th or Rifle Men. I was in
the same company I commenced my military career with, and being the
junior officer, I consequently got the last choice of quarters, which
too frequently was a dirty floor with my blanket only. Captain O'Hare
did not show me much kindness, but the change of air improved my health
daily.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Marched to Crato, the officers of the company, viz. five, billeted
upon the house of a priest, who gave us all beds and sold us one of
the finest turkeys I ever saw, and also some excellent wine, which he
partook of. I enjoyed myself so much this day and slept so well that in
the morning I felt myself as well as ever, and from that moment shook
off the villainous effects of disease. The weather cool and refreshing.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched to Ponto do Souro, a village situated in a pleasant valley,
through which the river Souro runs its course. The neighbouring country
is well covered with wood.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Marched to the town of Abrantes.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Marched to Punhete.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched to Thomar, a large town which is observed at a considerable
distance, being built upon a most prominent hill, at the bottom of
which flows the river Nabão.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marched and crossed a ridge of mountains to Ourem. Aldea da Cruz and
adjacent villages being very small and only calculated to lodge a few
companies in each of them.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched to Leyria, where the company's officers were billeted together
again; we got excellent white wine and good mattrasses. My Captain,
having enjoyed the wine very much, pulled off his boots, placed them
near the fire and a soldier took them away. Captain Mitchell of ours
was in the street just as the man left the house; something struck him
at the moment that the soldier was about no good, so he ordered him
to come into the room where we were. On opening his greatcoat, Peter
O'Hare's boots fell to the ground. This man was tried and flogged. My
Captain had the command of the detachment when the sentence of the
court-martial was put into execution. He gave the man every lash, and
recommended the buglers to lay it on lustily and save the fellow from
the gallows. This was the first punishment I had witnessed.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched to Pombal, on the Soure.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Marched to Condeixa, upon the same stream as yesterday.

[Sidenote: 29th]

To Coimbra, a large commercial city upon the north bank of the Mondego.
This city we entered by passing over a long bridge of many arches. The
gardens are supplied with the most delicious oranges in every stage of
growth upon the same tree, and plenty of grapes and other fruits, which
we were allowed to eat at pleasure. I visited several of the convents,
and met with great kindness from the nuns, who gave any British officer
who visited their convents sweetmeats and fruits in abundance, and to
particular favourites little purses to keep as tokens of regard.



CAMPAIGN OF 1810


 Viscount Wellington arranged for the defence of Portugal by massing
 the Anglo-Portuguese army at two points—the first, under his own
 command, on the Mondego, and the second, under General Hill, on the
 Tagus. He also issued orders for the construction of the Lines of
 Torres Vedras. The Light Division under General Craufurd was pushed
 forward to the Agueda as a Corps of Observation.

 Massena, with a mobile force of 65,000 men, now threatened Portugal,
 having captured the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo, defended by the
 Spaniards.

 The first fight of the campaign was on 10th March, when General Férey
 endeavoured to surprise the Light Division by a night attack on the
 bridge of Barba del Puerco; this was held by the 95th Rifles, who
 drove back the French with heavy loss.

 Craufurd maintained his position on the Agueda for four months after
 this, but in July, Ney with 30,000 troops advanced on Almeida, and
 Craufurd elected to stand and fight him with the Coa River behind him,
 and being vigorously attacked by overwhelming forces, withdrew with
 great difficulty and with heavy loss. The fortress of Almeida shortly
 afterwards fell into the hands of the French, and Massena advanced on
 the line of the Mondego with the object of driving the British army
 out of the country. Wellington, however, barred his advance at Busaco,
 and a sanguinary battle was fought, in which the French were worsted.
 Massena, finding he could not force the position at Busaco, manœuvred
 to his right and threatened Wellington's line of retreat, and the
 latter fell back to his prepared defences of Torres Vedras.



CHAPTER III

Campaign of 1810

_Journal—1st January-27th February 1810_

 March from Coimbra to the Coa—The Light Division placed in cantonments
 in advance of the Coa—A company of Rifle Men, sent out to reconnoitre,
 find the French advanced posts in possession of Barba del Puerco.

Letter No. V

_To his Parents, from Villar Torpin, dated 28th February 1810_

 Suffers from fever and ague—Description of Coimbra, its museum,
 monasteries, and nunneries—Reflections on the superstition and
 bigotry of the Portuguese—Miserable condition and poverty of the
 inhabitants—Description of cantonments occupied—Conduct of the
 French—Rumours as to the impending campaign and confidence in Lord
 Wellington—Severe lecture to his father and good advice to the family
 all round.

_Journal—4th March-30th April_

 Advance from Reygada to the Agueda—The Rifles on outpost duty on
 the Agueda, with one company on piquet at the Bridge of Barba
 del Puerco—The French, who occupy the opposite bank, make a night
 attack in force and endeavour to seize the bridge—Desperate
 fight, in which the French are repulsed—Complimentary order
 issued by Brigadier-General Craufurd to the Rifles by order of
 Lord Wellington in consequence of their gallant behaviour on this
 occasion—Dispositions of the Light Brigade on the river Azava—Captain
 Ross's troop of Horse Artillery attached—The Rifles on piquet and
 1st King's German Hussars on vedette duty on the Azava—Formation of
 the celebrated "Light Division"—The 1st and 3rd Portuguese Caçadores
 attached to it.

Letter No. VI

_To his Father, from Villar de Ciérvos, dated 30th April 1810_

 Describes the events of the preceding two months—The mountainous
 country and defile of the Agueda—Position held at Barba del
 Puerco—Disposition of the Rifle Men on piquet at the bridge on
 19th March—The French attack—Death of Lieutenant Mercer—Captain
 O'Hare brings up the support—Sharp hand-to-hand fighting at the
 bridge—Colonel Beckwith arrives with three companies of the
 Reserve—The Rifle Men fix swords and charge—Retreat of the French—The
 losses on both sides—Strength of the French column of attack—Captain
 O'Hare's commendation of Simmons' behaviour.


Campaign of 1810


_Journal—1st January-27th February 1810_

[Sidenote: 1810 Jan. 1st]

Began the year rather roughly by a long day's march over bad and
mountainous roads to the wretched village of Ponte de Murcella. The
Alva runs near it, and falls into the Mondego some distance from the
village.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Marched to Galizes and adjacent villages; the country mountainous and
poor.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Marched to Pinhancos and San Marinha, near the foot of the extensive
ridge of mountains named the Mountains of the Stars (Sierra da
Estrella). This chain is the highest in Portugal, and continues to the
southern part of Estremadura.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Marched to Celorico.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Pinhel. On our arrival here were informed that the French had a body of
men in San Felices, and that their piquets were upon the river Agueda,
and that strong parties of Frenchmen occasionally passed the river and
entered Portugal to plunder or levy contributions. The headquarters of
the Brigade remained here.

[Sidenote: 7th]

The Rifle Men were ordered to proceed across the Coa to the villages
of Cinco Villas, Villar Torpin, and Reygada, two leagues in advance of
Pinhel. Cinco Villas is half a league nearer Pinhel, and stands close
to the Coa, with a strong stone bridge over it.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched and occupied the villages of Figueira, Mata de Lobas, and
Escallion, close to the river Douro. The rest of the Brigade marched
from Pinhel, taking up a line on our right. The banks of the Douro are
extremely rocky, wild, and romantic—in short, the country all round,
with few exceptions, is wild and stony. We have had a heavy fall of
snow, in which I observed innumerable prints of wolves. I endeavoured
to track them, but without success.

[Sidenote: 1810 Feb. 14th]

Retired to Valverde Pereiro, in consequence of some information our
Brigade received about the enemy.

[Sidenote: 15th]

[Sidenote: 27th]

Returned to our cantonments and continued very quiet until this day,
when a company of Rifle Men were ordered to the Spanish village of
Bouza. A party was sent forward to feel the enemy. It crossed the river
Duas Casas, and proceeded to Barba del Puerco, which was found in
the enemy's possession. The party fell back upon Bouza and the enemy
followed and fired a few long shots, but did not cross the river. Two
companies of Rifle Men now occupied Bouza, and two companies as a
support at Escarigo, on the Turon. The Duas Casas rises near Castello
Bom, on the Portuguese frontier; it passes between Bouza and Barba del
Puerco, after which it falls into the Agueda.


Letter No. V

      Villar Torpin, _28th February 1810_.

Dear Parents—Your epistle came to hand a few days back, which gave me
infinite pleasure and gratification.

I have for some time been in expectation of receiving a letter from
Maud. I suppose he is not well informed where I am stationed. He had a
severe illness in the neighbourhood of Badajoz, and wrote for advice,
which he since informs me was of service, and before he marched he
had quite recovered. At the same time I was expected hourly to bid a
final adieu to this world. Judge what a situation to give advice to a
bed-ridden brother. However, I hinted nothing relative to myself, and
endeavoured to write in good spirits, which at that period had good
effect.

From fatigues my ague again revisited me, and continued daily for some
time, and at last terminated in a fever very prevalent through the army
at that period, and which confined me entirely to bed for three weeks.
But from the kind attention of my good landlady, who was continually
watching over me, I surprised numbers and deceived the grim King of
Terrors. As soon as I was able to move I went to a very healthy spot in
Spain, and improving daily (in a wonderful manner) speedily recovered.
Since that time I have traversed nearly the whole of Portugal, and seen
most of the best towns through the country, marching four, five, and
six leagues per diem, sometimes sleeping and living in the grandest
houses in the country, and at others in the most wretched hovels not
as good as an English pig-sty. Our present situation is about 300
miles march from Campo Mayor, and half of our way was over stupendous
mountains—in short, it was beyond anything I could have conceived, and
has highly compensated me for my labour. I spared no pains in visiting
all the churches and monasteries and castles in my way, which were
curious and frequently very interesting. At Coimbra, an exceeding good
town, and possessed of several rich convents, with a beautiful church
and museum of curiosities, two stuffed crocodiles attracted my notice
much, being 30 feet long, also tigers and a variety of different beasts
of prey in a high state of preservation. At the convent of Santa Clara
the nuns presented several of the British officers with sweetmeats,
which were very nice.

The friars and nuns at all the convents I have visited behaved with
the greatest politeness. It often excited my pity for so many poor
unfortunate women, who might have lived in the world and proved
an ornament to Society, but, alas! doomed by their parents from
superstitious bigotry to be secluded from the world and live entombed
in a vile prison, like common felons or miscreants, not fit to be
at large. The monks and priests of different orders live and prey
upon the vitals (if I may use the expression) of the people; they
endeavour to keep up that superstitious bigotry, which enables them to
exercise their extortions to the greatest degree upon the deluded and
infatuated multitude. The most miserable hovels in the country must
have six or eight painted images, dressed out in the most whimsical
and fantastic manner, imitating Jesus Christ, etc., a variety of
saints more calculated to excite laughter than convey any idea of the
Deity. It is through these wooden dolls they worship the Almighty, but
it is my opinion one half of them worship the images or saints they
stick up. At a certain hour in the day, sometimes twice or thrice, a
bell rings, the people off with their hats and chatter over a little
prayer, which, if their conscience pricks them, or they have committed
a slight irregularity, they repeat ten or a dozen times and feel
perfectly satisfied. Our present quarters are truly miserable; on all
sides stupendous mountains; the people wretched in the extreme, clothes
hardly sufficient to cover themselves, and positively not a degree
above savages—I mean as to their method of living. Of a morning they
will turn out of their wretched cabins and are to be seen sitting in
rows upon the ground in the sun picking lice off themselves and out of
each other's heads; they do not mind, or endeavour to hide themselves
from your view. At first it disgusted me, but from habit I stand by and
joke them about the number they have killed, which they take in great
good-humour, and tell you, so many that they could not keep account!

Their houses are built of rough stone, generally 7 or 8 feet high (some
exceptions to this rule), with no outlet for smoke; the fire is made
by the wall side, and consists generally of mountain heather or broom,
which produces a most intolerable smoke, and gives a person who is not
well seasoned, a copious flow of tears. The family sit on the ground
round it; the house is entirely enveloped in smoke, and every side
of the wall is like a chimney, which they never take pains to sweep
clean. The people never wash themselves, and seldom comb their heads.
The women have an immense quantity of long black hair, and never wear
bonnets, and seldom shoes and stockings. Garlic, oil, and dark brown
bread of Indian corn and rye is principally their food; they certainly
stared to see us eat beef, pork, etc., in such quantities, and drink
wine so freely.

These are the people we have the honour of living with at present in
the mountains on the north frontier of Portugal. Our regiment occupies
this position to preserve the left flank of the army from a sudden
attack. The other day the French menaced us, but retired. They are at
present in great force in the vicinity of San Felices, three leagues
from us; they make sad havoc among the cattle in the vicinity, killing
and wasting all they cannot carry away, and breaking everything in the
houses of the unfortunate inhabitants, and what is worse than all, they
knock down all idols in the churches; this shocked the people more
than all the rest put together. Things are daily drawing to a crisis.
Spain is lost, I firmly believe. Whenever the French show themselves
the Spaniards are panic-struck. The French are, it is supposed, forming
two grand armies to attack us, and we daily expect to retire in order
to concentrate our little army. It is rumoured that the Portuguese have
refused to march to attack the French near Badajoz, who are besieging
that town. If this is the case we shall soon retire upon Lisbon, but
let it be as it may, I have great confidence in Lord Wellington, who is
able to extricate us if difficulties have to be surmounted, and highly
competent to command Britons in the field and lead them off with glory.
In a few weeks you will have great news on this head, depend upon it.

The only thing I at present want is a supply of clothes. The lying out
at night in the fields for months together soon puts your raiment in
disorder. I am nearly in rags.

We have been in the habit of procuring excellent wine latterly at 6d.
per quart. We live well now and then. John Bull likes good feeding, and
none better than myself.

I think that if we should soon leave Portugal and not have a battle, in
all probability we may go up the Mediterranean, as the regiment is not
at present very strong.

The newspapers will direct you as to everything. I think the move
must certainly take place. If so, you will hear from me possibly
next in England. My love to my aunt, uncle, etc.—I remain your ever
affectionate son,

      G. Simmons.


_Journal—4th March-30th April 1810_

[Sidenote: 1810 March 4th]

Marched from Reygada to Escarigo. Halted. The enemy finding us so near,
did not like to continue at Barba del Puerco, and withdrew across the
river. We occupied it immediately. The rain fell violently, and as the
Duas Casas had no bridge and was in our rear, and was frequently so
swollen as to be rendered impassable, our Brigadier ordered the post to
be evacuated.


Affair of Barba del Puerco

[Sidenote: 11th]

On the 11th, with four companies of Rifle Men, we again occupied this
post, having our company posted on piquet near the most formidable
passes I ever beheld. The French were also posted opposite us. The
river Agueda, which rises in the great Spanish mountains named Sierra
de Gata, and runs furiously in the bottom of this deep chasm over
rugged rocks, causing a continued noise, separated us. At the bottom
of the zig-zag pass is the bridge over the river, 100 yards long and 5
yards wide. San Felices, in which the advance of the French army were
lodged under the command of General Baron de Férey, is about half a
league from the pass. We remained quietly here until the night of the
19th inst., being upon outlying piquet with Captain O'Hare's Company.
Early in the evening I crossed the bridge to find a paper left there
(in the piquet house) for me to fetch from the French side, and had
just returned from visiting the advanced double sentry and made my
report to Lieutenant Mercer, when a tremendous firing commenced. Mercer
immediately ordered the men to fall in and move forward to our alarm
post, which was on the edge of the rocky chasm. The night being dark
and stormy, with rain occasionally, caused the river to make more
noise in its passage over the rocky bed than usual, and completely
prevented our advanced sentinels hearing the approach of the enemy.
Also from the obscurity of the night, it was not possible to see any
object, so that the enemy passed the bridge so rapidly that only one
sentinel fired before they were both knocked down. Two men, Maher and
M'Can, were taken at the bridge. However, this gave the alarm, and a
small party stationed amongst the rocks kept up a fire. The sergeant
being shot through the mouth and the enemy being so numerous, they
could not impede their progress. In a moment, after the arrival of the
main body of the piquet, the French were literally scrambling up the
rocky ground within ten yards of us. We commenced firing at each other
very spiritedly. Their drums beat a charge, and the French attempted
to dislodge us without effect. My friend, Lieutenant Mercer, who was
putting on his spectacles, received a musket ball through his head,
and fell dead close to my feet. Several were now falling, and the
moon for a few minutes shone brightly, then disappeared, and again at
intervals let us see each other. We profited by this circumstance, as
their belts were white and over their greatcoats, so that where they
crossed upon the breast, combined with the glare of the breast-plate,
gave a grand mark for our rifles. Our men being in dark dresses, and,
from their small number, obliged to keep close together, the ground
also being exceedingly rugged, were all favourable circumstances. We
fought in this way for at least half an hour against fearful odds, when
Lieutenant-Colonel Beckwith brought up the three reserve companies from
the village, who soon decided the affair. The enemy was driven in the
greatest confusion back over frightful precipices, leaving two officers
killed and a number of men wounded.

About 9 o'clock in the evening, Captain O'Hare had been taken unwell,
and as there was no idea of an attack, he went home to bed. Lieutenant
Cowan was sent for him when the firing commenced. They arrived after
poor Mercer was killed, so the command of the piquet devolved upon me
for a quarter of an hour. Thus I had the honour to command for some
time after poor Mercer was killed and until O'Hare returned. I merely
mention this circumstance as it was the first time I had been in a
fight, but the gallantry displayed by the _varmint_ fellows that were
with me left no doubt on my mind that we should have resisted all these
attempts to dislodge us until the reserves came up. A young Frenchman
that was taken, fired into Colonel Beckwith's face. A Rifle Man was
just going to blow his brains out, when the Colonel stopped him,
saying, "Let him alone; I daresay the boy has a mother. Knock the thing
out of his hand, that he may do no more mischief with it, and give
him a kick on the bottom and send him to the rear." The next morning
the boy was given a hearty breakfast at the Colonel's house. On being
questioned about firing so wantonly, he said he was in such agitation
that he was not aware his finger was upon the trigger of his gun. The
ball went through the Colonel's cap peak, which, being turned up, made
it take a slanting direction; it passed through and grazed the top of
his head. Six hundred volunteers were chosen by the French general
to attempt the annihilation of our party, and fifteen hundred more
were formed to support the attack in case of success. A number of men
kept up a fire from the enemy's side of the river during the time the
soldiers were passing the ravine.

A body of Spaniards under a captain was stationed on our right. We
had a corporal and file with them, merely to give us intelligence
if necessary. When the firing commenced the Spaniards became very
uneasy; the officer wished our corporal to leave his post; he said he
was determined to wait until the enemy overpowered him, so the noble
Castilian and his forces started off. Two French officers, a Light
Infantry captain and a subaltern, and seventeen men lay stretched
upon the rough ground. We afterwards heard from a deserter that the
colonel who led the attack was shot through the mouth and his jaw
broken. He was making a great noise before, but this circumstance made
him so quiet that a child might have played with him. Several other
officers were wounded and a number of men who were carried off during
the affray, Lieutenant Mercer killed, seventeen of our men killed and
wounded. Fairfoot was of the party taken; Betts, the sergeant, wounded
in the jaw; O'Gallagher wounded and died; William David, his skull
blown off and his _dura mater_ exposed. A French sergeant was wounded
through the knee, and afterwards I assisted Surgeon Burke to remove
his leg. This being the first affair of the outposts, and it having
resulted in the total discomfiture of the enemy in his midnight attack,
the following Complimentary Order was issued on the occasion:—

 Division Orders

 Brigadier-General Craufurd has it in command from the
 Commander-in-Chief to assure Lieutenant-Colonel Beckwith and the
 officers of the 95th Regiment who were engaged at Barba del Puerco
 that their conduct in this affair has augmented the confidence
 he has in the troops when opposed to the enemy in any situation.
 Brigadier-General Craufurd feels peculiar pleasure in noticing the
 first affair in which any part of the Light Brigade were engaged
 during the present campaign. That British troops should defeat a
 superior number of the enemy is nothing new, but the action reflects
 honour on Lieutenant-Colonel Beckwith and the Regiment, inasmuch that
 it was of a sort that Rifle Men of other Armies would shun. In other
 Armies the Rifle is considered ill calculated for close action with an
 enemy armed with Musket and Bayonet, but the 95th Regiment has proved
 that the Rifle in the hands of a British soldier is a fully efficient
 weapon to enable him to defeat the French in the closest fight in
 whatever manner they may be armed.

      (Signed) T. Graham, D.A.G.

This night gave me a good opinion of myself. I fought alone for some
time with fearful odds, my friend dead at my feet. I had been often
joked and told, "Would you not like to be at home again?" After this
night I was considered a soldier fit to face the devil in any shape.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Another attack being expected from the enemy, two more companies of
Rifle Men marched in, also two of the 52nd and one of the 43rd Light
Infantry.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

This post being frequently cut off in rainy weather by a river which
ran in our rear becoming so swollen that it was impossible to ford it
for days together, our General withdrew us, and sent a piquet of the
1st German Hussars as a look-out post; we moved into Villar de Ciérvos.
A few days before we left the post of Barba del Puerco a deserter
wanted to come to us, but the river ran so furiously that he durst not
cross it. Some Spaniards who were hiding from the French observed him,
and did not know his wishes, but seeing this Frenchman without arms and
unsupported, deliberately stoned him to death, several of us looking on
without the power of doing the unfortunate man any service.

[Sidenote: 1810 April 6th]

A battalion of French Infantry and a squadron of Dragoons marched from
San Felices and proceeded to the ford of Valdespina. The infantry
formed up whilst the cavalry foraged and plundered the small villages,
after which the whole returned to San Felices, followed by a party of
1st German Hussars.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Our battalion marched from Villar de Ciérvos to Val de la Mula, Val
de la Cuellar, and Malpartida. The former villages stand on the Turon
below the hill of Fort Concepçion; San Pedro and Valermosa were
occupied by the 43rd Regiment.

[Sidenote: 11th]

This day two of our companies were divided and the Battalion formed
into eight companies instead of ten. The staff of the two companies
were ordered to proceed to the depôt in England. Captain Ross's troop
of Horse Artillery was also attached to the Light Brigade.

[Sidenote: 21st]

General Craufurd reviewed the Brigade on the heights of Fort
Concepçion, after which the following change of quarters took place:
43rd relieved the 52nd at the outposts, 95th occupied the villages
vacated by the 43rd, 52nd marched into the cantonments vacated by the
95th. The enemy are making their appearance in the vicinity of Ciudad
Rodrigo in considerable force; it is a strongly fortified Spanish town
upon the Agueda.

[Sidenote: 29th]

The enemy have invested the town in very large force. Four companies of
Rifle Men marched to Espeja and four into Gallegos; these villages are
about a league apart and three from Ciudad Rodrigo. The enemy sent a
reconnoitring party, which, after making its observations, returned by
the ford below.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Two companies of Rifle Men were now posted as piquets above, about two
miles in front, upon the river Azava, at the bridge of Marialba and
the forts. A vedette of the German Hussars was posted on the other
side of the river in our front upon a commanding height in the village
of Carpio; from his station he could overlook all between him and
Ciudad Rodrigo. Two companies of Rifle Men left Gallegos for Espeja,
to admit the 1st and 3rd Caçadores, who are to be attached to us, into
the village. The Division is now to be called _Light_ in future. These
Portuguese soldiers are dressed in brown and are Light Infantry.


Letter No. VI

      Villar de Ciérvos, Spain,
      _30th April 1810_.

Dear Father—You will wonder, I suppose, at my sending one letter
after another in this way, as I wrote you so recently from Reygada in
Portugal.

I had the other day a long letter from my friend Maud. I answered it
the following day. He is in high health. I gave him all my news, ending
the letter, as usual, with advice. He has been stationed for some time
at Portalegre in Portugal, an exceeding good town, while I have been
traversing the country for months, not staying more than a day or two
in a place, and sleeping in tents or churches. For the last two months
back we have been stationed so near the enemy we durst not take off our
shoes. The weather has all along been very bad, continually raining
or snowing. I am in hopes it will soon clear up. The other day I was
posted on a bleak rock from four o'clock in the morning till one after
noon before I was relieved, and got famously ducked; but I derived this
advantage—it gave me a keen appetite for my breakfast, which my servant
has provided for me in style—four eggs, roast fowl, and plenty of tea.
We have no certainty as to meals, sometimes we dine at two o'clock, and
other times at ten at night. In our company we have three mules and an
ass to carry our provisions and wine, which, when we move about, we
carry in deer skins.

This day I marched four leagues under a continuous torrent of rain. I
am now under tolerable shelter, sitting drying my trousers over a fire
of wood upon the ground, and am in a very ill-humour, having burnt the
leather which encircles the bottoms. I have my jacket off and a blanket
round me until my jacket and shirt are dried. I am so much accustomed
to get wet I think little about it. For some time the French had been
stationed about eight leagues from us, but lately they made a move and
menaced Ciudad Rodrigo, but not having sufficient cannon, they were
obliged to retire for the present. I saw a fine puff in the English
papers treating upon the bravery of the garrison (how John Bull is
gagged!) Depend upon it the French have much greater influence with the
Spaniards than the English. All the Spanish soldiers I have seen look
more like banditti than soldiers.

We always know when the French are near—they, the Spaniards, run away
in every direction. Our soldiery hate to see them.

The Portuguese are much superior in appearance. We shall soon try their
composition in the first battle. The enemy marched to San Felices,
which caused us to advance upon Bouza (our regiment only). The other
part of the Light Brigade continued in the rear, occupying villages,
waiting ready to advance in case we required their assistance.

The French the next day had the impudence to pass the bridge and come
to Barba del Puerco, about four English miles from us. A peasant
came in the same evening and gave information, stating they demanded
rations for 1000 men; 300 men were in the town. The next morning three
companies of us moved to attack them at daylight, but they thought it
prudent to retire and not wait till the bread was baked, so we had hot
bread for breakfast. Between Barba del Puerco and San Felices is an
immense chain of mountains, which divides in the middle and forms a
deep chasm, the bottom of which is the bed of the river Agueda, which,
in the rainy season, runs with incredible violence. It receives a great
quantity of water from the rocky and rugged sides of the mountains,
which are for above half a mile nearly perpendicular; here is also a
bridge about ninety yards across.

The way to this bridge is very bad, being a zig-zag pathway called the
pass of San Felices. The water dashing against the rugged sides of
this river and the great depth of the chasm make the appearance to a
stranger wonderfully terrific. These were the mountains we had to guard
and place our sentries in the different intricate pathways, and to post
them in the dark in order to deceive our enemy and take them off before
daylight. One night at twelve o'clock I went to visit the sentries,
when, missing my way, owing to the excessive darkness of the night, I
travelled until daylight. The French had a piquet of seventy men on
the opposite side of the mountain on a level with ours. On this side
we for some time were in the habit of looking at each other with only
about half a mile in a direct line between us. They now and then tried
to pick some of our men off, but their shots never took effect. On the
19th of March the company I belonged to had the post of honour for the
night, and about eight o'clock in the evening I went with my captain
(Captain O'Hare) to post the sentries. After placing a sergeant and
twelve men about fifty yards from the bridge, we posted a double sentry
behind a rock about fifteen yards from it, which, in case the French
passed it, were to fire and retire back to the twelve men and endeavour
to maintain their ground until the company came to their assistance. I
crawled over the bridge to the French side to see if I could see their
sentries or observe if any of them were coming near the bridge, but
saw nothing and returned up the mountain to the tent pitched for the
convenience of the officers for lying in between the hours of going
their rounds.

The remainder of the company were in a little church lying round a
wood fire until their turn for duty at half-past eleven o'clock. The
other lieutenant returned and pronounced all quiet. At twelve o'clock
we heard several shots fired. We directly fell in the remainder of the
company and marched towards the bridge. We soon met a man coming with
information that the French were passing the bridge in great force. We
marched forward and found them forming in line, with drums beating and
yelling furiously. They fired to the amount of five hundred rounds, the
balls whistling over our heads. Our gallant Commander ordered us not
to let the men fire until we came within fifteen yards of them. The
French fired another volley. We still moved on as silent as possible,
fired, and gave them an English huzza. The men opposed to us were a
little staggered. We again loaded and came breast to breast. Lieutenant
Mercer called, "Simmons," and rushed on towards a stone several had got
behind, while he drove others in front. Our men were shooting them in
every direction, when an unlucky ball passed through poor Mercer's head
just as he was saying, "Our brave fellows fight like Britons."

At this moment three or four fell wounded near him. A French officer
I had the satisfaction to see fall also. A fine young fellow put his
rifle to the officer's throat and shot him dead, crying out, "Revenge
the death of Mr. Mercer." He instantly received seven shots in his
body. At this time the enemy were surrounding us in every direction.
Captain O'Hare called out, "We will never retire. Here we will stand.
They shall not pass but over my body." The shots flew round us as
thick as hailstones, and they were advancing upon us, but we kept up
a terrible fire. The moon showed sufficiently to let us see their
numbers. I saw French officers beating their men with their swords
to make them try to drive us from the rocks we occupied, and several
letting their muskets fall and clapping their hands upon their sides
or arms when they had received a wound and scampering. Just at this
serious crisis, I saw the three companies coming to our assistance—the
pleasantest sight I ever beheld. We set up a most furious shout. The
French soon knew the reason. Our companies fixed swords and came on
like lions, the Colonel at their head, the French scampering off in
the greatest dismay, throwing down their arms and running down the
precipices and carrying off their killed and wounded, as they generally
endeavour to do, in order that the number they lose should not be well
ascertained by their enemies. Our gallant Colonel received a musket
ball through his cap. The French, luckily for us, fired very high, or,
from their great superiority, they must have destroyed every man of our
company before the other three came to our assistance. We had only 43
men opposed to over 500 for half an hour. When we disembarked in this
country first we had 100 rank and file. In the morning we found our
loss to be one officer and five men killed, seven men badly wounded.
The other three companies lost two killed and eight wounded. We found
twelve Frenchmen and two officers killed. Some of them had six or seven
wounds. We also picked up five poor fellows most desperately wounded
and caught three prisoners.

The next day we learnt from a spy that the French colonel, who headed
the storming party, received a shot through his jaw, and that they
dragged away nearly 100 killed and wounded. The French that attacked us
were Grenadiers and Light Infantry, to the amount of 600, picked from
3000 men who had volunteered for the occasion. They also had among the
rocks on their side, 1500 men, who kept up a fire merely to deceive us,
and ready to pass the bridge as soon as the storming party had gained
their point. So confident was their General (Baron de Férey) of success
that he ordered them as soon as they got to the town to bring up all
the English wounded and take care of them, and not use the prisoners
ill. This man had all along been fighting with Spaniards, and thought
we should fight like them. It is not likely, I think, from the present
appearance of things in general, that we shall stay much longer. We
expect the French will soon bring ten to one against us, and of course
we must retire, after some hard fighting, for 250 miles before we get
to Lisbon and embark to come home. I consider myself very lucky in
not receiving a scratch, being exposed so long to the enemy's fire. I
now know what it is to meet the enemy in the field, and am confident
I shall always do my duty when opposed to the foes of my country.
My captain was pleased to say my conduct had given him the greatest
satisfaction. He is a very brave man, and has fought in twenty actions
in different parts of the world.[7] I hope shortly to give you an
account of something more decisive, should they come on by daylight. I
hope you will stick by the regiment I ordered for Charles. I send this
account of the battle only for your information, knowing it will please
you, but do not wish it to be made known; the man who passes himself
off to the world only shows his weakness. My love to the best of
mothers. I hope yet to meet and tell her personally of the hairbreadth
escapes and dangers I have passed. My love to my dear Ann and all the
family. My respects to my uncle and aunt. I wrote a long letter to
Colonel Sibthorp the other day. I remain your ever affectionate son,

      Geo. Simmons.

You must pay the postage to Falmouth, I believe, or inquire at the post
office, or it is ten to one I ever receive your letters.

Direct when you write, Lieutenant Simmons, 1st Battalion, 95th or Rifle
Regiment, Lord Wellington's Army, Portugal.



CHAPTER IV

_Journal—7th May-8th August 1810_

 The Light Division are posted as a Corps of Observation on the
 Portuguese frontier with General Picton's Division (3rd) in
 support—The French invest Ciudad Rodrigo and open fire on the
 fortress—The Light Division constantly on the alert owing to rumoured
 movements of French—Don Julian Sanchez, the Spanish guerrilla
 chieftain—French cavalry reconnaissances on the Azava—The Light
 Division occupy the high ground at Gallegos—Advance of the French
 in force—Combat between a 14th Light Dragoon and a _Grénadier à
 Cheval_—The _Grénadiers à Cheval_ act as "mounted infantry" and
 occupy Alameda—"A body of men of this description at the end of a
 day's march would be unpleasant neighbours"—Two companies of Rifles
 occupy Fort Concepçion—The French capture Ciudad Rodrigo after a forty
 days' siege—The Rifles march to Barquilla—Skirmish near Barquilla—A
 squadron of the 14th Light Dragoons charges the French cavalry and
 takes many prisoners—Colonel Talbot charges the French infantry,
 but is slain and his Dragoons driven off—The French make good their
 retreat—The Light Division retire on Almeida—Massena advances against
 it—Results of the fall of Ciudad Rodrigo—Boastful utterances of
 the French, who announce their intention of driving the "Leopard"
 into the sea at Lisbon—Blowing up of Fort Concepçion—The Light
 Division retire from Almeida, leaving it garrisoned—The Combat of
 the Coa—Position occupied by the Light Division—The French advance
 to the attack—Conduct of their officers in leading on their men—The
 Rifles fall back on the bridge—Charged by French Hussars—The 43rd
 Light Infantry check the advance of the latter—General Craufurd
 orders the Rifles to retire from a hill covering the passage—The
 retreat of the 52nd is thereby imperilled—Colonel Beckwith, with the
 Rifles, recaptures the hill "in style," but with heavy loss—Simmons
 severely wounded—Napier assists him until wounded himself—Simmons
 is carried off by the Rifle Men—Stratagem of the French to effect a
 crossing—The Rifle Men tricked—The French attempt to storm the bridge,
 but are defeated—A flag of truce—Compliments by French officers on
 the stand made by the Light Division—Losses of the Division—Simmons
 conveyed in a bullock cart to Pinhel—Severe nature of his wound—Moved
 to Celorico with Lieutenants Reilly, Pratt, and Harry Smith—Death
 of Lieutenant Reilly—Shocking condition of wounded owing to sun and
 flies—The Portuguese bullock-drivers desert—Adventures on the road to
 the Mondego—Embark in boats on the Mondego—Sad death of Lieutenant
 Pratt—Arrival at Coimbra—Sails for Lisbon—Arrival at Lisbon—Simmons is
 billeted comfortably and nursed by his servant, Rifleman Short.

Letter No. VII

_To his Parents, from Lisbon, dated 10th August 1810_

 Describes advance of Massena in July and many incidents of the
 Combat of the Coa and of his journey to Lisbon—His arrangements in
 case of death—General good advice to his parents, brothers, and
 sisters—Expectation of speedy recovery—Unabated confidence in Lord
 Wellington.


_Journal—7th May-8th August 1810_

[Sidenote: 1810 May 7th]

The Light Division assembled for the inspection of General Craufurd.

The Division occupied the following villages, Gallegos, Espeja, Nava de
Avel (a Portuguese village), and Fuentes de Oñoro on the Duas Casas;
Headquarters of the British army, Celorico. The 3rd Division, under the
command of General Picton, being in support to the Light at Pinhel,
and the rest of the army at Vizeu, Trancoso, and adjacent towns and
villages considerably in the rear of us.

The enemy has remained very quiet in consequence of the weather being
rainy. Several Germans, Swiss, and Italians have deserted from the
French, and occasionally Frenchmen, who all speak with horror of
prolonging the war in Spain, as they dare not individually leave their
camp. The Spanish guerrillas lay in wait to destroy them, and have
become so impudent of late, that they have even attacked convoys of
considerable force.

[Sidenote: 1810 June 1st]

The French have begun throwing up works before Ciudad Rodrigo, and have
completely invested it.

[Sidenote: 6th]

The French made an attack on the suburbs, but the Spaniards drove the
assailants back. Heavy cannonading from the town.

[Sidenote: 15th]

The French opened a battery upon the town, and kept up a heavy fire
during the day.

[Sidenote: 16th]

The enemy's cavalry made a reconnaissance and skirmished with some
German Hussars stationed at Carpio, and retired.

[Sidenote: 17th]

A heavy fire kept up against the enemy's battery from the town.

[Sidenote: 19th]

The Light Division assembled at Gallegos, being the nearest point
toward Rodrigo, and as the enemy's fire is increasing daily before
the besieged town, our General has concentrated his Division so that
we may be ready to fight or retire according to circumstances. From
the frequent alarms we receive, as one body or other of Frenchmen are
continually falling in and moving, we are becoming very active, and
can move off with all our baggage in a quarter of an hour at any time.
The Spaniards are astonished at us remaining idle, as they term it,
and allowing the French to invest their town, consequently they have
no high opinion of our valour. The young women, with whom we joke and
talk, make no scruple in calling us cowards, and say if we fought as
well as we eat and drink wine, we should be fine fellows indeed. These
observations are very galling, and people who are not conversant with
military movements might easily imagine we do not attack the enemy
from fear. We know that it would be impossible to give the least
assistance to the besieged, only being in advance of our army as a
Corps of Observation. I often feel distressed that we cannot do the
place any service. From our piquets we can see the enemy's cannon
playing upon the town and the garrison returning it. Although the place
is so closely invested, a guerrilla chief named Julian Sanchez and his
orderly man, a South American, frequently dash through their outposts
and go to the Governor with communications from our General, and return
in the same way to us. They possess determined bravery and know every
pathway about the place. Don Julian Sanchez has put to death many
Frenchmen in personal conflicts on different occasions, and from his
appearance, I have no doubt his bottle-holder could also play his part
handsomely if put to such an extremity.

[Sidenote: 24th]

The French cavalry came on this morning in force, waited a while,
retired, then returned and drove in our cavalry piquets from Carpio
and Marialba over the Azava. Our Division formed close column in front
of Gallegos. This appeared to be merely a reconnaissance, as the
enemy retired and our cavalry reoccupied their posts as before. Some
alteration had taken place, by bringing up a few companies from the
rear, which probably induced the French to suppose that our army was
moving to the front to raise the siege of Rodrigo.

For three or four days the firing on both sides has been very slack.
The French have been working hard and approach the town much closer.

[Sidenote: 25th]

At daybreak the French unmasked a battery and commenced a heavy fire
upon the town, which was returned with much spirit. About 10 A.M. a
tremendous explosion took place in the enemy's lines, caused by a shell
falling into a field magazine. Some time after this the enemy moved a
strong force of cavalry and some infantry towards us. We were compelled
to retire our cavalry piquet from Carpio; our advanced posts are now
at the ford over the Azava (called the Carpio ford) and at the bridge
of Marialba, and the ford of Molino dos Flores over the Agueda, which
is at the junction with the Azava. Two squadrons of the 16th Dragoons
joined us.

[Sidenote: 26th]

The enemy threw a great number of shells into the town. During this day
an oil magazine was consumed by fire. Our Commander-in-Chief visited
the outposts.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The enemy have two pontoon bridges over the Agueda, one above and
the other below Rodrigo, and have now a large force of cavalry and
infantry on its left bank in order to, if possible, cut off all
communication between us and the garrison. The Governor contrived to
send a letter by an old man to Lord Wellington. The firing of cannon on
both sides very briskly kept up, and there was occasionally during the
night some musketry; we found that the French had attempted, under the
cover of night, to take the town by storm, but were repulsed.

[Sidenote: 28th]

The cannonade continued during this day in the most lively way, much to
our annoyance that we could not drive the rascals from before the town.

[Sidenote: 29th]

The cannonade continued last night and this day.

[Sidenote: 30th]

The Division marched into camp into a wood near Alameda. In the evening
before dark we formed sections, and opening out very considerably so
as to make it appear at a distance that a very large body of men were
upon the march, we returned to Gallegos. A barricade of carts had
been placed upon the bridge of Marialba to prevent the enemy crossing
suddenly. We brought up a gun and fired at them to clear the way.

[Sidenote: 1810 July 3rd]

Our Brigadier drew up the Division in rank entire upon the high ground
in the rear of Gallegos to watch the enemy and make him fancy we were
much stronger in force. The 14th Dragoons joined us.

[Sidenote: 4th]

At daylight the enemy, in considerable force, advanced; our piquets
retired. The Division formed line between Gallegos and Alameda upon the
high ground. Our Horse Artillery fired shrapnel and round shot at the
enemy's columns of cavalry as they approached us, and the 3rd Caçadores
fired a volley as soon as they perceived the French, without doing any
mischief. This sort of thing was excusable, being young soldiers. We
are in hope that time may accustom them to judge their distance better.

I saw a Light Dragoon attack a French Horse Grenadier and trounce him
handsomely. The man's helmet was nearly all brass, with large bars
across in various ways; he had literally cut through this and also the
man's head most severely and brought him in a prisoner. Our General
sent the cap home as a present to some of his friends to show with what
strength the Englishman had dealt his blows upon the Frenchman's head.

The French infantry and artillery were now advancing in great force, so
it was deemed prudent to retire, which we did in good order over the
Duas Casas by the bridge in rear of Alameda. The prisoners informed
us that Marshal Junot's corps was all employed to make us fight or
retreat. I was much amused by the dexterity displayed by a body of
French Dragoons (Grénadiers à Cheval) who passed through Alameda and
dismounted, leaving their horses in line under the charge of some of
their men. They then trotted off in their big jack boots and large
hairy caps as Light Infantry to skirmish with us. As we had got the
high ground across the river, and they could neither check nor impede
our progress, they returned to their horses and became Dragoons again.
A body of men of this description at the end of a hard day's march
would be unpleasant neighbours. The enemy did not attempt to cross the
Duas Casas; the Division moved into Val de la Mula. Two companies of
Rifle Men were put into Fort Concepçion for the purpose of assisting
the Engineers in guarding the different communications with mines, as
the angles were to be destroyed when the French advanced. The company
which I was in, was on this duty, and curiosity led me to explore some
places underground. I found in a corner of a large place that had on
some occasion been made a depôt for provisions a cask of brandy and
three casks of fine biscuit. This was quite a God-send to us all. The
cavalry remained at Castillejo and Aldea del Obispo on the Duas Casas.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Ciudad Rodrigo fell into the hands of the French at seven o'clock P.M.
Its Governor made a noble defence indeed; the enemy's trenches were
open before the place for forty days.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Seven companies of Rifle Men marched at midnight, with two companies
of the 52nd, to near Barquilla and lay down. The enemy had a piquet of
cavalry and infantry in advance of Villar de Ciérvos, but withdrew them
after dark and reoccupied the post at daylight. The Dragoons came on
very cautiously, placed a vedette, and formed up upon a steep hill; the
infantry, amounting to sixty or seventy men, were in the flat below.
Major Butler, with a squadron of the 14th Dragoons, attacked the French
cavalry and brought in one captain, one subaltern, and thirty-four
privates prisoners, many of whom were a good deal hacked and cut about
the head. The French infantry were attacked by Colonel Talbot, though
it was pretty evident that they would have had to surrender without
firing a shot had he waited. He charged with a squadron of the 14th
and fell dead amongst them, as also his Quartermaster; thirty men
were killed and wounded and twenty horses. During this sad affair we
were not allowed to show ourselves, although a few infantry would have
compelled them to lay down their arms. Our _wise_ General had the 14th,
16th, and German Hussars all to assist, also Horse Artillery and seven
companies of infantry, but let this small party of Frenchmen slip
through our fingers so shamefully. The French officer who commanded
the party deserved great credit for the bravery he displayed, and most
extraordinary good luck attended him.

[Sidenote: 12th]

The enemy entered Fuentes de Oñoro.

[Sidenote: 15th]

The Division assembled at its alarm post in consequence of the
enemy being in motion near Villar de Ciérvos. I forgot to observe
that yesterday we fell back upon the village of Junça, a little way
from Almeida, and placed in a very rugged and rocky ground near the
banks of the Coa. Almeida is the frontier fortification of Portugal,
and is commanded by Colonel Cox, a British officer. The garrison
consists of 3000 men, well appointed, and possessing every requisite
to sustain a siege. In consequence of Ciudad Rodrigo having fallen,
the enemy began to concentrate an immense force of every arm for
the invasion of Portugal under the command of one of Napoleon's
favourite Generals, Marshal Massena, Prince of Essling and Duke of
Rivoli. Almeida now was the only impediment which could for a moment
prevent the French army from bringing their whole force against the
British, the latter consisting of not more than 25,000 men altogether.
As these Gasconaders, under their different Generals, had carried
their victorious arms through the greater part of the Continent, too
frequently through intrigue and treachery, such vaunting soldiers had
great contempt for us for presuming to enter the lists with them. Their
Generals published bills, telling the Portuguese that they would not
stop until they had driven the frightened _Leopards_ at the point of
the bayonet into the sea at Lisbon. This "nation of shopkeepers and
general disturbers of all nations" should be made a most awful example
of to deter others from opposing them!

[Sidenote: 20th]

Our infantry piquets were upon the high road to Val de la Mula, upon a
plain, the cavalry piquets upon the Duas Casas, and a few men with the
Engineer officer left in Fort Concepçion, ready to blow it up at any
moment when required.

[Sidenote: 21st]

At daylight Fort Concepçion exploded and made a tremendous noise. I was
lying under a tree in a sound sleep. I sprang up, thinking the French
army had got into the camp, and seized my sword, which hung upon a
bough of the tree, and proceeded to our alarm post. I found the same
effect produced by the noise upon the whole of us, and the only feeling
we had was to sell our lives at as dear a rate as possible. When the
cause was known, and that the enemy had not driven in our outposts, we
fell out and took our breakfast.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

I was on outlying piquet. I fully expected to be attacked this
morning, as several peasantry told us that large bodies of men were
concentrating close to us, and all the villages were filled with what
was now called the Army of Portugal, amounting at least to 100,000 men,
many of whom had been in a number of Napoleon's great battles.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Lieutenant Uniacke and Lieutenant M'Cullock relieved us this morning.
Spent a jovial evening with Lieutenants Pratt and Beckwith in Almeida.
About eight o'clock an officer told us that he had orders to clear the
town of every person that was not to be employed in the siege, and
regretted that we could not be allowed to remain longer within its
walls. We drank success to their defence of the fortress, and that many
Frenchmen might bite the dust before the place, shook him by the hand,
and departed. We had scarcely left the town when the rain began to
fall in torrents; the thunder and lightning of that night was the most
tremendously grand I ever beheld either before or since. The Division,
officers and men, had no shelter from this inclement night; as to
lying down, it was nearly impossible, for the water ran in gutters
amongst the rocks. I sat upon a stone like a drowned rat, looking
at the heavens and amusing myself with their brilliancy and longing
for the morning, which came at last, and the rain ceased. Our next
consideration was to set the men to work to clean their arms and look
after their ammunition. Our cavalry outposts since the fall of Fort
Concepçion had been on the Turon.


Combat of the Coa

[Sidenote: 24th]

A little after daybreak the enemy advanced against our piquets and
drove them in. The Division was put into position, the left upon
Almeida and the right in rugged ground upon the Coa, which river was
running furiously in its course; several companies of Rifle Men and
the 43rd Light Infantry were placed behind stone walls. The enemy now
advanced in vast bodies. The whole plain in our front was covered
with horse and foot advancing towards us. The enemy's infantry formed
line and, with an innumerable multitude of skirmishers, attacked us
fiercely; we repulsed them; they came on again, yelling, with drums
beating, frequently the drummers leading, often in front of the line,
French officers like mountebanks running forward and placing their
hats upon their swords, and capering about like madmen, saying, as
they turned to their men, "Come on, children of our country. The first
that advances, Napoleon will recompense him." Numbers returned to the
attack. We kept up a very brisk fire. Several guns began to play upon
us, and as the force kept increasing every moment in our front, and
columns of infantry were also moving upon our right flank, we were
ordered to retire half the company. Captain O'Hare's retired, and the
remainder, under Lieutenant Johnston, still remained fighting for a
few moments longer. I was with this party. We moved from the field
into the road, our men falling all round us, when a body of Hussars in
bearskin caps and light-coloured pelisses got amongst the few remaining
Rifle Men and began to sabre them. Several attempted to cut me down,
but I avoided their kind intentions by stepping on one side. I had a
large cloak rolled up and strapped across my body; my haversack was
filled with little necessary articles for immediate use; thus I got
clear off. A volley was now fired by a party of the 43rd under Captain
Wells, which brought several of the Hussars to the ground. In the
scuffle I took to my heels and ran to the 43rd, Wells calling out,
"Mind the Rifle Man! Do not hit him, for heaven's sake." As I was
compelled to run into their fire to escape, he seized me by the hand
and was delighted beyond measure at my escape. The road to a small
bridge across the Coa, which the Division would have to retire over,
was very bad and rocky. Our gallant fellows disputed manfully every
inch of ground and retired towards the river. Every place we left was
covered with the enemy's Light Infantry in ten times our number. As
we got near the river the enemy made several attempts to cut us off.
General Craufurd ordered a number of Rifle Men who had occupied a place
that prevented the French from stopping our retreat over the bridge
to evacuate it before half the 52nd, who were on the right, had filed
over. The enemy directly brought up their infantry to this hill, which
commanded the bridge, and kept up a terrible fire. Colonel Beckwith, a
most gallant and clever soldier, saw this frightful mistake and ordered
us to retake the wall and hill instantly, which we did in good style,
but suffered severely in men and officers. Lieutenant Harry Smith,
Lieutenant Thomas Smith, and Lieutenant Pratt were wounded, and I was
shot through the thigh close to the wall, which caused me to fall
with great force. Being wounded in this way was quite a new thing to
me. For a few moments I could not collect my ideas, and was feeling
about my arms and body for a wound, until my eye caught the stream of
blood rushing through the hole in my trousers, and my leg and thigh
appeared so heavy that I could not move it. Captain Napier took off his
neckerchief and gave it to a sergeant, who put it round my thigh and
twisted it tight with a ramrod, to stop the bleeding. The firing was
so severe that the sergeant, on finishing the job for me, fell with a
shot through the head. Captain Napier[8] was also about the same time
wounded in the side. The Division had now nearly got over the bridge;
some men put me into a blanket and carried me off. Our General had
placed himself some distance from the fight to observe the enemy's
movements. I passed him in the blanket. The General had still in his
remembrance the loss of his light cart. He told the men this was no
time to be taking away wounded officers, and ordered them back. They
observed, "This is an officer of ours, and we must see him in safety
before we leave him." The last party of our men retired over the
bridge and occupied it. The ground was very rugged and rocky close to
the bridge, so that Rifle Men were placed behind every stone, and two
companies of the 43rd hid themselves and were ready to support our men.
Several Frenchmen held up calabashes as much as to say, "Let us get
some water to drink." Our men allowed some of the enemy to get water,
and did not fire upon them, but the cunning rogues made lodgments
between the stones, and when their party was ready to storm the bridge,
they commenced firing upon our men.

A number of French officers and some drummers headed the storming
party. Our fellows allowed them to come close to the bridge. Some
officers got over before they fell, but few went back to tell the tale,
either men or officers. They attempted to force the bridge several
times before the evening, and finding it impossible to effect their
purpose, they made a signal to cease firing. An officer came forward
waving a white handkerchief and requested to be allowed to remove their
wounded, as the bridge and its vicinity were covered with their killed
and wounded. This request was granted. The officer said he had heard
of the English fighting well, but he could not have supposed men would
have fought against such fearful odds. He complimented our men much
upon their gallantry, and observed what a pity it was we were enemies.
During this day it rained occasionally, and towards evening more so,
which made the arms frequently miss fire. After dark the Light Division
marched to Carvalha.

A party of the 1st Hussars, under Colonel Arentschildt,[9] was upon
the road. He paid me the most kind attention and ordered an Hussar
to dismount. I was placed upon the horse, and was taken on it to the
church of Alverca, where I found a number of poor fellows as bad, and
some worse wounded, laid in every direction upon the stone floors.
A poor fellow, who died some time after I entered, begged of me to
lie upon a paillasse beside him, as I was upon the bare stones; he
divided it with me.[10] In the evening I was put upon a car drawn
by bullocks—the most clumsy machine possible. Here now commenced my
misfortunes. The car proceeded, with me upon it, to Pinhel, suffering
the most severe torture from the jolting motion to my poor limb,
sustained at almost every movement. I was lodged in the Bishop's house,
and Colonel Pakenham behaved very kindly to me. I now became anxious
to know the nature of my wounds. My trousers and drawers were cut up
the side; the latter article of dress was literally glued to my thigh;
in fact, I had bled so profusely that it had steeped my shirt, which
stuck to my skin most unpleasantly. I found the ball had passed through
the sartorius muscle and close to the main artery, directly through my
thigh, partially injuring the bone. The surgeon who visited me shook
his head and looked serious, recommending a tourniquet to be put round
my thigh, and in case of a sudden effusion of blood to stop it by
tightening the ligature until assistance was procured. A spent ball had
also hit the calf of my leg, but the skin was not broken.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Put into an English spring waggon with Lieutenants Reilly, Pratt, and
Smith. The springs of this machine were very strong, and the rough
ground we passed over made them dance us up and down in an awful
manner. Bad as the movement of the bullock car was, this was ten times
worse, if possible. I felt happy when I was put under cover for the
night upon the ground floor of a dilapidated house at Baraca with a
little straw and my blanket.[11] My thigh and leg were frightfully
swollen, and also the lower part of my body. My ration bread I
directed my faithful servant, Henry Short, to make into a large
poultice, which was soon done. I then dressed the wound of Lieutenant
Coane, who was shot in the side; he was in the same company as myself.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Poor Reilly this morning told me it was useless tormenting himself by
taking another day's journey, as he felt he could not live many hours
(the ball had gone directly through the lower part of his body); he
shook me by the hand and regretted our parting. As the wounded were
obliged to proceed daily to the rear or fall into the hands of the
enemy, I was obliged to leave him in this unfortunate manner.

At daylight we proceeded to Celorico, which place we reached, after
suffering indescribable torture, in the evening. Here I learned our
loss more particularly, a sergeant having come to take charge of us.
Captain Creagh, shot through the lower part of his body, died the night
of the action; Lieutenant M'Leod shot through the heart, eight officers
wounded, and Lieutenant M'Cullock taken prisoner.[12]

[Sidenote: 27th]

This morning we found the Portuguese muleteers had disappeared and left
the spring waggon without the mules, so we were all put upon bullock
cars once again. These were easier to ride upon, so I was pleased
with the change. I had the intelligence that Reilly breathed his last
towards evening yesterday. Several of our poor fellows died from the
rough usage they suffered, and several soldiers who had neglected to
cover their wounds now became one frightful mass of maggots all over
the surface, which really made me tremble to see them dressed. The
flies and mosquitoes followed us in myriads. We had no means of keeping
off the swarms of insects, and the slow pace that the bullocks went,
made us feel the vertical rays of the sun with redoubled force. We
had some salt meat as rations, which, in the feverish state of our
existence, we turned from with disgust; we very seldom got bread,
generally biscuit, and that full of worms or mouldy; we were hurried
away daily to the rear as fast as possible in order that our army, if
pressed by the enemy, should not have us on the line of its march to
impede its progress to the rear. Halted for the night at Villa Cortez.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Villa Cortez to Pinhancos.

[Sidenote: 29th]

On this day's journey to Galizes I had very nearly finished my military
career. As the bullocks were dragging me along through a pass between
two steep hills, a Portuguese who had three loaded mules behind each
other and tied together, was also travelling along a sort of sheep
path several yards above me. The last mule, when just over my car,
stumbled and down he came, dragging the rest with him; he fell very
heavily upon the car close to me; how he did not injure me I cannot
account for, but so it was. It alarmed me, and consequently increased
my circulation, which gave me more pain than usual in my wounded thigh
for the rest of the way.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Arrived at San Payo, where the bullock-driver took my food and my
servant's, and departed with his bullocks also.

I sent to the _juiz de fore_ to request him to procure me two bullocks.
He told me the people would not obey him now, but directed me to send
my servant armed and to take the first two bullocks he could find.
Short soon brought two and yoked them. I could not get a driver, so my
servant marched in front of them with a _rivo_ (that is, a long pole
with a sharp piece of iron at the end), for the purpose of goading
the bullocks (to make them move on), over his shoulder. I had by
accident got a paillasse under me filled with straw, which made me
more comfortable. My servant, not knowing how to manage these animals
properly, and the flies teasing them exceedingly, they became quite
unmanageable. He attempted to stop the car, but was knocked over, and
the car passed over him. The animals became furious. In this perilous
situation I was carried along most violently, when the animals started
on one side of the road, which gave the car a considerable jerk and
landed me and the paillasse upon the only soft piece of ground for a
distance round. All the rest was rough and rugged ground mixed with
granite rock. I was in great alarm, but thankful to the Almighty for
having preserved me so miraculously. The bullocks soon stopped among
the thick underwood, from the resistance it made to their further
progress. I now had another danger to encounter. Two men with guns
had been observed occasionally by myself and servant skulking among
the trees and keeping at some distance. It struck me that these
fellows were following us with the intention of attempting to take the
bullocks, and, waiting a favourable opportunity, I made my servant
load his rifle, and though I could not stir, I had my sword drawn by
my side, but being bundled out of the car had bothered all my previous
arrangements for defence, and these men went directly towards the
bullocks. Short soon made his appearance, and was glad to see I had
not suffered much. He picked up his rifle upon the road, which, with
every other article, had been thrown out of the car. At this moment
two British Artillerymen who had lost their way came up. I told my
situation in a few words to them, and now desired them to assist my
servant in taking prisoner one of the Portuguese, in order that I might
proceed under the management of a proper driver. This was soon done,
but the fellow had not calculated upon being embargoed into my service
in so rough a manner, and became very sulky. The bullocks were again
put to rights and I was replaced upon the car. The driver did not pay
attention to the road, so that I was jolted over large stones, which
made me suffer extremely. My man Short observed his carelessness and
gave him a good drubbing, which had a very good effect, and we jogged
on afterwards quietly. My thigh was very painful from the shock I
received when thrown out, when I arrived in the evening.

[Sidenote: 31st]

My thigh felt very painful, and I commenced my journey with great
reluctance. My friend Pratt came and endeavoured to cheer up my
spirits, telling me our miseries would end with this day's march, as
we should then embark and go much easier in boats, and when we got to
Lisbon we should be able to make up for all our miseries. The road
on our approach to the Mondego was very narrow and down a very steep
mountain; the least deviation on the part of the bullocks would have
precipitated me some hundred feet. I was convinced that the driver had
no good-will towards me; I was perfectly helpless, but not quite at
his mercy. My servant drew his sword and told him that if any accident
happened to me he would bury it up to the hilt in his bosom, and from
what I know of his character he would have fulfilled his promise. I
must say I breathed much more freely when we arrived on the banks of
the Mondego near Lofrece. Tents were supplied, and we encamped for the
night. Here now my miseries and suffering from travelling ceased.

Several of the poor soldiers died upon the road. Each individual could
not be supplied with a car, consequently the poor fellows suffered
more. On two occasions I took one of them on the same car with me, and
I found sad inconvenience long before the day's journey was finished.
Soldiers in general are like children, and must be directed as such;
although they were frequently told if they exposed their wounds, the
flies would deposit their eggs upon them, still they took no notice,
and there was no officer present to enforce this command, so their
wounds became completely alive with myriads of large maggots, the
sight of which made me really shudder again. Oil was found the best
thing to take them away, as when applied it killed them, obstructing
their breathing. We now got everything to eat we could have wished
for: fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, and eggs. We had been generally
living upon salt rations and bad biscuit. The people were afraid of the
advance of the French army on our line of march, and most of them had
retired to fastnesses in the mountains, taking away every article they
could collect for their future support.

[Sidenote: 1810 Aug. 1st]

My poor friend Pratt was brought into the boat a corpse! We had
embarked in boats upon the Mondego River and were proceeding to
Coimbra. Pratt went ashore to get some milk for our breakfast, as we
rested, to give the rowers breathing time. I suppose the exertion he
used, the day being very hot, had assisted to remove the slough in
the wound in his throat, the carotid artery being injured; he died
instantly from one gush of blood. The ball had entered his jaw, taken
a transverse direction, and gone out near the base of the neck. When
he drank a quantity of anything, the fluid ran down his bosom, so that
the gullet was also partially divided. It was a sad sight to see him
brought back to us in this way. He was wrapped up in a blanket and laid
in the boat beside us. Thus finished the life of as a noble a fellow
and as worthy a man as I ever met with. In the afternoon we arrived at
Coimbra. Crowds of people came to the wharf from curiosity. One young
gentleman entered the boat and began to remove the blankets to show
my wound to some ladies that were close to the wharf. It vexed me so
that I doubled my fist, and as he leaned over me I gave him a blow
which sent him on his back; he made the best possible use of his legs
to get out. An order from the Commandant came to direct us to proceed
immediately to Figueira. We begged and entreated to go on shore, as we
were literally naked. We did not wait for any reply, but requested some
soldiers to take us into houses. Four men of the company I belonged to,
who had gone to the rear sick, took me upon a door to a silversmith.
He received me very reluctantly into his house, but we soon became
good friends. Afterwards I sent out and purchased some shirts, tea and
sugar, got plenty of bread to poultice my thigh, and in comparison was
in paradise. Pratt was decently interred.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Embarked in a boat and rowed down the river to Figueira. I was laid
down upon the shore, for some time sadly annoyed by the Portuguese
wanting to uncover my wound. They came close, then began to pity me,
and at the same time tried cautiously to get the blanket off little
by little. I was heartily glad when a boat came for me to remove me
from these tormentors, who, I have no doubt, thought their noisy way
of showing me how they appreciated my misfortunes was the greatest
display of kindness, and that such patriotism was due to their allies,
the English. I was carefully handled by the sailors, and taken into the
ship much more easily than I expected—the _Nestor_ transport. She lay
outside the bar. I found Capt. Mitchell, Lieuts. Smith and Thos. Smith,
also Lieuts. Cowan and M'Diarmid of the 43rd Regiment, and all the
wounded men on board.

[Sidenote: 7th]

The wind and weather proved favourable. We arrived safe in the Tagus.
I was put upon a board and taken to the Golden Lion. We had beds upon
the floor. Those who were wounded so as not to be able to sit up,
remained in them. I ordered a good dinner, but the landlord began to
remonstrate with us upon the danger of taking much food in our present
condition. All my friends were of the same opinion as myself, namely,
that we had been starved long enough and ought now to enjoy ourselves.
I do not think I ever was more happy. An occasional twitch in my leg
and thigh merely came at intervals to remind me that I must not expect
happiness without some alloy in this world.

In the General Orders of the 6th the Light Division is to be formed
into two Brigades: 1st Brigade under Colonel Beckwith, 43rd Regiment,
right wing of 95th (Rifle Men), and 3rd Portuguese Caçadores; 2nd
Brigade to consist of the 52nd, left wing of 95th, and 1st Caçadores,
under Lieut.-Col. Barclay.

[Sidenote: 8th]

I found this morning that my bill was a very large one, which induced
me immediately to take measures to live at a cheaper rate, so I got a
billet at No. 26 Rua de Buenos Ayres. My servant, and a most faithful
one he was, took great care of me and enabled me to live very well
under my income, which made me as easy and comfortable as a forlorn
bed-ridden person could be in a strange land, without a friend (except
my servant) to beguile my lonely hours; particularly after leading so
active a life made it much more irksome.

With the fall of Almeida, the enemy were in possession of the two
frontier fortifications, in which their stores could be deposited
in safety. Marshal Massena's whole attention was now turned to the
subjugation of Portugal, which could only be effected by first
expelling the English from the country.

The enemy, having concentrated his whole force and supplied his
magazines with every requisite for his advance, endeavoured to bring
Lord Wellington to action as speedily as possible, and pushed forward
more rapidly than the Commander-in-Chief would allow. The Battle of
Busaco[13] was fought on 27th September, and terminated gloriously for
the British and Portuguese arms.


Letter No. VII

      Lisbon, _10th August 1810_.

My dear Parents—When this letter comes to hand, which I hope no
unforeseen accident may prevent, it will be a means of quieting your
troubles on my account. I am out of danger. I know my dear mother's
affection for her graceless son. An earlier opportunity did not present
itself, which you will be convinced of in the sequel.

For some time, as usual, the Light Brigade had been continually in
sight of the army under the command of General Massena, numbering about
80,000, frequently partially engaged in skirmishing, which we took
little notice of, being so much in the habit of it.

About the 14th of July the enemy advanced, feeling their way toward
Almeida. We retired, fighting, to the right of Almeida, and took up a
position, having the town on our left flank, or rather in front, and
here we waited the further advance of the enemy.

On the evening of the 23rd of July, on coming off piquet, and having
a mind to go once more into Almeida, a friend of mine accompanied
me. After taking coffee we returned to our encampment. It began to
rain most violently, attended with the most vivid lightning I ever
beheld, thundering also most terribly. This would have been of little
consequence, but having to sleep among the rocks without any covering
from the weather, we of course were soon wet through.

On the appearance of day (about 4 o'clock A.M.) the enemy began to
advance and fight with our piquets. Our Brigade immediately took up
their position in the grape gardens behind walls and rocks, ready to
receive them. After smoking two pipes I damned them to my Captain for
not coming on faster, who laughingly said, "Stop, my boy, do not let us
be in a hurry; there is time enough before night to get a broken head."
Soon after this observation the French appeared in great numbers, some
singing, others screaming and howling like wild beasts, their drums
also beating in every direction. Our company was ordered to advance
with three companies of the 43rd Light Infantry. We soon came very
near the enemy, who kept up a most desperate fire. We returned a steady
fire. They now advanced very near, then retired a little, and came on
again several times, until our ranks became much thinned, and in our
turn we retired, moving more to the left, our company being ordered
to protect the left of our line, as the enemy were now moving round
and menacing our flank in that quarter. Our Rifle Boys brought them
down like wild ducks. At this moment a shot passed through the side
of a brother officer in the same company with me. He exclaimed, "Oh!
Simmons, I am wounded." A horse being near, we luckily got him away;
he is likely to recover. In passing a road the fire was excessively
hot from their cannons, their shells bursting continually above our
heads in every direction. I was coming over with the rear section of
the company when suddenly 300 or more French Dragoons dashed in among
us, knocked down my sergeant, and cut down three or four men. A fellow
brandished his sword in the air, and was going to bring it down upon my
head. I dropped mine, seeing it was useless to make resistance. He saw
I was an officer, and did not cut me. I looked round me to see if I had
the least chance of escaping, and pulled my boat cloak off, which was
buckled round me, when fortune favoured me: some of the 43rd and our
own men gave them a volley. I took advantage of their confusion, rushed
through them, and got through the breach in a wall our men were firing
from, pleased enough at my good fortune. We were soon engaged in every
direction, retiring very slowly, until about five o'clock most of the
Brigade had passed the bridge. The French now endeavoured to cut off
the remainder; every place was lined with them. They now got possession
of a hill near the bridge in great numbers. We were ordered to advance
up the hill and drive them from the place. A party of the 43rd, with
Major M'Leod at their head and several of their officers, as well as
our men and officers, ran up the hill, exposed to a desperate fire, as
the enemy had a strong wall to fire over. They did us much mischief
before we got at them. It was a grand sight. Our brave boys would face
anything. They shouted. The French became panic-struck. At this moment
I had nearly come to the wall. A musket ball hit me in the middle of
my left thigh, and passed through a little upwards; being so near the
man that favoured me with the shot, it luckily went directly through,
and took a small piece of my cloth trousers with it, at the same time
I was also slightly hit in the leg. I staggered on a little, but fell;
the blood spouted out on both sides. I put my hand into my pocket for
my tourniquet, but fainted. Captain Napier of the 43rd, being near,
twitched his handkerchief round my thigh. A sergeant of the 43rd, with
three of their men, carried me off. By the time I got to the bridge I
came to myself; there was a desperate fire at it. A sergeant and three
of my company, came to my assistance and relieved the other men. They
dragged me up the hill, which was nearly a mile, up a very rocky and
steep place. The blood kept pouring from my wounds. I fainted several
times. The Colonel of the German Hussars gave me some wine and put me
on a horse, an Hussar also with me. I sent my men back. In this way I
was conveyed about a league, and put into a church, where I met with
numbers of men and officers in the same plight. I was anxious to see
my wound, and on examining it I thought directly I should soon want
a billet in another world, but fortune has since favoured me. The
large artery in my thigh is not injured. After being dressed I was put
upon a car drawn by bullocks, and got into Pinhel about 10 o'clock at
night, having had nothing to eat all day except some wine; it rained
frequently, which made me uncomfortable.

In this way we travelled over rugged rocks and mountains until the
31st of July, about 100 English miles at the least; we encamped on
the river-side near a small village. The next morning we sailed down
the river Mondego about seven leagues to Coimbra. Moved to Figueira
next day, a seaport, and embarked on board the _Nestor_ transport for
Lisbon, at which place I arrived on the 7th of August. I have, after
some trouble, got into an empty house; there is a mattress and sheets,
things I have seldom of late been used to. My Colonel sent my servant
after me. He is a trusty and good fellow. I have him here. As I have
the house to myself, I have no one to disturb me. The people are not
worthy of notice. I met with great barbarity all the way. They would
let you die in the streets before they would assist you. Lisbon seems
like every other place. If any of them come near to pity, it is only to
rob you, if possible. I have several times on the road been robbed of
the bread I was going to make a poultice of, and not had an opportunity
of buying more. My thigh is much better; this day I have got a crutch
made. I think of exhibiting in my room in a day or two, and then I
must hop out. I cannot bear to be penned up in this way. I hope, if I
go on as well as I am doing now, in six weeks I shall be able to join
my regiment and have another fight with the rascals. We must have a
general engagement soon. I hope my dear Maud will not be so unlucky
as I; he is at present in very good health. The day after I was hit I
sent him an inventory of my little property should anything happen to
me. I expect a letter daily from him. As I always take care to provide
against accidents, I have money sufficient for my needs. When I found
there was little chance of recovering, I bought a silver snuff-box. I
leave you to guess who I meant it for. I also was going to purchase a
necklace for Ann, but I did not at that time meet with one to please
me. I directed Maud to do it out of my money, but as things have taken
such a wonderful change for the better, I hope I shall another day
present my little affairs personally. I look forward with pleasure to
that time. I must think of Betsy too. Yes, my dear parents, I think of
you all, and muse my fancy about you daily. John I hope is at school,
Charles, also Betsy. Do not disappoint me, for God's sake. Maud I have
made something of. He writes better language. He is afraid of doing
otherwise. If he writes wrong, I lecture him severely. I make every
inquiry after him. I am proud to say he is highly esteemed by his
brother officers. I have no doubt he will be a dashing, brave fellow
when tried. I beg you will not talk to people of my being wounded
or anything else about me; it is truly ridiculous to satisfy every
idle person's curiosity. I will give you an old proverb; put it into
practice: "Shun the talkative and curious man, for what he hears he
will relate again." God bless you all. Yours ever,

      G. S.


Our Brigade had 18,000 French opposed to them; our strength 3,000;
they fought until 5 o'clock in the evening. The French sent a flag
of truce. Both agreed to bury the dead. Our Brigade is near our army
now. Lord Wellington is drawing the enemy on. We had two officers
killed; two have since died of their wounds; six more are wounded. The
papers will most likely enter more into particulars than I can. The
French in the afternoon stormed the bridge five times; their loss was
very considerable. A French colonel came on in front of his men. Our
Boys let him come upon the bridge and then shot him; few of his men
returned. The French certainly behaved very bravely. They are fine
fellows. The officer that came upon the bridge to beg a truce observed
to our officer that he was, as well as were all the French officers,
much astonished at the determined bravery of the British soldiers; it
surpassed everything.

My brother will soon have a lieutenancy. He is a lucky fellow indeed. I
regret much I did not receive my wound in a general action. I now live
in hopes of a speedy recovery and to be well in time enough for one. I
am confident of victory whenever Lord Wellington can bring them to a
general engagement. Our troops are in good health and seasoned soldiers.

I had an account of our loss. In our company, I am sorry to say,
thirty-nine were killed and wounded and missing, also another officer
and myself severely wounded. We sustained a greater loss than any other
company.

I hope my dear mother will not distress herself about me. At best this
life is very short, and should I fall, I shall die nobly in the cause
of my country, and if I may use the words of a great man, "The most
precious tears are those with which Heaven bedews the unburied head of
a soldier."

In all probability by the time your answer will arrive I shall have
recovered sufficiently from my wounds to enable me to join my regiment.
Should it be otherwise, I have left orders at the post office to stop
my letters till countermanded.

Direct Lieut. S., 95th or Rifle Regiment, Brig.-General Craufurd's
Light Division, Lord Wellington's Army, Portugal.



CHAPTER V

_Journal—15th August-30th September 1810_

 Removes to Pedroso for sea-bathing, accompanied by Lieutenant Harry
 Smith—The English merchant's wife's account of the French officers
 billeted on her in 1808—French opinions of the British before Vimeiro
 and after—A wounded French officer's description of British Rifle Men
 in action.

Letter No. VIII

_To his Parents, from Pedroso, Lisbon, dated 30th September 1810_

 Complains of inactive life due to wound, and reproves his father for
 styling the 95th Rifles "_a dangerous regiment_"—Description of the
 French plot in Lisbon—Much about brother Maud—Results of Colonel
 Sibthorp's well-meant endeavours to stop him joining the 95th—Dislike
 of the French to the "_green fellows_"—Severe comments on brothers
 John and Joseph.

_Journal—1st October-31st December_

 Determines to leave Pedroso and rejoin his regiment—Joins a draft
 of convalescents marching from Lisbon to the front—The Rifle Men
 under Simmons ordered to do rear-guard to prevent desertion—Retreat
 of the British army on Torres Vedras—Rejoins the Rifles at
 Arruda—Construction of the Lines—Rifles engaged at Sobral—On piquet
 with Lieutenant Hopwood—Captures two French soldiers—Lieutenants
 Strode and Simmons bury an old woman in the vault of a Portuguese
 grandee—Hatred of the Portuguese for the French—Description of
 the Lines of Torres Vedras—Arrival of English bell-tents—Retreat
 of the French under Marshal Massena—Advance of the Light Division
 in pursuit—General Craufurd is about to attack a supposed French
 rear-guard, but is stopped by Lord Wellington, who knows that the
 whole of Marshal Junot's Corps is in front of him—The Rifles engaged
 on the Rio Mayor—General Craufurd, with three Rifle Men, reconnoitre
 the French outposts, but disturbs a hornet's nest. Simmons's wound
 begins to trouble him, owing to wet and exposure—He removes the
 _abatis_ on the bridge across the Rio Mayor, assisted by three Rifle
 Men—Invalided back to Lisbon with fever and dysentery—Difficulties in
 obtaining a billet—Gets into quarters at last.

Letter No. IX

_To his Parents, from Lisbon, dated 16th December 1810_

 Describes life in the Lines of Torres Vedras—Visits his brother Maud
 at Bucellas—The advance from the Lines in November—Wanton havoc
 wrought by the French and miserable condition of Portuguese—Murders
 committed by French soldiers—Some candid opinions of the French
 nation—Pursuit of the French—Account of troubles due to his wound
 and during his return to Lisbon—Regrets as to his brother John's
 career, etc.—The French at "their wits' end" at having the worst of it
 whenever they meet Lord Wellington.


_Journal—15th August-30th September_

[Sidenote: 1810 Aug. 15th]

An Englishwoman married to a Portuguese shopkeeper informed my servant
that the British sick and wounded were to be put to death on that
night, and that the people were to attempt to take the different
forts and declare in favour of the French. He lost no time in making
me acquainted with this news, which I laughed at as a nonsensical
story. Later on, two officers who were billeted opposite me entered
my apartment and told me that the soldiers were under arms, that the
British ships of war were shifting their moorings with their broadsides
towards the town, and that a number of Marines had been put on shore to
co-operate with the soldiery. A number of Frenchmen had clandestinely
entered Lisbon, and had succeeded in hatching a plot, which was luckily
found out before it came to maturity. Several of the principal families
were connected with them in it. By this incident I became acquainted
with two officers, who visited me frequently, and made my days pass
away more agreeably than before. The ringleaders in the plot were taken
up, and terror and confusion were produced amongst the rest of them. So
this business blew over and was soon forgotten.

[Sidenote: 1810 Sept. 17th]

I removed to Pedroso for the convenience of sea-bathing, my thigh
being much better, which enabled me, with crutches, to move about.
(The house belonged to a Frenchman named Chapellon.) Lieutenant Harry
Smith[14] was also with me. I found great benefit from the sea-bathing.
I became acquainted with a merchant's wife, who frequently sent me
milk and butter. She was an Englishwoman, her husband being also of
the same country. They were in Lisbon when the French under Marshal
Junot entered it, and having the whole of their property there, they
determined to stay and abide the consequences. She told me that she
expected every moment to see her husband dragged away to prison. A
colonel and a captain came to their house with a billet. They were glad
to lodge them and their servants and feed the whole of them, which was
done in such good style, that the two officers interested themselves
on behalf of the English family and prevented any harm falling upon
them. In a little time they became very good friends, and the French
captain would call the lady to the window and say, "Look at my fine
company of soldiers; have you got anything like them in England?" Her
pride being hurt, she answered, "Yes, indeed we have plenty." "Well,
madam, I hope one day or other to meet them in the field. I have fought
in many battles, but never against the English, and really I have no
good opinion of them as a military nation." "You may learn, sir, to
think differently ere long," she observed to him. Time passed away and
the French had completely reduced the Portuguese to obedience, when
one day, suddenly, during High Mass, the French were informed that the
English had landed on the coast. All the authorities were assembled at
the church and the people were keeping holiday, so that the inhabitants
were highly pleased to see the confusion produced amongst the French
when the English were named. The troops were assembled and ordered
to march to attack the invaders. The captain informed the lady, "I
am going to fight against the English, and I will give you, my dear
madam, a good account of them when I return." She very good-humouredly
said, "Take care you do not burn your fingers." The captain's regiment
marched and joined the French army previous to the battle of Vimeiro,
where his company was annihilated and himself badly wounded. The lady
was one day seated at her window and perceived a crowd of persons
coming towards her; curiosity made her anxious to know the cause. They
soon approached near enough to show her that they were the wounded men
upon bullock cars in great numbers. They passed along to the hospital,
with the exception of one car, which stopped at her door. On it she
perceived the poor French captain; he was directly put into the chamber
that he had occupied before, and every possible attention shown him.
"My dear lady," he observed as soon as he saw her, "your countrymen
have made me pay handsomely for my boasting. The fine fellows that
daily paraded before your windows for so many weeks are now lifeless
and inanimate clay, and will trouble you no more. Would to God it
had been my fate also!" He was now frightfully distressed with past
recollections; she left him to give him time to moderate his anguish.
When he became calmer she returned, and he followed up his story. "I
met the English. Oh, that morning was one of the most happy of my
life! My men to a man had the same feeling. I was sent out to skirmish
against some of those in green—grasshoppers I call them; you call
them Rifle Men. They were behind every bush and stone, and soon made
sad havoc amongst my men, killing all the officers of my company, and
wounding myself without being able to do them any injury. This drove
me nearly to distraction. In a little time the British line advanced.
I was knocked down, bayoneted, and should have been put to death upon
the spot if an English officer had not saved me. I find by my own
feelings that I am not long for this world. Our army has been defeated
by your countrymen in a succession of battles, and you will have them
with you soon in Lisbon."

This officer sank in a few days, although every possible care and
attention were paid him by the English family, who owed their
preservation on a former occasion to the good offices of this officer
and the French colonel.


Letter No. VIII

      Pedroso, near Lisbon,
      _30th September 1810_.

My dear Parents—-A friend made me a present of this sheet of English
paper, which I dedicate to you. I have long been in expectation of
a letter from you, and luckily received yours, dated the 30th of
August, the other day. I am happy I had it in my power to remove your
anxiety, though I am sorry to say my leg does not feel so strong as
I could wish. I have left Lisbon and removed into this small village
by the seaside for the purpose of bathing. I have already found some
benefit, and hope soon to be able to rejoin my regiment. I assure you
my feelings are much hurt at being so long idle, and at a time when we
daily expect a great battle is to be on the eve of taking place.

You make me blush at the idea or observation in the letter, "_a
dangerous regiment_." My dear father, "the more danger the more
honour." Never let such weak thoughts enter your head. When I turned
soldier it was not for the purpose of admiring myself like a peacock
in gaudy plumage; no, it was to meet the enemies of my country and go
wherever my duty called me, and merit the name of a soldier, which I
now say is the greatest pleasure I ever enjoyed. Thank God, I have
succeeded far above my expectations in everything; I mean I have
established my name as a man worthy to rank with the veterans of my
regiment, and am esteemed and respected by every brother officer. This,
my dear parents, is a pleasure which makes me proud of myself, and
increases when I think my friends must also allow I have done my duty
and not mistaken my profession.

A most dastardly and nefarious plot was found out on the 13th of the
month. The 15th was the day appointed for the conspirators to have
assembled in the evening, or rather at midnight, to have rushed out and
surprised the guards at their different posts, murdered them of course,
and also assassinated all the wounded and sick English officers; a fine
reward for fighting for such a villainous set of cowardly rascals!

One-half of Lisbon was implicated; two hundred of the first people in
the town have been arrested and put into a fort. On the evening of the
15th inst. strong patrols of Dragoons were moving through the streets
all night.

The Marines were ready to land at a moment's notice, but the affair
was checked in time. Marshal Beresford took a leading character in the
conspiracy, and gave timely notice, so every one was on his guard.

I could scarcely be convinced that any set of men would think of acting
so infamously and illiberally. Assassination is not now so common as
it used to be in this country, but still the diabolical practice is not
yet done away with.

One morning on looking out of my window in Lisbon, and asking what a
man was laid in the street for, I was told that he had been stabbed in
the night and must lie there until a sufficient quantity of money was
collected to bury him.

I am quite delighted with my rural country situation. I have bought
a nice little horse, and I now ride about the country, and live well
and cheaper than in Lisbon. When I first landed I was carried on a
mattress to an hotel. I soon found my pocket could not long stand out
against such exorbitant charges. I spent a guinea a day. I had not half
the comforts I should have had in an English house. I therefore was
compelled to suffer myself to be lugged on a board along the streets
for two English miles with a mob, who, finding out I was a wounded
officer, followed from motives of curiosity.

I had a letter the other day from my Captain, who informs me there is
every possibility of a battle soon taking place; he also informed me
he fell down by accident and injured his leg so materially as to be
obliged to leave and go to the rear. He was very anxious to be with
me, and yesterday I was going to take a passage for Figueira, but was
prevented by an order issued to prevent any officer not able to join
his regiment from going to Coimbra, as, in event of a battle, room
would be wanted for the wounded, so I daily expect the arrival of
Captain O'Hare in Lisbon.

I had a letter from my brother, who mentioned they had been marching
very rapidly to concentrate with the other Divisions of the army, and
expected soon to give an account of the enemy. He is in very high
spirits. I have no doubt but he will behave himself bravely and merit
the appellation of a _British soldier_. I often receive an amusing
epistle from Maud, and as I generally send mine with advice, he took
the liberty to give me a few hints in that way as follows:—"I hope you
will not think of returning so soon as you state, as you must be well
aware should you subject yourself to harassing marches you would soon
be again laid up." (I must beg leave to differ with him, knowing well
my constitution is as strong as ever.) He then says, "Go to England,
and if you find yourself better in two months, return here." I am well
aware of his affection for me. I will just give you an instance of his
generosity. His Colonel a few days back sent for him and informed him
it was his intention directly to recommend him for a lieutenancy (my
brother being, through good luck, at the top of the list of ensigns).
It will be an additional increase of pay nine dollars monthly as well
as the rank. The young rogue, thinking he might as well endeavour to
kill two birds with one stone, told the Colonel I had a particular
wish to be with him; he said he would recommend me also and enumerate
my services to the Commander-in-Chief. I was rather vexed at Maud
asking favours for me without consulting me first. However, I know
the reason that actuated him was from the most generous and brotherly
feeling, which feeling I hope will always continue through life. He is
a noble and generous youth in his sentiments. I am proud to have such
a brother; how you must feel to have such a son. My dear parents, you
have met with great misfortunes in life, but you have children who love
you, and in a great measure counteract the ill-effects of adversity. If
I live you shall always command my last shilling. I live for my family,
and hope to see them all happy; it will ever be my greatest pleasure
to assist them. I believe I informed you that Colonel Sibthorp was so
highly averse to my leaving his regiment that he used every scheme in
his power to dissuade me, and being so confident of success, stopped my
recommendation into the Line. The consequence was, instead of having
twenty second-lieutenants under me, they were gazetted above me. If I
had stayed in England Colonel Sibthorp would have tried to have had
it redressed. Under this unfortunate interference I am now receiving
ensign's pay with the name of lieutenant only. I hope in a few months
to have my lieutenancy through the regular routine of promotion.

I must say I should part from my regiment with great regret. I live
very comfortably, and if I escape, in time, through the regular course
of things, I must get promotion very fast, much quicker than in any
other regiment. We have numbers of young men who have got companies in
five years. If I had thought my lameness had been likely to continue
so long in the first instance, I should have left the country for a
short time, but now that there is a great probability of soon being
able to move with my regiment and once more enter the lists of fame,
my duty commands me to remain. I must not think for a moment of coming
to England. I shall ride on horseback when I am tired. I am not yet
afraid of meeting the French, I assure you. I hope to see numbers more
bite the ground. Some deserters that came from the enemy stated that
the French did not like those _green fellows_ at all; we made sad havoc
amongst them, particularly their officers. Numbers of our men are most
capital shots. It would astonish you to see how coolly they go on and
take the same aim as at a bird. I feel great pleasure to be with such
fighting fellows and hardy soldiers. The men are so seasoned, that rain
or any other kind of weather makes no impression. The intense heat now
and then makes the men cross into shady places. We have been in want
of tents for months together, sleeping on the ground without any other
covering than the canopy of heaven. I never slept better than in such
places. _This is the regiment to make the soldiers._ I wish my dear
brother had had the same opportunity. The French are very cautious when
we are near them, and go where they will, we always keep up with them.

The officer that was taken on the 24th of July was wounded; he was very
ill-used by the French, nearly stripped and put in a common prison. He
contrived to make his escape, and is again with the regiment. I was
lucky in getting away from the field of battle as I did.

My love to my dear Ann. Tell her not to dream about my being again
hit, for fear of her conjectures being realised. I hardly know how I
could comply with her wish to have my picture, I am so ugly a fellow,
and particularly now my face is nearly black from heat and exposure to
every kind of weather.

I am much stouter even now than when in England, and never enjoyed
better health; if my wound did not ache now and then I should be quite
saucy.

If Joseph behaves well and makes himself worthy of my assistance, I can
in twelve months promise him an ensigncy, but I must have proofs of his
improvement, as I should subject myself to great censure to recommend
an ignorant boy; let him know these are my sentiments. If he likes
anything better I should be sorry to persuade him to enter the army.

I am glad you have procured a bull-dog for me. Take care of him, and I
shall be happy to have him out here on the very first opportunity.—I
remain, sincerely yours,

      Geo. Simmons, Lt., 95th Regmt.

Send Charles and Betsy to school. God bless them. I desire any subject
I may write to you upon may be kept secret, as it would be very
unpleasant to have any of my affairs made public. As in all probability
by the time you receive another letter I shall be with my regiment,
direct Lieut. G. S., 95th or Rifle Regiment, Brig.-Gen. R. Craufurd's
Division, Army, Portugal.


_Journal—1st October-31st December 1810_

Remained here (Pedroso) very comfortably, and bathed every day in the
sea, which did me much good. Captain Mitchell, who was wounded through
the elbow, came to live near us, and Lieutenant C. Eeles, who had
landed with two companies of the 3rd Battalion, being unwell, remained
with us. Being very tired of this inactive life, although my wound was
not healed, I was determined to return to my regiment. Lieutenant
Smith, who had a ball in his leg, and was also lame, was just as
anxious as myself. Dr. Hossack, with some entreaty, allowed us to go,
but the Commandant (Colonel Tucker, 29th Regiment) ordered us to take
over money to subsist a number of men, and march with a detachment,
which was a sad annoyance, having sufficient to do to take care of
ourselves.

[Sidenote: 1810 Oct. 7th]

The detachment was formed at Belem under the command of Major Murphy
of the 88th Regiment; he had men belonging to every regiment in the
country, amongst whom several who had much rather remained at Belem
than have paraded their bodies in a field to be shot at. We marched off
about seven o'clock in the morning. The men of the Light Division who
had been wounded with us and were well again, formed the rear-guard,
and I travelled with it; but in spite of all my precautions several
men skulked away unobserved, slipping into houses and other places.
When we halted and called the rolls, 100 out of 800 that had marched
off were missing, which sadly annoyed Major Murphy. He asked me how
many of mine were gone. "Not one," was my answer, "and depend upon it
none will leave now." "Well, then, sir, take the rear-guard to-morrow
and make any straggler a prisoner, and I will bring him to a Drumhead
Court-Martial"; which order he made known to the detachment. The rain
had fallen heavily all day. We got under shelter into miserable houses
that had been left by their inhabitants at Lumiar.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Marched under continued rain to Cabeza de Monchique, meeting numbers of
poor people, making their way to Lisbon in the most wretched plight,
telling us the British army were in full retreat before the French.
At the end of this day's march, another one hundred _heroes_ had
disappeared, which made our Commandant raving mad. Smith called upon
me to assist him in a medical capacity. I had a bucket of spring water
thrown upon him, which did him good; he had several fits, but this put
an end to them, and he was better after he had rested a night.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Still raining tremendously. Arrived at Sobral. The 1st Division entered
the town, retiring before the French. I soon found that the Light
Division was marching to Arruda, so I moved off with my detachment,
and arrived in that place about eight o'clock, wet through. The
Quartermasters of regiments came in soon after, and then the town
was divided; the troops followed. I took possession of a good house
for Captain O'Hare's officers, and had a good fire against their
arrival. They were glad to see me again, and we passed some hours
in a description of the march of the enemy and the different fights
and skirmishes they had had since I left the army, which was highly
interesting to me.

[Sidenote: 10th]

This place, distant from Lisbon six leagues, is studded with rich
merchants' country houses; many of them well built and adorned with the
most splendid furniture. The people had left there from the dread of
falling into the hands of the French. The British army having retired
before Massena to the identical spot where our gallant Commander meant
to oppose the enemy's further advance, our days were now spent in
making the position as strong as possible with _abatis_, scarping the
ground and throwing up field-fortifications. Long before we retired,
our General foresaw that in all probability, whenever the vast forces
that the French could bring against him were put in motion, we must
have to do so. These very lines that we now occupy had been planned out
long before, and numbers of Portuguese and British Engineers had been
employed for a considerable time building forts from the Tagus to the
sea. So much for the wisdom of our gallant Commander, Wellington.

[Sidenote: 12th]

A body of the enemy's infantry moved against the 1st Division near
Sobral, but were repulsed in good style, leaving a number of dead.
Lieutenant C. Eeles, who had quitted the detachment and joined his
company when I passed through, was shot through the body and put upon
the road to Lisbon; also Captain Percival, who commanded the company,
shot through the wrist. The 3rd Battalion company behaved _like Rifle
Men_ and were complimented.

Our gun-boats went up the Tagus and fired upon the working parties of
the enemy at Villa Franca, which annoyed them considerably. Sir B.
Spencer's Division was placed in Zibreira, a little to the rear. Lord
Wellington's headquarters were at Pero Negro, and Marshal Massena's at
Alenquer.

[Sidenote: 13th]

The company detached with the 3rd Caçadores under the command of
Colonel Elder to the heights above Arruda, for the purpose of assisting
in throwing up field-works, retired to a _quinta_ at night, and were
hospitably treated by the Colonel.

[Sidenote: 21st]

The whole British and Portuguese troops had been daily employed in
strengthening the position from the Tagus to our extreme left at Torres
Vedras, cutting down trees and forming _abatis_ wherever the ground
was not bold and precipitous. The enemy had also been employed in
throwing up some field-works.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

This day joined Captain Mitchell's company above Villa Mata, the
country in our front being covered with farmhouses and gentlemen's
cottages, which were generally well stored with provisions and wine. A
number of French soldiers were observed entering them and collecting
the different articles, which they carried to their encampment and
distributed amongst their comrades. We found the enemy were suffering
very much from want of food.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

On piquet. Two French soldiers entered a house in our front. Hopwood
and myself with three men crawled from our post into an avenue of
trees, which covered us from the immediate view of the French vedette
posted on a little eminence to apprise his friends of any danger. We
succeeded in entering the house unobserved, and surprised the two
Frenchmen, who were filling some canteens with wine, but sprang to
their arms. One of them snapped his firelock, but it did not go off.
They were instantly taken from them. A moment after, one soldier
offered me some brandy he had in a calabash slung across his shoulders.
I gave both a large goblet of wine, sent a soldier to get all the
canteens he could muster from the piquet and return, we keeping a
good look-out. We filled sixty, then destroyed the hogshead, took our
prisoners to the piquet, and sent an escort with them to the General.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Assisted, in conjunction with Lieutenant Strode, in depositing the
remains of a poor old woman in a most splendid vault in the church at
Arruda. I found her dead near the altar, where she had gone to offer
up her prayers as a last effort, not being strong enough to fly with
the inhabitants from the French, and had finished her mortal career.
I looked round and saw a beautiful marble slab covered with armorial
blazonry; it caught my eye, and I said to my friend, "The old woman
little thought what good offices an English soldier would perform when
she entered the church." "What are they?" says he. "Why, she shall be
put under that stone, and you must assist." We found a large crow-bar,
and soon finished the business to my satisfaction.[15]

[Sidenote: 31st]

Deserters now very frequently came in and informed us that the enemy
were losing a number of men from disease, and that there was a great
scarcity of provisions; that Colonel Trant had assembled the Portuguese
Militia in large force and had entered Coimbra, and had taken a number
of sick and wounded officers and men and stopped the communications
with Spain, cutting off the supply of provisions.

Massena begins to feel that entering a country with an army disposed
to commit every description of brutal atrocity upon the unarmed
inhabitants, and driving them like wild beasts to their fastnesses
(which, from the nature of this country, abounds with such ground), has
already kindled the spirit of revenge in their hearts. This has obliged
the French to keep together, and they literally only have in possession
the ground that their army for the moment occupies, and has also caused
severe losses, for any straggler or sick man, unless he has an escort,
is sure to be stabbed with the stiletto.

[Sidenote: 1810 Nov. 2nd]

English bell-tents arrived for the Light Division, to replace the poor
and small Portuguese ones, which proved a great luxury.

[Sidenote: 13th]

The Duke of Brunswick Oel's corps joined the Light Division. The enemy
detached General Loison for the purpose of obtaining possession of
the bridge of boats over the Tagus at Villa Velha, but the bridge was
destroyed on their approach.

[Sidenote: 15th]

As soon as the fog cleared away we found the enemy's piquets were gone
and the position had been vacated. About three o'clock in the afternoon
the Light Division advanced upon the road to Alenquer and bivouacked
near it for the night. I examined several encampments that the enemy
had occupied and found them in a most filthy state, and in several
huts I found dead men who had fallen victims to the inclement weather.
The enemy's fires appeared five miles off. Colonel Winch took command
of the 2nd Light Brigade, formerly commanded by Colonel Barclay, 52nd
Regiment.

[Sidenote: 16th]

The Light Division advanced at daylight and followed the enemy to Villa
Nova. They had attempted to destroy the bridge here, but we advanced
too rapidly for them. Moved forward to Izambuja, a town on the right
bank of the Tagus, and remained for the night. We took a number of
stragglers this day who had been suffering sadly from starvation and
disease. The road was found strewn with rags and pieces of Frenchmen's
appointments and caps, and occasionally a dead horse, mule, or jackass
to enliven the scene.

[Sidenote: 17th]

The Light Division marched two leagues to Cataxa; cavalry in front.
The enemy showed three battalions of infantry and six squadrons of
cavalry as a decoy, the remaining part of Junot's corps being concealed
from our view. General Craufurd fancied that he saw the whole of the
rear-guard and had made his dispositions to attack them, when Lord
Wellington arrived on the ground and stopped the attack, observing,
"Are you aware, General, that the whole of Junot's corps is close to
the advanced body you now see, amounting to, at least, 23,000 men,
a large portion of which is cavalry?" The attack was, of course,
abandoned. General Slade's Brigade of cavalry advanced and took up the
line of piquets. The Light Division entered Cataxa for the night. I was
on inlying piquet. The cavalry sent in 105 prisoners.

[Sidenote: 18th]

At daybreak we moved on, accompanied by Captain Ross's[16] Horse
Artillery, which now is to remain attached to the Light Division. We
advanced across a plain in considerable force, the enemy retiring
before us and crossing a causeway and bridge over the Rio Mayor,
the whole country in the neighbourhood of the river being a boggy
impassable swamp. Our cavalry had a piquet close to the bridge,
the advanced vedettes from which were dismounted, and occasionally
exchanging long-shots across the causeway with the enemy. These men
were highly pleased to see me arrive with some Rifle Men and take the
post of honour from them, as the company I belonged to was sent on
piquet, with orders to remain at the bridge. The French sent a few men
forward to commence a fire upon us. I crawled on the bridge with three
men, and lay down by a dead mule, where we had a good rest and took
deliberate aim. The Frenchmen soon became wary of showing themselves,
which convinced me we had hit some of them. The company, having had a
hard day's work, were relieved at night by a company of the 52nd, but
we were ordered to remain near at hand during the night as a reserve to
it.

The weather was very rainy, but, fortunately for us, this part of the
country was covered with olive-trees. This wood is very hard and so
greasy that it is as inflammable as coal, so that, in spite of rain,
we managed to have good fires. General Craufurd, over his wine, took
it into his head that the enemy was moving off and he was anxious to
be the first to find it out. He came to the piquet and took three
soldiers and walked cautiously along the causeway until the French
sentry challenged and fired. The General ordered his men to fire and
retire. This circumstance created so much alarm in the enemy's camp,
who imagined that the British army was passing the bridge and falling
upon them, that they became panic-struck and commenced a tremendous
fire in every direction for some time. The balls came rattling among
the trees, and General Craufurd was sadly annoyed at being deceived in
his conjectures and having caused such an uproar, with a great chance
of foolishly throwing away his life.

[Sidenote: 19th]

As soon as the day cleared sufficiently to see what the enemy were
about, we found that during the night they had been very busy cutting
down olive-trees and forming _abatis_ on the position. This they had
every appearance of occupying for some time; it was a most commanding
one, the left upon the Tagus, the swampy Rio Mayor all along its front,
with a _tête de pont_ at the end of the bridge over the river. The
country was very bold and hilly, with the large town of Santarem about
a league in the rear of their position, which Marshal Massena had made
his headquarters.

General Hill's Corps, about 12,000 British and Portuguese, crossed the
Tagus at Vallada.

General Spencer's Division came to Valle this morning, and, with our
Division, remained under arms all day. Lord Wellington reconnoitred the
enemy's position, but no attack took place. Bivouacked in a wood near
Valle. A deserter informed us that Junot's and Regnier's Corps were in
position in front of Santarem.

I had left Lisbon to join my regiment before the wound in my thigh was
quite healed, and from the continued hardship I had suffered, and being
exposed night and day to very inclement weather, my health became very
much impaired, but I was in hopes of being able to shake off disease.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Passed a most miserable night; rain fell in torrents. The Light
Division moved with some Dragoons towards the left of the enemy's
position. They filled the wooded slope with numbers of Light troops.
Some of them skirmished with our advanced parties. We returned at
midday and were put into cantonments, the 52nd and 1st Caçadores and
the Brunswick Oels into Valle, the 43rd into a large _quinta_ above the
village mentioned. The 95th Rifles were put into straggling farmhouses
on the banks of the river, where we saw opposite to us, upon the wooded
heights, numbers of Frenchmen on duty, observing our movements.

[Sidenote: 21st]

I felt much refreshed from dry clothes and something to eat, but my
thigh was getting worse and my body sadly out of order.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Symptoms of dysentery.

[Sidenote: 25th]

On outlying piquet. A most dreadful night, which made me so ill that I
could scarcely crawl.

[Sidenote: 26th]

General Craufurd came this morning and ordered the _abatis_ to be
advanced some yards upon the bridge in case we should have occasion to
blow up the principal arch, which would then be clear. I got over the
parapet on the enemy's side and went forward to the place the General
had ordered the _abatis_ to be moved to. Three of my men began to pull
it to pieces and bring the wood. I expected the French would fire at me
from the _tête de pont_, and I was suffering so much from disease that
I was really careless what happened, but I was allowed to finish my job
without interruption.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Worse and worse, and on the 2nd of December obliged to go from my
regiment. I was put into a boat at Vallada, and arrived at Lisbon about
midnight. By the greatest good luck, La Tour's Hotel was open, and I
got a bed there; excessively ill.

[Sidenote: 1810 Dec. 3rd]

Removed to a billet with much difficulty; people very uncivil.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Got another billet upon equally uncivil folks with bad accommodation.
Ordered to be removed by the Commandant, Colonel Peacock, as the family
had sufficient interest with him to put me out. I found the people
behaved ill to me for fear of bringing a fever into their family, which
induced them to try every means to get quit of me. I was now in a very
forlorn state, my servant being obliged to go hunting after a billet,
which at last was procured upon an empty house. I was put into a large
and gloomy apartment.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Made another attempt to get a billet of a comfortable description with
the same ill success, which induced me to send a clear statement of
the number of bad billets I had been sent to, and to request the Town
Major to let me have a proper one. I had now the good luck to get
into a comfortable house kept by an old gentleman and his two maiden
sisters—the kindest people possible. They nursed me and paid me every
necessary attention. I was exceedingly debilitated by a continued
fever and dysentery. I remained very ill for some days, but gradually
recovered.

Each army was occupied in strengthening their position and endeavouring
(in case of an attack) to make them as strong as possible.

Lord Wellington took up his headquarters at Cataxa with General
Spencer's Division. Nothing of moment occurred to terminate the year.


Letter No. IX

      Lisbon, _16th December 1810_.

Dear Parents—I left Lisbon on the 7th of October. I was unfortunate at
starting; the rainy season had just commenced. I had a detachment of
men from different regiments to bring up with me. Nothing but continued
rain, bad quarters, my clothes never dry until I joined my regiment at
a village called Arruda. I was extremely happy when I got to them, I
assure you. The last five miles I was obliged to walk, as my horse was
quite knocked up. On the 12th, the French had brought up a great force.
We had expected a battle, but the wary Massena took care not to bring
on a general action. We had some very smart skirmishing. Our regiment
lost two officers badly wounded. We are now in our Lines; our position
remarkably strong; cannon mounted upon every strong hill. Every day we
were in hopes the enemy would attack us, but were disappointed. I found
my leg occasionally a torment to me, but took little notice of it.

I heard my brother's regiment was at Bucellas, a town famed for its
wine, and about six miles off. I rode over to see him. He was delighted
to see me, little expecting, from accounts he had received, to shake
me by the hand again. I dined with him, spent the day; he would give
me a bottle of cherry brandy. I was much pleased with his appearance.
He has grown a very handsome and soldier-like fellow. He is very much
respected and very happy, which is an additional gratification to me,
and makes me very proud of him. Since that period he has several times
visited me at the outposts.

On the 15th of November we got information of the French having
retired. Our army immediately marched after them. The first night we
passed through several French camps and found a number of dead bodies.
We halted near a large village, and lay down for the night in the
fields. In the morning we marched through a place, Alenquer, which
was entirely sacked by the enemy, the windows and doors torn down and
burnt, as well as most of the furniture in each house, beautiful
china, pier-glasses and chandeliers all dashed to pieces, and every
kind of devastation that is possible for savages to be guilty of. They
had left numbers of miserable objects behind them in the houses, that
were so ill as not to be able to march; these were of course put to
death by the Portuguese when we happened to miss finding them out.
On the 16th we followed the French as quickly as possible, took some
prisoners, and spoiled their cooking. Found several peasants the French
had murdered and left upon the road, also saw several French killed
by the Portuguese. It was a dreadful sight to see so many fine towns
without a creature in them. The poor unfortunate inhabitants only a
few weeks back were living happily and comfortably, now destitute of
everything and afraid of coming near their own property for fear of
losing their lives. It is a dreadful consideration. Oh, happy England!
may such scenes as these ever be unknown to my countrymen! The French
are certainly the greatest curse the Almighty ever sent into the world.
Universal conquest and ruin of everything sacred and binding between
man and man is their sole aim. I hope their career will be checked
sooner or later; they have long reigned almost uncontrolled.

On the 17th and 18th we continued marching after the enemy, taking
occasionally a few stragglers and sick. On the 20th the enemy halted
and began to throw up breast-works and _abatis_ along a high ridge in
front of Santarem; a very fine commanding position in front of the
mountains; towards the river Tagus there was a plain covered with
vineyards, and the opposite way and to our left, a perfect morass,
impassable. We expected to attack them even in their strong position.
The company I belong to were ordered on piquet, which was at a bridge
over a river in front of the French. As soon as the enemy saw us
coming they commenced firing upon us. We soon took and established our
piquet ground, fired a few shots at the French, who went off to a more
respectable distance and disturbed us no more. We luckily had no one
wounded. A corporal going on the bridge with me shot a Frenchman who
had just discharged his piece at him. That day our sentries were upon
the bridge within two hundred yards of each other.

The excessive wet and bad weather has had great influence upon my
constitution since I was wounded. I feel myself, I am sorry to say,
quite a different man. This last march we have been exposed very much
to the weather. We have had nearly a continuance of rain, and sleeping
on the ground, the water making a gutter on both sides of one's body,
was not pleasant to me. There was a time when I would not have cared a
fig for it, but my leg, after lying thus, became very painful, and I
felt as though I had to drag a ten-stone weight about with me. In the
morning, possibly obliged to march for miles through grape gardens,
fighting with the enemy, I limping along, and often finding difficulty
to keep up with my men. Only a little while back I could run miles,
always the first to go through or over anything; judge how my feelings
must be hurt at so serious a difference. I continued with my regiment
as long as possible, until my mind became so much hurt and my body so
much debilitated that I could hardly drag myself along. In this state I
went on piquet; rain all night. I was stationed at the bridge of Valle
with a section of the company. I lay down occasionally by the fire. I
was so ill I could not smoke a pipe, the greatest luxury a man can have
in bad weather. The next morning I was relieved and went to bed, not
a feather bed, but some straw in the corner of an old stable, with a
knapsack for a pillow. I was recommended to start directly for Lisbon
by my friend, the surgeon. I argued against it and said, as I had got
a good comfortable bed, I should soon come round. Here, for the first
time in my life, I was attacked with dysentery and in indescribable
torture.

On the 3rd of December I found if I put off many days longer I should
not be able to leave the regiment. I was conveyed on a mule to Vallada,
on the right bank of the Tagus, took a boat, and arrived at Lisbon
about twelve o'clock at night, got a bed by the merest chance and good
luck, and the following morning procured a billet—a bad one, people
uncivil. The next day got one on a very good house—people very friendly
and kind. I am as happy as my unfortunate situation will admit of.
I have kept my bed ever since my arrival here. My leg and thigh are
frequently very painful. The dysentery has subsided in some measure,
and upon the whole I feel much better to-day or I could not have given
you this long epistle. I have had a medical examination. The medical
men have ordered me to continue here six weeks. If I am not better in
that time I shall procure leave to come to England. I hope that will
not be the case. As God knows, I have little business to be at home at
this period. I have got some curiosities taken from the French. I have
a beautiful piece of silk for a pelisse for Ann, five or six yards,
colour crimson. I mean to deposit my curiosities on board of some ship.
Joseph, I hope, is going on properly. I have said enough about it
already. If he does right and minds his education, I will—provided he
wishes to come into the army—do everything I can to serve him, but he
must make himself deserving of my intercession. If he chooses anything
else, I should be sorry to dissuade him from it. He must not, as a
soldier, expect to live in luxury and ease. He must often live hard and
fight hard and expose his body to all kinds of weather and climate. I
hope poor Charlie gets better. Do not quack with him. Get good advice,
and he must recover. Let him take plenty of exercise at all times. I
hope you will take care he is well educated. Send him to some good
Latin school. Let me know how Betsy comes on; I should suppose she is
a tall girl. I shall take care of something for her if I come to old
England again.

I am nearly worn to a skeleton. I was laughing at myself when shaving
in the glass this morning at my hollow eyes and squalid visage. Now
would be the time for Ann to have a likeness. I thought it would be
worth staring at. This coming backward and forward to Lisbon makes a
sad hole in my little savings, which does not please me at all. For the
last eight days I could take nothing but Madeira with any degree of
pleasure (three shillings a bottle here).

My best respects to Aunt. Maud, my brother, desires me when I write to
remember him to her and my uncle. Any letter I receive from you I let
Maud have the particulars directly. My love to you all. My dear mother
I hope enjoys good health. I have often called out for her to nurse me.
I am sorry to say I have often wanted so kind a friend. God bless and
preserve her many years.—Yours truly and affectionately,

      G. Simmons, Lt., 95th Regt.

I hope a little time will bring me round again. It would be a serious
thing to be obliged to come home now after enduring all the hardships
of so long a campaign without being present at a general action. I have
one great consolation, if I am incapable of following the profession
of a soldier, I can always get a living as a surgeon. I have not been
idle even in this country, frequently attending hospitals, as I always
endeavour to gain knowledge whenever I can find it, as it may one
day or other be of use to me. I shall always be allowed to retire on
half-pay, which would assist me very materially, but I am in hopes this
will not be the case. I still fancy there is enough of me left to make
a soldier. The French were never before put so much to their wits' end
as at present; whenever they come on they always have the worst of it.
Under Lord Wellington's command every one is confident of success. The
Portuguese, led on by English officers, fight like tigers. They have
behaved astonishingly well. I have witnessed several regiments of them
come on with the greatest enthusiasm.



CAMPAIGN OF 1811


 At the commencement of 1811, Soult was master of the whole of
 Andaluçia, with the exception of Cadiz, which place was blockaded by
 Victor. Soult, however, having been ordered in March to co-operate
 with Massena, thus leaving Victor unsupported, the Allies in Cadiz
 decided on a maritime expedition so as to raise the blockade of that
 place. General Graham embarked with some 4000 troops, and, landing at
 Algeçiras, joined La Peña and his Spanish force and marched on Cadiz.
 The battle of Barrosa was fought a few miles south of the Isla, the
 French under Victor being defeated and Graham marching into Cadiz.

 At the same time, Soult was engaged in invading Portugal on the south
 of the Tagus, while Massena, unaware of the former's successes over
 the Spaniards, was retiring from before the Lines of Torres Vedras on
 the north of the Tagus.

 Wellington at once followed in pursuit of Massena, and severe combats
 took place at Pombal, Redinha, Cazal Nova, Foz de Aronce, and Sabugal.
 Massena withdrew to Ciudad Rodrigo, and eventually, for want of
 provisions, to Salamanca.

 Wellington now invested Almeida, on the Portuguese frontier, but
 Massena, having received strong reinforcements, advanced to raise the
 blockade, and encountered Wellington at Fuentes de Oñoro, but having
 been worsted, he retired across the Agueda.

 Shortly after this, owing to a series of unfortunate mistakes, the
 French garrison of Almeida succeeded in cutting its way through the
 blockading troops and escaped.

 Marshal Beresford had meanwhile been despatched to hold Soult in check
 south of the Tagus, and after a fight at Campo Mayor he laid siege
 to Badajoz, but learning that Soult was advancing from Seville to
 attack him, he raised the siege and took up a position at Albuera,
 where after one of the most sanguinary battles of the war, he defeated
 the French and they withdrew. Badajoz was thereupon besieged for
 the second time; but Marmont having joined Soult and advanced with
 overwhelming numbers, the siege had to be again abandoned, the French
 entering Badajoz.

 It was now September, and the war entered upon a new phase. Napoleon
 largely reinforced his armies in Spain, King Joseph commanding one
 about Madrid, Soult a second in the south, Marmont a third on the
 Tagus, whilst a fourth was styled the army of the north, under
 Dersenne.

 This combination was too strong for Wellington to contend against,
 but he quickly noted that the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and
 Badajoz were somewhat isolated, and decided to operate against them.
 Having also received strong reinforcements, he aimed at blockading
 Ciudad Rodrigo. Massena, however, at once advanced to its relief
 with a strong force, and Wellington, uncertain what was in front of
 him, took up a position on the Agueda. The combats of El Bodon and
 Aldea da Ponte now took place, after which, in November, Wellington
 withdrew once again behind the Coa and distributed his troops over a
 considerable area for subsistence.



CHAPTER VI

Letter No. X

_To his Parents, from Lisbon, dated 11th January 1811_

 Slow recovery from wound—Is joined by Colonel Beckwith, also
 wounded—Prospects of the coming campaign—Colonel Sibthorp's
 kindness—Admirable condition of British troops, and confidence in Lord
 Wellington in spite of "those fellows who are so ready to abuse him."

_Journal—20th January-25th March 1811_

 Desertion of German troops—Recovers from wound and leaves for the
 front with Colonel Beckwith—German Hussars capture French cavalry
 advanced posts—The French retire through Santarem—The Light Division
 pursues—Shocking condition of Santarem and its inhabitants, due
 to French excesses—The Horse Artillery and Royal Dragoons take up
 the pursuit—Rear-guard actions—French Horse Grenadiers charged by
 1st German Hussars—Advanced guard fight at Pombal—French driven
 off—Arrival of five British Divisions—Combat of Redinha—Dispositions
 of the French—The French flanks attacked by the Rifles—Defeat of the
 French—Narrow escape of Simmons and Lieutenant Kincaid—Action of Cazal
 Nova—Major John Stewart (in command of wing) killed, also Lieutenant
 Strode mortally wounded—Miserable state of the town—Brutality of
 French soldiers—The French retire during the night—French stragglers
 saved from being massacred by the inhabitants by the British
 troops—Combat at Foz de Aronce—Marshal Ney's mistake—Lord Wellington
 takes advantage of it and orders Colonel Beckwith to "fall in" and
 attack at once—The Light Division attack—Kincaid again has a narrow
 shave—Stout resistance by the French; hundreds driven into the river
 and drowned—Capture of their camp—The Rifle Men eat the Frenchmen's
 dinners—French hamstring all their baggage animals—Skirmish at Ponte
 de Murcella—Complimentary order by Lord Wellington on the conduct
 of the Light Division during the ten days' fighting, 8th March to
 18th—Vigorous pursuit by cavalry and Horse Artillery.

Letter No. XI

_To his Parents, from Mello, dated 26th March 1811_

 Brother John in trouble—Reported as having been taken prisoner by the
 French, who captured the merchant ship he was serving on—Recounts
 visit to brother Maud across the Tagus—Describes the pursuit of
 Massena and horrible brutalities committed by the French troops on the
 Portuguese inhabitants—Detailed description of the fighting—News of
 the battle of Barrosa and heavy losses of the Rifles (two companies
 2nd Battalion, and four companies of 3rd Battalion engaged).


Letter No. X

      Lisbon, _16th January 1811_.

My dear Parents—I embrace this opportunity of writing you by a friend
of mine who is compelled to come to England for the recovery of his
health, being rendered incapable of further service for some time,
having two severe wounds.

I find the rest and comforts I have been able to procure here have
brought me round much sooner than I had any idea of. Shelter from
the inclemency of the weather and a warm bed have done wonders. I
am now as anxious as ever to return to my regiment and share in its
glorious achievements. I am sorry to observe my leg is very little
better. I shall limp for life. Every change of weather affects me most
materially. I hope time will in some measure eradicate these symptoms,
though I am too well acquainted with the injury my thigh has sustained
ever to expect recovery.

The Colonel of my regiment has been obliged to come to Lisbon for
the benefit of his health. He has nearly recovered. I have at all
times experienced the greatest friendship from him. I dine often
with him. He had a great wish for me to live with him, thinking he
might soon recover, but not being able to procure a billet for us
both immediately, he would not inconvenience me by taking me from a
good one. In the meantime he recovered. I have always been fortunate
in gaining the esteem of my superior officers, and I am confident my
Colonel will as soon as possible do something for me. I have at this
time an idea of soon procuring a higher place.

I meant to purchase numbers of articles while in Lisbon. I must curtail
my inclinations, having been at great expense since I arrived here.
Everything has altered much in price since I was in this place before.
However, I cannot rest longer without giving my dear Ann some token of
my affection for her. These baubles will occasionally serve to remind
her that her brother George, though far away, still loves and adores
her. I wonder much at not hearing from you. I hope you do not conceive
I am careless of your affairs. I think you know me better than to
suspect it. I have not had a letter since September last. The French
are bringing up all the men they can muster, and concentrating them
in different Divisions near us. The weather has been so intolerably
wet and bad that it would be impossible for the two hostile armies
to commence the work of death and destruction at this time. We are
in hopes the sun will begin to shine upon us and dry the earth
sufficiently to enable us soon to commence. Our men are in the highest
spirits imaginable, and the Portuguese also are determined to fight
to the last. We shall soon have noble work. The French are a set of
impudent rascals. I certainly expected to find them stand much better
than in the two or three instances where I have been, with others of
my regiment, opposed to them. They are certainly brave men, but do not
like close quarters. When charged by Britons they run off.

When anything particular transpires I will write you. I have at present
several articles, but cannot find any conveyance for them. I shall
leave them at Lisbon. My brother Maud has the history of everything
belonging to me. He sent me a letter the other day requesting I would
accept forty or fifty dollars, as I must be in want of money. I thanked
him, but desired him to take care of it until he arrived in England,
where it would be of use. He laughed at my delicacy. He is an impudent
fellow, I assure you. I also told him it astonished me exceedingly to
find he could keep any money; I wondered it did not become a burden to
him. He wanted one day to wager with me on that head, but on showing
him twenty-five guineas besides dollars, he passed it off and abused me
for covetousness. I expected a letter from him, and would have enclosed
it, but he is too idle to write, as I generally contrive to give him
all my news. I received a very kind letter from Colonel Sibthorp this
morning. By some accident it has been detained in England ever since I
was at Lisbon before. He says he fully expected me home, and had fitted
up a quarter for me in his house. He was extremely happy when he heard
through the Adjutant of the Lincoln, with whom I correspond, that my
health was again re-established; and in some measure to palliate the
disappointment he experienced in not seeing me, he sent me £25 for
my present use. He concludes his letter with again observing that if
I should be obliged to come home from wounds or illness or any other
cause, his house will always be open to me. I assure you this letter
gives me great pleasure. I know well it is in Colonel Sibthorp's power
to befriend me in my profession.

I send Ann a gold chain; it is, I am informed, a curiosity in England
and is the purest gold that can be formed, also a gold cross set with
topaz, a pair of earrings; the same I could not procure smaller, or
should have liked them better. I send my mother a ring set also in
topaz, and a silver snuff-box. I hope the whole will arrive safe. I
send them at a venture, and durst not risk more money. I have often
laughed at the cause of my buying the box at Coimbra. It was when I
had experienced a severe march after being wounded, and was feverish
and continually talking of my dear mother and annoying every one near
me. I would not be satisfied until my servant had procured some boxes
from a jeweller. The one I send was my choice. I wrote a long letter
settling my little affairs, stuffed it into the box, and then felt very
happy. The next day my wound was more favourable. You know the rest. I
think I see my mother opening the box and recounting this little tale.
When the officer lands he will give the parcel to the clerk at some
mail coach office (by my orders). Pay the booking. I think there is no
chance of its miscarrying. You may on receipt of this, occasionally
send to the post office to inquire for a small parcel directed as
usual, Osborne Street, Kingston-upon-Hull. The whole cost me £7 or £8.
I have more curiosities, but durst not risk them all at once.

I hope two months will nearly enable us to decide the fate of Portugal.
It is my continued prayer for a general action. That day will be
tremendous. I have no fear as to the result. The troops are seasoned,
weather-beaten veterans, commanded by the best General in the British
service. I wish some of those fellows who are so ready to abuse him
were for a night posted within 200 yards of the enemy; they would not
talk so nonsensically. It is easy for them to do so fighting battles
over a good fireside at home with a pot of old October before them.

My love to you all, particularly my uncle and aunt. I remain the same,
still and for ever, your affectionate son,

      G. Simmons, Lt., 95th Regmt.

I hope Joseph attends to my injunctions. It will in the end be himself
that must reap the benefit. "Education is fortune sufficient to a man
who will make good use of it."


_Journal—20th January-25th March 1811_

[Sidenote: Lisbon.]

Considerable reinforcements have joined the French army, several of the
Brunswickers have deserted to the enemy, and some were detected in the
act of going over. Three of them were shot and the corps sent to the
rear. Deserters, both officers and men, very frequently came over from
the French army.

[Sidenote: 20th]

I found myself quite restored to health, and went to the Italian opera,
San Carlos. Also went on board the _Tonnant_, 80 guns, to see the
brother of Lieutenant Stokes, a friend of mine, who was exceedingly
kind, as well as the whole of the officers, and showed me the greatest
hospitality.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The remains of the Marquis Romana were brought on shore at Belem.
Minute guns were fired. The body was taken to the Church of San
Justine, where it was interred with much pomp and ceremony, the British
and Portuguese soldiers being all under arms, and police guards also.

[Sidenote: 1811 Feb. 3rd]

The shock of an earthquake at 11 o'clock P.M., which alarmed the
inhabitants.

Having enjoyed myself for some time now in Lisbon, and being quite
restored to health, I became anxious of again associating with my
brother soldiers.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Took my departure, in company with my worthy friend, Colonel Beckwith.
He had been some time in Lisbon with intermittent fever, but was now
restored to health. Halted at the house of Major M'Neal, a friend of
the Colonel's, at Alhandra, where we were very hospitably treated. It
being a rainy morning, and the Major pressing us to stay another day,
we did so.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Rode to Valle and joined Captain Beckwith's company, which was in the
same house and stables I left it in five weeks before, although it had
changed its captain.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Colonel Drummond took command of the 2nd Brigade of the Light Division
_vice_ Winch deceased.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Cornet Streunitz, of the German Hussars, surprised an advanced post
of the enemy near Rio Mayor, consisting of an officer and thirty men.
Cavalry desertion from the enemy very frequent, and constant reports
brought in that they cannot remain much longer in their present
position, as the soldiery are suffering sad privations.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Cornet Streunitz took another party of the enemy, one officer and
fifteen men, who had been placed in ambush to endeavour to surprise
our cavalry piquets. I got leave to visit my brother Maud, who was in
General Hill's Division across the Tagus. I passed it in a large boat
of a rough structure filled with men and horses, and very bunglingly
navigated; however, I was landed safely. I mounted my horse and rode
to Almeyrim, where his regiment was stationed (2nd Battalion 34th). I
found him well, and we fought over our battles together, over some bad
wine.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Returned to my corps, as the reports of the enemy's moving off gain
ground daily.

[Sidenote: 1811 March 4th]

Two deserters came over; they report that the enemy are burning
everything that they cannot remove, such as gun-carriages, carts, etc.

[Sidenote: 5th]

The cavalry have advanced a little way on our left, and the Divisions
in rear are closing up to us.

[Sidenote: 6th]

The _juiz de fore_ of Santarem sent a peasant to give information that
the enemy had retired through the place at two o'clock this morning and
were in full retreat. The Light Division followed the enemy at daybreak
and entered Santarem, where we remained about an hour. How different
this town now appeared; when I last was in it all was gaiety and
happiness, and the shops abounding with every luxury, and a smile upon
every one's face; but now the houses are torn and dilapidated, and the
few miserable inhabitants, moving skeletons; the streets strewn with
every description of household furniture, half-burnt and destroyed,
and many streets quite impassable with filth and rubbish, with an
occasional man, mule, or donkey rotting and corrupting and filling the
air with pestilential vapours.

My heart ached as I passed through it. We marched to Pernes. The enemy
had blown up the bridge over the river Pernes, which was repaired
by Captain Todd, Royal Staff Corps. The poor inhabitants had been
persuaded to remain by Marshal Junot, under fair promises, but they
ill performed these assertions. The houses were nearly all unroofed,
and the people in a starving condition. Two young ladies had been
brutally violated in a house that I entered, and were unable to rise
from a mattress of straw. On the line of march, comparing notes with
other officers, I found that they all had some mournful story to relate
of the savage French Vandals which had come under their immediate
observation.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Followed the enemy's rear-guard to Torres Novas, and halted near La
Marrosa. The Horse Artillery and Royal Dragoons came up with the French
rear-guard and harassed it. We passed several of the enemy's killed and
wounded men upon the road as we advanced. The unfortunate inhabitants
that have remained in their villages have the appearance of people who
have been kicked out of their graves and reanimated, and the sight of
them rouses the fiercest passions within us, and will make us, when
we come up with the enemy, take ample vengeance upon them for their
unheard-of and disgusting cruelties to this unfortunate nation. O happy
England! surrounded by an element over which thy sons in their wooden
walls triumphantly sway, and on thy happy shores the arms of that
tyrant who has deluged Europe in blood can have no influence. May it
ever be so is my earnest prayer!

[Sidenote: 8th]

Light Division marched at daybreak, and came up with sixty sick
Frenchmen upon donkeys in a wretched plight from disease and fever. We
followed the rear-guard to Venda dos Carvalhos. The enemy moved off
when we came in sight. The cavalry and Horse Artillery pressed them so
hard that the enemy blew up four tumbrils and destroyed a quantity of
gun tackling.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Advanced early this morning, and after marching five hours, came up
with the enemy's rear-guard at the junction of the road from Leyria
and Lisbon to Coimbra. A large body of cavalry showed itself, and
infantry in force was halted in rear. An advanced squadron of the
11th French Horse Grenadiers were charged by the 1st German Hussars
in pretty style, and twelve of them taken. The French had taken two
Hussars two days before, and it was believed had coolly sabred them.
The Germans were so incensed at the report that they were going to put
some of these men to death, but were luckily prevented and persuaded
to desist. One of the enemy was a very handsome man and an Italian. He
had a narrow escape, as he was upon his knees and the sword uplifted
to slaughter him when Colonel Gilmore begged him off. About forty
straggling soldiers fell into our hands on this day's advance, and the
road was often covered with dead Frenchmen, gun-carriages, waggons, and
pieces of different military equipment.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Returned half a league and bivouacked in a pine wood. Sir William
Erskine took command of the Light Division. The enemy appeared in great
force for the purpose of checking our advance, in order that their
heavy guns, baggage, etc., might gain some advantage by moving rapidly
away. Towards evening our forces were considerably augmented by the
arrival of General Pack's Brigade and a Brigade of the 1st Division. In
short, our army was moving up as quick as the nature of circumstances
would admit of it.


Fight of Pombal

[Sidenote: 11th]

The enemy moved off before day, and our cavalry and Horse Artillery
set out in pursuit of it. They were obliged to halt a little way from
Pombal, and the Light Division were sent forward to dislodge the
enemy's Light Infantry and Voltigeurs from the enclosures. The castle,
an old ruin situated upon an eminence, was very spiritedly attacked by
the 95th Rifles and the 3rd Caçadores. Although the enemy disputed the
ground obstinately, which, from the nature of it, was very defensible,
yet they were driven sharply through Pombal. Some officers' baggage was
captured.

The enemy remained on strong ground at a little distance from us. The
1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Divisions arrived near us in the course of
the evening. The town of Pombal is frightfully dilapidated, and the
inhabitants as miserable as I have before represented them in other
places.


Combat of Redinha

[Sidenote: 12th]

The enemy took up a position to receive our attack in front of Redinha,
his right resting on the river Soure, protected in front by heights
covered with wood, and his left beyond Redinha upon the river. The
front part of his line was much intersected with deep ravines. In the
centre was a beautiful plain filled with infantry, formed in good order
but a motley-looking set of fellows in greatcoats and large caps,
a body of cavalry supporting, and other bodies moving according to
circumstances. The wooded heights were attacked by a wing of the 1st
Battalion (Rifles), commanded by Major Stewart, who carried them in
gallant style. The other wing attacked the left, the Light Division
acting in unison with these attacks, our columns moving rapidly into
the plain, forming line and moving on, and also the cavalry. It was
a sunshiny morning, and the red coats and pipe-clayed belts and
glittering of men's arms in the sun looked beautiful. I felt a pleasure
which none but a soldier so placed can feel. After a severe struggle
we drove the enemy from all his strongholds and down a steep hill
to the bridge. We pushed the fugitives so hard that the bridge was
completely blocked up, numbers fell over its battlements, and others
were bayoneted; in fact, we entered pell-mell with them. The town was
set on fire in many parts by the enemy previous to our entering it, so
that numbers of them, to avoid being bayoneted, rushed into the burning
houses in their flight. Lieutenant Kincaid[17] passed with me through a
gap in a hedge. We jumped from it at the same moment that a Portuguese
Grenadier, who was following, received a cannon shot through his body
and came tumbling after us. Very likely during the day a person might
have a thousand much more narrow escapes of being made acquainted with
the grand secret, but seeing the mangled body of a brave fellow so
shockingly mutilated in an instant, stamps such impressions upon one's
mind in a manner that time can never efface. A man named Muckston laid
hold of a French officer in the river and brought him out. He took his
medal, and in the evening brought it to me. I took it, but should have
felt happy to have returned it to the Frenchman.

The enemy cannonaded our columns crossing the bridge and occasionally
gave the skirmishers some discharges of grape. Notwithstanding, it did
not deter us from following them and driving them some distance, when
we were recalled and formed up. The British army bivouacked for the
night. Lieutenants Chapman and Robert Beckwith wounded.

[Sidenote: 13th]

The Light Division advanced at daylight and found the enemy strongly
posted in front of Condexa. The 3rd Division took a detour by a
mountain road and turned the enemy's left, which obliged _Johnny_
to move off; we followed through the town close to them; the houses
being generally unroofed and others that had been quarters for French
officers, were deliberately set on fire.

In one instance I ordered some soldiers to remove several chairs and
some straw under a staircase which was then on fire. By this timely
removal, the house was saved, and most likely many others.


Action of Cazal Nova

[Sidenote: 14th]

As soon as the fog cleared away, we found the enemy very strongly
posted, the ground for miles in their rear being one continued
series of good positions. The heights and village of Cazal Nova
were spiritedly attacked by Major Stewart with the left wing 95th
Rifles, and the other wing soon followed. Then, soon after, the whole
Light Division was engaged skirmishing, which continued from hill
to hill, and a combined movement (on the enemy's flank) by the 3rd
Division assisted us very materially in making the enemy quit the
many strongholds which, owing to the nature of the ground, gave him
repeatedly the advantage over us. About three in the afternoon a
regiment formed up and hid itself. Our advanced skirmishers, going over
the slope of a hill, came within a few yards of this regiment, when
the men fired a volley into our faces. It was quite ridiculous; the
balls went whizzing over our heads, and they scampered off. Our Horse
Artillery generally gave the enemy a few rounds of shrapnel to amuse
them before we gave over our day's work. These battalions of the enemy,
by our rapid movements, were forced upon the main body at Miranda do
Corvo, on the Deuca, and had sustained considerable loss. From the hard
fighting of this day many brave fellows had fallen. Major Stewart, a
fine gallant little fellow who commanded the attack so spiritedly,
was wounded. Lieutenant Strode, in the company with myself, was also
wounded.[18] I was placed on piquet at the entrance of the town of
Lous̃a, and a little after dark patrolled into it. Houses in every
direction were on fire, and a few wretched inhabitants standing about
in the streets with despair and horror marked in their faces. Kincaid
and I went into a house where an old man was seated; he had been lame
in both legs for many years. A French soldier, on leaving the house,
had given him two deep sabre wounds on the head and another on the arm.
This place was a true picture of everything that was wretched.

[Sidenote: 15th]

I was sent on this morning with a party of the piquet. Found near the
roadside, quantities of ammunition that had been buried by the French,
also a French officer and numbers of men dead; a deserter from the
Brunswickers I took prisoner. The enemy had retired in the night so as
to have a little start of us, as the battalions engaged yesterday had
been too severely handled. At every step this morning we found sick
and dead Frenchmen, gun-carriages, waggons, baggage; horses, mules,
and donkeys abandoned by their masters, not being able to carry their
loads farther, some from frightful sore backs, others from lameness and
starvation. We passed through Miranda do Corvo in pursuit of the enemy.
The town was almost filled with sick, wounded, and dying men, abandoned
to their fate, and dead. The rascally French had even plundered this
place and committed every sort of wanton atrocity upon the inhabitants,
and then left many of their helpless countrymen for the infuriated
inhabitants to wreak their vengeance upon. Luckily for these poor
wretches, we followed the French so rapidly that they fell into our
hands, and were put in charge of British soldiers, or they would have
been butchered indiscriminately.


Combat of Foz de Aronce

After marching a league from the latter town, we found the enemy's
rear-guard had taken up a position at Foz de Aronce, with their back
to the river Ceira, and the bridge behind them blown up. The remainder
of their army was in position on the other side, having passed by
fording, but in consequence of heavy rains, the river became so swollen
that it was in a few hours impassable. Our gallant chief observed with
his penetrating eye the egregious mistake that the officer, Marshal
Ney, who commanded the French rear-guard, had made. We were all hungry
and tired. I was frying some beef and anxiously watching the savoury
morsel, when an order was given by Lord Wellington himself to Colonel
Beckwith: "Fall in your battalion and attack the enemy; drive in
their skirmishers, and I will turn their flank with the 3rd and 1st
Divisions." The whole Light Division were smartly engaged. The enemy
opposed to the company (Captain Beckwith's) I was with, were behind a
low wall. The approach was through a pine wood, and the branches were
rattling about our ears from the enemy's bullets. Lieutenant Kincaid
got shot through his cap, which grazed the top of his head. He fell as
if a sledge hammer had hit him. However, he came to himself and soon
rallied again. Lieutenant M'Cullock was shot through the shoulder. The
attack commenced about five in the afternoon and lasted till after
dark, the rain falling abundantly during part of the time. The French
fought very hard, and, some finding resistance to be in vain, threw
themselves upon our generosity, but the greater part rushed into the
river, which was tumbling along in its course most furiously, and
there soon found a watery grave. The enemy so little dreamt of being
disturbed this night that their cooking utensils were left upon their
fires for strangers to enjoy their contents. Such are the chances of
war! I was quite exhausted and tired, and was with about fifteen of
the company in the same state, when we made a great prize. One of the
men found a dozen pots upon a fire, the embers of which were low and
caused the place to escape notice. Here we adjourned, and soon made
the fire burn brightly. We found the different messes most savoury
ones, and complimented the French for their knowledge of making savoury
dishes, and many jokes were passed upon them. The men looked about
and found several knapsacks; they emptied them at the fireside to see
their contents and added to their own kits, shoes and shirts of better
quality than their own. In every packet I observed twenty biscuits
nicely rolled up or deposited in a bag; they were to last each man
so many days, and he must, unless he got anything else, be his own
commissary. We had been very ill-off for some days for bread, so that
some of these proved a great luxury.

[Sidenote: 16th]

At two o'clock this morning the enemy had the arches of the bridge more
effectually blown up. The weather began to clear at daylight. We saw
numbers of the enemy dead in the river, and lying about near the bushes
as the water had left them. It was judged about 700 or 800 had been
drowned, and the 39th Regiment lost their Eagles in the water. A great
quantity of baggage must have been destroyed or thrown into the water,
as there were a great many mules and donkeys close to the river-side,
hamstrung in the hind leg. These poor animals looked so wretched
that one could not help feeling for them, and disgusted us with the
barbarous cruelty of the French. To have killed and put them out of
their misery at once would have been far better. We remained in bivouac.

[Sidenote: 17th]

The Light Division forded the river, a little more than knee-deep
now, which the day before yesterday had caused so many Frenchmen to
wind up all worldly accounts. Bivouacked for the night in a pine
wood after a short march, as, owing to our rapid advance, it became
difficult to get up a sufficient supply of rations for the army from
Lisbon. Some deserters say the enemy has buried many pieces of cannon.
Gun-carriages, ammunition-waggons, and every material of war is
abandoned by the enemy, which makes us regret that provisions should
be the cause of delay in not pursuing more effectually the great
advantages we have already gained. A deserter informed us that after
dark the other night the enemy sent several battalions down to the
river to assist, if possible, the rear-guard in passing the river, but
that they got into confusion and fired upon each other.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Advanced early this morning to the river Alva, found the bridge blown
up, and the enemy in position on very strong ground at Ponte de
Murcella with some guns in position commanding the approach to the
river. We formed opposite the enemy and had a fine view of a large
body of them. Some nine-pounders were soon got up, and commenced
pounding their columns. I never saw _Johnny_ go off in such confusion.
The cavalry followed for some distance. The Light Division went into
bivouac in the pine woods for the night.

An extract from the General Orders of the Day shows the high estimation
in which our gallant Commander holds the three British regiments of the
Light Division for their services in the field for the last ten days.

      Adjt.-General's Office, Lous̃a,
      _16th March 1811_.

 "The Commander of the Forces returns his thanks to the general and
 staff officers, officers, and troops for their excellent conduct in
 the operations of the last ten days against the enemy, and he requests
 the commanding officers of the 43rd, 52nd, and first battalion 95th
 (Rifles) to name a sergeant of each regiment to be recommended for
 promotion to an ensigncy as a testimony of the particular approbation
 the Commander of the Forces entertains for the conduct of these
 regiments.

      "E. Pakenham, _Deputy Adjt.-General_."

[Sidenote: 19th]

A wooden bridge having been thrown across the river during last night,
we passed over this morning and advanced through Sobreira. A league
farther we bivouacked in a wood of pines. The cavalry followed the
enemy's rear-guard, and in crossing a plain took 800 prisoners. One was
a Portuguese and aide-de-camp to Loison. He had a Spanish girl in a
Hussar uniform as his companion. This fellow, on his arrival in Lisbon,
will be put to death as a traitor to his country if he has not better
luck than he deserves.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Light Division moved through Galizes and went into bivouac in a fir
grove near Vendas Novas. The French rear-guard was vigorously pursued
by the cavalry and Horse Artillery, who took numbers of prisoners and
stragglers. We found numbers of tumbrils, carts, waggons, and other
articles abandoned by the French. Occasionally we found Portuguese
peasants that had been most wantonly shot by the enemy.

[Sidenote: 21st]

The Light Division marched on to the fir groves above Maceira and
bivouacked. Two hundred more of the enemy taken by the cavalry.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Went into houses at Moimenta da Serva in consequence of the weather
being very bad. Several of the poor people gave us a melancholy
account of the cruelties they had suffered from the French; and in
every village on the line of their march they had murdered many of the
inhabitants in a most savage manner. A priest in the above village
dead, and his body mutilated.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched in front of Sampayo and bivouacked in a wood.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Lodged in the town of Mello.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Bivouacked in a wood. Supposed to be waiting for supplies.


Letter No. XI

      Mello (near Celorico), Portugal,
      _26th March 1811_.

My dear Parents—I received the melancholy account of poor John
with sorrow.[19] It is a great misfortune, and under the present
circumstances it is utterly impossible to give him the least support.
I hope by this time you have received more authentic information as to
his situation. It is entirely out of my power to gain any knowledge
of him or be of the slightest use, distant as I am from England.
Your plan will be to make inquiry through the Transport Board, but
it is so entirely out of my way, I cannot advise you how to act with
certainty. In a mercantile place like Hull you will find numbers very
well acquainted with the business. If it would be possible to remit
him money occasionally, it would be the best way of serving him. It
would be cruel of me to say anything further regarding my displeasure
when I heard of him binding himself in so low a capacity; it is done,
and the result has proved truly unfortunate. We cannot foresee evils,
but we should endeavour to prevent them. If he had been a soldier, or
a sailor in a King's ship, he would, though a prisoner, have had some
little liberty, but in his situation he will not be noticed, but mix
with men of all descriptions. I endeavour to look upon his unfortunate
situation in the best manner possible. I flatter myself an exchange of
prisoners may take place before long. I hope his constitution is good.
He may possibly make his escape, though when once safe in France, it
is unlikely. I sometimes fancy he may get away after recovering from
the wounds he received, being near the coast. If he is enterprising,
I think he may have several chances; but, poor fellow, his youth may
make him careless. I wish I had the chance of attacking the escort that
guards him on the road. I think you would then soon have a favourable
account of him. Give me all the information you can about him in your
next.

I joined my regiment at Valle on the 22nd of February, the place I
left them at, my health quite restored and my thigh much better. I
heard of Maud's regiment being on the other side of the Tagus in good
quarters; it induced me to go. He was delighted to see me. He regretted
much the account of poor John. I dined with him, and stayed until late
the day following. Before I left his quarters he gave me an excellent
dinner and plenty of good wine. I was much pleased with his manner of
living, having a good stock of useful and necessary things, a canteen
with knives, forks, plates, etc.—in short, everything useful, with a
donkey to carry them. He is very steady, and has saved money. I paid
him some very high compliments on his conduct. He is taller than
I, and I assure you a very handsome, stout fellow. I told him about
the little trinkets I had sent Ann from Lisbon, which, by the bye, I
hope have arrived safe; acquaint me regarding them in your next. He
means to make Ann some presents when he returns. The officers of his
regiment behaved very politely, and invited me to spend some days,
but that was impossible. My brother came a little way with me, and
with regret we parted. We continued at Valle within pistol-shot of
the enemy's sentries until 6th March. At daybreak we found the enemy
had left this strong position and withdrawn his piquets. Our Division
directly followed. The French went off in the night, consisting of
the rear-guard of 12,000 men. They had been for some days taking sick
and baggage to the rear and heavy cannon also. We passed through the
fine town of Santarem, which was dreadfully sacked. I was in the town
when full of people and wealth; this sight hurt my feelings much. A
few half-starved miserable wretches came to cheer us, nearly dead with
hunger. I looked for the house I was once billeted upon, but, alas!
only the bare walls remained. The unfortunate owner was a fine liberal
old man, and treated me very kindly. I made some inquiries, but could
hear nothing. We halted for the night in a village.

At daybreak we followed the French, and passed through several towns on
fire. We did not come up with them. This night was on outlying piquet.
A little cottage by the roadside struck my fancy. I took up my abode in
order to have my pound of meat cooked and to be sheltered, being rainy.
The woman of the house welcomed me in and offered me her chair. She had
four children lying near her literally starving. The French had robbed
her of everything worth taking. Some of the soldiers cut her with their
swords for endeavouring to stop them from taking away her daughter, and
one villain had the meanness to return to the house and tell her, "Your
children are starving; if you will give two dollars for this loaf, you
shall have it." She went where the last of her money was secreted; he
watched her, and took the money, abused her, and walked off. The poor
creature and her children appeared so wretched; she was continually
praying the English would revenge her wrongs. I did what I could to
console her, and gave them some of my little stock of provisions,
which, circumstanced as we are, we must, from real necessity, be very
careful of, as the towns are all left by the inhabitants.

It is beyond everything horrid the way these European savages have
treated the unfortunate Portuguese. Almost every man they get hold of
they murder. The women they use too brutally for me to describe. They
even cut the throats of infants. The towns are mostly on fire—in short,
they are guilty of every species of cruelty. I have seen such sights
as have made me shudder with horror, and which I really could not have
believed unless an eye-witness of them. It is needless for me to enter
into particulars, as I could fill a volume with their barbarities. We
continued marching, daily taking French sick and stragglers. If they
fell by any chance into the hands of the Portuguese, they either dashed
their brains out or stabbed them without ceremony. From the Portuguese
they certainly deserve no quarter, for they give none.

On the 9th, one company of us had some little skirmishing. The Hussars
and the 16th Light Dragoons, amounting to two troops, charged double
the number of French; killed and wounded fifteen and took ten horses.

On the 11th we followed the enemy; two companies of ours drove them
from the woods; the enemy halted at Pombal, and occupied the heights
and castle. After some sharp fighting the enemy were driven from their
position, on the 3rd Caçadores (pronounced _Cassadores_) coming up. One
officer wounded and several men.

On the 12th we passed through several towns on fire; about eleven
o'clock A.M. we came up with the French, and found them posted upon
some heights in great force, both cavalry and infantry. On their right
and left were woods filled with sharp-shooters. Our columns moved
up and our regiment, the 43rd, 52nd, and Portuguese Light Infantry,
amounting to 5000, extended to the distance of three miles. The order
was given, and we filled the woods. The French threw numbers of shot
and shells, which only killed a few men. The woods were of fir-trees
and upon the sides of steep hills; as soon as we gained the top, the
French gave us a volley. It was of no consequence; our Boys would not
be stopped. The French, finding they could not stop us, retired in the
greatest confusion through the town of Redinha, which was on fire.
We kept at their heels, and the town was filled with our men in a
moment. We plied the enemy so hard that numbers threw away their arms,
and upwards of fifty fell over the bridge and were drowned. A party
of my men were blazing away at the rascals; one espied an officer
endeavouring to get through the water; he jumped in and brought him
out by the neck. He gave the soldier thirty-six doubloons and a medal
dedicated to the Legion of Honour. The soldier gave me the medal. I
should have returned it to the officer, but having something of a more
serious nature to mind, I afterwards had not an opportunity. Halted for
the night in a wood.

No fighting of consequence on the 13th.

On the 14th we drove in the enemy's piquets at daylight. Our whole
Division was engaged. Lieutenant Strode of the same company was badly
wounded in the thigh, and Major Stewart mortally wounded. We continued
fighting until three o'clock P.M. Strode when he fell called to me to
take his rifle, exclaiming, "This, Simmons, may be of service." I had
no time to stand on ceremony, but moved on. The French were driven back
on all sides, and very glad to give over fighting.

A very good town near where we halted was on fire, and numbers of the
inhabitants murdered.

At daybreak on the 15th found the enemy were gone. We immediately
followed, and came up with them at half-past four o'clock P.M.
occupying a very strong position and in great force. We began to build
huts about a mile from them and cook our breakfast, dinner, and supper
all at once; soldiers eat when they can. However, we were disappointed,
an order coming from Lord Wellington for an immediate attack. Every
man to his post, and in ten minutes exposed to a heavy fire of shot,
shells, and musketry. In passing the plain to get at the enemy in the
wood, I was for the moment startled; a musket ball struck my rifle
(Strode's), and shattered the butt to pieces, which luckily saved my
right thigh. I laughed and pushed on.

We here had some very hard fighting, having twelve French battalions
opposed to us. Our men and the Portuguese went in skirmishing order up
to their line. The French fired volleys. Their officers behaved very
gallantly. Just at dark the enemy were beaten back in all directions,
and as caution is necessary, we gave up the pursuit. This fight took
place near, and in, the village of Foz de Aronce. Above 500 of the
enemy were driven into the river and drowned, numbers killed and
wounded, nearly 300 mules and asses killed for fear of falling into our
hands. We quartered ourselves in the French camp; they left us good
fires. I roasted some pork which the French left, and had plenty of
biscuit, took a glass of grog and a pipe, and talked over the business
of the day with my brother-officers. Very happy to find I had a whole
skin, which was more than I expected; rolled myself in my cloak, lay by
the fire, and slept as well as I could wish.

In the whole of these affairs we have had one major killed, a very fine
gallant soldier, and six lieutenants wounded; I cannot say how many
men. The _Gazette_ will give a more circumstantial account. The 43rd
and 52nd have also suffered severely. Some light companies of other
regiments were with us. The Portuguese deserve every praise; they fight
like lions. We have paid off the French for old scores, and also taught
them what they must expect to meet with if ever they dare to invade our
happy country. As for my gallant countrymen, I cannot say too much
for them; proud I am indeed to be worthy the name of a Briton. I have
confidence and pleasure in feeling I have done my duty under all the
privations I have laboured under, and at a time when hardly recovered
from a very bad illness. I have great reason to thank the Almighty for
His merciful goodness to me, and for my preservation hitherto. I hope
it is for a good purpose. I must own it would grieve me to leave you
under your present circumstances. I yet flatter myself some day or
other I shall have it in my power to show some mark of my affection to
the best of parents; if not: God's will be done. My last words will be
prayers for the welfare of those dearer to me than life.

I have seen a letter from Cadiz. I find the rascally Spaniards have
deceived General Graham, but the English _alone_ gave the French a
terrible beating. Our regiment had one lieutenant-colonel wounded,
one captain killed, and four lieutenants wounded. Our regiment gets
terribly cut up. We think nothing of it. Every man glories in doing his
duty, and those that survive must be promoted.

The French said they would drive us into the sea, but Lord Wellington,
the finest General in the British service, has, from his penetration,
starved and nearly driven them back out of Portugal. We are at
Celorico, only six leagues from the frontiers of Spain, and in a few
days I shall once more see Almeida. I hope not to be so unlucky as
before. If we can bring the French to a general action, you will have a
fine account of the result. I hope it will be the case in a few days.
Our men have got quantities of money and plunder from the French. In
the whole business we have taken 1500 prisoners. I cannot ascertain
how many were drowned in the two rivers, but the last business was a
glorious one for us. The river appeared covered with bodies of fine
handsome fellows. We march in the morning, but the enemy seem to wish
to be off and have no more to do with us.—I am, your affectionate son,

      Geo. Simmons, Lt., 95th Regmt.

Joseph, I hope, is at school; Charles and Betsy also. My love to my
dear Ann. She must endeavour to spell better. Always let me see some of
her writing. Joseph may as well likewise give me a specimen.

When I am richer I shall send some things of more value to Ann. The
snuff-box, I hope, will please my dear mother. Be particular in stating
when you write, which must be on receipt of this, whether the trinkets
have safely arrived. I have no doubts upon the subject, as the officer
I entrusted them to is a particular friend. You must excuse omissions
in this letter, as I had only a little time to give you this account,
and that after a hard day's march, when I ought to have been sleeping
instead of writing.



CHAPTER VII

_Journal—16th March-25th May 1811_

 French dislodged from Freixeda and their baking operations
 stopped—Death of Lieutenant James Stewart (Brigade-Major)—Dreadful
 murder of a Spanish woman by the French—Action of Sabugal—Desperate
 fighting—Lieutenant Arbuthnot killed—Advance resumed—The Spanish
 frontier crossed—The Light Division takes up the old line of outposts
 on the Agueda—Reconnaissances of Almeida, held by the French—Defence
 of the bridge of Marialba—The French driven off—Lord Wellington
 rejoins the army—The Royal Dragoons and 14th Light Dragoons hold the
 advanced posts—The French occupy Gallegos—The Light Division falls
 back—Marshal Massena concentrates a strong force in front of Fuentes
 de Oñoro—The British army forms up behind the town—Combats at Fuentes
 de Oñoro—Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro—The Chasseurs Britanniques repulse
 a charge of French cavalry—Successful charge by British cavalry under
 General Stewart—The French occupy the village, but on debouching are
 charged by the 74th and 88th Regiments and driven back—Bivouac on
 the battlefield—French and English outposts in touch—General Brenier
 evacuates Almeida, blowing up his magazines and destroying his
 guns—Marshal Beresford invests Badajoz—News of the battle of Albuera
 (the _only_ general action in the Peninsular War in which some of the
 Rifles were not present).

Letter No. XII

_To his Parents from Espeja, dated 18th May 1811_

 Graphic account of the action near Sabugal—A running fight for two
 miles—The 43rd Light Infantry and Portuguese Caçadores support
 the Rifles—The skirmishers suddenly come upon the French posted
 in strength, and have to fall back—Colonel Beckwith's coolness in
 action—Picton's Division arrives—Gallantry of the French officers—The
 French retire—Skirmishing about Almeida—The fighting prior to the
 battle of Fuentes de Oñoro—The inhabitants of the town ordered to
 clear out—Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro—Losses of the Rifles—Exceptional
 amount of fighting which fell to them—Anxiety as to the welfare of his
 family—Scarcity of food and clothing—A _brown_ "Green jacket"—Wants a
 good "spy-glass."


_Journal—26th March-25th May 1811_

[Sidenote: 1811 March 26th]

Marched to Celorico. The enemy evacuated it yesterday, and had an
officer and thirty men taken by our cavalry.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The Division remained in bivouac.

[Sidenote: 28th]

The Light Division (with the exception of the right wing 95th) crossed
the Mondego and occupied the villages of Baraca and Minhoeal. That
wing made a forced march to Alverca da Beira, where the cavalry had
their outposts. A party of Rifles (100), under the command of Captain
Beckwith, was sent to dislodge a body of the enemy from a mill in the
front of Freixeda, at which mill, _Johnny_ was busily employed grinding
flour, and another body of the enemy was baking it in the town. The
enemy were driven from the mill, and twenty prisoners captured, but we
had to regret the loss of a gallant fellow in Brigade-Major Stewart,
who was killed on incautiously entering the town, some French soldiers
firing at him quite close, from a window. I was requested to examine
his wound by Colonel Beckwith, and report how he came by his death, as
his head was deeply cut in the forehead and it was feared by some that
when wounded he had been deliberately murdered. I gave my opinion that
from a musket ball having entered his left breast, and passed through
his heart as he rode forward, he had instantly fallen upon his head.
The place he was riding over being granite rocks, and he being a heavy
man, the fall had scarred his head as it then appeared. My supposition
satisfied every one.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Before day we deposited poor Stewart in his last worldly tenement,
wrapped in his cloak, near the village, and then moved forward towards
Guarda after the enemy, the 3rd and 6th Divisions co-operating. We
expected to have had warm work, but on perceiving us move to attack in
the direction of Sabugal, _Johnny_ moved off in the greatest possible
hurry, followed up by cavalry and Horse Artillery, who took near 200
prisoners.

The 3rd Division occupied Guarda, and saved the church, as well as many
houses, from being burnt. The doors of the church were on fire.

In a village in the front of Guarda, named Carapeta, I saw a woman laid
in the street near her own door, murdered. The ruffians had placed
upon her bosom a huge piece of granite taken from the market cross, so
heavy that it took me and six men to remove it. The blood was running
from her ears and mouth. Her dress upwards was most respectable, but
her lower habiliments had been dragged off her. A peasant informed me
that she was the wife of the _juiz de fore_ of the village (that is the
Mayor). The Division occupied all the villages at the foot of the high
hill that Guarda stands upon. I was quartered in Carapeta. I visited
Guarda, which stands very high and upon a ridge named the Sierra de
Carapeta, connected with the Estrella mountains, and is the most
elevated town in Portugal, and also very ancient, with a castle, and
encircled by a dilapidated Moorish wall. The cathedral is very ancient
and the church superbly finished. The organ must, from its large size,
have produced a great musical effect. The church had been converted
into a stable and the organ sadly cut and hacked about in the most
wanton manner (by _Catholics_).

[Sidenote: 1811 April 1st]

Marched to Pega, where we halted an hour. Very rainy. Moved forward
to Quintas de San Bartolomé, near the Coa and opposite Sabugal, where
the enemy was in great force. A most dreadful night and very close. On
piquet, with orders never to quit the post, in case the enemy attacked
me during the night, and to be very vigilant indeed.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Went into quarters at a village.


Action of Sabugal

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Colonel Beckwith's Brigade crossed the river Coa; the sides steep;
the 95th led. It was deep and came up to my arm-pits. The officer
commanding the French piquet ordered his men to fire a few shots and
retire. On getting footing, we moved up in skirmishing order and
followed in the track of the piquet. We were met by a regiment, and
kept skirmishing until the rest of the Brigade came up, when we pushed
the enemy through some fine groves of large chestnut-trees upon the
main body (Regnier's Corps or 2nd). Two guns opened on us and fired
several discharges of round and grape. The guns were repeatedly
charged, but the enemy were so strong that we were obliged to retire
a little. Three columns of the enemy moved forward with drums beating
and the officers dancing like madmen with their hats frequently hoisted
upon their swords. Our men kept up a terrible fire. They went back a
little, and we followed. This was done several times, when we were
reinforced by the other Brigades, and the guns were taken. But from the
enemy's numbers being very much superior, the combat was kept up very
warmly until General Picton's (3rd) Division came up and pushed out
its Light companies on their flank, the 5th Regiment forming a line in
support. The 5th Division, under General Dunlop, soon crossed at this
bridge and passed through Sabugal. The enemy gave way and went off in
confusion; the rain now fell in torrents and materially assisted their
retreat. Our cavalry was unluckily too distant to take advantage of
the loose manner in which they moved off. The Light Division was put
into the town for the night, as a compliment for its conduct on this
day, and the remainder of the army in bivouac. Lieutenant Arbuthnot was
killed, Lieutenant Haggup wounded, Colonel Beckwith wounded and his
horse shot. Lieutenant Kincaid and I, with our baggage, were provided
with a dilapidated habitation. We had very little to eat, but were
sheltered from the pelting rain. In one corner of the place several
miserable human beings were huddled together, nearly starved to death.
I gave a poor little child some of my bread, but then all the wretched
creatures began to beg from me. I could not assist them, not having
enough to satisfy the cravings of a hungry stomach, and being aware
of another rapid march awaiting me, and more exertions and dangers
to encounter before we could put the French over the frontiers of
Portugal; and as Sancho says, "It is the belly that keeps up the heart,
not the heart the belly."

[Sidenote: 4th]

The Light Division marched to Quadrazaes and Val d'Espinho, formed a
junction with the 3rd Division, and passed through Alfayates, where the
latter halted. We moved forward to the frontier village of Forcalhos.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched to Albergueria. Once more upon Spanish ground, and now able to
get something more comfortable to eat and a good mattress to sleep upon.

[Sidenote: 6th]

The enemy retired across the Agueda, leaving a garrison of 1000 men in
Almeida under General Brenier.

[Sidenote: 7th]

The 2nd Battalion 52nd joined from England on the march from Ponte de
Murcella, and were put into Colonel Drummond's Brigade. Remained in
quarters.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Marched into Fuentes de Oñoro.

[Sidenote: 9th]

The Light Division took up the old line of outpost upon the Agueda,
occupying the villages of Gallegos, Espeja, and Fuentes de Oñoro, and
forming the line of advanced posts to the Duas Casas, the fortress of
Almeida being now blockaded by the British and Portuguese.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Captain Cameron, Lieutenants Cox, Coxen, and myself went with 150 Rifle
Men to San Pedro, near Almeida.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Before day, marched close to the town with a company of the 2nd
Battalion 52nd, under Captain Snodgrass, who supported us. Several
cannon shot were fired from the town at us. We succeeded in making the
garrison take within its walls several bullocks and sheep that were
feeding under the range of their guns. When it became dusk we returned
to San Pedro.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched to near Almeida and attacked the party that were guarding the
cattle. The cattle were taken into the town. The enemy fired some heavy
guns repeatedly at us. Sergeant M'Donald was killed. Continued watching
near the town amongst the rocks, but the cattle were kept within the
gates. Returned at dusk for the night to San Pedro.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Returned to Almeida, fired at the cattle, made the enemy take them
within the walls. This was a very unpleasant service, attended with
more risk than profit. If we had been able to obtain a sirloin of beef
occasionally it would have been well enough.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Went as usual to Almeida.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Returned to Fuentes de Oñoro and joined my company, as the detachment
belonged to several companies. Two complete companies marched to
Malpartida to perform this daily service.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched to Molino dos Flores and found the Light Division upon the
heights, expecting to move forward to intercept a convoy on the road
from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo, but did not effect our purpose and
returned to quarters. Some of our cavalry got between 300 French
infantry and the town; the enemy took shelter in an old ruin; the
party was asked to surrender, but refused. The officer should have
immediately sent for some infantry, but he waited too long before he
decided upon it, and a body of French came from Ciudad Rodrigo to
release them. Heavy firing of cannon and small arms at Almeida. Lord
Wellington left us to visit the Corps in Alentejo.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Two battalions of French infantry and a squadron of cavalry came by
Carpio to the heights above Marialba, on the Azava, where they halted,
and sent a party forward to attack the 52nd piquet, stationed at the
bridge. The pass was disputed with spirit, and soon after another
company, with some of the 95th Rifles, came to their assistance,
and the enemy were compelled to retire. The enemy moved away in the
direction of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Some piquets that the enemy had outside Almeida were driven in, which
caused the firing mentioned.

[Sidenote: 24th]

The 6th Division is stationed before Almeida under General Campbell; it
is now most rigorously blockaded. Sir Stapleton Cotton has arrived from
England, and is appointed to command the whole line of outposts. Sir B.
Spencer commands the army in the absence of Lord Wellington.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Colonel Beckwith's Brigade occupied the villages of Sexmiro, Barquilla,
and Villar del Puerco, which are near each other and to the left of
Gallegos.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched early in the morning to Almeida, and then went to the rear of
Gallegos, where our Brigade was assembled.

Colonel Drummond's Brigade was now assembled in front of this place.
The piquets exchanged a few shots with the enemy. We were informed by
deserters that Marshal Massena had arrived at Ciudad Rodrigo, and that
the French army was concentrating its force in the neighbourhood for
the purpose of relieving Almeida.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Lord Wellington returned to the army. The Royal Dragoons and 14th came
to the advanced posts and entered Sexmiro, Barquilla, and Villar del
Puerco. A sortie was made by the garrison of Almeida, but effected
nothing of consequence; a sergeant and three soldiers were made
prisoners.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Marched to Sexmiro, as a strong piquet of French infantry was placed at
the ford over the Agueda not far from it.

Six squadrons of cavalry and a column of French infantry made their
appearance about noon on the heights of Carpio and Marialba, and
withdrew after remaining some hours.

The 3rd Battalion 1st Foot marched to Almeida to support the Light
Division. The outpost at Sexmiro was confided to the cavalry.

[Sidenote: 1811 May 1st]

Marched to Almeida. Marched to Espeja and joined the Brigade. The enemy
in force; cavalry, infantry, and guns moved forward a little after
daybreak upon Gallegos and Espeja. Colonel Drummond's Brigade joined
ours. The Light Division retired before the enemy about three miles
and formed column of regiments in a very extensive wood. The British
cavalry were drawn up in a plain to our front. It was occupied by them
for the night. Bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Yesterday the French army had concentrated in our vicinity ready
to advance, and having a large force of cavalry (far more numerous
than ours), we retired, without firing a shot, through the village
of Fuentes de Oñoro, and found the British and Portuguese troops in
position, with the Duas Casas River in our front, the right of the
army resting upon a Portuguese village—Nava de Avel. Don Julian with
his guerrillas, horse and foot, and some light guns, were also there
for the purpose of acting upon the enemy's flank. Our centre was
behind Fuentes de Oñoro, and parallel with it (our position being much
higher), our left being upon Fort Concepçion and Aldea de Obispo, which
was four miles in front of Almeida. We overlooked the villages and
adjacent country, where we observed the enemy moving into position and
advancing towards us along the same tracks we had a few hours before
been passing over. It was obvious that Marshal Massena had concentrated
this large army either to attempt to carry off the garrison of
Almeida, or to throw succour into it. Lord Wellington was determined
to prevent him, and placed his army as I have described. About mid-day
the enemy's light troops, supported by columns of infantry, entered
the village, and were met by Light companies of the 3rd Division, and
those of Generals Nightingale's and Howard's Brigades and the King's
German Legion, supported by the 83rd Regiment (2nd Battalion). The
village being built of granite, and the walls intersecting it in every
direction of the same material, the contest became amusing and lively,
and was supported on both sides with great bravery. A very heavy column
now entered and was carrying all before it, when the 24th, 71st, and
79th Regiments were thrown into the village, and checked its advance.
At daybreak the firing ceased on both sides. The Light companies and
the 83rd were withdrawn, leaving the 71st and 79th supported by the
24th.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

The Light Division was kept in reserve the greater part of the day
directly behind Fuentes de Oñoro, and a line of the 3rd Division was
formed ready to enter into the spirit of any attack made in this
quarter, which, being the key to our position, in all probability would
be assailed with the most vigour. The Light Division towards evening
moved to the left, as the enemy appeared in great force in that part of
our line. A brisk cannonade was kept up by the French during the whole
of the day, although they had gained no advantage, but lost a great
number of men in Fuentes de Oñoro.

[Sidenote: 4th]

The enemy's General made a reconnaissance of our position. Smart
fighting in Fuentes de Oñoro.

Major-General Craufurd assumed the command of the Light Division,
having joined from England. Towards evening the Light Division moved in
the rear of the centre to support it in case of an attack, being the
key to our position.


Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro

[Sidenote: 5th]

This morning we observed the enemy had concentrated a large force of
all arms in the vicinity of Fuentes de Oñoro. The Light Division was
moved to the right and also some distance to its front, and entered a
large wood, throwing out skirmishers to our front, as it was expected
from the enemy's manœuvres that a large force was concentrating there
under cover, for the purpose of making a sudden attack upon the right
of our line. Their skirmishers kept up a fire, but did not attempt
to drive us out until a large body of their cavalry had debouched
some distance to our right and when clear of the wood, wheeled to
their right, so as to intercept our retrograde movement. The enemy's
skirmishers then followed us up, keeping up a smart fire until we left
the wood and formed column at quarter-distance ready to form square
at any moment if charged by cavalry, and in this way we marched to
that part of the position where the Guards were formed in line. A body
of cavalry hovered about us, but from our formidable appearance and
the steady manner with which the movement was conducted, the enemy
did not charge us. A company of Guards wheeled back, their battalion
being in line; we passed through and then halted in column and became
a support to that part of our line. The 7th Division was on the right
of our line. A heavy column of French cavalry moved upon Nava de Avel
as well as infantry, and Don Julian, with his guerrillas, horse and
foot, retired before them. The French columns were passing from the
wood towards the right in large bodies, which made it obvious what were
the intentions of the enemy. Our illustrious Chief, having the eye of
an eagle, in an instant penetrated through the designs of Massena and
ordered the 7th Division to refuse its right, which was effected so
well that the enemy gained no advantage. The Chasseurs Britanniques, a
regiment in our service in the 7th Division, principally composed of
renegade Frenchmen, was charged by a body of the enemy's cavalry in
line, and repulsed them in good style. "When Greek meets Greek then
comes the tug of war." We were highly amused at this rencontre. Some
squadrons of ours, headed by General Stewart, attacked a large body of
French cavalry and hacked their way through it, bringing off a colonel
of Dragoons and several men, besides leaving a number _hors de combat_.
The enemy passed the Duas Casas at Paya Velha ford, and occupied the
place where part of the 7th Division had retired from, in consequence
of the right of the army being thrown back. Five companies of Rifle
Men occupied some rugged ground through which the Turon pursued its
course, on the right of the 1st Division, and between it and the 7th.
The enemy attempted to penetrate this valley, but were kept in check
by our men and some Light companies of the 1st Division. The left of
the 7th Division rested upon the Turon, and its right towards the Coa,
covering the road to Almeida. The 5th Division was stationed at Fort
Concepçion and Aldea de Obispo. General Park's Portuguese Brigade and
2nd Regiment blockaded Almeida. A company of the Guards, who did not
get out of the wood at the time we retired (from mistake, I suppose),
were sharply attacked, and Colonel Hill, who commanded, was taken
prisoner as well as several men, and some killed. The enemy's guns kept
up a very heavy cannonade upon our line. Our heavy artillery was drawn
up in front of the 1st Division, and kept up a well-directed fire upon
the enemy's guns and silenced several. As our men were lying down in
column just behind the line of the 1st Division, ready to be slipped
at anything that might be thought necessary, a body of French cavalry
menaced a charge upon our guns and came up in the boldest manner,
receiving repeated discharges of grape-shot, that literally made lanes
through them. Finding it of no use, the cavalry moved off. The enemy,
not being able to make any impression upon our right, attacked the
village of Fuentes de Oñoro with great vigour, continually bringing
up more men to the assistance of those engaged. The 24th, 71st, and
79th defended the upper parts of the village with great resolution,
and repeatedly repulsed the different attacks. The enemy ultimately
arrived at the head of the village by the principal road, and were
beginning to make a formation upon the plain opposite our line, when
the head of their column was repulsed in grand style by the 74th and
88th Regiments. They were led by Colonel Pakenham, D.A.G., a most able
soldier.[20] The place was covered with dead, and a number of officers
who had led the head of this imposing column were killed. No further
operations of importance occurred during the day. The Light troops on
both sides kept up a continual tiralade from behind the village walls,
and many gallant little affairs took place by individuals that were
known only to those who were principals on that occasion. Night put a
stop to further havoc, and the British soldiers rested upon the field
of battle, with that proud feeling which a man only can have under such
circumstances—of having fulfilled his duty to his country by repulsing
a much larger force of cavalry and infantry at all points, and that
under one of the enemy's most able generals, Marshal Massena, Prince of
Essling, the "spoiled child of Fortune" (for so Massena was designated
by the French Emperor). The Light Division relieved the piquets. I was
on piquet in the lower part of the village, near a little stream of
water which passed through part of the town. The enemy had a captain's
piquet on the opposite side of the little rill, and a heavy column of
infantry was formed behind a small church, either waiting for orders or
fearing an attack. We gave some badly-wounded Frenchmen to the piquet,
and the officer allowed some of ours to be given up. A French officer
said to me, "This place is appropriately named the Fountain of Honour;
God knows how many of our friends on both sides have drunk deep of its
waters, and with to-morrow's dawn most likely many more will do so." My
only reply to this was, "The fortune of war will decide that, and we
are ready to try its chances when our illustrious chief gives the order
to advance." The remainder of the night was occupied in knocking down
many an honest man's garden wall and making a strong breast-work to
fire over as soon as the day dawned. Only a few random shots were fired
during the night. Before day every man stood to his arms and carefully
watched its dawning.

[Sidenote: 6th]

The enemy we found, when visible, to be not inclined to fight us; they
had been busily occupied in getting their wounded and heavy guns away
to the rear, as well as all incumbrances, in order to be able, if
pressed, to make a clean start and be off. Relieved from piquet.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Remained as yesterday. Went on piquet in the village in the evening.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Relieved as before by the 2nd Brigade, Light Division. The weather very
warm, and great numbers of dead, all stripped naked, were spread in
every direction and swollen in a disgusting manner from putrefaction,
and exhaling most offensive smells. Such is the general result of a
hard-fought battle when the dead are not buried.

[Sidenote: 9th]

On piquet.

[Sidenote: 10th]

At daybreak found the enemy had moved off and only left a small cavalry
piquet here and there along the line of posts they had before so
strongly occupied as a rear-guard. Our columns were soon moving forward
and the French withdrawing to join a very strong body of cavalry, which
kept ours in check and prevented us from taking many prisoners. The
Light Division went into quarters again at Gallegos and Espeja. This
night the garrison of Almeida under General Brenier, after mining the
works and fixing the loaded cannon muzzle to muzzle and having the
trains laid to fire them, left the town and passed over the very bodies
of the blockaders in a close column. The pickets followed and fired
upon them, the French now and then firing a few shots, but making the
best of their way to Barba del Puerco, where they arrived at daylight,
and were attacked by some of the 4th and 36th Regiments in winding
through the intricate passes over the Agueda. In the eagerness of
pursuit the 36th Light company passed the bridge and went too far, and
a body of French from San Felices moved to assist their comrades and
beat back the Light company with loss. Colonel Cochrane, who commanded
the regiment on that occasion, was very much annoyed at some remarks
afterwards made. Brenier's mines exploded most effectually, and the
guns also were split in pieces; in fact, altogether it was a most
masterly movement. Colonel Bevan was too late at Barba del Puerco with
his regiment, owing to Sir W. Erskine, by accident, not sending him
an order in time. Poor Bevan was censured by Lord Wellington, which
circumstance preyed so much upon his mind, knowing that he had done
his duty, that he blew his brains out. The order alluded to was sent
from the headquarters by Lord Wellington's direction, and Sir William
Erskine forgot to forward it, and literally after the business was over
found the document in his pocket. What trifles some men's fate hangs
upon!

[Sidenote: 12th]

A Brigade of French Dragoons moved forward to the heights of Carpio
this morning. Our cavalry piquets retired towards Espeja, followed by a
squadron. The 1st Brigade, Light Division, moved in front of the town,
and skirmishers (Rifle Men) fired upon the French. They retreated, and
our cavalry reoccupied their post at Carpio, beyond the Azava.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Lord Wellington left the headquarters at Valermosa and went to visit
Marshal Beresford, who had commenced the siege of Badajoz.

Accounts of a sanguinary battle having been fought there on May 16th
arrived. Marshal Beresford had marched from before Badajoz to Albuera,
where he encountered, with the British, Portuguese, and two Divisions
of Spaniards, under Blake and Castaños, the French army, commanded by
Marshal Soult, and eventually, after sustaining repeated attacks, drove
it back. On the night of the 17th the French moved off, and Badajoz
was again invested on the 19th. My brother Maud, Lieutenant, 34th
Regiment, commanded a company, his captain being killed early in the
action.


Letter No. XII

      Espeja, Spain, _18th May 1811_.

My dear Parents—This very wet morning, being disengaged, I feel great
pleasure through the medium of this sheet to impart my adventures since
I last wrote from Celorico on 26th March, which I am well aware will
be gladly received by my dear mother when she finds her son has always
had the good-fortune to be engaged in every affair with his regiment
against the enemy. After halting one day at Celorico, we marched
towards the Coa, first driving the French from the strong position at
Guarda. In a skirmish at Freixeda we lost a valuable officer, shot from
a window. Our men were so enraged at the circumstance as to be with
difficulty prevented killing some rascals we took. The Light Division
moved near Sabugal on the 2nd of April—a very bad day. I was with half
our company on piquet, our sentries within pistol shot of the enemy,
and being a very rainy and stormy night, it was necessary to be much
upon the alert for fear of surprise. By the bye, the enemy have been
so severely handled in five or six attempts to surprise piquets of the
Light Division in the night as to make them very cautious how they
attempt such manœuvres. I smoked my pipe to keep me warm, and had an
immense wood fire, round which our lads sat joking and passing the
night with the greatest cheerfulness.

Early the next morning the piquets were called in, and
Lieutenant-Colonel Beckwith's Brigade ordered to cross the river and
attack the enemy. The river was rapid and at the ford took me to the
waist. I fully expected the enemy would have greeted our approach with
grape-shot and shells, but they suffered us to pass unmolested. As soon
as the Rifle Men crossed, they extended and moved up the steep hills,
covered with mountain heath and brushwood. On approaching the summit of
the first chain of heights, the enemy commenced skirmishing. By this
time the 43rd Light Infantry and Caçadores had joined us. The enemy
were driven from one chain of hills to another for two miles, when
suddenly, on gaining the top of a third chain of hills, our whole line
in skirmishing order came in contact with seven columns of French.

The company I was leading on pounced upon a column, and, owing to
the situation of the ground, came literally within twenty yards of
it before we could see it. Guess my astonishment! The most hideous
yelling assailed my ears (the same in every direction of our line),
the French drumming, shaking their bayonets, and calling out "Long
life to the Emperor Napoleon." Luckily the ground was thinly patched
with stout trees, which afforded our men good shelter in retiring.
Nothing could intimidate our brave fellows, retiring and keeping up a
hot and destructive fire upon the enemy's close column so as to annoy
them very materially. I now began to think we were always to have
ill-luck on the banks of this infernal river, but fortune, under many
circumstances, favours the brave. Colonel Beckwith rode along the line
in the most cool and gallant style, cautioning the men to be steady,
knowing well that if we maintained our ground for one hour or so we
should have two or three Divisions of our army to our support, and
that if we did not keep our ground the whole Brigade would be drowned
or bayoneted. As our Division had so recently driven about 500 French
into a river and drowned them, the same way of retorting to the joke
would have been delightful to the enemy. We retired very steadily
about fifty yards into a deep valley, the French firing from a great
number of cannon, throwing grape and shells, which splintered the trees
and naturally killed several men. Finding the enemy did not advance
farther, the Colonel formed part of the 43rd Regiment, our little
line of skirmishers moving up at the same time and making a desperate
attack upon a gun that was keeping up a very destructive fire. Every
one near the gun was bayoneted or shot. We were driven back, attacked
again, but were again obliged to retire, when luckily the other part
of our Division moved up, and the gun was ours. Colonel Beckwith on
the second attack, had his horse's side pierced by a grape-shot; a
bullet hit him slightly on the eyebrow; as he wiped the blood away
he called out, "My brave lads, I am no worse; follow me." General
Picton's Division advancing now upon our left, the enemy moved off in
the greatest confusion. This battle was the most trying and glorious I
ever beheld. They must (from their numbers alone) have annihilated us,
but fearing some trap was laid, _Johnny_ durst not move on. Our loss
this day was severe. The carnage on the enemy's side was dreadful; the
most handsome men I ever saw were biting the dust. The enemy on every
occasion oppose us with their picked and best troops; their officers
are certainly prodigal of life, often exposing themselves ridiculously.
One French officer came capering on, to show off to his regiment what
a fine fellow he was, and actually made a cut from his horse at one of
our men, who shot him. Occurrences of this nature frequently happen.
One lieutenant of ours had his head dashed to pieces by a cannon shot—a
very brave young soldier.

The enemy now retired by one forced march over the Agueda, leaving
a garrison in Almeida, which was directly invested, our Division
establishing their piquets on the same ground they occupied last year.
A party of men was sent (I was one of the number) to attempt the
destruction of the enemy's bullocks that were sent out to graze under
the walls of Almeida. The enemy threw a number of shot and shells at
us. The bullocks were so near the garrison as to render it impossible
to kill the animals without losing a number of them, and the object
gained not being worth the risk, the party were ordered to join the
regiment. Our piquets and the enemy's were frequently skirmishing, the
result always terminating in our favour.

On the 2nd of May the enemy again advanced. We had previously been
informed by the peasantry that Massena had been collecting all the
force he could muster, and meant to relieve Almeida and fight a general
action.

Massena moved over the Agueda with 35,000 infantry, 5500 cavalry, and
also a very respectable train of field artillery. We retired leisurely
and halted in a wood. Some part of the enemy occupied our quarters in
Espeja.

On the 3rd the enemy's whole force advanced. Our Division retired
without any loss to our position just above Fuentes de Oñoro, and to
my agreeable surprise our army, amounting, in this quarter, to 31,000
British and Portuguese, were ready formed, and making every necessary
preparation to receive the enemy. As this unfortunate village was
situated about the centre of our line and in a hollow, it would be one
place of attack. Under those circumstances, the inhabitants were told
that if they attempted to stop they would be killed by the shots and
shells thrown into it unavoidably by both parties. The poor unfortunate
people were obliged to run off directly. In this place I had lived for
some months at different times, the people very kind. I looked with
sorrow at the poor inhabitants, heaving a sigh, expressing at the same
time delight and confidence that the happy shores of Britain would
never be cursed with these detestable monsters while her gallant sons
are ready to lay down their lives with eagerness in defence of the most
happy land in the universe. May England ever fight her battles in a
foreign land! O happy, happy country! you are ignorant of the miseries
and wretchedness that one-half of Europe is continually exposed to, and
may you ever enjoy the same happiness! My poor old _patron_ (landlord),
happening to single me out as he passed through our martial band, came
and caught hold of me, the tears running down his aged cheeks. "Oh,
sir, I hope God will guard and protect you. If you beat these monsters,
I do not care though my house and everything I have left is destroyed."
He then observed with what delight every eye seemed to sparkle at
the advance of the enemy, and with agitation, observed their numbers,
expressing at the same time wonder at the light way in which every one
viewed them. The enemy drew up their whole force opposite ours in a
line about a mile and a half distant from us, and as the ground was
high on both sides, with a little rivulet between us, they saw us and
we saw them. It was the grandest sight I ever beheld. The enemy sent
men behind the stone walls, and were making their approaches towards
the valley. About four o'clock in the evening a very heavy cannonade
commenced on both sides, and severe fighting continued till dark.

4th. Early this morning we expected an attack, but nothing of
consequence was done. At daylight on the 5th of May the enemy were
moving on in all directions. Our Division moved to the right of our
line and into a wood in front; skirmished; ordered to retire. The
enemy making a rapid movement round the right of the wood, some Light
companies of different regiments and a company of ours were sadly
mauled by the cavalry. The French have a very great superiority of
cavalry. Our Dragoons amounting to only 1500, they could not possibly
check so vast a superiority of cavalry in every place. Every one
exulted with soon bringing the enemy to a general action. Massena made
a slight attack on our right, a vigorous one at the village in front of
our centre, and a slight one on our left, in all which they suffered
most severely. The enemy threw numbers of shot and shells, which were
returned in grand style by our artillery. Suddenly, when every man's
hopes were raised to the highest pitch, the Prince of Essling, seeing
the centre could not be attacked, and also being beaten back on the
left, ordered his army to retire. For want of cavalry we were not able
to follow after them. I never regretted anything so much. The result
of the business was about 5000 officers and men of the enemy killed,
wounded, and prisoners; and about 600 of ours (including Portuguese)
killed, wounded, and prisoners. This day, Massena made a very fine
speech to his men, saying he would drive us beyond the Coa and relieve
Almeida.

By some means or other our Division was sent to different parts of the
line, where it was expected we should be most wanted, and by a mere
accident, for the first time we were not hotly engaged. One of our
officers was killed and another badly wounded, and a few men wounded.
If the enemy could have been brought to a general action we should have
lived peaceably this summer, instead of which we shall be in perpetual
hot water. I am astonished to see the ridiculous nonsense put in the
English papers by the friends of young men who are as ignorant as
themselves. I beg you will not by any means publish my letters to any
one, as it would only be attended with unpleasant consequences.

Since our advance from Santarem on 6th March, seven of our officers
have laid down their lives, and a great number have been wounded. I
soon expect to have my lieutenancy. If I live, I shall get a company
sooner in this regiment than any other. My dear brother wrote me
wishing to get into our regiment; he is very comfortable in his present
one, and not half so liable to be exposed to hardships. I have advised
him to continue in his regiment. In six months we see as much service
as half the army can boast of in ten years. It is just the life for
me while I have health. I am happy to inform you my thigh begins to
fill out and gets stronger daily, so much so, that I begin to take one
hour's exercise at football very frequently. I am very anxious to know
if you hear anything of John, whose fate often costs me many an uneasy
hour. Make every inquiry after him, and if possible send him money.
Joseph by this time ought to be very clever. I expect to see him write
as well as I do. I hope you are very strict in making him attend to his
education, as it is fortune, along with good conduct. I hope Charles
is at a good grammar school. He is old enough to commence Latin. It
is from the purest motives I take such interest in my family. If I
see them advance and flourish in the world I shall be the happiest of
mortals; if otherwise I shall be the most miserable.

My dear father, recollect these words, and should casual circumstances
estrange me from you, and my pen cease to dictate the love I bear
my family, your children will live to reward your kindness. My
sister Ann's letter gave me great pleasure. I hope she continues to
amuse herself in endeavouring to acquire knowledge. I am proud of
her, and hope she will be an ornament to her family. My dear little
Betty! I shall send her some little things, but the uncertainty and
inconvenience of sending articles prevents me. If I find the last
article safe, it will induce me to do the same again. I often amuse
myself with the thoughts of your comfortable fireside, when exposed,
wet and hungry, to the inclemency of the weather, though the pride
and pleasure in doing my duty for my country overcomes every other
consideration. I hope my dear mother is well, and I hope to see her
another day in company with Maud, who is now a lieutenant. My best
respects to my uncle and Aunt Maud. I feel myself in duty bound to
thank her for her kindness to my mother. I bought a shawl, and am sorry
I have not had an opportunity of sending it to my aunt.

Lord Wellington is adored by his army; wherever he is, confidence of
success is the result. The French own it that, next to Buonaparte, he
is the first Captain in Europe. I wish his lordship had Buonaparte to
contend with instead of Massena; we should sooner settle the business.
I have received no letters since I last wrote from Celorico. I wrote a
long letter to Colonel Sibthorp the other day.

My brother is a bloody-minded young rogue, and is thirsting to be
engaged with the French. By this time I daresay the army under Marshal
Beresford has been engaged. My brother's regiment is in Alentejo. I
am proud to say I am confident he will do his duty most gallantly. We
expect to organise the Spaniards, and if the system is successful, to
attack the French in Spain. The Spaniards are handsome-looking fellows,
but proud and haughty. The Portuguese have on all occasions behaved
bravely. The Spaniards have behaved remarkably well to the prisoners
taken by the French, and at the risk of their lives bring them back
to us, which is a very good trait in their character. Every article
of food is enormously dear: bread 1s. a pound, butter 4s. a pound,
wine bad and dearer than in England. Clothes are expensive and bad. My
jacket is brown instead of green. Never was seen such a motley group
of fellows. I luckily got some French shirts and other articles, or I
should be nearly naked. If you ever meet with a good spy-glass, buy it,
as I should be glad to give any price for a good one. I suppose you
have the dog "Rifle"; if a good one, still preserve him. My respects to
my friend Whitaker. I hope his son volunteered. If he has done so into
this or my brother's regiment, we shall be very happy to serve him. I
hope to see a great number of volunteers come out soon, cavalry and
infantry, as we shall soon want a fresh supply. I hope many will fancy
a green jacket, as our ranks are very thin, having lost a number of
brave soldiers. I remain, with best wishes, your affectionate son,

      Geo. Simmons,
      Lieut., 95th or Rifle Regiment.



CHAPTER VIII

_Journal—26th May-21st August_

 The Light Division falls back and recrosses the Coa—Simmons visits
 the graves of those who fell in the combat of the previous year—Finds
 the remains of his friend, Lieutenant M'Diarmid of the 43rd Light
 Infantry, and buries them—Marches and counter-marches—Is ordered to
 take a convoy of sick to Lisbon, but takes "French leave" and marches
 to rejoin the Rifles—Four companies, 3rd Battalion, under Colonel
 Barnard join the Light Division.

Letter No. XIII

_To his Parents, from Mortiago, dated 26th August 1811_

 Condoles with his father—Colonel Beckwith invalided to England—Is
 promoted to 1st Lieutenant—Arranges for his brother Joseph to be sent
 out to the Peninsula as a "Volunteer" to the 34th Regiment—Moralises
 on the uncertainty of human life and the depressing influence of
 continuous losses of good men on active service—The proper spirit with
 which to go into action.

_Journal—29th August-30th September 1811_

 Is sent out on a reconnaissance by General Craufurd—Marshal Marmont
 advances in force—The Light Division falls back across the Agueda—The
 Light Division chaplain oversleeps himself and falls into the hands of
 the French—Narrow escape of General Craufurd from capture by French
 Dragoons—Marshal Marmont, having effected his object, falls back into
 Spain.

Letter No. XIV

_To Lieutenant Maud Simmons, 34th Regiment, 2nd Division, Portugal,
from Aldea Velha, Portugal, dated 1st October 1811_

 Describes General Marmont's concentration and advance to protect
 the convoy destined to revictual Ciudad Rodrigo—The position at El
 Bodon—General Picton attacked—Lord Wellington withdraws on Aldea
 da Ponte—The Rifles on rear-guard—The French advanced guard press
 them, but are driven back—The French cavalry capture some Portuguese
 guns, but the latter are recaptured by the 5th Fusiliers with the
 bayonet—The British army draws up on the heights of Alfayates, but
 Marmont refuses action and falls back—The Light Division "out of a
 scrape" for the first time without losses—Regrets at this.

_Journal—1st October-10th December 1811_

 Gets the ague, the result of repeated drenchings—Don Julian Sanchez,
 the guerrilla chief, captures General Renaud, the Governor of Ciudad
 Rodrigo—The Light Division ordered out to endeavour to intercept the
 new Governor reaching that fortress—Simmons's stable on fire—Nearly
 loses his horses—Again attacked by ague—Lord Wellington inspects the
 three British regiments of the Light Division (43rd, 52nd, and 95th
 Rifles) near Fuenteguinaldo—The Light Division goes into cantonments
 for the winter.

Letter No. XV

_To his Parents, from Atalaya, Spain, dated 8th December 1811_

 Anxious inquiries about brother Joseph, and further instructions as
 to his voyage out, his uniform and equipment—How to make an officer's
 cocked hat—Severe lecture to his father.


_Journal—26th May-21st August 1811_

[Sidenote: 1811 May 26th]

[Sidenote: 27th]

The Light Division marched to Nava de Avel and Aldea da Ponte, fully
expecting to proceed to Alentejo. Countermanded and took up again the
line of outposts from the 5th Division in front of Espeja and Gallegos.

[Sidenote: 1811 June 5th]

Having correct information that the enemy's cavalry had been collecting
in large force for some days upon the Agueda, made us much upon the
alert to know where the attack would be made, and before day we marched
out of Espeja (Beckwith's Brigade) and bivouacked in a wood in rear of
that place. Returned about noon.

[Sidenote: 6th]

The Light Division retired, the outposts being put back with a body of
cavalry. We passed through Aldea da Ponte and bivouacked in the wood
near Alfayates. We heard that Marshal Marmont commanded the French,
and that Massena had been recalled to Paris to explain to Napoleon why
he had been repulsed and beaten at Fuentes de Oñoro; so the deserters
inform us.

[Sidenote: 7th]

The Light Division marched and crossed the Coa at the same ford (to the
right of Sabugal) we did when on the 3rd of April we passed in the
face of a French Division. I had very different feelings now, coolly
and deliberately entering a river after marching some distance with
a burning sun over one's head, the perspiration running in streams
from every pore. Although I was well used to such movements it was
not pleasant, but on the former occasion I took the water as kindly
as a water dog, for the French skirmishers were firing in our faces.
We bivouacked in a wood of chestnut-trees, where several of our brave
fellows had been buried, and whose bones had been dug up by wolves and
were strewn above their graves. A gallant young fellow, Lieutenant and
Adjutant M'Diarmid, 43rd Light Infantry, who was wounded with myself at
Almeida, and who joined again when I did, had fallen in fight here. I
went to see if his grave had escaped the general disturbance. I found
his skull lying at some distance; I was convinced that it must be so,
as the hair was still in patches on it. There was no mistaking it; his
hair, when alive, was auburn and very curly. His bones were partly
eaten and thrown about in the same way. This appearance of a friend
whom I had esteemed and had so often associated with, and so recently
too, produced many gloomy reflections. I collected the straggling
relics and replaced them and covered them over as the last tribute I
could pay him.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Marched to Maimoa, the day excessively hot. Bivouacked there to cook.
Moved to Penamacor in the evening. This town is situated upon a most
commanding eminence, from which you have a bird's-eye view of the
country round.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Marched to San Miguel d'Acha. Bivouacked and halted.

[Sidenote: 10th]

By some mistake of the Staff, commenced the march under a vertical
sun at midday; the heat was so great that several men fell out of the
ranks, not being able to keep up with the column.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Passed the 1st Division at Louza, and halted near Escalos de Cima in a
wood.

[Sidenote: 12th]

On our march, passed Castello Branco, and halted for some time near
Sarnadas, which is close to the valley of the Tagus. In the afternoon
moved to the pass at Villa Velha. Over the Tagus, a bridge of boats was
moored.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Passed over and marched to Niza. Bivouacked in a wood. I felt myself
very unwell. Got a bed in the town.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched to Alpalhão, and on 15th to Portalegre, and remained in these
good quarters until the 19th, when we marched to Arronches.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Rode to San Olaya to see my brother Maud. He had gone to the rear ill
the day before. I felt sadly disappointed.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched to an encampment upon the Caya, about three miles in the rear
of Campo Mayor, and took up our ground in position with the army. Lord
Wellington was compelled to leave Badajoz and recross the Guadiana,
owing to Marshals Marmont and Soult having formed a junction and
concentrated their forces in its neighbourhood.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Visited my _patrona_ in Campo Mayor; she was very glad to see me.
Returned to the camp in the evening.

Rode to Elvas and visited Fort de Lippe.

[Sidenote: 1811 July 3rd]

Lord Wellington took the cavalry and crossed the Guadiana to
reconnoitre the enemy; he found they were gone.

[Sidenote: 20th]

General Craufurd frequently has the Division out for exercise. Nothing
else worthy of notice has occurred. The Light Division broke up from
this tiresome sort of monotonous life led here. Marched a league and a
half and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Marched to Portalegre.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Castello de Vide. Occupied several _quintas_ round the town. A splendid
garden was attached to the one I was billeted upon. I feasted upon a
variety of good fruits as well as quantities of mulberries.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Marched to near Niza and bivouacked upon the same ground as before.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Passed the Tagus at Villa Velha over a pontoon bridge lately placed
there. Bivouacked in an olive grove.

[Sidenote: 31st]

Marched about two miles and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 1811 Aug. 1st]

Marched to Castello Branco.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Marched to Louza and Escalos de Cima.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Marched to Bemposta. Bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Marched to Maimoa. Bivouacked on the same ground as on a former
occasion.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Moved to the heights on which the village stands.

[Sidenote: 7th]

At daybreak the Division marched towards the northern frontier. I was
sent back with forty-five sick men, and had a number of mules for the
sick to ride upon to facilitate their conveyance to a hospital station.
Marched to Pedrogão. Halted during the heat of the day, and in the
evening moved forward.

[Sidenote: 8th]

To San Miguel d'Acha. Bivouacked and marched to Escalos de Cima. Halted
in the place during the heat of the day. In the evening moved forward
to Castello Branco and gave up my charge.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Halted. I had my baggage with me and the horse I rode; two horses to
take care of, and no servant. By accident I met with a half-starved
Portuguese boy in the street, whom I engaged for a servant. I found
the Commandant wanted to send me "on command" with a detachment of
sick men to Lisbon. I requested he would allow me to proceed and
join my regiment, observing that as in all probability it would soon
be actively employed, I should feel sadly disappointed to be absent
from it. My anxiety, he said, was highly praiseworthy, but he felt it
necessary for the good of the service to send me in another direction.
I found it useless to argue the question further, but I determined to
start back, let the consequence be what it would.

[Sidenote: 10th]

At one in the morning took "French leave" and marched to Escalos de
Cima.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Marched to San Miguel d'Acha in the cool of the evening. Moved on to
Pedrogão. Bivouacked near a rivulet; made tea. My Portuguese boy very
unwell. I cut grass for my horses and tied them close to where we lay
down for the night.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Started up with the dawn, saddled my horse and loaded my baggage, and
proceeded to Maimoa in the evening.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Proceeded to San Estevão. Bivouacked and marched to Sabugal.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched to Alfayates. Bivouacked during the heat of the day. In the
evening to Aldea da Ponte.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched to Fuenteguinaldo.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched to Mortiago and joined the Battalion. Colonel Beckwith
complimented me for returning, and although the Commandant had made a
formal complaint of me to headquarters, I had nothing said to me upon
the subject. I found the Light Division thus distributed: 52nd and
Horse Artillery in Saugo, 43rd and right wing of Rifles at Martiago,
one troop of Royals and left wing of Rifles and 1st Caçadores at
Lariquella, and the 3rd Caçadores at Villarejo.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Colonel Barnard joined the Division with four companies of the 3rd
Battalion Rifles; these men had been with the army stationed in Cadiz.
They were placed in Colonel Beckwith's Brigade. Marched to Villarejo,
and the 3rd Caçadores to Las Agallas.


Letter No. XIII

      Martiago, Spain, _26th August 1811_.

My dear Father—I received your letter dated 19th of May, which affected
me most sensibly.

Your misfortunes affect me most seriously. Would to God it was in my
power to prevent them. At present it is not.

After the battle of Fuentes de Oñoro we enjoyed ourselves in the
advance near Ciudad Rodrigo, the Spaniards being convinced we had given
the French a good drubbing. We had dances with the villagers every
night. I do not ever remember spending a more happy time.

On the 28th of July we again made a rapid march and retraced the ground
back to the north. We are now farther advanced into Spain than ever
before. I expect some fighting soon. _Johnny_ will not suffer us to
remain long quiet, if he can disturb us. A number of our officers
are ill; one died the other day. I never was better in my life. My
Colonel has gone to England sick. Previous to his departure I dined
with him. He presented me with a letter, couched in the most flattering
way, stating my services, which was addressed to Lord Wellington. I
presented the letter the next day. I am in consequence promoted to a
1st Lieutenancy. The Colonel has at all times shown me great favour.
I regret his departure. I hope in two or three years to get a company
through the influence of my friends.

Maud has his Colonel's leave for Joseph to come here as a Volunteer.
In two or three months after he joins, between us we can procure him a
commission. I transmit you a bill amounting to £23 : 9s., which will
nearly equip Joseph. You may procure the amount at any banking house in
England. Directly on the receipt of this write me, for I am anxious to
know, as I have two more in case this one is lost or miscarries. The
articles to equip him will not cost much money.

I hope, if I live through these turbulent times, to be able greatly to
assist you in a few years. Let me be where I will in the world, the
welfare of my family will ever be uppermost in my thoughts and my first
consideration. I have made many friends since I embraced a military
life. In my situation I am content and happy, and meeting the enemy
never costs me a second thought. It of course makes one gloomy to see
so many fine fellows fall round one, but one day or other we must all
go. The difference is very immaterial in the long-run whether a bullet
or the hand of time does your business. This is my way of moralising
when I go into a fight (which has been very often), and if for the good
of old England, I do not care how soon we have another. I go with the
determination of doing all the injury in my power to the enemies of the
human race, of which the French certainly merit the appellation. I am
sorry I cannot be of service to my dear sister. It afflicts me much.
Tell her to bear up against present misfortunes, and recollect she has
brothers who will be able to send her money occasionally. After we have
done for Joseph, I shall not forget her. Give me an account of Charles
and Betsy. Keep them at school. I want to know if Charles is better. In
another year I think I can take him off your hands entirely. Poor John!
make inquiry about him, and let me know if you can gain intelligence of
him.

My dear mother—you do not say much about her. I want to know if her
constitution is as good as when I was at home. I flatter myself she
will yet see us all round her. Our promotion in the army will put it
in our power to assist you very materially in a few years. Maud has
been lucky indeed. He is senior lieutenant to me, and if we continue
on service, he, as well as myself, must get forward. My respects to my
uncle and aunt.—Believe me yours,

      Geo. Simmons, Lt., 95th Regmt.

Direct, 1st Batt., 95th or Rifle Regiment, Light Division, British
Army, Portugal. Write directly and let me know when I may expect
Joseph. He must have a fustian haversack, a tin pot, and a large
pocket-knife. You will be able to judge by the soldier's haversack; his
may be a little smaller.


_Journal—29th August-September 1811_

[Sidenote: 1811 Aug. 29th]

Marched to Atalaya. In the evening I was ordered by General Craufurd to
go forward through a wooded country and by a circuitous route to get
upon the road leading to Salamanca, and then, discretionally, to move
on for the purpose of finding out when the convoy was likely to leave
Salamanca for Ciudad Rodrigo. I had a corporal and three men of the
German Hussars with me. I reconnoitred Tenebron and cautiously entered
the place, left it, and bivouacked for the night within the woods.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Moved forward to Boca Cara and also to Santiespiritus, and gained
information from a party of Don Julian's guerrillas that the convoy had
left Salamanca, but was compelled to return owing to several guerrilla
parties having formed up and made an attack upon it. I returned to my
quarters at Atalaya.

[Sidenote: 1811 Sept. 7th]

Major-General Drummond died at Fuenteguinaldo, and Major-General
Vandeleur was appointed to command the 2nd Light Brigade.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Moved to Horquera and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Rode over to Las Agallas and dined with Colonel Elder.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Moved to Villarejo.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

The Division moved and assembled upon the heights near Horquera. The
enemy's Dragoons entered Atalaya in force. Our cavalry piquets retired
from it, and crossed the stream behind it.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marshal Marmont was now moving forward with 6000 cavalry and four
Divisions of infantry, and bringing a convoy of provisions for the use
of the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo.

[Sidenote: 25th]

The French passed through Tenebron and Santiespiritus yesterday.
The Light Division formed at Las Agallas, marched to Cespedosa, and
bivouacked for the night. General Picton's Division partially but
sharply engaged about noon near El Bodon. Major Arentschildt's Brigade
of nine-pounders (Portuguese) did much execution at this place. The
enemy made a dash at these guns, and were in possession of them, but
were soon driven away by the 2nd Battalion 5th and the 77th Regiments
and some Portuguese infantry, supported by three squadrons of British
cavalry.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Moved to Fuenteguinaldo, and found the British and Portuguese
concentrated upon the heights in front of it, the right resting upon
Perales, in the Gata mountains, and the left at Nava de Avel under
General Graham. Some Spaniards were observing the Coa.

The Light Division retired by Robleda across the Agueda, and made a
circuitous route to Fuenteguinaldo, as the enemy was nearly round us. A
field-work was thrown up, upon some commanding ground about the centre
of our position, which gave us an idea that Lord Wellington meant to
receive the attack of the French army, and put us all in high spirits.
General Cole's Division had some fighting on this day.

After dark our army retired, and the Light Division formed the
rear-guard and left the ground about midnight, having kept up the fires
in such a manner that the enemy imagined we were still in bivouac.
The Light Division parson, Parker, went into a house to make himself
comfortable for the night, and slept very pleasantly. Some time after
daybreak he heard strange noises within doors, and soon after, a French
Dragoon entered his room. Giving his sword two or three menacing
flourishes, he asked him for his money. He was followed by others, who
were apt scholars in imitating a good example; pillage and rapine they
glory in. The poor parson found himself stripped of everything, and,
almost naked, was driven over rugged ground for twenty miles without
shoes, and then put into a prison amongst a group of others and left to
cogitate upon his hard fortune and upon his own stupidity for sliding
away to make a lodgment in a house unknown to any one in such critical
times.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The Light Division passed through Casillas de Flores. General Craufurd
was pressed sharply by some French cavalry, and came galloping in
rather too hastily. Some Rifle Men and 3rd Caçadores, being halted on
both sides of the road, ran forward amongst the brushwood and fired a
few rounds at the advance of the French (a few cavalry), who put to the
right about and scampered off. Some sharp fighting followed. General
Pakenham with the Fusilier Brigade drove the enemy from Aldea de Ponte.
Moved to near Alfayates and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Retired a league before daylight, and took up a position upon
the heights near Soita amongst some of the most extraordinary
chestnut-trees for magnitude I ever beheld; several were hollow. Ten
men might be accommodated and sheltered for a night in the hollow
trunks of some of them.

Marshal Marmont, having effected the principal object the force he had
collected was destined for (viz. to protect the convoy to Rodrigo),
as he did not wish to hazard a battle, commenced his retreat into the
interior of Spain. His army, we were led to believe, amounted to 60,000
men and 130 pieces of cannon in the field-train. Weather unfavourable.
Remained in bivouac.


Letter No. XIV

      Aldea Velha, Portugal,
      _1st October 1811_.

My dear Brother—According to our expectation, the enemy advanced
with supplies for the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo. About the 21st of
September the convoy left Salamanca. We were informed the cars loaded
with provisions amounted to 1100. As General Marmont was determined to
give battle, he had collected a very formidable force of 60,000 men,
with a vast train of field artillery. A very pretty escort. You will
wonder, as well as many others, how the devil he could collect such a
force at one given point in so short a time, and particularly when we
are taught to believe they have so few men in Spain, having lost so
many in different affairs with the Spaniards, according to the accounts
we received from different parts of Spain.

[Illustration: Sketch-Map illustrative of the Operations on the Coa and
Agueda, 1810-1812.]

Our Dragoons were driven in, as the enemy advanced. Our Division
were ordered to occupy very strong ground in rear of a small stream,
which runs at the bottom of a very deep ravine a little way in the
rear of Atalaya. The 3rd Caçadores were posted in the mountains to
the right, and at two or three passes in front of Las Agallas. Our
regiment occupied several strong places, being divided according to
circumstances, and keeping up a chain of posts communicating with the
3rd Caçadores on our right, and 43rd Light Infantry on our left. The
52nd were also posted in the same way, with Rifle Men of our 2nd and
3rd Battalions in different fastnesses and mountain roads. General
Picton's Division were upon the left bank of the Agueda at El Bodon;
so you will perceive our situation was rather critical, being so far
advanced and having the river Agueda in our rear; but it is very
obvious that this was highly necessary in order to put Marmont to as
much inconvenience as possible and make him bring up his whole force.
On the afternoon of the 24th, the enemy's cavalry drove our Dragoon
piquets over the different fords of the stream in rear of Atalaya, and
established their posts opposite us.

About twelve o'clock at noon on the 25th the enemy, in terrible force,
attacked General Picton's Division at El Bodon, which place being
immediately to our left rear, and also over the Agueda, we began to
think ourselves placed most curiously, though every one felt the
greatest security in Lord Wellington's out-manœuvring _Johnny_, and
bringing off the Division in safety. The cannonading was tolerably well
kept up on both sides, and repeated volleys of musketry. The enemy were
continually driven back, and could not effect their purpose, which was
clearly to cut off the Light Division. In the evening, the Division
were ordered to assemble at Las Agallas just after dark, and then
circumambulating [_sic_] towards Fuenteguinaldo (Lord Wellington's
headquarters), the Division halted in a field near Cespedosa. Our
baggage had gone some little way farther and had nearly been taken by
the enemy's Dragoons. Some of the 11th saved it, luckily for us. The
enemy's patrols were upon the same road and in our rear.

On the 26th at daylight we moved towards Fuenteguinaldo. The enemy
might have cut in between us, but did not like to risk such a manœuvre.
We passed the Agueda at a ford at Fuenteguinaldo in safety. We found
the army all collected; several commanding heights were strengthened
and breast-works thrown up. Every one expected a general engagement
would ensue. We took up our ground on the position, and there was
some partial skirmishing with cavalry when the enemy established his
advanced vedettes. At twelve o'clock at night the other Divisions of
the army were ordered to retire immediately by the roads, principally
towards Aldea de Ponte, and at two o'clock the Light Division were also
ordered to form the rear-guard and move off. We moved through Casillas
de Flores; in consequence of innumerable impediments on the line of
march, we moved very slowly. _Johnny's_ advanced guard pushed in our
cavalry, about a squadron, rather unmannerly, which caused us to halt
and throw out a few Rifle Men to stop his career. Two or three of the
most valorous were knocked off their horses, and the remainder retired
to a most respectable distance, where they could amuse themselves by
taking long shots—an amusement they are fond of.

On our line of march we saw the enemy's cavalry cutting wonderful
capers upon the plain and their infantry moving up in vast columns.
General Picton's and Cole's Divisions retired before the enemy's
cavalry in squares in the most cool and steady manner. About eleven
o'clock A.M. on the 27th the enemy commenced cannonading our cavalry,
which was returned with equal spirit on our side. The light troops
of General Picton's Division were also smartly engaged at this time.
The enemy's cavalry in a vast body charged and took five Portuguese
guns, which were instantly retaken in the most gallant manner by the
5th Regiment of Foot, who attacked the cavalry with the bayonet and
fairly beat them off. Colonel Pakenham, with the Fusilier Brigade,
marched up in ordinary time to meet the enemy's cavalry, who durst not
face them. The firing ceased about two o'clock. The enemy's columns
were moving up and concentrating opposite us. Our army were drawn up
in front of Alfayates upon the commanding heights. The Light Division
and Light Artillery, which, by the bye, I had forgotten to mention
before, were drawn up on the right, fronting a wood, which was filled
with the enemy's Light troops and a Light Division and Artillery, which
had followed us all the way. Near sunset the enemy appeared to be
advancing, wishing to try whether or no he could induce us to retire.
Our first line formed and also moved forward some paces, the Light
Division throwing out skirmishers towards the woods. This manœuvre
induced the enemy to give up the project, at least for the night.
Immediately after dark the other Divisions of the army retired. About
two o'clock A.M. we moved off also, and retired to Soita, a village
about a league and a half in front of Sabugal. The army we saw formed
upon the heights in the rear of this place, and this was called the
position that we were to fight upon—at least, we fully expected it
from present appearances. _Johnny_ being tired of cutting such a caper
after us, and Portugal not being quite so congenial to his comforts, he
made a retrograde movement towards Ciudad Rodrigo and Spain. You see
the Light Division has for the first time got out of a scrape without
receiving any further injury than from excessively harassing marches. I
hope it will never happen again. I have no wish to come off scot-free.
When a man's mind is worked up to meet his enemy and fight, it is a
great disappointment.

I have now told you all the news I know of. This morning, 1st October,
we moved into cantonments. Right wing, 95th, in Aldea Velha. Alfayates
is the present headquarters of the Division. I believe the other
Divisions of the army are all in cantonments behind the Coa. One
company of our 2nd Battalion arrived the other day from England, and
a batch of subs. also for us. I received a letter, or rather three in
one, from some fair dames in Kent; one of them says she has entirely
given me up—I shall never return. As I am in the humour, and to pass
off a dull and rainy day, I am writing nonsense for their amusement;
not love, I assure you.

I have not yet received an answer to the letter I wrote home. I am very
anxious about it, as upon it depends the future welfare of Joseph. If
I do not receive an answer soon, I shall write again and send a second
bill, as delays are dangerous. I think there will be no necessity for
making any arrangements at Lisbon until we have a letter knowing when
we may expect him. I hope he has not gone on a long voyage. I wrote
you some days back since I received your last. I mentioned in the
letter an agreeable surprise I met with in the hovel of an unfortunate
refugee. I shall soon begin to feel the benefit of a 1st Lieutenant's
pay, as well as the payment of a company, which I have already had for
three months, and as yet met with no losses. I am excessively ill-off
for clothes and cannot purchase anything. I hope soon to procure some
cloth from Lisbon. I am at present a perfect guerrilla, have broken my
sword, lost my sash, and am as ragged as a sweep, with just the clothes
I have on my back. I have paid the fees of Commission, and have fifty
dollars beforehand, so I am in a fair way to soon recover my balance.—I
am, dear brother, your most sincere friend ever,

      Geo. Simmons,
      Lt., 95th or Rifle Regt.

_P.S._—So uncertain are we what is to happen to-morrow, yesterday I
wrote this letter fully expecting to rest for some time. To-day we
have again entered Spain. Oct. 2nd, Fuenteguinaldo. In a day or two I
think we shall make another advance to our old quarters. This morning
we had accounts from near Salamanca; the people say that the guerrillas
destroyed several deposits of stores to a vast extent, and killed
numbers of stragglers from the French army. The French cavalry suffered
exceedingly from our guns.


_Journal—1st October-20th December 1811_

[Sidenote: 1811 Oct. 1st]

Marched to Aldea Velha.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Light Division was cantoned in the adjacent villages.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Fuenteguinaldo. Weather very rainy.

Transferred to the left wing and moved to Castillejos de Duas Casas and
to Robleda on 15th.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched to Atalaya.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Marched to Fradamora and took the command of Captain Balvaird's
company. Having for some time back been very often completely drenched
with rain night and day, for the first time in my life I got the
ague, which I found a very unpleasant companion, particularly as this
post was taken so as to prevent supplies from being carried into the
garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo by the peasantry, which required me to be
very vigilant in the performance of this duty. On 15th October Don
Julian Sanchez, with a number of his guerrillas, surprised the Governor
of Rodrigo (General Rénaud) and took him and five officers, as well as
200 head of cattle belonging to the garrison.

[Sidenote: 1811 Nov. 1st]

Withdrawn to Atalaya and joined my company.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Information had been received that a body of French troops were
escorting a new Governor to Rodrigo. The Light Division moved towards
the fortress this morning, and the 3rd Division also made a forward
movement to support us to Fuenteguinaldo. It soon was ascertained that
the Governor had entered it, as the enemy were in bivouac two leagues
in the rear. Their purpose being effected, they returned to Salamanca.

Ordered to reoccupy Fradamora and keep a good look-out. Succeeded in
capturing a number of peasantry that were going to the French garrison
with wine, onions, bread, and eggs for sale. I purchased what I
wanted, and then sent them under escort to our Commissary.

[Sidenote: 7th]

At daylight the place where my horses were put up was on fire. I had
some difficulty in getting them out. Luckily, having water at hand,
with great perseverance the fire was soon got under. Next to the
stable was deposited a large quantity of flax, which luckily remained
uninjured.

The Spaniard to whom the premises belonged was chattering so fast
and in so frantic a manner that I did not for some time understand
him until he jumped before the barn, then nearly all in a blaze, and
roared out, "Oh, my money! I am a ruined man. Oh, my money! For the
love of God, bring me my money." As these people were in the habit of
hiding their money to prevent the French from robbing them, I instantly
perceived his distress and ordered the men to throw water upon the spot
he pointed to, and had the pleasure of getting his store of wealth
and giving it into his hands, which so delighted him that he d——d the
barn, and said that as he had got his money, it was of no consequence.
The annoyance I felt and my exertions on this occasion to get the fire
under, brought on the ague with redoubled violence.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched to Atalaya. Had the ague daily, and kept my bed from its
debilitating influence. I took bark in very large doses, combined with
opium, and placed a hot stone on my bosom and two at the soles of my
feet as soon as there was any appearance of the cold fit. From treating
myself in this way I soon dislodged this insidious enemy from my body
and gradually recovered.

[Sidenote: 21st]

The Light Division now occupy the villages of El Bodon, Martiago,
Zamarra, and Atalaya, more effectually to blockade Ciudad Rodrigo.

A very brilliant affair took place on the 28th of last month, at
which my brother Maud was present, in the surprise of part of General
Gerard's Division of the French at Arroyo dos Molinos in Estremadura by
General Hill with the 2nd Division of the British army.

[Sidenote: 24th]

The 43rd and 3rd Caçadores moved to Martiago, both Battalions of the
52nd to Zamarra, Horse Artillery and 1st Caçadores to Las Agallas, and
the Rifle Men held Pastores, La Ençina, and Villarejo.

[Sidenote: 1811 Dec. 20th]

The three British regiments in the Light Division were seen by
Lord Wellington near Fuenteguinaldo, after which they returned to
cantonments. Don Julian, with his guerrillas, are very active,
and occasionally pick up Frenchmen. The garrison is now blockaded
completely; Tenebron and Santiespiritus are now occupied by British
Dragoons. Nothing further worthy of notice has taken place during this
month, which finishes the operations of this eventful year. Looking
forward anxiously to the time when we are to be ordered to commence the
siege of Ciudad Rodrigo.


Letter No. XV

      Atalaya, Spain, _8th December 1811_.

My dear Parents—About the end of August, after receiving your letter,
I wrote an answer. For these two months past I have daily expected to
have had some account from you, and as I have received none, I cannot
put off any longer. I must inform you that the account of Joseph being
sent to sea made a very serious impression upon my mind, and in order
to save him from _perdition and ruin_, I directly raised all the money
I could, and enclosed in my letter in the latter end of August, a
bill amounting to £23 : 9s. It is now above three months since, which
circumstance makes me apprehensive the bill is lost; if so, still
hoping the bill may not have been cashed, I send you the second. You
must in that case, stop the payment of the first, but should you have
the first in your possession, burn this, my second.

When I had your account of Joseph's unfortunate situation, I directly
wrote to my brother to know if there was a vacancy for Joseph, as in my
regiment there was not, having three volunteers with us.

My brother spoke to his Colonel, who immediately said he should be
happy to have an opportunity of serving him, and desired Maud would
order his brother to proceed and join the 34th, and on his arrival he
would directly recommend him for an ensigncy.

If you could procure a passage for him from Hull to Lisbon, it would
save a great deal of unnecessary expense; but if this cannot be done,
he must go to Portsmouth, and on arrival, inquire for the office of the
General who commands there. He will tell the gentleman in the office
he is a volunteer going out to join the 2nd Battalion, 34th Regiment,
and will thank him to give him an order for a ship. He will then be
sent to the Agent of Transport's office, who will inform him what ship
is going to sail. He will then be provided with a passage, and have
rations from the day he goes on board, with the use of a cabin. Only,
if there are officers on board, he will be the last allowed to choose
a bed-place, as he will on all occasions rank as junior. I only make
mention of this because some forward young fellows give themselves
great airs and get themselves offended, which will never happen if a
young man conducts himself as a gentleman and does not give way to
chattering and nonsense. I hope he will not be showing his agility on
board the ship in climbing about the ship or using sea phrases, as
such proceedings would make the officers have a bad opinion of him. In
short, he will not have any business to go from the quarterdeck on any
occasion. On his arrival in Lisbon he must inquire for the Town Major's
office, where he will find the post office for British officers' and
soldiers' letters. There is now a letter there directed for Mr. Joseph
Simmons, Volunteer, 2nd Battalion, 34th Regiment, to be left till
called for by himself, so there can be no mistakes. In the letter he
will find every necessary instruction.

A gentleman—luckily a great friend of my brother—is stationed at
Lisbon, and likely to remain some time, his name Lieutenant Richardson,
who has the command of the sick detached from the 34th Regiment. Joseph
will find this in the instructions. This officer will take him to his
house, and keep him until a favourable opportunity offers to send him
to the army. By the bye, Lieutenant Richardson lives at Belem, so if
Joseph lands from the ship at Belem stairs, he will be only three or
four hundred paces from the barracks, where he may make inquiry of
any soldier he sees which is the 34th barracks. As soon as he meets
with a man of the regiment, he then must make him go and show the
house of Lieutenant Richardson. Should he be absent from home, wait
until he returns. On his making himself known to him, he will be
kindly received. I think I have stated the business so clearly that
it would be almost impossible for Joseph to err. You must procure
Joseph a superfine red jacket. I was thinking of letting you get him
a regimental 34th coat, but I am afraid it would be too expensive,
although it would be in the end a great saving, as cloth is extremely
dear in Lisbon; however, do as you can. The collar and cuffs, white
Kerseymere, a white Kerseymere waistcoat, two pair of strong grey
trousers, made wide like sailors' trousers, three pair of strong shoes
(one pair short), strong leather gaiters. I have always found them
the most preferable, as they keep your shoes from slipping off, and
also prevent sand and gravel getting into your stockings. Three pairs
of socks. If you could purchase a sword (not a sabre) similar to the
officers' swords you may have observed on parade, and can get it cheap,
buy it; its being new is of no consequence. An old sash also you might
procure cheap; it would answer as well as any other. However, these
things are now and then to be met with here. He must have a haversack
made of dark fustian (not too large), a clasp-knife, fork, and spoon;
also a tin mug, which will serve him for wine, soup, and tea. You may
also buy some pasteboard and make a cocked hat, or at least have it cut
out in order that he can put it into his baggage, with some oil-silk,
some broad black ribbon for a cockade, and some broad stuff for a
binding. The tailor of the regiment will form it; a gold bullion for
each end. His baggage must be as small as possible, as the convenience
of carriage is very scarce—three shirts will be enough. He must also
have a black leather stock with a buckle, a common rough greatcoat; let
it be big enough (any colour, it is of no consequence). Could you get
three or four dozen of buttons like the 34th? They would be very useful
afterwards. He must bring two or three tooth-brushes and three little
towels, or any other little thing that may have slipped my memory
which may strike you. His brother is a methodical young rogue, and
will provide him with many comforts and conveniences, as the regiment
is always in good quarters, which gives them every opportunity of
being comfortable. If the money I sent is lost, it will prove a most
unfortunate circumstance. In consequence of my fears on that head I had
the opportunity of sending a note to a person in London by a friend
going home, as I had a little military account unsettled. I empowered
him to receive the balance and transmit the amount to you. The balance
will be from £10 to £20. I am not exactly certain; however, whatever it
is you will have it. I directed him to send it, and gave my friend your
direction—Osborne Street.

I hope you will make no delay about Joseph, as the Colonel often asks
Maud about him. I must say, my dear father, you did very wrong to send
Joseph to sea. I think, if you refer back to my letters, you would
find I had laid down a line of conduct, that, if you had been guided
by me, you at this moment would have had him well educated and fit for
anything. However, the opportunity is lost, the best must be made of
it, and should he be a good boy, he may still fetch up what is lost.
I assure you the misfortunes of my family often cost me many a bitter
pang, and if it was not for the hopes of being able some day or other
to be of service to you and family, I would not care how soon I made my
exit. I am only a poor soldier; with my sword I must defend myself, and
I am proud to say I have often drawn it in the defence of my country,
and as yet, thank God, it is untarnished. I have no fears that, while
I live, it will be ever so. I have as bright a prospect as most men in
my profession—my brother the same. My brother was with General Hill's
Division in this last fight in the Alentejo. He took a French captain
and dismounted him; he also took from him a handsome sword. We have
been very actively employed all the winter so far. In the mountains
near Ciudad Rodrigo it is as cold as in England. After being roasted
all the summer, it nips one to pieces to be out in this weather. I have
had the ague very severely, but I am now better. I pray for the warm
weather, which we all do. Our officers and men have in general been
sickly, but they are coming round wonderfully. We shall have warm work
in the spring, I think. It is wonderful to see the gallantry displayed
on all occasions by a British soldier.

My best respects to my uncle and aunt. I hope they are well. I feel
much obliged to my aunt for her kindness to my family, and should I
ever return to England, I hope to have the pleasure of thanking her
in person. Let me know if you hear anything of poor John. I am very
anxious. I hope Charles is better. For God's sake, mind he is not
ruined by a pack of d——d quacks; let some regular practitioner see
him. I must request you will take care of his education as well as
Betsy's. I shall charge my mother with neglect if this most essential
point is omitted. My dear Ann, I hope, is well and attentive to my
mother. I have a lot of trinkets for her if I can find means of sending
them. Some days back I sent a Spaniard into Ciudad Rodrigo to buy some
buttons (curious silver ones). I shall preserve them for Ann.

On the receipt of this note, write immediately and let me know when I
am to expect Joseph.

I remain, with my love to my dear mother and family, your affectionate
son,

      Geo. Simmons,
      Lt., 95th or Rifle Regiment.



CAMPAIGN OF 1812


 The commencement of the year 1812 found the British army in the
 Peninsula much scattered by reason of the difficulties of provisioning
 it.

 Soult, operating in Andaluçia, had towards the close of 1811 detached
 a force to besiege Tarifa, and at the end of January attempted to
 storm it, but was repulsed with heavy loss and retired on Cadiz.

 Napoleon at this time was concentrating all his energies on his
 disastrous attempt to subjugate Russia, and in order to augment his
 forces in that country, had recalled some 60,000 of his best troops
 from Spain. It was at this juncture that Wellington, taking advantage
 of the disorganised state of the French forces in the Peninsula,
 which, in addition to being divided into three separate armies, were
 widely distributed in order to obtain supplies, decided on a winter
 campaign, and unexpectedly invested the strong fortress of Ciudad
 Rodrigo.

 After a siege of only twelve days, pushed forward with extraordinary
 vigour, with the object of obtaining possession of the place before
 Marmont could assemble a sufficient force to render assistance to
 the besieged garrison, Ciudad Rodrigo was stormed. In this desperate
 undertaking Generals Craufurd and Mackinnon, fifty officers, and 650
 men fell in the breaches. The French loss was only 300.

 Marmont, having failed in his attempt to collect sufficient forces
 to raise the siege, on hearing of the fall of the place, retired on
 Salamanca.

 Wellington now directed his attention on Badajoz, so as to impede the
 junction of Soult and Massena, and marching rapidly thither, laid
 siege to it. Soult, confident in the strength of the place, set to
 work to collect a force sufficient to attack the Allies, but before
 he could do this, Badajoz was stormed. The losses of the assailants
 in this terrible assault were very great; sixty officers and over 700
 men were killed, and the total number of killed and wounded during the
 siege was 3500.

 Having thus made himself master of Badajoz, Wellington contemplated
 driving Soult out of Andaluçia, but was met by so many difficulties,
 political as well as military, that he abandoned this scheme, and
 decided to operate against Marmont in Estremadura and Leon. Having
 surprised and captured the fortress of Almaraz, he advanced to the
 Tormes and laid siege to the forts covering the bridge of Salamanca.
 Marmont shortly appeared at the head of a strong force and endeavoured
 to succour the forts, but without success, and upon their being
 stormed by the British, he fell back to the line of the Douro near
 Tordesillas, Wellington following him as far as Rueda.

 Massena, having received some reinforcements, crossed the Douro and
 sought to turn Wellington's right flank. Now ensued the remarkable
 manœuvring on both sides which, after the sharp combats of Castrejon
 and the Guareña, culminated in the battle of Salamanca. After this
 disaster to the French arms, Massena retired on Burgos, and King
 Joseph, who, too late, had come to aid Marmont, returned to Madrid.
 Clausel fell back through Valladolid, which town Wellington occupied,
 thus separating Marmont from King Joseph. The Allies now advanced on
 Madrid, which the King quitted in haste, and ordered Soult to abandon
 Andaluçia and to join him at Valencia.

 The Allies occupied Madrid, and remained there for some months, but
 Clausel having reorganised his forces and reoccupied Valladolid,
 Wellington advanced against him.

 Clausel fell back on Burgos, followed by the Allies. No less than five
 assaults were made on this fortress, but without success. Meanwhile
 the French received reinforcements, and eventually the siege of Burgos
 had to be raised, and Wellington was forced to retreat on Madrid,
 several sharp combats taking place on the way thither.

 King Joseph, with Soult and Jourdan, now moved on Madrid, and the
 French force being thus overwhelmingly strong, Wellington evacuated
 the capital and fell back 200 miles to the line of the Tormes,
 followed by Soult and Jourdan. His position there being turned by
 Soult, he resumed his retreat on Rodrigo, and after a sharp combat
 on the Huebra, reached that place in November, and went into winter
 quarters.



CHAPTER IX

_Journal—4th January-30th July 1812_

 The Light Division advances on Ciudad Rodrigo and fords the
 Agueda—Storming of Fort San Francisco—Commencement of the siege
 of Ciudad Rodrigo—The convents of Santa Cruz and San Francisco
 captured—Work in the advanced saps—Storming of Ciudad Rodrigo—Simmons
 is told off for one of the ladder parties—Rencontre with General
 Craufurd—The Forlorn Hope and storming parties advance and carry
 the breaches—The Rifles bivouac on the ramparts—Heavy losses of the
 Grenadiers of the 45th and 94th Regiments—Effects of the explosion
 of the magazine—Death of Lieutenant Uniacke—General Craufurd dies of
 his wounds—The Light Division marches back into Portugal—Advances
 again on Badajoz—Ground broken before Fort Picurina—Sortie of
 the French—Their cavalry enter the British camp—Storming of Fort
 Picurina—Lieutenant Stokes of the Rifles, the first man in—The
 British entrench themselves in the work under a heavy fire from the
 French—Batteries in Badajoz—Duty in the trenches—Simmons with forty
 good shots pick off the French artillerymen and silence the guns—A
 French officer endeavours to return the compliment, but is "put out
 of that" by a Rifle Man—Accident to Simmons—Storming of Badajoz—Major
 O'Hare of the Rifles in command of the storming party—Desperate
 fighting at the breaches—The Light Division unable to enter—Carnage
 in the ditch—The Light Division ordered to withdraw—The 3rd Division
 escalade the castle—Lord Wellington orders the Light Division to
 renew their attack—The town occupied—Simmons enters the house of the
 French Quartermaster-General and finds a sketch-map of the breaches
 showing the expected British lines of advance—At daybreak visits
 the breaches—The _chevaux de frise_ and obstacles created by the
 French—Finds the body of Major O'Hare—"_A Lieutenant-Colonel, or
 cold meat in a few hours_"—Heavy losses of the Rifles and of the
 Light Division—Brother Maud comes to see if he is alive—The soldiers
 plunder the town—The Light Division marches towards Salamanca—Fighting
 near Salamanca—The British enter the town—Simmons' views of the
 priests and monks—March towards the Douro—Gets a good quarter at Nava
 del Rey—The armies on opposite banks of the Douro—Lord Wellington
 reconnoitres the French, and nearly falls into the hands of their
 cavalry—The British army retires, closely followed by the French—The
 marches previous to the battle—Skirmish on the Guareña—The French
 endeavour to turn the British left, but are checked by the 27th and
 40th Regiments—An unlucky young Rifle Man—Marmont steals a march on
 Wellington—The British army fords the Tormes—Great thunderstorm—Battle
 of Salamanca—Simmons catches a partridge during the fight—Pursuit
 after Salamanca—Brilliant charge of the German Heavy Cavalry under
 General Bock—The Hussar officer and his brother—Visits the grave of
 General Férey and finds the Spaniards have exhumed him—The Rifle Men
 bury the body again.


_Journal—4th January-30th July 1812_

[Sidenote: 1812 Jan. 4th]

A general movement of the troops took place. 1st Division marched to
Gallegos and Espeja; 4th Division crossed the Agueda and occupied San
Felices; 3rd Division occupied Martiago and Zamarra; Light Division
entered Pastores, La Encina, and El Bodon. The latter place I marched
to. A stormy, cold, incessant rain during the day. The Agueda much
swollen. Forded it nearly up to the shoulders. The men obliged to
put their pouches upon their knapsacks and lay hold of each other to
prevent being forced down with the current. Some time exposed before
there was any possibility of getting lodged. Officers, men, and all
huddled together. Got our men better regulated and had three houses for
the company.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Several regiments had been ordered to prepare gabions and fascines,
which we were aware could only be for the siege. The Light Division
was ordered to move before day, and crossed the Agueda at a ford above
the convent of La Caridad. Our march was conducted out of the range of
shot from the town to the north side, and behind a hill in the vicinity
of San Francisco. A redoubt was established here. We halted. Several
French officers made their appearance, and politely took off their hats
and spoke to us. They of course were very anxious to know what all this
meant.

Colonel Colborne, with 360 men from the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th (Rifle
Men) stormed the fort of San Francisco after dark. Three pieces of
cannon, two captains, and forty-eight men were made prisoners, besides
what fell by the bayonet in the assault.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Began immediately to break ground, and before morning dawned we had
commenced our first parallel and completely covered ourselves. The
enemy kept up a most tremendous fire all night. I became perfectly
familiar with the difference of sound between the two missiles, shot
and shell, long before day. Returned to our quarters, and the 1st
Division relieved us in the trenches.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched back and resumed our work in the trenches. The weather was
keen and it froze sharply. Our poor fellows had to cross the river
nearly up to their shoulders, and remain in this wet state until they
returned to their quarters, some working and some covering the working
parties by firing upon the works of this town; others were ordered
to get as close as possible and dig holes sufficiently deep to cover
themselves, and take deliberate aim at the enemy's embrasures, which a
good marksman would easily do by observing the flashes of their cannon,
although it was dark.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Returned to quarters at El Bodon.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Twenty-two pieces of British cannon opened most musically upon the
town. _Johnny_ has hitherto had it all his own way in administering
to the comfort of many, and most suddenly and unexpectedly sent them,
I trust, to another and better world. For on this little spot all the
fiercer passions of the human heart are busy in the breasts of each
individual of both parties, investing and invested. Moralising will
not do now; death or glory, a golden chain or a wooden leg, "England
expects every man will do his duty." These are the only feelings that
can make the scene of death and destruction palatable to a Christian:
King, Church, and Country to fight for.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched and again entered the trenches. The enemy had got the range to
such a nicety that their shells were literally dropped into our works.

The convent of Santa Cruz was taken by surprise by General Graham with
the King's German Legion on the night of the 13th; thus on the night of
the 14th the convent of San Francisco and Santa Clara and suburbs were
all in our hands. I had charge of a party to carry earth in gabions,
and plant them upon the advanced saps in places where the ground was
an entire rock and could not be penetrated. The enemy fired grape, and
consequently numbers fell to rise no more from the effects of it. I ran
the gauntlet here several times, and brought gabions of earth, always
leaving some of my poor fellows behind, when I returned for more, and
glad enough I was when the Engineer said "We have now sufficient."

[Sidenote: 17th]

Returned to quarters in a whole skin.


Storming of Ciudad Rodrigo

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched and passed the ford as before. Halted for one hour near the
convent of La Caridad, then moved forward and halted behind the convent
of San Francisco with the 3rd Division. We were now informed that two
breaches in the wall had been effected, and that when the arrangements
were made, we should storm the town. I must observe here that I
was so anxious to be speedily employed that when Lieutenant Smith,
Brigade-Major, came to a fire near which I was standing and said, "One
of you must come and take charge of some ladders if required," at the
impulse of the moment I took with me the men required, and followed him
to the Engineers' camp, where the ladders were handed to me. I marched
with them to General Craufurd, who was with the advance. He attacked me
in a most ungracious manner. "Why did you bring these short ladders?"
"Because I was ordered by the Engineer to do so, General." "Go back,
sir, and get others; I am astonished at such stupidity." Of course I
went back, but was sadly crestfallen. This is what I deserved for
over-zeal. I returned with the ladders. A Portuguese captain and his
company were waiting for something to do, so I said, "Here, my brave
fellows, take these ladders," and handed them over with every necessary
instruction for the good of the service. I then instantly returned to
the company I belonged to, which was posted at the head of the column
ready to proceed. The 3rd Division moved to attack the right breach,
and the Light Division the left or small breach. The Forlorn Hope and
storming parties moved on at about seven o'clock, and the head of the
column followed close behind. A tremendous fire was opened upon us,
and as our column was entering the ditch an expense magazine on the
ramparts near the large breach blew up and ignited a number of live
shells, which also exploded and paid no sort of difference to friend
or foe. The night was brilliantly illuminated for some moments, and
everything was made visible. Then as suddenly came utter darkness,
except for the flashes from cannon and muskets, which threw a momentary
glare around.

The breaches were made in the curtain, before which a traverse was
fixed in the ditch to protect and strengthen it. In my hurry, after
descending into the ditch, I mistook the traverse for the top of the
breach, and as the ladders were laid against it, I ascended as well as
many others, and soon found our mistake. We crossed it, and slid down
directly opposite the breach, which was soon carried. The town was
entered by armed men at every point, and in the dark there were many
mistakes made by men shooting their friends instead of their enemies.
The prisoners were collected and huddled together upon the ramparts
like so many sheep, and there guarded until daylight. My battalion
formed up upon the ramparts and made fires, as the night was a clear
and frosty one. Some men brought me wine, ham, and eggs. I soon made a
hearty meal, and washed it down with some good French Burgundy, putting
my feet to the fire, and enjoyed as calm a sleep as I ever did in my
life before, for three or four hours.

[Sidenote: 20th]

At daylight I walked round the ramparts and found numbers slaughtered.
The 94th and 45th suffered sadly, particularly their Grenadiers, who
literally had fallen in line with each other upon the large breach. The
explosion I mentioned had killed numbers more of the French than of the
English; they were mangled in a most shocking manner; headless trunks,
and others torn into masses of lacerated parts, which it was hard to
fancy ever belonged to human beings. General M'Kinnon, who commanded a
Brigade in the 3rd Division, was blown up and his body sadly mutilated,
but being a very tall man, it was not difficult to make him out. A
circumstance which probably saved me from being blown up with a friend
of mine, Lieutenant Uniacke, was, when we got into the ditch together
he observed, "This is the way." In the bustle I said, "Impossible. Here
are the ladders. I shall go up them," fancying my Portuguese friend
had placed them right, so that ultimately the ladders served me. Poor
Uniacke got round the corner just in time enough to get scorched from
head to foot in a frightful manner, and died a few hours after in great
agony. General Craufurd, who commanded the Light Division, was mortally
wounded, General Vandeleur, Colonel Colborne, and Major Napier were
badly wounded; also Lieutenants Cox, Hamilton, and Bedell.

About nine o'clock in the morning we marched from that part of the
rampart where we had been resting for so many hours, seated before good
fires. We passed out of the town and then halted. The French prisoners
followed, guarded. We had scarcely left the gate when a tremendous
explosion took place, which blew up numbers of Frenchmen, and also
some Englishmen. Directly under the place we had so recently left were
deposited several barrels of gunpowder, which had taken fire from some
cause or other. That face of the rampart was a pile of ruins in one
instant. I really thought this was a kind act of the Almighty towards
us.

We marched back to our cantonments and met part of the 5th Division
upon the road coming to Ciudad Rodrigo to bury the dead and put the
works in order, as the men who have stormed a town are seldom fit for
anything but vice and irregularity for some time afterwards, if left
within its walls. The soldiers were laden with all sorts of things, and
looked like a moving rag-fair. Some, liking their bellies better, had
their swords fixed, and stuck upon them large junks of corned beef,
ham, pork, etc. I was glad to get back to my peaceable habitation.
The Governor, 78 officers, and 1700 prisoners were taken, besides the
killed and wounded. General Craufurd was buried at the foot of the
little breach with military honours by the Light Division.

The French army under Marshal Marmont had no idea we should be able to
take Rodrigo from them so quickly. The enemy moved forward to ascertain
the fact, and finding the news too true, left us in quiet possession
of it.

[Sidenote: 31st]

Marched to Fuenteguinaldo.

[Sidenote: 1812 Feb. 26th]

The works of Ciudad Rodrigo having been completely put in order, and
a garrison of Spaniards having entered it, the army was ordered to
proceed towards Estremadura. Marched to Alfayates in Portugal.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Val Morisco.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Passed through the town of Sortelho, situated most romantically amongst
stupendous and rugged mountains and surrounded by an old Moorish
wall. It is nearly at the foot of the Sierra da Estrella. Halted at
Castelhera.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Marched to Capena.

[Sidenote: 1812 Mar. 1st]

Marched to Alpedrinha.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Alcainz.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Castello Branco, and under very different feelings than when I left it
before. If I had obeyed the orders of the Commandant, I should not have
been at Rodrigo.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched to Sarnadas.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Marched to Niza, crossing the Tagus at the bridge of boats over it, and
through the pass of Villa Velha.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Castello de Vide and Esuesa.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Visited the town of Marvão, surrounded by a wall in good preservation,
and situated upon a high mountain. It has a few guns mounted upon the
ramparts. It ought to be almost impregnable, if in good hands, when
besieged.

[Sidenote: 14th]

[Sidenote: 15th]

I had been very unwell, and had kept my bed for some days. Suddenly
this morning, the order to march came; my servant brought me the
news. I instantly jumped out of bed and dressed myself. Dr. Burke, our
surgeon, saw me mounting my horse. "What, sir, are you mad? You cannot
go in your present state with the Division. I have got a car to send
you away with the sick." I thanked him, but observed, "I am determined
to try." I was exceedingly ill, but during the march I was violently
attacked with vomiting, and in a very debilitated state got into a
billet with my captain at Portalegre upon a _padre_ (clergyman), who
gave me some chocolate and a comfortable bed, and I was somewhat better
the following morning and went with the Division to Arronches.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched to Elvas and found myself getting better.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched to the camp before Badajoz. The 3rd and 4th Divisions were upon
the ground. Some time after dark, broke ground before Fort Picurina and
the town.

[Sidenote: 18th]

On piquet with the company near an old ruin some little distance from
the town, and from which we had a good view of the working parties'
operations in the trenches.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Weather for some days back cold and rainy. The enemy collected a body
of horse and foot and made a sortie upon our works. They had a number
of men to take away our tools and fill up the trenches. They drew
back very soon. At the moment of the attack our different parties
were relieving, and the weather being very dull, accompanied with a
drizzling rain, the enemy got very close before they were observed.
The enemy's cavalry dashed through our camp, and at the spot where the
Engineers were engaged in carrying on the work for the siege, captured
an officer, and a Dragoon tried to drag him away with him. Our people
in the camp at the moment fancied they were the Portuguese cavalry,
but soon were undeceived, and a number took up arms and ran forward
to attack them. They made their way back as rapidly as they had moved
forward. The officer, Colonel Seres, who commanded the sortie, died of
his wounds in the town.

[Sidenote: 25th]

About twelve o'clock A.M. our first battery opened and played
handsomely upon Fort Picurina.


Storming of Fort Picurina

[Sidenote: 26th]

A storming party was ordered a little after dark, and part of our
working party, under Lieutenant Stokes, was ordered to carry the
ladders to mount the walls. He was, after placing the ladders, the
first in the place. This fort was very strong, and the French officer
had not the least idea we could take it. The enemy fought resolutely,
but were soon made prisoners (those who remained alive when the officer
surrendered). When it fell, we commenced breaking ground in front. I
knew well, as soon as the enemy were aware of the place being in our
possession, that they would commence a fire of grape, so that I made
my men work hard to cover themselves. About midnight a most furious
fire of shot, shell, and grape went over us, and did us no harm. Before
daylight our trench was perfect. Curiosity led me to see the fort and
obstacles the men who stormed it had to encounter. Upon the parapet
were pointed palisades, and live shells all round, ready to be lighted
and thrown into the ditch. There were also numbers of other shells and
powder for the purpose of injuring the assailants, but the determined
and spirited manner in which the men stormed the work prevented the
enemy from doing the mischief they had premeditated.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Regularly upon working or covering parties in the trenches every
twenty-four hours. Our batteries were soon formed, and our artillery
began to play upon the wall with great effect.

[Sidenote: 1812 April 4th]

I was with a party of men behind the advanced sap, and had an
opportunity of doing some mischief. Three or four heavy cannon that
the enemy were working were doing frightful execution amongst our
artillerymen in their advanced batteries. I selected several good
shots and fired into the embrasures. In half an hour I found the guns
did not go off so frequently as before I commenced this practice, and
soon after, gabions were stuffed into each embrasure to prevent our
rifle balls from entering. They then withdrew them to fire, which was
my signal for firing steadily at the embrasures. The gabions were
replaced without firing the shot. I was so delighted with the good
practice I was making against _Johnny_ that I kept it up from daylight
till dark with forty as prime fellows as ever pulled trigger. These
guns were literally silenced. A French officer (I suppose a marksman),
who hid himself in some long grass, first placed his cocked hat some
little distance from him for us to fire at. Several of his men handed
him loaded muskets in order that he might fire more frequently. I was
leaning half over the trench watching his movements. I observed his
head, and being exceedingly anxious that the man who was going to fire
should see him, I directed him to lay his rifle over my left shoulder
as a more elevated rest for him. He fired. Through my eagerness, I had
entirely overlooked his pan, so that it was in close contact with my
left ear; and a pretty example it made of it and the side of my head,
which was singed and the ear cut and burnt. The poor fellow was very
sorry for the accident. We soon put the Frenchman out of that. He
left his cocked hat, which remained until dark, so that we had either
killed or wounded him. My friends in camp joked me a good deal the next
morning, observing, "Pray, what's the matter with your ear? How did the
injury happen?" and so on.

Weather for some days good.


Storming of Badajoz

[Sidenote: 6th]

The Engineers now proclaimed the breaches practicable. Arrangements
were made to storm the town. My old captain, Major O'Hare, was to lead
the storming party. I wanted to go with him, but those senior demanded
it as their right. The two Brigades of the Light Division fell in and
moved on a little after dark, preceded by the Forlorn Hope and storming
parties to the glacis. The 4th Division also were to storm the breaches
with us, the 3rd to escalade the castle, and the 5th Division to attack
Fort Pardeleras and escalade the town on that side. Our storming party
was soon hotly engaged. Our columns moved on under a most dreadful
fire of grape that mowed down our men like grass. We tore down the
palisading and got upon the glacis. The havoc now became dreadful. My
captain (Gray) was shot in the mouth. Eight or ten officers, and men
innumerable, fell to rise no more. Ladders were resting against the
counter-scarp from within the ditch. Down these we hurried, and as fast
as we got down rushed forward to the breaches, where a most frightful
scene of carnage was going on. Fifty times they were stormed, and as
often without effect, the French cannon sweeping the ditches with a
most destructive fire. Lights were thrown amongst us from the town that
burnt most brilliantly, and made us easier to be shot at. In this way
we remained for a considerable time. I was in a sort of frenzy stamping
one of these lights out when an officer laid hold of me, saying, "Leave
it, or when the light goes out your feet will be blown to pieces, as
there is a live shell connected with it." The ditch now, from the place
where we entered to near the top of the breaches, was covered with dead
and dying soldiers. If a man fell wounded, ten to one that he ever rose
again, for the volleys of musketry and grape shot that were incessantly
poured amongst us made our situation too horrid for description. I
had seen some fighting, but nothing like this. We remained passively
here to be slaughtered, as we could do the besieged little injury from
the ditch. We were ordered to leave the ditch and move away from the
works. The Light Division formed up on the plain at some distance from
the town. Here we observed the 3rd Division assailing the castle and
escalading its walls.

In consequence of the breaches being so furiously attacked, the French
Governor, Phillipon, drew nearly the whole of the garrison to defend
them, or the 3rd Division must have suffered infinitely more, as the
walls were very high and the place difficult to enter.

The castle being taken, the town was commanded. A heavy gun was dragged
to the gate connected with the town and fired through it, which blew
it open. The enemy now finding the castle in our possession, and also
finding the British entering another part of the town by escalade, were
obliged to oppose them with a greater part of their force. I was lying
upon the grass by my comrades, having the most gloomy thoughts of the
termination of this sad affair, when a staff officer rode up and said,
"Lord Wellington orders the Light Division to return immediately and
attack the breaches." We moved back to this bloody work as if nothing
had happened. Never were braver men congregated together for such a
purpose. We entered the ditches, and passed over the bodies of our
brave fellows who had fallen and dashed forward to the breaches. Only
a few random shots were now fired, and we entered without opposition.
Firing was now going on in several parts of the town, and we were not
long in chiming in with the rest of them. The prisoners were secured
and the place was given up to be plundered and pillaged. I am sorry
to say our soldiers were now become nearly as great adepts as any
Continental soldiers in this work of destruction.

I went into a genteel house. The Spaniard told me the French
Quartermaster-General had lived with him. He showed me the officer's
room. I found a bottle of wine and two glasses upon the table. There
was a piece of paper upon which he had made a rough sketch of the
two breaches, and had represented the way our columns would move to
the attack. He also had marked where the ladders would be placed to
avoid some water in the ditch, and which latter was the only place
where their shot could not have effect. I suppose the water had been
turned into the ditch for this purpose. The Spaniard said that the
two officers went out in great alarm. I sat down and drank the bottle
of wine and got some eggs and bacon fried. When the day dawned I went
to see the breaches. I found a breast-work of sand-bags upon them,
constructed for the enemy to fire over a strong _chevaux de frise_.
Placed in front and across the breaches here and there were large
beams studded with long spikes irregularly thrown about to impede our
advance. Behind these breast-works the ground was cut and intersected
with deep trenches and covered with planks, to enable the enemy to get
to the breaches and ramparts. In the bottom of these trenches were
placed swords and bayonets fixed upon pieces of wood to wound those
who fell upon them. Holes were made in the ramparts big enough for a
man to sit in, with a deep groove to lay his musket in and fire. In
short, the Governor had done everything in his power to make the place
as defensible as possible, and displayed a great deal of ability and
judgment in his masterly arrangements. The ramparts were lined with
live shells and barrels of powder, cart wheels, and lumps of wood and
iron, ready to be thrown into the ditch.

I saw my poor friend Major O'Hare lying dead upon the breach. Two or
three musket balls had passed through his breast. A gallant fellow,
Sergeant Flemming, was also dead by his side, a man who had always been
with him. I called to remembrance poor O'Hare's last words just before
he marched off to lead the advance. He shook me by the hand saying, "_A
Lieutenant-Colonel or cold meat in a few hours._" I was now gazing upon
his body lying stretched and naked amongst thousands more. Our loss
was very severe, but principally fell upon the young officers. Capt.
Diggle, Lieuts. Hovenden, Cary, Stokes, Affix, Croudace, killed. Lieut.
Freer (wounded in the trenches upon the day of the sortie), Capts.
Crampton, Balvaird, M'Diarmid, wounded. Lieuts. Manners, Johnstone,
MacDonnel, Macpherson, Stewart, Foster, Gardiner, Fitzmaurice, and
Farmer wounded (two died a few days after). The 43rd and 52nd Light
Infantry lost about the same number as ourselves. I am only astonished
how any one escaped, but I was not touched in any part of me. I went
away from the town to the camp as soon as possible. The 2nd Division
was stationed near Talavera Real, about three leagues from Badajoz, to
watch the movements of Soult, who was collecting an army to attempt to
raise the siege of Badajoz. My two brothers were with that Division,
and they were looking towards Badajoz from their encampment with great
anxiety, as they distinctly heard the continued peals of cannon, and
saw the sky over the town illuminated from time to time, which gave
them a pretty good idea that rough work was going on there. I had only
just got into my tent and thrown myself down upon my blanket when my
brother Maud entered. I sprang upon my legs and seized him by the hand.
He was so affected that he was obliged to sit down. He burst into
tears. I observed, "Why, this is woman's work. My brave fellow, you
ought to laugh. I am sound and untouched." He observed, "I entered
your encampment with an aching heart. I was some time before I durst
ask for you. At last I summoned up resolution to do so, and asked a
man, who told me you were killed, 'but that is his tent,' he added. I
was so agitated that I rushed towards it scarcely knowing what I did,
when you jumped up and shook hands with me." He lay down for some time
to compose himself. In the afternoon I walked over to Talavera Real and
met my brother Joseph. We spent a pleasant day together.

[Sidenote: 8th]

I returned to camp and found the soldiers in possession of all
sorts of things brought from the town, and crowds of country people
bartering with them for clothes and other articles. These two sieges
had demoralised the men very much, and coercion was necessary on many
occasions (with men that had never behaved ill before), and obliged
to be resorted to. The men were made to throw away a quantity of
things, and to prevent them secreting any of the articles, their packs
were examined, and the plunder that had not been made away with was
collected into heaps and burnt. A garrison of Spaniards were put into
Badajoz and the place was put in order. Marched to Campo Mayor.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched in front of Arronches. Bivouacked in a wood.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Marched to Portalegre, 14th to Niza, 15th to Sarnadas, 16th to Castello
Branco, 17th halted, 18th to Escalos de Cima and Louza, 19th halted.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Informed by the peasantry that the enemy was in force at Sabugal and
San Miguel d'Acha.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Marched to Penamacor, 22nd to Quintas de San Bartolomé, 23rd to
Alfayates. Bivouacked in front.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marched and bivouacked near Castillejo on the Azava.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Halted in bivouac. My horse, which had been for some days ill, died—a
sad loss to a poor soldier in such hard times.

[Sidenote: 1812 May 6th]

Marched to Campillo.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Reviewed by Lord Wellington with the rest of the Division between
Fuenteguinaldo and El Bodon. He told us we _looked well and in good
fighting order_. Our men's clothing was covered with patches of all
colours, and many of the officers' dresses were in little better plight.

[Sidenote: 1812 June 6th]

Marched to El Bodon.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Marched in front of Ciudad Rodrigo and bivouacked in a wood.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Visited the town. The Light Division collected here, and with the rest
of the army on the 13th made a forward movement near Alba de Yeltes.
Bivouacked in a wood upon the river Yeltes, a small stream.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched and bivouacked near Sanchobueno.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched and bivouacked near Matilla.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched a few miles in the direction of Salamanca.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched and forded the Rio Tormes above the town, bivouacked in a wood
for the night. General Hill remained with the 2nd Division on the
Alentejo frontier, as a check upon Marshal Soult's army, which was in
Andaluçia. In May, General Hill, with his Division, took two forts near
Almaraz, on the Tagus, by storm, viz. Fort Napoleon and Fort Ragusa,
and some works of minor importance. My two brothers were in these
affairs.

The enemy retired from Salamanca as the British army approached, merely
skirmishing occasionally with our Dragoons as they made a forward
movement. But a fort and two strong redoubts were constructed, which
commanded the bridge and were occupied by a body of the enemy. They
were formed out of two convents, and were placed in the heart of the
town. The 6th Division was ordered to invest them, and it was droll
enough to see numbers of officers belonging to regiments in bivouac
coming into the town for curiosity, to see how the investment went
on. I, with many others, went into a belfry which quite commanded the
works. The enemy fired a shot at the church, and said if people were
allowed to go into the belfry they would blow it down.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Was in bivouac near Rio Seco, the whole army in position, and the
French under Marshal Marmont concentrating his force in front of us.
Very much exposed to the sun's rays and very little shade; for miles
all round scarcely a tree of any consequence to be seen. This was
directly opposite in appearance to the country we had passed through
between Rodrigo and Salamanca, which was a perfect picture of nature as
portrayed in her loveliest attire; woods, with rich and fertile meadows
and rills intersecting them, having water of the clearest kind, and the
most inviting shade on their banks. There is nothing in life half so
pleasant to the tired soldier after marching all day under a moderate
load for a good-sized donkey to find these comforts at the end of his
journey.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Moved to the heights of Monte Rubio near the village of La Lengua.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

The forts and redoubts were stormed, and the parties sent to perform
this business were repulsed. General Bowes killed. The convent
connected with the principal fort was set on fire with red-hot shot
thrown into it and the places soon after surrendered.

[Sidenote: 24th]

The enemy advanced some Dragoons on the left bank of the Tormes, and a
skirmish took place with some of our Dragoons.

[Sidenote: 25th]

The company I belonged to on piquet.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The fort surrendered. I went into the town, and could not help feeling
great pleasure that these poor people had a release from the French
garrison, which the most sanguine of them fancied would never happen.
They expressed their joy in a most frantic manner and praised their
deliverers, as they called the English, and expressed their abhorrence
of the French officers and soldiery. To amuse myself, I visited the
cathedral, which is a handsome building, and possesses a good organ of
large dimensions. This place is filled with churches, monasteries, and
nunneries, that gives it a very priest-ridden appearance, and makes
one sympathise with the unfortunate people of such a country who are,
partly by coercion, but more through the tenets imbibed from their
earliest years, the dupes of superstition and bigotry. They fancy it
necessary towards their eternal salvation to aid in supporting these
fat-sided and sleek-faced rascals, who, under the pretended semblance
of soul-savers, congregate in large bodies, gourmandising the richest
viands and drinking the best wine, and have frequently been known to
live in every species of vice and idleness. Such men are decidedly
drones in the industrious hive. I have often seen the poor peasant
handcuffed and taken from his little field and from the bosom of
his family (probably in him they lost their only support), called a
_volunteer_, and entered upon the book of a regiment. If he deserted
and was taken again, in all probability he would be shot. Meanwhile the
stoutest men in the country, brought up in the service of the Church,
were allowed to live in idleness, although the country was filled with
their enemies, who were abusing the people and oppressing them in the
most flagitious manner, burning their towns for amusement—in fact,
committing every species of atrocity.

[Sidenote: 28th]

The army moved forward towards the Douro. As our movements had been
confined between the northern frontier of Portugal and the banks of the
Guadiana for so long a time, it gave us great delight to be entering
the very heart of Spain to offer battle to the French army; each day
seeing towns and villages we had never entered before. Marched to
Castellanos de Moriscos and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Marched to Parada de Rubiales and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Marched to Castrillo and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 1812 July 1st]

Marched through Alaejos to Nava del Rey, in the town with the Division
also. This was a very well built town with a handsome church. I had a
good billet and slept upon a comfortable mattress, which was a luxury
I had not had for many a day. My usual bed was two blankets stitched
together and made into the shape of a sack, into which I crawled, and
if I rolled about, the clothes never left me until I took a fancy to
crawl out again; my pillow a good sod and a smooth stone, and if,
before I lay down, I could obtain some wild lavender, which generally
was in plenty, I then had a splendid bed, exhaling the most agreeable
perfumes, with the canopy of heaven over one's head. This, to an
astronomer, would have afforded an hour's amusement before he went to
sleep, but as I am not a character of that description, I generally
fell asleep, and that right soundly too. Often, before daylight,
I have been well soused with rain with many thousands more in the
same predicament, and in spite of the elements, have not been much
disturbed. It is astonishing what habit will produce in a man of strong
and robust health.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Marched to Rueda, and halted close to it; made a lodgment in a shed
with the officers of the company, horses, mules, servants, etc. The
country round abounds in corn and wine. The latter is kept under ground
in vast excavated cellars, with high chimneys above ground to ventilate
them. The casks containing this wine, which is white, and of a pleasant
and agreeably sharp flavour, are of immense magnitude, and must have
been introduced piece-meal and then afterwards formed; they contain
many thousand gallons. The enemy retired before our advanced guard
entered.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

The Division moved opposite Tordesillas, upon the left bank of the
Douro, the French army being in large force upon its right bank and
in possession of the town. This movement was supposed to be a feint.
Retired back to Rueda in the evening and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched from the place about 9 P.M. and halted behind Castrejon.

[Sidenote: 18th]

The enemy advanced at daylight in great force. Lord Wellington
reconnoitred the enemy's movements. Some French Dragoons dashed forward
and, being numerous, rather intimidated the small escort with his
Lordship. Marshal Beresford and some of the staff soon rallied them,
and they charged the advanced men of the enemy and checked their
progress. The enemy had crossed the Douro by a ford so rapidly that
our piquets were obliged to retire after exchanging a few shots. A
partial cannonade commenced upon our encampment. The whole British army
were in full retreat, the country all round was one vast plain, and
the soldiers were moving across it in column of companies at quarter
distance, ready by regiments to form square if the enemy's cavalry
should charge; the march was taken up literally as coolly as if it had
been a field day, taking distant points to march upon, and avoiding
the villages in order not to lose time by passing through them. Upon
our right as we then faced, and frequently not more than five hundred
yards distant from us, was a dense mass of Frenchmen moving in the
same order, horse, foot, and artillery. It was quite ridiculous to
see two hostile armies so close without coming to blows, but the two
chiefs were trying to out-manœuvre each other—the sequel will show who
succeeded.

Our brigade of Horse Artillery fired a few rounds at the enemy. Some
cavalry made a dash at them, and for a moment had possession of their
guns. In passing a small river named the Guareña in order to get
possession of some heights that both armies were moving towards as
the immediate bone of contention, the enemy began to cannonade our
columns, and towards evening, in the pursuit of the French Marshal's
favourite object during this day to turn our left, they pressed too
hard upon that part of our line. Lord Wellington directed the 27th and
40th British Regiments to receive their attack, and then charge them,
which was done handsomely, and their career terminated for the night,
leaving us upon the high ground we wished to occupy. My servant brought
up my baggage, but a fine young mule, with a canteen and a variety of
comforts that could not be replaced in a hurry, was lost to me for
ever. A stallion had broken my mule's thigh on the line of march. There
was no time to lose, so the man was obliged to unloose the halter from
the one that he led and move on. This was a sad grievance.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Lord Wellington reconnoitred the enemy, and found the French in great
force and seemingly upon the move. For annoyance, the enemy threw a few
shot and shell at our columns. One shot knocked off the head of a Rifle
Man who had just joined us for the first time. Things of this kind
seem droll. Why this poor fellow's head should have been singled out
amongst many thousand others and given the preference to, I cannot say.
Remained here for the night.

[Sidenote: 20th]

At daylight the enemy was entirely gone. Lord Wellington found that
Marmont had marched to his right with great rapidity. Our army was
immediately upon the march. Halted near a village of which I do not
know the name.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Marched with the dawn and continued till 2 P.M. Halted near
Villamorisco. A little before dark forded the river Tormes above
Salamanca. The river was very much swollen from the rain, which made
it very deep. Everybody got wet up to near their shoulders in crossing.
Luckily we got over before the rain, which immediately afterwards began
to fall in torrents. The night became excessively dark, the whole army
groping their way, up to their knees in mud, to the different bivouacs.
The lightning became very vivid; some of the flashes ran whizzing along
the men's arms in an extraordinary manner and really checked the march
for some time most strangely. The thunder was louder than I ever heard
before, excepting at Almeida. Numbers of horses belonging to the French
and English had broken loose from their pickets from terror, and were
galloping about most furiously, and some of them exchanged masters. The
rain continued until nearly daylight, when it abated.


Battle of Salamanca

[Sidenote: 22nd]

At daylight the enemy's columns were moving rapidly upon our right
flank, and from the orders to send the baggage to the rear as soon as
possible, we made up our minds to abandon Salamanca, although we felt
sorry for such an event. However, before long our gallant Chief found
he had got Marmont into a trap at last, and immediately knew how to
take advantage of it. A brisk cannonade commenced on both sides, and
about 11 o'clock A.M. the columns on our right moved to the attack.

The high ground and tops or elevated points were crowded with
Frenchmen, and in the afternoon these hills, the Arapiles, were lost
and won often, but ultimately the French were completely driven off
them. About five o'clock the Light Division were ordered to move
forward. We had remained idle spectators, only keeping the right of
the French line in check. We soon came in contact with the enemy, and
very shortly drove him from the position. An odd circumstance happened;
I saw a partridge running on the ground between the contending lines.
I ran, at the impulse of the moment, after it, caught it, and put the
bird into my haversack, which afterwards afforded me a savoury supper.
The French were routed at all points, and darkness came on, which
enabled many to escape that would otherwise have fallen into our hands.
Some accidents happened to officers of ours, who were at the heads
of our columns, coming in contact unexpectedly in the dark. Marshal
Marmont was wounded in the action and was very near falling into our
hands. The pursuit was continued through a wooded country until eleven
o'clock at night, when we bivouacked near the village of Huerta.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Moved forward at daylight after the French. A Brigade of Heavy German
cavalry, commanded by Major-General Bock, that had only recently joined
our army from England, was in advance of the Light Division, and came
up with the French rear-guard. The officer commanding the latter formed
three squares. The Germans made a most brilliant and dashing charge
at two squares, and succeeded in breaking them, slaughtering numbers.
The French had 1500 killed and taken. One of the squares was formed
at an elbow in the road, where it wound upward towards much higher
ground, and this, very likely, saved it. General Foy, who commanded the
rear-guard, was in this square. We were hurried forward as quickly
as possible, but the business was most effectually done just as we
arrived. A great number of Germans and their hoses were dead close to
the squares. I saw a very affecting scene: a Hussar officer came up to
see his brother he had not met for six years. He found him stretched
a lifeless corpse with his sword grasped and fixed in his saddle; his
horse, having been killed at the same moment with its rider, was lying
on its side with the legs stretched out in the attitude of galloping.
The poor fellow threw his arms round his lifeless brother. I could bear
no more, and so moved on, and was again in pursuit of the enemy, which
was the only way to get quit of gloomy reflections. Bivouacked near a
village.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Marched to Flores de Avila. Passed on this day through a large town
named Peñaranda.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched to Aldea Seca.

[Sidenote: 27th]

To Montijo del Viejo.

[Sidenote: 28th]

To Pedrajo de Portello.

[Sidenote: 29th]

To Olmedo, a curious town with the remains of a Moorish castle. Close
to the place was interred the body of General Férey. He was the
officer who ordered the night attack at Barba del Puerco in 1810. How
extraordinary are the changes produced by war! Only two years before
he had 10,000 veteran soldiers under his command. He was then actively
employed against us, and now humbled to the dust, and I standing by
his grave gazing at his mutilated carcase. The Spaniards had dug him
up directly after the French left the town and just before we entered.
He had been buried with great honour, and a canopy of laurels, which
had been placed over his grave, was torn down, his body exhumed, and
his head severed from it. It was a noble head, with a fine expressive
countenance and a pair of large moustaches. I could not help observing,
"Well, you must have been a brave soldier, although our deadly foe.
You shall be replaced by an enemy where your friends interred you, to
rest in peace." The remains were then in a most decent manner returned
to the grave, and the Spaniards made acquainted with the horror and
disgust we felt at their inhuman conduct towards a dead soldier. The
laurel was replaced, and we begged it might be allowed to remain, which
I have no reason to doubt was complied with.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Forded the Duero. Encamped upon the right bank about six miles from
Valladolid.



CHAPTER X

_Journal—1st-31st August 1812_

 The Light Division march on Madrid—Bivouac in the park of the
 Escorial—A wild-boar hunt—Visit to the mausoleum in the Escorial and
 the public buildings in Madrid—King Joseph's quarters—Joy of the
 inhabitants at the arrival of Lord Wellington's army—The French in the
 Buen Retiro surrender—Bull-fight in honour of the British army.

Letter No. XVI

_To his Parents, from Madrid, dated 8th September 1812_

 Narrates the loss of his horse and mule, and discomfort and hardships
 resulting therefrom—Unable to remit any more money in consequence,
 until after Christmas—Joseph to join the Rifles—Intends to make him
 study—Sends his picture to sister Ann and remittance of £22 to his
 parents.

_Journal—1st September-31st December 1812_

 In cantonments near Madrid—News of brother Joseph being ill—Visit
 to Alcala—News of the failure of the assault on Burgos—The British
 army forced to retire from Madrid—Halt at Salamanca—Fatal accident to
 Lieutenant Firman of the Rifles—Retreat from Salamanca—Joseph very
 ill—Light Division on rear-guard—Bad weather and great privations—The
 soldiers starving—Subsist on acorns—Two soldiers shot by order of Lord
 Wellington for shooting pigs—Combat of the Huebra (San Munoz)—The
 rear-guard sharply pressed—Cross the Huebra under heavy fire—Finds
 his brother has been left behind—Recrosses the river and saves
 him—The French relinquish the pursuit and fall back on Salamanca—In
 cantonments at Villar del Puerco—Amusing incident with three Dragoon
 officers—Stratagem to induce them to march after their men—A friendly
 parting—In winter quarters at Almeida—A regimental mess formed.

Letter No. XVII

_To his Parents, from Alameda, Spain, dated 12th December 1812_

 Describes the retreat from Madrid—The three brothers meet—Hardships of
 the retreat—Joseph made to do five hours' study daily—Is very proud of
 his green clothes.

Letter No. XVIII

_To his Father, from Alameda, Spain, dated 29th December 1812_

 Lecture to his father—No faith in M.P.'s—News of the Moscow campaign
 and successes of the Russians—Joseph's health, appetite, and
 studies—Does not like being shot at—Warns his father not to show his
 letters abroad.


_Journal—1st-31st August 1812_

[Sidenote: 1812 Aug. 1st]

Marched to Tudela de Duero.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Visited Valladolid, a gloomy, sombre-looking town. Returned to camp and
marched to Aldea Mayor. Recrossed the Duero.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Marched early and bivouacked in a wood near Mata de Cuellar.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Marched and bivouacked on the right bank of the Piron.

[Sidenote: 8th]

At daylight marched, and passed through Carbonnero. The women in this
part of Spain had tremendous pigtails, which produced much joking
amongst the soldiers as they went along. Bivouacked in a wood near the
Rio Eresma.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Marched through Madrona and bivouacked in a wood near Palacio del Rio
Frio.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Marched and bivouacked near Otero and Madrona.
Segovia is about 1¼ leagues from the latter place, which I could not
visit, being on duty.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Passed through the Puerto de Guerto de Guadarama—these mountains
separate New from Old Castile—and bivouacked in the park of the
Escorial. The men of the Division had only just got off their knapsacks
when two large wild boars were started from a thicket. They were so
alarmed at the sight of so many men that they literally ran directly
amongst them, and tumbled over numbers of them, but after receiving
a cut or a stab from a hundred bayonets or swords, they fell covered
with wounds, and in five minutes their carcases were divided and
distributed.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Marched to Las Rozas. Two days back, some Portuguese cavalry and two
guns were in advance from here when the French Dragoons made a dash
at the Portuguese, who did not show fight, but set off. The guns in
consequence fell into the enemy's possession before any British could
be brought up.

[Sidenote: 14th]

The enemy had moved away. Marched to Villaverde, three miles from
Madrid. In the afternoon I went into the city. The public buildings are
really splendid, and in general the streets spacious and houses well
built. No abominable dunghills in every direction, like Lisbon, which
is a great comfort.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Marched to Getafe, eight miles from Madrid. Nothing could exceed the
frantic joy expressed by the people of all classes on Lord Wellington's
entering Madrid. Ladies threw down their most valuable veils and shawls
for his horse to pass over; they got hold of his legs as he sat on
horseback and kissed them. The French had left a garrison in a place
which had formerly been a palace and also a china factory, called the
Buen Retiro. The place was enclosed with a deep ditch and stockade. It
had plenty of cannon for the use of the fort. It was closely invested,
and the men on the third day had orders to storm it. They were formed
upon the glacis ready to be slipped at the place, when the Governor
begged to be allowed to remove his movables and baggage, as well as the
men and officers, which terms were granted and they became prisoners of
war. The mob wanted to be allowed to stab them as they passed out of
it, but we got the prisoners as fast as possible with some difficulty
out of the town.

Lord Wellington left the Light Division in and about Madrid, as well
as the 2nd Division, and proceeded with the remainder of his army to
Burgos, which place he invested.

[Sidenote: 31st]

A bull-fight was given in honour of Lord Wellington's entering Madrid.
I was present at it. The bulls were most tremendous animals. The men
that attacked them displayed the greatest intrepidity and courage. The
poor horses suffered the most.


Letter No. XVI

      Madrid, _8th September 1812_.

My dear Parents—I received the letter with the bill enclosed. I am
very sorry you have had so much trouble. I assure you it annoyed me
exceedingly. I wrote to the merchant who sent me the bill. He was very
much surprised at the circumstance—at least he told me so. I expect
daily another bill for the same amount. I then will directly transmit
it. I have experienced within these three months back some unpleasant
losses. One day my horse took it into his head to fight. He was kicked
upon the thigh, and being upon the march, he died. By him I lost one
hundred dollars. A fine mule broke his leg two days before the battle
of Arapiles,[21] at the time we were retiring. Away went baggage and
mule. I luckily had the company's money and the best part of my baggage
in or near Salamanca upon another animal. By that means the better part
was preserved. At times like these a soldier can ill spare his little
comforts, marching the whole day, probably exposed to a burning sun,
and very often halting just to get a little of anything and then away
again. I lost also a skin containing 100 pints of wine, which I could
ill afford. All these misfortunes coming at once, played the devil with
me. However, I took up my pipe and thought to myself that things might
have been worse. This is the way I generally reason myself into a good
humour, and the life of a soldier is well calculated to make a man bear
up against misfortunes and smile at difficulties that other men would
never get the better of.

I fully meant to have remitted you some money, but my losses
disarranged my intentions. I shall be obliged to defer it until
Christmas, when I shall have at the least twenty pounds for you, and,
believe me, my heart never feels lighter than when it is in my power to
render a service to my dear parents.

I often think when I look back upon the hairbreadth escapes that I
have had so many times over and over again, how kind the Almighty has
been towards me. I hope still to live to see you all enjoy happiness.
However, should fortune not be so propitious to my wishes, depend upon
it, my exit will be that of a soldier.

Joseph obtained a commission in the 23rd Fusiliers. I directly lost
no time in applying to my Colonel to have him transferred into my
regiment, which Lord Wellington sanctioned. It was instantly done. I
had satisfied myself Joe would have got his appointment in the 34th
Regiment, and from motives of delicacy I did not interfere with him, or
he might have been with me two months before. However, we cannot help
it. The difference will be a loss of £12 for fees of commission in both
regiments, which is not of much consequence.

The task of instructing Joe will be a pleasure to me as far as my
humble abilities go. I know Maud has not paid that attention to him
I could have wished. I wrote him several plans how to proceed, but
instead of studying, they were playing, I suppose. However, that will
not be the case with me. I shall make him keep my accounts, and set him
systematically to work for some hours daily when we are not otherwise
employed.

The duty of a soldier is (in this country) hard or extremely light.
Under these circumstances if a person has no resource within himself,
he will spend one-half his life in idleness. It is my greatest pleasure
to spend one-half the day in study.

I hope Joseph will soon imbibe my principles. I have got everything
necessary to equip him on his arrival. We have lost so many officers
lately that clothes new from England are cheap enough.

I send Ann my picture. I assure her that it was not from vanity I
sat for it, but to gratify her request. I might have had it done on
a smaller scale for a locket, but it is a thing so ugly, I could not
collect sufficient impudence to see myself displayed in a shining gold
case. I have had some good jokes with some of my brother-officers
about the picture. Some are very inquisitive to know who is to have
it, as I now and then receive some nonsensical letters from Kent by
officers from England. I have some fair friends there that write to me
occasionally.

This little medal is a cross of the Second Order of the Legion of
Honour. I got it at Redinha. Ann must keep it for me until I return.
I prize it much, as the taking of it was attended with a story that
modesty will not allow me to lay down in writing, as a soldier should
be delicate in displaying or boasting of great deeds. This moment have
received the bill from Lisbon amounting to £22 : 6 : 7, which I shall
immediately send by the post this day; so should this paper come to
hand first, you may expect the letter daily. I send this by an officer
coming to England, but I do not like to send the bill by him, as the
gentleman might by accident be delayed upon the road.—Yours truly,

      G. Simmons,
      Lt., 95th Regiment.


_Journal—1st September-31st December 1812_

[Sidenote: 1812 Sept. and Oct.]

I visited Madrid occasionally, but was much in want of money, the army
receiving pay irregularly, seldom more than a few dollars in advance
when six months' pay was due to each individual. However, specie was
very difficult to be obtained, so that was quite unavoidable.

I went one day to have some amusement in the town with a few friends,
when I found a letter from my brother Joseph, who was ill at Salamanca,
and, of course, in want of money. I put all I had, a gold piece,
under a large seal, and sent him a letter, which he received quite
opportunely. I slid away from my friends and went back to my quarters
at Getafe. My friends wondered what had become of me, until I made them
acquainted with my reasons for suddenly disappearing.

[Sidenote: 1812 Oct. 21st]

Marched to Ribas on 21st, and on 22nd to Vicalbaro.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched to the celebrated city of Alcala, and billeted in the
College. The headmaster, a priest, appeared a miserable fellow, but
by flattering his nation, and paying him and the College some high
compliments, he gave me a little bread and some very good wine. I never
was so poor as at this moment, little to eat and no money, or I would
have seen the priest far enough before I would have flattered him, but
being hungry and dry was my only excuse for such conduct.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched to Arganda. Assembled in the dark and marched back to Alcala,
which place we reached after daylight.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Rested in the streets and under the piazzas. In the afternoon marched
to Barajas.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Marched to near El Pardo, a short distance from Madrid.

[Sidenote: 31st]

Moved close to the city, and halted near to the Segovia Gate. Very much
distressed at the wretchedness and deplorable state of mind displayed
by great multitudes of people, being aware that we were going to leave
them to their fates. The 2nd Division joined the army here. My brother
Maud came to me, being very hungry. I luckily had just got a bag of
biscuits from a store. He loaded himself and went back to his corps.

Our army now commenced its retreat in earnest and marched to Las Rozas
and bivouacked near the river Guadiana.

[Sidenote: 1812 Nov. 1st]

I was truly glad to get away from this unfortunate place, as we
could not do the people any good, and pity is at best (under the
circumstances) a sorry way of showing good wishes. It would have
delighted me, as well as thousands more, if our noble Commander could
have risked a battle; that was impossible. He was in full retreat from
Burgos, having failed in an assault of it, owing to the guns used on
this occasion being too light to make a sufficient breach in its walls,
also a very powerful French army was ready to attack him under Marshal
Soult, and a large force was moving upon Madrid to attack us.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Marched to the camp of the Escorial.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Crossed the Sierra de Guadarama and bivouacked near Villacastin.
General Hill took the command. My brother Joseph joined. He was in a
very bad state of health. The 34th were encamped near us. I brought
Maud to dine.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Marched to near La Vega and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched to near Fuente de Baños and bivouacked.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Moved to the heights between Flores de Avila and Peñaranda.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Marched and bivouacked a league from Alba de Tormes. Crossed the
river at the bridge of Alba de Tormes and bivouacked in a wood near
Calvarrasa de Arriba. The Division on retreat from Burgos joined us
here and Lord Wellington took the command.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Marched into Salamanca. In quarters. The troops placed in different
large buildings. The Light Division put into the Irish College.

[Sidenote: 13th]

In the evening, being orderly officer, I went at eight o'clock to see
the lights out and that the men were present. I met Lieutenant Firman,
who was upon the same duty for our 3rd Battalion. Finding the stairs
very slippery and the place very dark, I observed, "If you will wait, I
will go in search of a candle," as I knew there were open spaces in the
balusters a person in the dark might walk through. I left him, got a
candle from a neighbouring house, and returned. I went up three or four
stairs, when I heard a slip and in a moment, poor Firman fell through.
In his progress downwards his feet repeatedly struck one side and his
head the other. He came with tremendous force to the bottom, which was
a flagged pavement in the cellar. I directly retraced my steps and
found him almost dashed to pieces, his skull frightfully fractured and
several ribs broken. I had him removed to his billet. He remained for
two days in a state of insensibility and died. It was odd enough that
a soldier of the 43rd and his Portuguese wife were sleeping together
close to the place where he fell and never were awakened by the noise
until I came to the place.

[Sidenote: 14th]

The army crossed the Tormes and took post upon the heights of the
Arapiles.

[Sidenote: 15th]

In the evening the army began to retreat from Salamanca upon Ciudad
Rodrigo. Weather very bad and the roads excessively deep. My brother
exceedingly unwell, which caused me a deal of uneasiness and trouble
besides having to attend to my duty. The enemy moving upon our right
flank in large bodies.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Marched and bivouacked in a wood near Cillero. Very ill off for
provisions. My brother so ill that I was obliged to give him my cloak
to keep him warm. I had given my mule up to him to ride, so that at
every step I was up to the knees in mud, and frequently small rills,
which it was necessary during the day's march to cross, became
rivulets from the continued rain.

The Light Division, being the rear-guard upon this retreat, were the
first under arms in the morning, and the last in bivouac at night,
which was generally some time after dark. Our poor fellows lit fires,
and then, being nearly starved, went about in search of something to
eat. Some lean and half-starved bullocks were here and there lying
dead in the mud in the deep parts of the road, yoked to carts laden
with baggage. From these, the hungry soldiers sliced off a delightful
repast, which was grilled, half-smoked, and half-roasted, and as tough
as a shoe sole, but severe hardship and hunger made this an agreeable
substitute for better food. Other soldiers would be groping about upon
their hands and knees under a bastard description of oak and cork
trees for acorns. These trees yield them in abundance, and at this
time of year they are to be found in plenty. Although hard and bitter,
still such food was found better than none. The country people send
their pigs, marked, into the woods to fatten. They are half wild. Some
soldiers could not resist shooting them, which caused Lord Wellington
to punish with death two men to deter others from such a breach of
military discipline.


Combat of the Huebra (San Munoz)

[Sidenote: 17th]

Fell in before day. The enemy began to press us. My battalion
immediately took possession of the commanding ground on both sides
of the road, and although the men were half-starved, cold, and wet,
they one and all showed the greatest alacrity in obeying the command
and were anxious to fight. The enemy were very superior in force,
consequently the Division retired leisurely before their cavalry. Some
French cavalry dashed across the road our baggage was upon, took some,
and had momentary possession of Lieutenant Cameron, who commanded the
baggage guard, when the head of the column made its appearance. The
officer was let go. Rifle Men were sent into the wood near the road
and fired a few shots, which made the Dragoons scamper off. These same
fellows met with Sir Edward Paget and took him prisoner.

Numbers of men were left behind, and several died. The road was covered
with carcases of all descriptions, and at every deep slough we found
horses, mules, donkeys, and bullocks mingled together, some dead,
others dying, all laden with baggage. It is a most disagreeable sight
to a soldier to see everything going to rack and ruin without being
able to prevent it. About mid-day the army descended from some very
commanding ground and passed the river Huebra at San Munoz, which
retarded the rear-guard for some time. Our company extended, and were
the last to retire down the inclined plane towards the river Huebra,
followed a short distance by the enemy's skirmishers. The high ground
was covered with masses of infantry and cavalry, also many guns, which
played upon us handsomely, which was fun for them, but death to us. The
enemy got up guns and infantry, and as the Light Division descended to
pass the ford, which was rapid and breast-high, their guns cannonaded
us and killed several men and some officers. On getting through this
ford we faced about and formed column of battalions. A little way from
the ford I found my brother was absent. Almost distracted, I observed
him seated some distance off on the wrong side of the river, and the
mule close beside him. I returned through the water with all speed
possible and seized hold of him and placed him upon the mule, and
uttering a few hearty d—ns, brought him safely through, under the music
of shot and shell. I then made a bugler lead the animal close by me, so
that I could not lose sight of him. The enemy now made a demonstration
and menaced an attack. A Brigade of Swiss wanted to reconnoitre
the river, opposite where the 52nd were posted, but were put back
handsomely. Captain Dawson, a friend of mine, was killed.

[Sidenote: 18th]

My brother passed a very bad night. I really did not know what to do
with him. The mule was so much exhausted, it would not be able to go
another day's journey, and in that case he must be left to the mercy of
the captors. An hour before the day, having fallen in, I was reflecting
upon the gloomy position before me. I was surprised in my reverie by
the sun beginning to shine upon us, which it had not done before during
this unlucky retreat, and soon afterwards to learn that the French army
had given up the pursuit and was now in full retreat on Salamanca. This
was very good news. The day was very fine, but the road extremely bad;
we were obliged to wade for miles in slush and water, which made the
feet extremely tender. Also, not being able to see where to place them,
made one hit the stumps of small trees, which gave great pain. I do not
know when I suffered so much from a day's march; it was a very long
one. Bivouacked upon the side of a mountain near Santiespiritus.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched to near Ciudad Rodrigo and got fresh provisions in abundance.
Bivouacked by the river-side. The night frosty and clear.

[Sidenote: 20th]

At daylight jumped into the Agueda with some of our officers, and found
myself very comfortable after it, not having had my clothes off or a
clean shirt on for some time.

The mule that brought my brother through the retreat died this morning;
about 130 dollars lost for ever.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Villar del Puerco. Supplied ourselves from Rodrigo with every comfort
required and had our baggage and our company's mess as comfortable
as ever. Lieutenants Pemberton, Haggup, my brother, and myself lived
together and I resumed the office of caterer. On our arrival at the
empty house given over for our occupation, we found three Dragoon
officers had remained behind their men, and fully intended staying all
night. Now in that case our animals would be badly put up and ourselves
sorely inconvenienced by their laziness, as they ought to have marched
with their men. I took upon myself to adopt a modest way to dislodge
them, which was sanctioned by my companions. I ordered some men to cut
a quantity of green timber and bring it into the room, as it was a cold
winter's day. This I had placed upon the floor, and made a blazing
fire; the smoke of course filled the room, and passed in volumes from
every window. I then had a large cooking pot put upon the fire and some
beef and vegetables put into it. I now asked the Dragoons if they would
partake of our fare, saying in the most polite and pressing manner
that we should be glad to share it with them. I ordered more wood to
be heaped on the fire, and lay down with my head upon a knapsack and
smoked my pipe. Although I could bear a smoky fire as well as most
folks, this was rather too powerful; still by lying down, the smoke did
not affect my eyes half as much as the Dragoons'. One moved into the
yard, and the two others could stand it no longer and followed. They
held a council of war, at which, I was informed by a mess-mate who had
purposely placed himself to overhear their conversation and to report
to me upon my success, the following remarks were made. "Did you, pray,
ever hear a fellow so gallows polite as that black-looking ruffian
is? He bears fire like a salamander. And how the fellow's dressed
too." "I join his mess," says another, "I'll see him d——d first." "I
should expect to be poisoned if I did," the third observed. "Besides,"
says the first, who commenced the oration upon my qualities, "we are
nearly smoked and burnt in that d——d room already, and I now hear him
roaring out for more firewood; he will certainly burn the house down
before morning. How the officers that are obliged to live with such a
madman are to be pitied! My eyes are quite inflamed. I am determined
this instant to follow the troop." The others acquiesced, and their
horses were ordered out and their baggage animals loaded. I directed
our servants to assist them, and expressed in the most polite manner my
regret at not being honoured with their company at dinner, as it was
now nearly ready—at least the soup was quite done. They individually
as politely refused my solicitations. We parted in the most friendly
manner. The fire was soon made more agreeable to our feelings, and we
all enjoyed the joke very much.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched to Alameda. The people were glad to see us return. We had begun
to look upon the villages near the Agueda as our homes.

Formed a regimental mess; we got wine from Lamego upon the Duero, and
passed the winter very comfortably and happily, I not being the last
to give my hairbreadth escapes in the manner in which soldiers that
are real ones tell their stories. I am sorry to say these are often
imagined impossibilities by other folks because they cannot comprehend
that certain men may, from circumstances and habit, be made to do
anything if their country requires their exertions.


Letter No. XVII

      Alameda, Spain,
      _12th December 1812_.

Dear Parents—I sent you in September another bill directed from the
neighbourhood of Madrid, which I hope you have received, and also
got the money. I am anxious to know when this letter came to hand. I
beg you will directly inform me, as I begin to think and long for an
answer. I have the second and third Bill of Exchange, which I hope will
not be required. However, in case of accidents I shall take care of
them. I fully expected to have had it in my power to have transmitted
you some money immediately, but not having been paid up to the period
I expected, I must reluctantly defer the pleasure for the present and
put you off a little while longer. We flattered ourselves with the
hopes of passing a pleasant winter in Madrid, but in consequence of the
failure at Burgos, and the enemy receiving great reinforcements from
France, besides concentrating the whole of their force in the country,
we were obliged to retire before them.

Our noble Marquis of Wellington did everything that was possible to
bring them to action when circumstances offered favourably, but the
enemy, confident of success through the vast superiority of numbers and
ten thousand effective cavalry, continually adopted the plan of moving
on our flanks, which obliged us also to retire before them, not being
able to oppose their course.

I will give you a specimen of our occasional hardships, though for
my own part I am no croaker. Privations sometimes make you enjoy a
comfortable quarter much more than if you had never felt them. About
the 27th of October, we moved forward from our cantonments in and
near Madrid in consequence of the enemy approaching and menacing this
capital. Every one was rejoiced to move out to fight, thinking how
comfortably the winter would be passed if wounded, having Madrid at our
back.

On the 27th marched to Arganda, six leagues. The same night at eight
o'clock moved back towards Alcala. Halted under the piazzas in the
town, as the weather was very cold and rainy. Marching the whole night.

Moved towards Madrid on the 30th; the day very rainy; roads swimming
with mud and water. Halted at nine o'clock at night in rear of
Madrid upon the side of a hill. Extremely cold and windy; raining at
intervals. Had some difficulty to find wood for a fire. Benumbed with
cold and obliged to smoke my pipe and walk about, praying for a fine
day to dry my clothes.

Moved at daylight on the 31st to the walls of Madrid. Halted and cooked
upon the road. The people in the English interest very gloomy; others
flying from the town. The people in the French interest dressed up and
delighted beyond measure. Maud visited me, and told me how wet and
uncomfortable he was, not having been dry for four days. I asked him,
"What of that? Many thousands are in the same way." He then said, "I
have had no bread or anything to eat these two days." I luckily had
plenty, and gave him some. I was with him for ten minutes. I had not
seen him since the storming of Badajoz. The Light Division now formed,
as usual, the rear-guard. The other Divisions of the army walked
generally near us, so daily I had the pleasure of seeing Maud. Towards
night marched some distance; passed the night in the fields. Joe joined
me this evening, and Maud visited me. I had plenty of wine and a good
dinner in my tent. Joe was wet through and very delicate, having left
Salamanca before he had recovered. I had an opportunity of letting him
have blankets. We moved on daily in this way, always in the fields
until we arrived near Salamanca. Weather generally bad. Moved from the
right to the left of this place daily.

On 14th November we were upon the old position in order of battle. The
enemy made a flank movement in the night, and we were obliged to retire.

On the 15th we halted in a wood, having been marching the whole day;
continued rain. The country between Ciudad Rodrigo and Salamanca
is a plain covered with woods, and in rainy weather the roads are
intersected with rivulets, which makes them almost impassable.

Joe was so ill on the 16th I was obliged to walk the whole way, or he
must have fallen into the enemy's hands. Bad weather and roads.

On the 17th the enemy attacked us in force, but we beat them off.
Some of the enemy's cannon kept up a brisk fire upon a ford which we
passed in good order, and luckily only a few of our men bit the ground.
The enemy were checked here for the night. Occasionally some sharp
skirmishing. Joe very unwell, though pleased with the fight. Under arms
nearly all night. Very rainy and cold.

On the 18th the enemy, for want of provisions, could not push us; we
expected to have had a tough day's work, but _Johnny_ did not press
us much. In want of bread. Several men died this day from cold and
wet. Horses and mules were lying dead in every direction, which shows
plainly a man can bear hunger and being exposed to the inclemency of
the weather for a much longer period than an animal. In this country
I have seen the same thing often. Being upon the rear-guard exposes
a person to a much longer period under arms, as he must endeavour to
drive all before him, and very often to form up to repel an attack of
the enemy. This day's march it is impossible to describe, wading up to
the middle very often, and all day up to the knee in mud and water;
raining repeatedly. This night picked up a quantity of acorns and
roasted them, which we were all very thankful for. Night excessively
cold.

The enemy followed us on the 19th; most of us walking barefooted, my
shoes also having no bottoms, as well as my friends'; my legs and feet
much frost-bitten; could hardly crawl. Halted near Ciudad Rodrigo.
Three days' bread served to us upon the spot. I sent into the town for
a pound of English butter, only six shillings per pound, and some wine.
This day tolerably fine. After eating and drinking most tremendously,
in a moment you would see all faces jovial and everything forgotten.
We halted in the fields near this town for a few days. I washed myself
in the river every day and bathed my feet with cold water often. Thank
God, I am as well as ever. Joe, though he rode, still got worse.
However, he has had every attention paid him and is now quite well.
He eats and drinks like a farmer. I keep him five hours a day at his
studies, and I have no doubt he will soon astonish you. I must say he
implicitly obeys my injunctions. He is now clear of the world, with
everything comfortable. I have nothing more to do with him but give my
advice. I have since found it was my interest got him into the 23rd
Regiment, and not the Colonel of Maud's regiment. I beg you will have
Charles well educated. I will then take him off your hands at fifteen
years old. Do not despair, though you now are unfortunate. If I live
and have any luck in my profession I shall be able to support you. I
wish for no greater pleasure. Ann I am proud of. I shall always adore
her. She must bear up against the misfortunes which at present cannot
be resisted, in hopes that a few years will put a period to them. We
cannot always be doomed to misery and misfortune.

I thank my dear mother for her kind remembrance of me. Joe often tells
me little anecdotes of your fireside. This winter we are settled in
our old quarters near the Agueda, and two or three leagues from Ciudad
Rodrigo. I hope we shall get out several regiments before spring, and
commence again handsomely in the New Year. Joe joins me in best wishes
for your welfare. Believe me, yours affectionately,

      G. Simmons.

I sent a parcel for Ann with my picture. Let me know if the thing
arrived.

I send this letter by a friend, free of expense to England. You will
find under the seal a small gold coin, value a dollar; it will pay the
postage.

Pay particular attention to the education of Charles and Betsy. Let
me know how Charles's leg is. By no means use quackery with him.
Sea-bathing, plenty of exercise, and clean linen will be most essential
at all times.

It is a great task imposed upon me—Joe's education. However, he is
exceedingly willing, which pleases me, and he possesses no one vice.
He regularly attends drill, and begins to move with the appearance of
a soldier. He is very proud of his green clothes, and is a very smart
fellow.

He is already wonderfully improved; he is two inches taller than I.
Maud is about my size. When in England he was rather delicate in
features; you would hardly know him, his complexion has changed so
much. Exposure to all sorts of weather—in summer roasted, in winter
nearly frozen—soon changes the appearance. Occasionally we get a
detachment from England. They look as delicate as women when they
first join us compared to those hard-faced veterans of the regiment.

When Joe left his brother to join me we were marching upon Madrid. He
travelled nearly 500 miles before he joined. He has some wonderful
tales to tell about his different adventures. He was six months in
joining me from the time of starting, in consequence of illness brought
on by hardships from starvation.

In England you little know the hardships a soldier endures in this
country.


Letter No. XVIII

      Alameda, Spain,
      _29th December 1812_.

My dear Father—I received your letter dated the 4th December. It
astonished me how you could have any trouble in getting the bill cashed
if properly presented, as the merchant informed me he never before
had any difficulty, and he has been in the habit of giving numbers to
individuals.

I examined carefully that part of your letter where you state the
likelihood of procuring me a company. My ideas upon the point in
question are by no means sanguine. I am too well hackneyed in the ways
of the world to for a moment imagine that a Member of Parliament would
give me anything, or, in other words, ask for a company for a perfect
stranger who had not given him the least assistance. You may say, that
does not follow, he may wish to offer himself at some distant period,
and may wish to make friends or make himself popular, but I should
think there are numbers of people more deserving than myself. In this
world, men generally (and particularly M.P.'s) have some great object
in view before they will exert themselves very materially on behalf of
others. Things of this kind daily stare one in the face. I remember Mr.
Arden very well, but I believe he has got sons; consequently his first
attempts will be to favour them, and there are very few in existence
who may not be in want of Parliamentary aid at one time or other,
therefore you will agree with me that it is not likely he would ask
favours for a person he knows little about. This is my opinion. I wish
I may be deceived most heartily. I think it was a wrong step letting
him have my letter. The curious are very anxious to know particulars
relating to the army in the Peninsula. If my letters are shown, and
given into the hands of strangers, the contents may find their way into
the public papers, which would be very unpleasant, and might prove very
serious, as according to the old adage, "The truth is not to be spoken
at all times." I must observe again you ought to be very cautious as to
whom you give my letters. Mr. Arden may hand my letter about among his
friends, who will comment upon it according as it strikes them, which
is not pleasant. I hope it may not be the case, and I have a better
opinion of him; at the same time, it is just as well not to put it in
any one's power.

You make me laugh with the idea of an aide-de-camp being the high road
to a Brigade-major's situation. Aides-de-camp are generally chosen by
general officers through relationship or family connections or friends.
My ideas of the world since I became a soldier are quite changed.
Campaigning has inured me to hardship, and it is quite immaterial to
me whether I roll myself in my blanket and sleep upon the ground or
anywhere else. There was a time when wet clothes would have frightened
me. Here I have been wet through for weeks and slept in the fields in
winter, sometimes without a cloak, enjoyed health, and been happy and
proud of my situation.

If there was any chance of success in procuring me a company through
the M.P., you should have asked for only one thing at a time. Any
country is the same to me, hot or cold; I could always exchange, after
a little time, by giving a difference of one or two hundred pounds,
which then would not be an object. However, building castles in the air
is not exactly the thing, and really I do not expect any promotion but
through the common routine of service, which, if I live, will be the
case four years hence. I certainly applaud you for giving your vote
to Mr. Wharton. I hope he will befriend you. I am afraid you have hit
upon a wrong situation for yourself. A barrack master has a great deal
to do, and he ought to be well acquainted with the mode of writing
returns in a military way. It is a situation generally filled by an old
officer. I think you would be much more likely to succeed by requesting
Mr. Wharton to obtain for you anything more easily filled that may
strike you. I am not well acquainted with what is easy to obtain or
what is not so, but in my opinion, a barrack master has much trouble
and responsibility, and particularly if he is not a military man, he
will find soldiers odd fellows to deal with. There are situations that
would not be attended with great responsibility on your part, as at
your time of life you must not think of learning a profession, but
endeavour to procure something easy, attended with little trouble; this
is the kind of occupation I should point out to you. I am very well
aware it would be productive of the most essential comfort.

We are in good cantonments, and have forgotten the hardships
experienced upon the retreat. I hope the next campaign will be a
brilliant one. The winter hangs heavy on my hands already, but I must
wait patiently. I think next summer will terminate the career of the
French in the Peninsula and allow us to move the theatre of war into
some other quarter.

The successes of the Russians are great and glorious, and will be a
means of rousing the Continental Powers from their lethargic state.
It will show the world that a true spirit of patriotism will always
overpower tyranny and oppression. Bravo, Russians! they are worthy
of the country they inhabit, and their labours will be crowned with
success. The man that would not be profuse of his life in defence of
the place that gave him birth, deserves not the name.

I wrote by a friend. You would receive it from some place in England.
I shall be able to send you some more money when I get hold of it, but
have not been regularly paid, I cannot say since when. I had a letter
from Maud, who tells me he is well and gives me a long history of
the three or four days after leaving me, which I joked him upon. Joe
feeds uncommonly. I allow him two bottles of good wine each day. He has
entirely driven the ague from its position through the able support of
bark wine, and I keep him daily employed at his book or drill. He feels
some consequence in having been in a fight since he joined. I asked him
at the time how he liked the shot and shells. He replied they were ugly
fellows, he did not like them much. But there are many things we do not
like that we must put up with.

Endeavour to get the letter back from Mr. A., as I do not like people
to comment upon my sentiments; it is too tender a point. If I had
thought the letter might be read by any other person but yourself,
I should have been more cautious in speaking of myself; some people
might fancy I was a swaggering fellow. There are many things a man may
unbosom himself about to his family that he would not think of doing
to the public. I am afraid, father, you are very young in the ways
of the world. My love to my dear mother, Ann, Charlie, and Betsy. Be
attentive to Charlie's education. I have written to Mrs. Wild about her
son.—Yours,

      G. Simmons,
      Lt., 1st Batt., 95th Regt.

Do not write me upon that part of the letter you fold down, as any
person may read it, and do not talk about me to people, as it will do
you no good and me harm. My respects to my good friend Whitaker. If I
might be allowed to judge with respect to his son, if he likes the
life of a soldier, by all means let him go to the East Indies.

Do not talk to me about Spanish donkeys. It is really too ridiculous.
You had better request me to send you a load of diamonds!

[Illustration: =SKETCH-MAP=

_ILLUSTRATING MOVEMENTS OF_

=LIGHT DIVISION=

_DURING THE CAMPAIGNS OF 1809-12._]



CAMPAIGN OF 1813


 Napoleon's failure in Russia considerably altered the aspect of
 affairs in the Peninsula, since he once again drafted thousands of
 his best soldiers and officers to stiffen the new levies with which
 he strove to oppose his enemies in Germany. Notwithstanding this, he
 had still 230,000 men in the Peninsula, of which 120,000 were barring
 the northern route from Spain to France, with reserves at Bayonne. It
 was at this juncture, in May 1813, that Wellington ordered Graham to
 advance from Portugal through Tras os Montes to the Esla River with
 an army of 40,000 men, so as to turn the line of the Douro, whilst he
 himself, with 30,000, moved direct on the Tormes, with the object of
 forcing a passage at Salamanca, crossing the Douro, and joining hands
 with Graham. The Galicians under Castaños were now to meet him, and
 the three forces, amounting to 90,000 men, were then to advance on a
 broad front and force the French back on the Pyrenees. "A grand design
 and grandly executed" are the words of Napier.

 King Joseph made desperate efforts to assemble his scattered forces,
 and after various changes of plans, fell back to the Ebro and took
 up a position behind the Zadorra River, covering Vitoria, where an
 immense amount of war material and treasure was collected.

 Wellington, pushing forward without intermission, attacked the French
 on 21st June at Vitoria, and inflicted a most crushing defeat on
 them, capturing all their guns, stores, and treasure. The French
 army retreated to the shelter of the walls of Pamplona, King Joseph
 fleeing to France. The victorious advance of the allies had placed
 Foy and Clausel, on either flank, in danger of being cut off. The
 former, although roughly handled by Graham, made good his retreat to
 the Bidasoa; the latter, pursued by Wellington himself, retreated to
 Zaragoza, and after destroying his guns and baggage, escaped with his
 force into France.

 San Sebastian was now besieged by the allies, and on 24th July, an
 attempt was made to storm it, but was repulsed with heavy loss, and
 the siege perforce turned into a blockade. Soult had meanwhile been
 appointed to command the "Army of Spain," as it was now styled, King
 Joseph having been wise enough to voluntarily resign.

 Now commenced the fighting which, under the name of "Pyrenees," is
 so well known. Combat succeeded combat with unceasing rapidity,
 commencing with that of Roncesvalles on 25th July. In nine days, in
 August, ten serious actions were fought, the allies losing some 7300
 men, and the French about double that number.

 The siege of San Sebastian was now resumed, and on 31st August it was
 stormed, but at the expense of appalling losses to those of the allies
 engaged. Meanwhile, Soult fought a battle on the Bidasoa with the
 covering force at San Marcial, and another at Vera.

 After the fall of San Sebastian, there was a lull in the fighting for
 some weeks, and it was not till 6th October that the allies effected
 the passage of the Bidasoa, and on the following day fought the second
 combat of Vera, in which the Rifles took a leading part and lost over
 200 officers and men, killed and wounded.

 Soult now entrenched himself strongly on the line of the Nivelle,
 but on 10th November, the battle of the Nivelle was fought and Soult
 retreated behind the Nive. Wellington having been compelled to divide
 his wings by this river, Soult projected an attack on one of them with
 his whole force, the entrenched camp of Bayonne on the Nive assisting
 him in this enterprise. The battles and combats which ensued are
 commonly known as the battles in front of Bayonne, that of the 10th
 December being distinguished as the battle of the Nive, although they
 all took place in the same theatre of operations.

 In the five days' fighting before Bayonne (9th to 13th December) the
 French lost 6000 men and the allies about 5000.

 After some minor operations, hostilities ceased for a brief period on
 the 18th December, only to be renewed with redoubled energy within
 less than two months.



CHAPTER XI

Letter No. XIX

_To his Father, from Alameda, dated 30th April 1813_

 More lectures to his father for showing his letters to people—Good
 winter quarters—Five months without seeing the face of a
 Frenchman—Hopes to see the Pyrenees before September—Starting on
 target practice with his men.

Letter No. XX

_From Lieutenant Joseph Simmons to his Parents, from Alameda, dated 5th
May 1813_

 Describes life in winter quarters—The regimental mess—Weekly balls to
 the ladies—The retreat from Madrid.

_Postscript by George Simmons_

 About to be reviewed by Lord Wellington—Expects to drive the French
 out of Spain this campaign.

_Journal—1st May-30th August 1813_

 The army formed into eight Divisions—The French army depleted to
 obtain veterans for the campaign in Russia—The British army in the
 highest order—Composition of the Light Division—General advance of the
 army—The Horse Guards and Oxford Blues join—Cavalry skirmish near
 Salamanca—The French retire—Advance resumed—The 10th Hussars execute
 a brilliant charge near Morales—The French retire from Burgos—The
 British army crosses the Ebro—Fight at San Millan—The Rifles "make
 a sad example of _Johnny_"—Salt springs at Salinas—The battle of
 Vitoria—Dispositions of the French—All three battalions of the Rifles
 sharply engaged—The French driven _into_ the town, _through_ the
 town, and _out of_ the town—A running fight for twenty miles—Bivouac
 at nightfall—The pursuit renewed—Skirmish at Echarri Arinez—Skirmish
 near La Cuenca—Splendid work by British Horse Artillery—The Rifle
 Men capture the _last_ gun of the French army—Sad spectacle of
 wounded French Artillerymen—Arrive in front of Pampeluna—The march to
 intercept General Clausel, who crosses the Ebro and escapes—On fatigue
 getting fuel—Rencontre with General Picton—"It's a d——d concern to
 have to follow you"—General Alten to the rescue—A present of a skin of
 wine—Blockade of Pamplona—Camp at the foot of the Pyrenees—Magnificent
 scenery—The Rifles drive the French from the heights of Santa
 Barbara—The Bidasoa and the town of Vera—The Pass of Vera—Soult
 captures the passes of Roncesvalles and Yanzi, and the Light Division
 has to fall back—The attempt to storm San Sebastian fails—Marshal
 Soult retires—Forced march of the Light Division—The fights at the
 bridge of Yanzi and at Echalar.


Letter No. XIX

      Alameda, Spain, _30th April 1813_.

Dear Father—I send you a bill upon Ireland for twenty pounds English
money. You must separate it from this epistle, and give it into the
hands of any banker, who will be able directly to procure you the
money. I must, dear father, request that you will not in future show my
letters to the public. I find that the letter I wrote you respecting
the fight upon the Coa was read at the mess table of a Militia
regiment and exposed to every one who chose to read it. How the devil
it got there I cannot say. I can so far say that the officer is now
present with this regiment who heard it read. You have no idea what
material injury you may do me by such exposures.

I remember in this letter I said a great deal about my family concerns,
which it is very wrong to publish to the world. If the young officer
had been a quizzical fellow and thought of telling some tales to any
other officers, it would have produced amusement, and, why then,
what must have been the consequences? I should have instantly called
him out, and the result either to one or the other must have proved
serious. A soldier's honour is as sacred as a woman's virtue. I mention
this, hoping it will deter you from doing so again, as you can form no
idea what trifles lead to among soldiers.

Joe is going on remarkably well. He has had repeated attacks of ague
through this winter. He is, however, much better, and will, I hope,
stand the campaign well. I have provided him with a horse. He is very
well acquainted with the first duties of a soldier. He is very much
liked by the officers, which gives me much pleasure.

The army is in high health and spirits. In a few days we shall take the
field. I am heartily tired of this idle life. We have been five months
in snug winter quarters without seeing the face of a Frenchman—a thing
which has never happened before. It is expected that our Division will
be slipped at Burgos. If we are, I hope success may attend us. Those
employed will have smart work. However, bad as it may be, Badajoz, for
a desperate business can never be rivalled.

The campaign bids fair to be most brilliant, as we shall have little
more than equal numbers to contend against. I hope to see the Pyrenees
before September. The success of the noble Russians is wonderful. I
hope my dear mother is well. I thank her for her kind remembrances of
me. I hope while I live I shall merit her affections. Tell Ann in a
few years more I have no doubt to make her comfortable and happy. Her
fortune is at present hard, but she can look forward with confidence
to seeing better times. I am glad Charlie and Betsy are improving;
for God's sake, take care of Charlie's education. Military drawing
would be very useful. As soon as you have received the money, write.
I shall send the second bill next week, so if you get this bill, burn
the second after you receive the money. I must end my letter, as the
company are already mustering at my door for target practice, so I
shall pass the remainder of the day in proving the abilities of my men
in hitting a mark in order to do justice to our enemies when we meet
with them. I have had Joe very often at this work. Adieu,

      Geo. Simmons,
      Lt., 95th Regiment.


Letter No. XX

      Alameda, _May 5th 1813_.

Dear Parents—Since our retreat from Madrid we have spent a very
pleasant and comfortable winter. The village that we have been in all
the winter is very small, the houses bad, and the inhabitants poor,
miserable creatures. They have a fire on the ground, which generally
smokes so intolerably that we frequently are obliged to go out of
the house. As soon as an officer gets into a house that is allotted
to him, he must build a chimney, as it has been very cold and rainy
this winter, particularly in this part of the country. When we got a
little settled in the village and found it was likely we should stop
some months in this place, we established a regimental mess. There we
had the best of things that this part of the country could produce; it
was a means of passing away the dreary winter nights pleasantly. We
usually gave a ball once a week to the ladies of the village, who did
us the honour to attend it. If you saw them they would astonish you.
They dress in short brown jackets, and petticoats of the same, very
coarse, figured with ridiculous patches of red cloth. These delicate
ladies feed so grossly and eat so much garlic, that it is enough to
suffocate a person being in the room with twenty or thirty of them. I
am only giving you a description of the women in the villages on this
mountainous frontier. In large towns there are beautiful women, and
something like the English (but not so fair), who dress splendidly in
black satin. We received a letter from Maud the other day. He is very
well. In his regiment they do not understand carrying on the war so
well as our officers. My brother George gives him sometimes a little
advice how to live. When I joined my regiment at Madrid I happened to
meet with my brother Maud before George. He told me he had had nothing
to eat for two or three days; it had rained all that time. I had just
received four days' rations. We went into an old house and cooked some
mutton chops and drank my rations of rum. His Colonel gave him leave to
go with me to find my brother George. As soon as we joined my brother,
he gave us a good dinner and plenty of wine and took great care of me.
My brother was well provided with blankets. I was then near dead with
starvation. I had marched three days with very little to eat, and it
was raining most of the time. He soon started the ague away from me,
but being obliged to ride with my regiment and continually raining,
brought on the ague again. Near the end of the retreat I was so bad
that I could hardly bear to sit upon my horse with dysentery and ague,
so that my brother had me, as well as his duty, to mind. If I had
fallen to the rear I should have been taken by the French. One day in
particular, when the enemy was firing at us very briskly, and having a
river to cross, I was so ill that I could not make the horse travel.
My brother returned to me and seized my horse by the bridle and forced
him through the river nearly up to the waist; at that time a cannon
shot struck the water as we passed. I had to lie out all that night
with only my brother's cloak over me. It rained most of the night. The
reason of not having more was on account of the baggage being sent to
the rear. We had nothing to eat but acorns for several days, as we
were passing through a large wood. We are provided with everything
for the ensuing campaign. We are all wishing to be on the move again.
Desire my love to my aunt, uncle, sisters, and brother.—I remain, your
affectionate son,

      Joseph Simmons, Lieut., 95th Regt.


_Postscript, written across the Preceding by George Simmons_

I desired Joe to write this letter. I think you will find he has much
improved since he came under my tuition. As soon as you receive this
letter, if you have not had the first, which I sent a week previous
to this, you must present this bill for payment, observing the first
having miscarried. I should hope you have received the first bill; if
so, destroy this one. Lord Wellington, our illustrious chief, will
review us in a day or two, which he always does yearly, previous to
commencing the campaign. I hope we shall finish the campaign by driving
the French out of the country, and may our next year's fighting be
either in Germany or Italy. I do not want to see England till I am a
captain. Joe has grown much. He is rather delicate. If he does not
become stout I shall send him to our depôt in England for a year or
two. I hope he will be able to rough it with me, as I am convinced it
will ultimately be more to his advantage.

Joe is here telling you a story of escaping from being a prisoner.
There is a good deal of truth in it. However, I told him he should not
talk nonsense about me. He will know better as he grows older.

I often pleasure myself with the idea that if anything happens to
me, Joe will be a comfort to his family. I often talk to him upon
the subject. I got a number of silver forks and spoons. They are so
weighty, I shall be under the necessity of selling them. I bought them
after the sacking of Rodrigo and Badajoz for a trifle from one of our
men. I meant them for Ann. However, she shall lose nothing in the end.
I shall purchase some little thing more portable. God bless you.

      G. S.


_Journal—1st May-30th August 1813_

Campaign of 1813

Five thousand British troops having arrived at Lisbon as a
reinforcement to the army, the Divisions were now formed into eight, as
follows:—

  1st Division commanded by Lieutenant-General Hon. W. Stewart.

  2nd    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Sir Rowland Hill.

  3rd    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton.

  4th    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Sir Lowry Cole.

  5th    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Sir James Leith.

  6th    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton.

  7th    "        "      "  Lieutenant-General Earl Dalhousie.

Light Division, Major-General Baron Charles Alten; the cavalry under
Sir Stapleton Cotton; the Portuguese under Marshal Beresford. Sir
Thomas Graham was made his second-in-command after the battle of
Salamanca. The 2nd Division was detached in Estremadura. Napoleon's
gigantic designs against Russia had caused the French armies in Spain
to contribute ten men per company from a number of regiments for the
purpose of having veteran soldiers mixed with the new levies. The
British and Portuguese armies were now fully equipped and in the
highest order. The Light Division was assembled and reviewed upon the
plains of Espeja by Lord Wellington, most of whom had seen several
campaigns, and few of them but what could boast of having been wounded
in their country's service, and who were also ready to receive more if
required.

[Sidenote: 1813 May 21st]

Part of the Light Division marched to the ford of Marialba and crossed
the Agueda near a mill and then moved on to San Felices, and the
remainder of the Division joined us. Bivouacked. The Division is
divided into two Brigades, the first commanded by Major-General Sir
James Kempt, and consists of the following:—1st Battalion 43rd; five
companies 3rd Battalion Rifles; six companies 1st Battalion Rifles
and 17th Portuguese Regiment of Line under Colonel Rolt; 2nd Brigade
commanded by Major-General Vandeleur; 1st Battalion 52nd; 1st and 3rd
Portuguese Caçadores; six companies 2nd Battalion Rifles. Major Ross's
troop of Horse Artillery still attached to the Division.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

At daylight, moved forward and passed Santiespiritus and the river
Yeltes to Martin del Rio, where we bivouacked. This river rises in the
Sierra de Françia, connected with the Gata mountains, and falls into
the Huebra. The whole army now advanced in a most efficient state, and
under the most favourable circumstances we commenced the campaign of
1813.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched to San Munoz, upon the Huebra, and under very different
feelings I now passed through the river at the same ford where the
French had cannonaded us on the 17th of November last.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Halted and bivouacked. The Household Brigade joined us, viz. Horse
Guards and Oxford Blues.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched through Castro, crossing the Matilla rivulet, and bivouacked a
little beyond the village of Robliza.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched some distance upon the road to Salamanca and pitched our tents
near a small stream called the Valmuza, as the enemy's rear-guard was
in possession of Salamanca. About two hours after, moved forward to the
ford of Villa Mayor, upon the left bank of the Tormes, about a league
below the town. Pitched our tents. The other Divisions of the army made
corresponding movements, and General Fane's Brigade of cavalry crossed
the ford of Santa Marta and the Hussar Brigade moved towards the bridge.

The enemy left the place and halted upon the heights in its
neighbourhood. Our cavalry charged the enemy and made some havoc.
The Horse Artillery made good practice at the retiring columns. 200
prisoners and some baggage fell into our hands.

[Sidenote: 27th]

The army halted, and the Spaniards had _Te Deums_ sung in their
churches for being again free from French persecution. I visited the
town.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Marched to near Aldea Nueva de Figueira. Encamped not far from General
Hill's Division. Went to see my brother Maud in the 34th Regiment.
Remained until dark. Having had an extra glass of wine, I had a better
opinion of my knowledge of the road to our encampment than of any other
person's, and in consequence I was travelling about the greater part of
the night.

[Sidenote: 1813 June 2nd]

The Light Division marched early by the road to Toro, and halted for
some time near Villa Buena to cook. Again proceeded close to the bridge
over the Douro at Toro and then halted. A principal arch has been blown
up. We passed over the chasm in the bridge in Indian file by means of
planks having been laid over the broken arch. The guns and baggage
passed through a deep ford.

The 10th Hussars made a brilliant charge at a body of cavalry near
Morales and overturned a number of them, bringing in 200 prisoners
yesterday. About mid-day moved to Tejera Buena and encamped.

[Sidenote: 4th]

The Light Division marched six leagues through a sterile country; the
ground was composed of quantities of chalk. Passed through La Mota and
encamped near the convent of La Espina, on high ground, with a stream
meandering along at the base.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched and halted an hour near Castromonte, and afterwards moved to
Villamadarra and encamped.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Marched to Ampudia. The country flat and has little appearance of
fertility. The cottages not so good as the peasantry have generally had
on our line of march.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Marched early this morning, preceded by the cavalry and Horse
Artillery, to Palencia. The infantry followed and encamped close to the
walls of the town, which encircled it. The people were enraptured at
the entrance of the English army, and the same feeling appeared general
amongst all descriptions. We were informed that Joseph Buonoparte
reviewed his rear-guard yesterday and was within their city. This
day's march has been through a rich and very fertile country.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Marched through Fuente de Valdepero and encamped near Monzon. The
weather bad—more like November than June. The villagers everywhere as
we passed, hurried together; the men greeted us with _Vivas_ and the
women danced, some of them in the most ridiculous and droll manner,
to the great amusement of the soldiers, who although labouring under
a heavy load and marching rapidly, often forgot their hardships and
partook in the general mirth and hilarity.

[Sidenote: 9th]

The Division marched to Piña de Campos and encamped near Rio Cieza.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Crossed the stone bridge over the river and passed through Piña and
Fromista. Crossed the Castilian Canal, which for a considerable
distance is raised above the level of the country, and encamped upon
the right bank of the Pisuerga River near Santillana.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Passed over the river by a good stone bridge of seven arches and moved
forward to Villasandino. Encamped near it upon the river Brulles.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched towards Burgos. Halted a short time at Castrillo de Murcia
to allow the cavalry to advance up a plain. Made a demonstration by
forming two lines upon the heights over the Hormuza at Isar. Our
cavalry moved forward near Burgos. The Light Division encamped in the
evening at Hornilla, upon the Hormuza River.

[Sidenote: 13th]

Marched very early. A tremendous explosion took place at six A.M.,
which we were satisfied was in Burgos, and afforded us great delight.
I, speaking for myself, would much sooner have a fair field to fight
on, rather than storm a town. I was convinced that the enemy had
evacuated the place, which soon proved to be the case. The castle had
been blown up, and some of the outworks destroyed. We passed through
Argano to Tovar, where we encamped.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched through Quintana to Quintanajuar and Poza. The Brigade encamped
in a wood near the two latter villages.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched through Villalta and El Almine, the road now winding and
descending for a considerable distance. Entered the vale of the Ebro,
and crossed this famous river over a stone bridge named Puenteareñas.
Our band struck up the "Downfall of Paris." We were much amused at
their wit on the occasion, and we had it followed by a national tune or
two to remind us of Old England and absent friends. Encamped close to
the village of Areñas. The banks of the river here are low, and from
its appearance it must rise and fall very considerably, as the country
is mountainous.

[Sidenote: 16th]

The villages about here are very numerous. We crossed the river Nela,
and encamped at Medina de Pomar, on the river Trueba.

[Sidenote: 17th]

On piquet after a tedious march through a mountainous country covered
with majestic woods. The Division remained on the side of a steep hill
overlooking the vale of Rosales.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Moved off at an early hour through magnificent woods, preceded by a
troop of the German Hussars, followed up closely by the 1st Battalion
Rifles. The Hussars surprised and took the greater part of a piquet of
French, and finding that a Division of infantry was in San Millan,
we made our distributions to attack them. Our Battalion was conducted
by Colonel Barnard through wooded steep ground beyond the left of
the town, the rest of the Brigade being moved forward when we became
engaged. We made a sad example of the enemy in a short time, and drove
_Johnny_ through Villa Nueva to Villa Naña. Several regiments had
formed in column, but were completely cut off. Under cover of night
they dispersed, and got away as they could. Many were made prisoners.
Our 2nd Brigade took all the enemy's baggage. My friend Haggup was shot
directly across his stomach. Our loss was trifling when compared with
the enemy's. We encamped on the Jumiçillo, below Villa Nueva. This was
the first day we had fired a shot since breaking up from our winter
quarters.

[Sidenote: 19th]

The captured animals and baggage were sold and the amount distributed
amongst the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, although the 1st was the
real cause of its being taken. Crossed the Cunilla at Villa Madera;
passed through Salinas. The water, sparkling and running clear and
beautiful, appeared very inviting. The day was hot, and as soon as the
soldiers got near they dipped their tots and began to swig away. I was
astonished to see the wry faces it produced, and the exclamations also.
"The water is d——d salt here; we cannot be very far from the sea," a
man close to me observed, which made me laugh. The earth abounds with
salt in the vicinity of this place.

At Pobes we crossed the small river Bayas by a wooden bridge, and
formed our encampment.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Halted. I went and dined with my brother in the 34th and returned to
camp in the evening.


Battle of Vitoria

[Sidenote: 21st]

The Light Division moved at daylight, and was joined on the march
by the 4th Division. Passed through Subijana de Morillo and other
villages. On arriving at some heights, the Division drew up. The enemy
could be very distinctly observed in very large force also drawn up,
with the right of his army resting upon the river Zadorra beyond the
village of Abechucho, the centre upon some very commanding heights in
front of Ariñez, and the left upon Subijana de Alva, having a body of
men posted somewhat in advance, on very rugged and high ground named
La Puebla. The river took a serpentine course along their position. As
soon as General Hill opened the ball by attacking the enemy's right,
we moved nearer the river with the 1st and 3rd Battalions. We now had
a fine view of the centre on the heights of Najara, which was destined
to be attacked by the Light, 3rd, 4th, and 7th Divisions. Three bridges
(Tres Puentes) over this river were left undefended by the enemy, and
under a sharp cannonade they were passed. We moved up the heights to
the attack. _Johnny_ was very soon put off them, and took shelter in
Ariñez, which place he held very obstinately, but ultimately was driven
from thence. To the right the mountains ran at right angles with our
front. On their very top you could see the contending parties engaged;
from thence as far as the eye could reach along the line to our left
a continual tiralade going on, the enemy gradually retiring, and the
British, Portuguese, and Spaniards moving close upon their heels. Our
3rd Battalion Rifles was then posted in the village of Villodas, which
was directly under the heights. The French occupied the houses near the
bridge over the river, to prevent our advance there. In the afternoon
the enemy to our front began to make less opposition, and only seemed
determined to get out of our clutches as fast as possible, but they
had to march over a fine plain, which enabled us from time to time to
press them confoundedly. Towards evening, the road became covered with
baggage of every description, artillery, caissons, and French carrying
away their merchandise and plunder by all sorts of conveyances. We were
advancing rapidly. Occasionally a Rifle Man would shoot a horse yoked
to a gun. This stopped the rest behind and blocked up the way. Now and
then a few soldiers would fire shots at us from among the baggage.
Night at last drew its sable curtain over the scene of slaughter and
confusion, and afforded a fine opportunity to many to go in quest of
plunder. We had fought over twenty miles of ground. I seated myself by
a fire with the officers of the company, and was fortunate enough to
get part of a ham and some claret which one of the soldiers had taken
from a cart belonging to the enemy. In a little time we had a variety
of eatables brought by men of the company. I never ate with a better
relish in my life. I lay down by the fire in a French officer's cloak,
which one of the men gave me; he had that day shot its wearer. I awoke
at daylight refreshed and in high spirits.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

The Division fell in and moved by the Pamplona road (the only one left
to retreat by) in pursuit of the enemy. The French had lost yesterday
about 10,000 men killed, wounded, and taken, besides 151 pieces of
cannon, 415 caissons, and the military chest and the whole of their
baggage. King Joseph was so hard pressed that he was compelled to leave
his carriage, mount a horse, and gallop off. General Gazan's wife was
taken, but sent back in her carriage under an escort this morning.
Moved through Salvatierra, preceded by the 1st German Hussars, 14th
Dragoons, and one troop of Horse Artillery. We followed the French, and
found all the villages abandoned by the inhabitants. The Dragoons came
up with the enemy's rear-guard and took fifty stragglers encamped near
the village of Alvisera.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

At daybreak again followed up the retreating French through Ciordia,
passed the river Buranda into the province of Navarre. We found the
enemy posted upon the river at a small village. The bridge, being of
wood, was set on fire. Our Horse Artillery commenced playing upon the
enemy's column, which soon after moved off. We forded the river and
followed the enemy, pushing his rear-guard so fast that several bridges
were not destroyed, so great was the hurry to get away. The French now
hit upon another expedient to retard our pursuit—they set the villages
on fire, but that made us push on the faster through them, and at
Echarri Ariñez we skirmished with some Voltigeurs, but they soon went
off. The enemy again drew up at La Cuenca. The Horse Artillery opened
fire upon their columns, which caused them to retire through Huarte,
our cavalry occupying the place. The Light Division encamped at La
Cuenca, having moved five leagues. The weather very bad.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Moved off with the dawn. Cavalry, guns, 1st and 3rd Battalion Rifles
soon came up with the enemy's rear-guard and attacked it. They fought
for a while and retired as fast as possible to another position. We as
rapidly followed, and again turned the rascals out of it. The roads,
from the quantities of rain, were very bad indeed, frequently up to the
knees. I never in my life saw our Horse Artillery do such wonders in
crossing the country. They passed over ditches and through places that
no one would credit or think possible; the horses were noble animals
and in the finest order. Towards the afternoon we got upon the high
road, _camino real_, from Madrid to Pamplona. The _only gun_ the enemy
had brought from Vitoria was now turned against us. The enemy again
formed up across the King's road, gave us a few discharges of grape
and round shot. Some Rifle Men were ordered to move quickly upon the
flank and attack it, the Horse Artillery giving the enemy a few rounds
of shot and shrapnel from two guns. The Dragoons dashed forward. Poor
_Johnny_ in the hurry to get away overturned gun, horses, and all. The
road had been raised 15 feet over a flat. The side was built up like a
wall. It was just the worst place for miles that the animals and gun
could have been trundled over. Elated with our success, I came up to
the spot, but was sadly hurt at a melancholy spectacle. Five French
soldiers, who a few moments before were in rude health, now lay with
their limbs frightfully lacerated and broken, the fibres hanging in
strings from dreadful wounds, the blood mixing with the mud which their
limbs and bodies were lying in. I, with the assistance of some others,
dragged them upon some dry ground. I pitied them and gave them a
little wine from my calabash. They seemed to wish to be shot; one in
particular requested it as a boon. The sight was too much. I turned
away from it with horror, and if a tear fell, what then! May not a
soldier be in possession of as fine feelings as other men? I have seen
a half-starved soldier give his last crust to a famishing infant.

Occupied the villages of Santa Barafra, Berioplaño, and Aldava, close
to and north of Pamplona.

[Sidenote: 25th]

The Light Division assembled upon the great road in conjunction with
the other Divisions for the purpose of cutting off every communication
with Pamplona. The Light Division moved by a mountain road a little
way out of the range of the guns of the fortress, and had a fine view
of the village of Villaba, on the Arga. Pamplona is a large strongly
fortified town, with a very important citadel of great strength; it is
the capital of Navarra, and situated in a highly cultivated country,
with villages innumerable in its vicinity, nearly surrounded with
mountains, which appear in the distance, one higher than another, till
lost in the clouds. The scenery is beautifully romantic, and, literally
speaking, the land flows with milk and honey.

[Sidenote: 26th]

Marched through Noain and near the aqueduct of Pamplona, a splendid
pile composed of one hundred fine stone arches. Moved forward and
encamped near a village at the junction of the main roads leading from
Tudela and Zaragoza. This was done to intercept General Clausel, if
possible, but without effect.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched near Barasoain, rested and cooked. Moved forward by the Zidaco
River, and crossed over it at Tafalla by a good stone bridge. Encamped
near Olite.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Marched past Olite and turned off the Zaragoza road and took that of
San Martin. Crossed over an uncultivated plain of great extent and
halted to cook near Murillo de Fruto, four and a half leagues, in a
pine wood. Proceeded along the river Aragon, crossed it near Galipienzo
by a bridge of stone. The road became extremely bad, resembling a goat
track. The head of the column arrived near Caseda, four leagues more,
at 11 P.M. A great part of the Division bivouacked upon the road-side
owing to the darkness of the night and the harassing march. The object
of this forced march was to cut off Clausel's Division, but this rapid
movement had been anticipated, for, like a skilful fellow, he had
crossed the Ebro at Tudela and then moved upon Zaragoza.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Crossed the Aragon at Caseda and proceeded to Sanguessa; encamped near
it. I was sent for wood with a party of men, and as it is frequently a
scarce article, the authorities ordered a house to be given up, which
we very soon had level with the ground and every bit of wood selected
from the rubbish. I was returning to camp when General Picton, who
commanded the 3rd Division, and was coming to his encampment near us,
said, "Well, sir, you have got wood enough for yours and my Division.
I shall have it divided. Make your men throw it down. It is a d——d
concern to have to follow. You sweep up everything before you." Luckily
at this moment I espied General Alten, who commanded the Light
Division, and told him the orders I had received. He was very much
annoyed, and came up to remonstrate with Picton upon interfering with
me in the performance of my duty. I took advantage of it, ordered the
men to pick up their loads and be off. Fighting is a very minor part of
a soldier's duty; he must be a complete man of the world, and if he has
the smallest command, it requires much cleverness to perform his duty
as he ought to do. There are a thousand annoyances thrown in his path
which he must be philosopher enough to laugh at.

Sanguessa is a very good Spanish town with a castle of some strength.
Mina, a most celebrated guerilla chief, took it from the French.
I was hunting about the town for good wine for our mess when a
respectable-looking man begged me to enter his house, and cordially
shaking me by the hand, offered me some excellent wine. I asked him to
sell me a skinful, but he said, "I will not sell, but I will give you
one." My servant was directed to dismount from the mule, and my skin,
which was the skin of a large buck, was soon filled, amounting at least
to seventy bottles of wine. I gave a respectable-looking woman five
dollars as a present. On my arrival in the camp my friends were highly
delighted with my good luck in adding so much to our comforts.

[Sidenote: 1813 July 1st]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Returned towards Pamplona and encamped near Monreal.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

This morning the Light Division assembled upon the main road near
Noain, and moved partly round Villaba to a small village near Pamplona.


[Sidenote: 4th]

The Division sent out strong working parties to throw up works to cover
our piquets before Pamplona, which was now rigorously blockaded. The
4th Division relieved us.

[Sidenote: 5th]

The Light Division assembled from different villages at Sauroren, and
proceeded up a narrow valley to the town of Ostiz, and encamped upon a
rivulet.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Marched up the stream to Lanz, which is situated at the foot of the
celebrated Pyrenean Mountains. Encamped in a fine grove of chestnut
trees. The hills, which are numerous and richly covered with sturdy old
oak and other magnificent trees, with the mountains towering above them
in every direction, the tops of which are buried in the clouds, gives a
grandeur to the surrounding appearance that can only be felt by those
on the spot.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Marched by a most romantic road, and ascended hills, many of them
covered with fine trees, oak, beech, and larch, and the ground covered
with wild strawberries; the valleys delightfully irrigated, and
abounding with fruits, corn, and oil. How soon these peaceful vales
will be disturbed with the noisy din of war! Halted for three hours
upon the side of a steep hill, and afterwards moved into San Esteven,
a charming village, where we fared sumptuously. Major-General Skerrett
took the command of our 2nd Brigade, as General Vandeleur was appointed
to the cavalry. The Bidasoa rises in the Pyrenees near Elizondo,
passing through this valley, and ultimately disembogues itself into the
sea at Fuenterrabia, where it divides France from Spain.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Remained quiet here until the afternoon of the 14th; moved out of the
town and marched and encamped upon the heights above Sumbilla.

[Sidenote: 15th]

The Division at daybreak moved down the Bidasoa by a mountain track,
sometimes close to the river, at other times winding along the side of
the mountain a considerable height from it. On arriving at the bridge
of Lezaca we discovered the enemy's advanced post upon the summit of
a mountain. Ordered immediately to move up and dislodge the enemy,
which was done very leisurely, as the sides were very steep, and it
was necessary not to waste our strength and vigour, as we might have
occasion for it. On arriving near the top the French fired occasional
shots at us, but ultimately we got to the top, and soon made _Johnny_
scamper down the other side. These heights, Santa Barbara, are named
after a convent, the ruins of which still remain. We now had a fine
view of the enemy's position on the Spanish side of the ridge of
mountains which separate France from Spain; at their base stands the
small town of Vera. The Bidasoa makes an abrupt turn close to this
place and runs through irregular and precipitous ground to the sea. The
enemy were dislodged towards evening from Vera, with the exception of
a piquet posted near some out-houses. Our piquet occupied some houses
in the town. The Division encamped upon the heights. The enemy's piquet
now occupied a strong commanding rocky projection, which was placed
immediately over Vera. The enemy's sentry had a bird's-eye view of all
our movements. Our piquet was advanced to the extreme end of the place.
The road which leads into France through Vera is called the Puerto de
Vera. It is a very strong pass, and, from its formidable appearance, a
few men ought to defend it. A Division of the French army have occupied
the strong ground on each side of the pass, and are engaged in throwing
up fieldworks to strengthen the position. Lord Wellington's quarters
are at Ernani, near San Sebastian. The siege of the latter place was
proceeding vigorously under General Sir T. Graham. We remained in our
position, going on piquet in turn till the 25th.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched through Lezaca and Yanzi; encamped on the heights near
Sumbilla. Marshal Soult, who now commands the French army, collected
a large force and attacked the passes of Roncesvalles and Maya, which
were carried, and consequently caused us to retrograde, endeavouring to
cover Pamplona, as it was easy to see that Soult wanted to drive the
British army beyond that fortress. San Sebastian was attacked at dawn
this morning by the 5th Division at two breaches. 500 men were killed
and wounded, and the attempt to storm the town failed.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Marched off in the dark and blundered along the whole night. Arrived
at Zubieta after daylight, which was only two leagues and a half, the
roads being very bad, and amongst rugged mountains.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Encamped this morning, and continually heard a heavy cannonade and
peals of musketry, indicating hard fighting upon our right.

[Sidenote: 29th]

Marched to Saldeas at 9 o'clock P.M.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Proceeded to Lecumberri, and afterwards moved into a wood, and encamped
across the high road from Pamplona to Tolosa, about five leagues from
both, supporting the left of General Hill's corps.

[Sidenote: 31st]

Marched to Loyza and encamped.

[Sidenote: 1813 Aug. 1st]

Soult having been worsted in all his attacks upon the British, was
now in full retreat, having suffered very considerably in killed and
wounded and prisoners. The Light Division made a forced march this day
by Zubieta, along a mountain track on the left bank of the Bidasoa to
the bridge of Yanzi (the distance about eight leagues), the greater
part of the day under a burning sun, which sadly exhausted the men,
but they cheered up on seeing the enemy, and made the attack with such
real pluck that the latter was soon scampering across the bridge in the
greatest hurry. This body of the enemy had merely occupied the bridge
to protect the march of a column moving from Sumbilla. Our 1st and
3rd Battalions took possession of some houses near the bridge, and a
tiralade was kept up until dark, the enemy's force being so formidable
from the beginning, that it was not deemed advisable to push on. I lost
this little affair by being ordered to remain at Loyza a sufficient
time to try by court-martial, Sergeant Hayes. It came on dark before
I got up to the Battalion. I got bewildered in the mountains and lost
my way. The enemy's fires and ours appeared all round me before I gave
up the attempt to find the Battalion, so I tied my horse to a tree,
pulled him some leaves and loose grass, and lay down near him until
daylight. My horse was ill, so the other two officers who had been on
the court-martial were obliged to leave me before dark.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Joined my Battalion. The enemy had withdrawn during the night. Moved
after them by the road to the pass of Vera, the 2nd Brigade by Yanzi
and Lezaca. Encamped on our original ground and took up the line of
piquets without firing a shot. The enemy remained upon a rocky steep
connected with Puerto de Echellar. It was found necessary to dislodge
this force from that place. In the afternoon the 1st Brigade was drawn
up upon the heights of Santa Barbara, and the 1st and 3rd Battalions
were sent up the face of a craggy steep, almost perpendicular. The
enemy opened fire upon us. Captain Pemberton, who was with my brother
and myself, received a severe wound, the ball passing directly under
the ham. Several men were knocked over as we gradually approached
the top. The enemy made a charge, but were soon stopped; and, a fog
coming on and we still advancing and firing upon them, they gave up
the hill without fiercely contending for it. General Barnes's Brigade,
7th Division, in a spirited manner drove a large body of the enemy
from very strong ground on our right, so that the pass of Echellar was
in our possession. The 17th Portuguese occupied the heights for the
night and we returned to our encampment near the Bidasoa and Vera. The
partisan, General Longa, had remained on the left bank of this river
during our absence, and had thrown up works with a _tête de pont_.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

The 7th Division took up the ground we yesterday deprived the enemy of,
and we resumed our old position upon the heights of Santa Barbara. We
remained quiet here till the end of the month, keeping a good look-out
on each other.

On the 29th, in consequence of the failure of the attempt to storm San
Sebastian, Lord Wellington paid the Light Division a high compliment
by allowing a subaltern's party from each Battalion, total 250 men, to
go as a storming party. My messmate Percival, a most worthy and brave
fellow, being senior, took charge of the party from the 1st Battalion;
2nd Lieutenant Hamilton also went under him.

[Sidenote: 30th]

The town was assaulted about mid-day on the 30th, and after
considerable delay and very hard fighting the breaches were entered,
and the place fell into our hands, the principal part of the garrison
having retreated into the castle, which completely commands the place.



CHAPTER XII

Letter No. XXI

_To his Parents, from Vera, Pyrenees, dated 30th August 1813_

 Description of his surroundings in the Pyrenees—Describes the advance
 from Alameda and gives extracts from his journal and details of fight
 at San Millan and battle of Vitoria—The pursuit—Pitiful state of the
 French wounded—They curse their Emperor—Fighting in the Pyrenees—Would
 come home when the army goes into winter quarters, but has no plain
 clothes—Affectionate messages to his family and anxiety to be of
 assistance to them.

_Postscript, dated 4th September 1813_

 Describes the fighting on the occasion of the defence of the bridge of
 Vera (the morning after the preceding letter was written)—Heavy losses
 of the Rifles—Bewails being a junior Lieutenant—Brother Joseph posted
 to another company and "to start fair by himself."

_Journal—31st August-31st December 1813_

 Soult makes a final attempt to relieve San Sebastian—Defence of
 the bridge of Vera—A night on outpost duty—Night attack by the
 French, who carry the bridge of Vera—Death of Captain Cadoux of the
 Rifles—The "Volunteer" and his experiences of campaigning—He returns
 to England—The storming of San Sebastian—The "high compliment" paid
 to the Rifles by Lord Wellington—Final warning to his father not to
 show his letters about—The fortress stormed—The Governor surrenders
 the castle—Simmons visits San Sebastian and sees the wounded officers
 of the Rifles—Forcing the Pass of Vera—The 3rd Battalion Rifles covers
 the advance—Heavy fighting and losses—La Rhune occupied—Extensive
 view from the mountains—French territory in sight—Witnesses a naval
 engagement—The French fortify Petite La Rhune—Fall of Pamplona—Lord
 Wellington thereupon advances—Battle of the Nivelle—Colonel
 Barnard severely wounded—Asks Simmons if he can recover, and gets
 a reply—Simmons ordered to remain and look after his Colonel, who
 recovers—More fighting in the Pyrenees—Lieutenant Hopwood killed—End
 of the year.

Letter No. XXII

_To his Parents, from St. Jean de Luz, France, dated 7th December 1813_

 The fighting in the Pyrenees in October and the French retirement
 across the frontier—Wellington's orders prior to the battle of the
 Nivelle—How the Rifles spent the evening before the fight—The battle
 of the Nivelle—The French routed at all points and driven from their
 entrenchments—Colonel Barnard's wound—Simmons placed in charge of him
 and "bleeds him constantly"—Simmons dines with Lord Wellington—Takes
 steps to make brother Joseph more independent—Expectations of being
 able to assist his family.

_Postscript_

 British soldiers on good terms with the French population—Contrasts
 their behaviour to that of the French soldiers in Spain—The
 French now suffering for their misdeeds—Probabilities of peace and
 determination to enlist in some foreign army if England has no
 wars—Expectations of more fighting in a few days.


Letter No. XXI

      Bivouac near Vera on the frontiers of France,
      Pyrenees, _30th August 1813_.

Dear Parents—Your letter, bearing date 17th July, I received during
the advance, and at a time when each day's march produced something
amusing and interesting. I therefore delayed answering it until this
period, wishing to say much in a small compass. I am now seated in
a charming hut of my own forming, with a crystal mountain stream
running at my feet, on every side tremendous mountains, whose lofty
summits embrace the clouds, their sides covered with rich woods and
fruit-trees; the valleys exuberantly luxurious, abounding with fruits,
corn, and wine. Such delightful scenery I never before beheld. In such
a place, if it were not for war—cruel war!—how happy the inhabitants
might live. But, alas! those innocent dwellings are pillaged and the
poor distressed owners fled with their families into the wild recesses
in the mountains, in hopes of sheltering themselves from their savage
pursuers. These bloodthirsty rascals often, when they cannot find the
plunder they expect, set fire to the houses and burn whole villages.
Such wrongs call out for vengeance, and ere long I hope the country
that has caused so much _innocent_ blood to be spilt will feel in the
bosom of her own the effects of war. I am sorry to hear of the death
of my aunt. I had pleased myself with the hopes of seeing her again.
How fleeting and delusive are all worldly views!

       *       *       *       *       *

As the newspapers have given you accounts of our battles, I will
describe some of the occurrences that took place. On the 21st of May
we broke up from our cantonment and the Division assembled near Ciudad
Rodrigo in high health, and upon the next day we commenced our march
upon Salamanca. The French scampered off. Our Dragoons roughly handled
some of them. We then marched upon Toro, on the river Douro. The enemy
were here outwitted by our great Lord's superior generalship—outflanked
and obliged to leave that position. Our Hussars came up with some
cavalry and sliced and carved them genteelly. We were much astonished
that we had already passed over so great a tract of country without
once exchanging a shot. We now moved upon the river Ebro, passing
through the most iron-bound country I had ever beheld, and as we
crossed the river the band played the "Downfall of Paris," which made
us laugh and afforded us some amusement.

To digress a little from the subject, I must say something of the
fertility of the place by referring back to my journal of the 15th of
June. After a long day's march, we crossed the Ebro at Puenteareñas and
bivouacked near the village named Areñas. The river narrowed, but very
rapid. Swam the river with some of my friends. This fertile valley is
called Villacayo. The scenery on the banks of the river was sublime,
novel, and picturesque. On every side, rugged and steep mountains.
Plenty of wine, fruits, and vegetables. This manœuvre of our great
Commander, which the enemy had not calculated upon, put _Johnny_ into
much confusion. Our army now was daily concentrating, and at the same
time moving upon Vitoria. On the 18th of June our Division made a
rapid march to intercept a body of the enemy, and came pounce upon a
Division. Our 1st and 3rd Battalions were ordered to march over some
very steep hills covered with trees to attack them in the rear, at the
same time sending two of our companies just to amuse them in the front,
and with orders not to press upon the town until we fell upon the rear.

Poor Joe had recently had the ague and looked delicate. This morning,
however, he felt a stomach for the fight. I told him to keep at my side
and he would see what fine bloodhounds Rifle Men were. We soon gained
the spot, and rushed upon them furiously, and though they gave us
several discharges from a good-formed line, they were so staggered that
one Brigade ran into the mountains, while the other retreated, throwing
away everything. We chased them through several villages, in which
they usually made a stand, to the no small terror of the inhabitants,
as it astonished peaceable people to have the balls whistling about
their ears. Our men were their own commissaries this day, having taken
plenty of white bread and bacon. Being very hungry, I fed lustily. Joe
could not partake of the repast, though he felt pleased with the day's
amusement.

On 19th June, I visited Maud and dined with him. I had not seen him
for some time. Joe quite well. June 21st was a day which will be
for ever memorable in the pages of history, for the gallantry which
was displayed by all is beyond my humble pen to describe. I assure
you I feel proud at being able to say I was there. Fortune favoured
me as well as Joe, who was always at my side (as he belonged to the
same company); he behaved as brave as a lion. I thank Almighty God
for His kindness and protection from injury in the hour of danger.
It is exceedingly lucky, three brothers in the same fight and none
touched, and how we have escaped so long astonishes me. As you have
had the whole business in the papers, it is needless to dwell upon
this. We fought till dark, being heartily tired. Having been marching
and fighting without tasting anything since two o'clock that morning,
there was no wonder. I fried some ham upon the point of my sword, drank
a good dose of _Johnny's_ wine, and fell fast asleep upon the spot,
forgetting even my blankets, and was lost to the cares of the world
until daylight. The men standing to their arms awoke me, when I found
myself wet through with the dew of the night. What strange vicissitudes
of life the soldier meets with! Campaigning is the life for me. I have
never felt such happiness since I became a soldier. I often think that
to be living in England after this wild, romantic existence would not
give me half so much satisfaction.

We daily hung upon the enemy's rear—our Division, some cavalry,
and Light Artillery. In this way we annoyed them very seriously,
making many bite the ground and other poor wretches travel, wounded
and bleeding at every step, until nature could do no more. Being
exhausted, they fell, cursing their Emperor with their last breath.
Whenever these unfortunate wretches fell into our hands, as soon as
they ascertained we were English they were satisfied, knowing well the
nobleness of the soul which an Englishman possesses.

On 24th June we drove the enemy into and past Pamplona, and took their
last gun. Since that period we have been marching and counter-marching
in the Pyrenees, among and upon such mountain tracks as would
astonish milch goats, much more animals with two legs, ill-calculated
for travelling in such rugged places. Different parts of our army,
according to circumstances, have frequently dislodged the enemy from
the strongest places that Nature could in her vagaries have formed.
Such a place as this we attacked on the 2nd of August (our 1st and
3rd Battalions were the only people in the fight), which was carried
handsomely, and what pleased our fellows most was beating the enemy
over their own boundaries and letting the French peasantry see their
soldiers run away.

This day I lost a valuable young friend. He was in the same company,
and badly wounded in the knee, which I am afraid will finish his career
of glory. Thus, since we started, Joe and myself have not received a
single scratch, while the other two officers are both wounded. However,
it is all a lottery. Maud had escaped until the other day. He was lucky
having a horse to stop the force, or the ball would have riddled him.

Our regiment has lost above twelve officers killed and wounded during
this campaign (I mean the Battalion), which has been less than we
ever before lost. We are now placed upon the French frontier in
the Pyrenees. The enemy's army are opposite to us, upon a chain of
mountains similar to those we occupy. Our sentries are within fifty
yards of each other, and their main body opposite to where we are,
about a mile off, so we can come to blows in half an hour whenever our
great Commander may think fit to pit us, or in other words, slip us
at them. Our cannon is now thundering at San Sebastian and Pamplona.
Whether _Johnny_ will again raise the siege of these places, a few days
will determine. We shall be in hot water until these places fall.

I had a letter yesterday from Maud. He informs me that the wound
he received is quite well, and he is ready for another affair. Joe
is in high health. He is now very stout, and cultivating a pair of
moustaches, which amuse me no little. I have been thinking of visiting
you this winter after the campaign is over and we go into winter
quarters. I could with a fair wind cross the Bay of Biscay in three
or four days from this point. I could have leave when I choose. The
expenses of travelling in England would fleece my pocket. There is also
another consideration—plain clothes, which are very expensive, and I
have nothing but my military attire, which would make the people gaze
at me as upon a dancing bear. I must now conclude with my best wishes
for your general happiness. My duty to my uncle, in which Joseph most
heartily joins.—Yours ever,

      Geo. Simmons,
      Lt., 1st Batt., 95th Regt.

Be careful and seal your letters. The last was open.

Deserters inform us Soult means to attack us again in two or three
days. When we get into winter quarters in two months' time or so,
you may leave a note at the post office to inform me where you live
in Hull; direct "Mr. Simmons" upon it. I hope you will not mention
my coming to any one, as I want no acquaintances. You need not leave
a note if the postmaster or man can give me the information, as you
then may say you expect a person to see you about the time I have
mentioned. As worldly views are so fleeting and uncertain, it is better
for you not to make too sure of my coming, as it will increase the
disappointment if any unforeseen accident prevents me.


_Sept. 4th._—I had finished my letter on the 30th. The next morning at
daylight a column of the enemy were drawn up opposite us, amounting to
20,000. Away went our baggage and we to arms. About 9 o'clock A.M. they
descended in three columns into the valley, covered by some artillery,
crossed the roads under a smart fire from part of our 2nd Battalion,
and disappointed us by moving off to their own right in the direction
of San Sebastian. The Spaniards fought well. Our Battalion was marching
all the day, occupying first one position and then another, but, to
our annoyance, _Johnny_ never came near us. Towards night it began to
thunder and lighten horridly, and poured with torrents of rain. I was
on piquet, and observed _Johnny_ by the lightning's glare retracing his
steps back in this horrid night. At 2 A.M. _Johnny_ attacked a bridge
where we had a piquet of Rifle Men, two companies, who fought so
handsomely, that with this small number they checked them for an hour.
A captain of ours, who stood upon the bridge rallying his men round
him, fell like a soldier, covered with wounds.[22] Five officers of
ours were wounded. This attack of Soult's was to relieve San Sebastian
and Pamplona—a miserable attempt. The three British regiments in the
Light Division gave a proportion of men and officers for a storming
party to San Sebastian. I am told nothing could exceed the gallantry
displayed by our brave fellows; every part was defended by art beyond
conception. One officer of ours had four wounds, another was shot
through the side, and all the officers of our Division that were there,
excepting two, were killed or wounded. It is a melancholy thing to be a
junior lieutenant in such times as these, because the senior claims the
first offer. Whenever a party is detached upon such an occasion, our
Boys are so proud of it that, according to seniority, they would not
think of letting it pass them. When I am senior I hope to have my turn.
The castle still holds out, but it must surrender in a few days, as the
town has fallen.

My riding horse, which cost me twenty guineas, the blacksmith unluckily
pricked in shoeing. The foot is very bad, so if the enemy attack us, I
shall be under the necessity of shooting the animal. I am very unlucky
with my animals, and no person can be more careful. I bought Joe a
good pony. I have now got him a strong donkey to carry his equipage,
so he is not dependent upon me. I have also got him removed to another
company, as the more he is independent of me the better. I have now
settled everything for him to my wishes; he is free from debt, with
five months' pay due to him. He now starts fair for himself. I shall
always give him such advice as may serve him, and make him steer
clear of those misfortunes that young men are liable to, particularly
in the army, without a monitor. He has always behaved himself to my
satisfaction, which makes me proud of him, and whatever I tell him he
carefully obeys. The officers like him much, which is highly flattering
to me; and, above all, he possesses that tender affection for his
family which I admire above all his virtues.


_Journal—31st August-31st December 1813_

[Sidenote: 31st]

Marshal Soult, finding that San Sebastian was closely invested and
the breaches practicable, was determined to make a desperate attempt
to drive the British from their present position and raise the siege
of that place. He concentrated a large force, which at daylight we
found filing from a variety of defiles in the mountains and forming
immediately above Vera. Seeing his troops assembled so clearly from our
position produced a good deal of interest and not a few jokes amongst
us.

The enemy soon began to move down the steep hill towards the river,
and crossed at a ford below the bridge, having previously driven our
piquets from the town. Some French moved forward to take possession of
the bridge and were repulsed by two Rifle companies in good style. A
stronger force was sent to the bridge, and the two companies occupied
some houses and fired upon the enemy from them. A few shot and shell
were thrown to cover the advance of the French in passing the river.
Being fired from a spot considerably above their heads, the artillery
officer had not given sufficient elevation, and three or four shells
burst amongst themselves and set them scampering about, much to our
amusement, who were literally looking down upon them. The enemy's
skirmishers moved up the heights to our left towards the high road
through Irun to San Sebastian, followed by their columns.

Don Manuel Freyre, with his Spanish Division, fought very spiritedly
in the town, and also upon the heights of San Marcial, when the French
attempted to crown them. The Spaniards beat the enemy back. Lord
Wellington was an eye-witness on this occasion and was highly pleased.
Before dark, Marshal Soult was completely beaten in all his attacks
as well as having gained no advantage by his manœuvres, having had to
contend with his _master_ in the art of war. The 1st Brigade, Light
Division, marched from hill to hill and towards evening crowned the
heights above Lezaca and remained there for the night. The day had
been exceptionally hot, and our march up the sides of high mountains
was trying to the soldiers. Just before dark I was placed with thirty
men upon the side of a mountain. The night now set in very stormy and
rainy; we had great difficulty to keep our fire from going out. I
sent some of them to the house of a Spaniard close by and got a large
chest. I had it placed on end before the fire and sat in it. I was
obliged to be very much upon my guard and the sentries very active,
being close to the enemy. The rain ran down the sides of the mountains
in torrents, and the thunder and lightning were very frequent. By the
occasional glare which illumined the mountain above me, I saw the enemy
in full retreat, no doubt much alarmed for fear of finding the river
not fordable. Our Rifle Men still occupied the right bank of the river
as far as keeping a double sentry close to it and the other piquets in
loop-holed houses near.

[Sidenote: 1813 Sept. 1st]

About 2 o'clock A.M. the enemy, finding no possible way of retreating
but over the bridge and through Vera, made a desperate attack with a
most overwhelming force on the bridge, and carried it. Captain Cadoux
brought his company to the bridge and tried to drive the enemy back,
or prevent more from passing. They fought most heroically; he soon
fell, after having received several musket-balls in his breast. His
Lieutenant, Llewellyn, had his jaw shattered. Several men were killed
and wounded. They were obliged to retire a little distance, but kept up
a fire as long as the enemy continued to file over the bridge. Returned
and occupied our old encampment, and took up the line of piquets as
before. Cold, wet, and hungry, my friend Cox and I lay down, joking
about the adventures of the last day and night, and waiting the arrival
of our baggage to get something to eat.

A gentleman named Dornford,[23] who had been educated for a parson,
but took a chivalrous idea, when comfortably seated in his mother's
parlour before a good fire reading the description of heroes and
fighting men, that he had completely mistaken his profession,
determined to become a volunteer, and obtained letters to Lord
Wellington, little doubting that he must ultimately become a great
man and a General. With this idea he presented himself as speedily as
possible before the hero of Britain, who sent him to the Rifles, since
with that corps he would have a bellyful of fighting. He was very
anxious to commence his military career, but he expected that he should
have an opportunity, like the great men of old, to commence with an
oration and to lead the people, and that every one would admire him for
his personal valour. But, alas! he found that impossible. The men had
plenty of leaders who understood their business and had for years been
at this sort of work, which also gave them the benefit of experience.
Also, from exposure to every description of hardship, their bodies had
become proof against what ordinary men (who had not gone through the
same ordeal) would sink under. "I am astonished," says he, drawing
near to us, "how you can joke and pass off so lightly scenes of misery
and woe such as we have gone through the last day and night. God knows
how I repent ever turning soldier." He was a clever, gentlemanly young
fellow, and we told him he certainly had mistaken his profession, and
we advised him to give it up and return home. He thanked us for the
advice and set off the same afternoon to Passages, and embarked for
England soon after.[24]

[Sidenote: 2nd]

I went to examine the bridge and river where the French had attempted
to pass. A number of men had been drowned close to the bridge, and
also at the places fordable previous to the rain. The wounded had been
removed, but the dead were still laid about the bridge. Trout of a
large size were feasting upon the Frenchmen's carcases in the water.

The town of San Sebastian was assaulted about mid-day on 31st August,
and after considerable delay and very hard fighting the place fell
into our hands. The principal part of the garrison retreated into the
castle, which completely commands the place.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

[Sidenote: 6th]

The Governor made a proposal that if we would desist throwing shells
into the castle he would surrender if not relieved in a fortnight. His
proposal was not acceded to, and shells were thrown in with redoubled
vigour until the morning of the 6th, when the Governor, General Rey,
gave up and surrendered with the remainder of his garrison as prisoners
of war—1300 effective men, 500 sick and wounded. The loss in killed at
the assaults and during the siege was 1200 men.

[Sidenote: 26th]

My poor friend Percival had been dreadfully wounded at the foot of one
of the breaches, and in the evening he was carried away to a house in
the neighbourhood. To-day I paid him a visit, and was greatly shocked
at his emaciated frame. However, he ultimately got better, as well as
Lieutenant Hamilton, who was also seriously wounded in two places. I
went into San Sebastian and found everything very dilapidated. It had
the appearance of being a place of some note, placed at the base of a
bold promontory, on the top of which is a Moorish castle. The town is
well fortified, its walls being washed by the sea on both sides, and
the part that it does not come in contact with has strong works across.
Every description of defence possible for a skilful man to resort to
had been made by the Governor.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Went to Passages, another seaport town. The rocky cliffs on the sea
coast are very bold, and the gaping fissure through which ships enter
the harbour appears to have been caused some time or other by an
extraordinary convulsion of nature, the sides at the entrance are so
abrupt and steep.

[Sidenote: 28th]

I left my poor suffering friend and returned to my corps. Found all
quiet, and continued taking piquet duties as they came round until the
7th of October.


Forcing the Pass of Vera

[Sidenote: 1813 Oct. 7th]

Lord Wellington was determined to advance the left of his army. General
Graham was ordered forward and the Light Division was directed to clear
the heights in our front. We formed close to the bottom of the hills.
Our 3rd Battalion moved forward in skirmishing order up the side of the
high hill which appears to overhang Vera. Nothing in the world could
appear more beautiful than their steady advance. It was more like a
field-day's manœuvre than a fight; 15,000 or 20,000 soldiers had an
opportunity of witnessing their cool intrepidity. The two Brigades now
advanced. The 2nd Brigade, under the command of Colonel Colborne, met
with great obstacles in carrying a star redoubt, and the 2nd Caçadores
and the 2nd Battalion of Rifle Men lost a number of men: the Colonel
of the Caçadores killed, Captain Gibbons, Lieutenants Hill and
Campbell killed, five officers wounded. The Spaniards under Longa did
not reach their ground in time to turn the flank of the redoubt. The
Light Division had innumerable obstacles to encounter, redoubts and
field-works on every eminence presenting themselves to our view; but
the steadiness and daring intrepidity of the men eventually surmounted
all obstacles, and the French were driven into their own country, of
which we now had a fine view.

Captain Cox and myself, with about sixty men, followed the enemy down
into the valley through the Pass of Vera. We took some prisoners and
two French horn-players, and, laughably enough, our men requested them
to play some French tunes. What with alarm and fright, they made sad
music of it. We moved up to our encampment, and thus ended a day of as
pretty rifle practice as I had ever seen, and the enemy driven from a
position that had cost them much labour and trouble in putting into a
state of defence.

[Sidenote: 8th]

[Sidenote: 9th]

One particularly high mountain named La Rhune was still in possession
of the enemy, and from the top the French were amusing themselves by
firing long shots at the Spaniards all day. In the evening their force
was withdrawn and this morning La Rhune was occupied by the Light
Division. A smaller mountain, from its similarity and position, was
called Petite La Rhune, and divided from it by a valley. Our advanced
piquets were now posted on one side upon the slopes, and the French on
the opposite side within 200 yards of us.

From these stupendous mountains we had a most commanding view of
a vast extent of highly cultivated French territory, innumerable
villages, and the town and port of St. Jean de Luz. We could also see
our cruisers sailing about near the French coast, which gave us an
additional interest in the view before us.

[Sidenote: 13th]

This morning one of our ships was observed to be chasing a brig of war,
and got between her and the shore. We observed the batteries near the
town trying to aid the escape of the French ship, but without success.
As the boats from the English went to board her, the Frenchmen got into
theirs and made for the shore. Some English sailors went on board,
but soon left her. A short time after she was one mass of fire and
soon blew up. A dense smoke arose from the spot, but in a moment there
was not a vestige that we could perceive remaining upon the bosom of
the ocean. It was a beautiful morning, and some thousands of veteran
Englishmen having a bird's-eye view of the whole affair, took a lively
interest in the gallant manner our brave Tars performed their duty. How
delighted the sailors would have been if they had been aware that so
many of their countrymen were observing and applauding them from the
tops of the Pyrenees!

[Sidenote: 30th]

The enemy endeavouring to form a connecting chain of breast-works along
the line of their position, and occasional strong redoubts at intervals
supporting this line. The French officers would call out to us and say,
"You cannot remain in these bleak mountains much longer. We suppose
you will soon retire into Spain for the winter?" Our answer was, "Very
likely we may, if we are so ordered." It certainly was beginning to be
exceedingly cold, with frequent storms of hail and rain. Our tents,
from the tremendous gusts of winds which suddenly and frequently
assailed them, were torn and often rendered useless. The Spaniards, and
the Portuguese also, lost men from cold and severe weather. Strange to
say, in this severe climate, exposed to every hardship, not a man was
on the sick-list in our Battalion.

[Sidenote: 1813 Nov. 1st]

Sir John Hope arrived from England about this time and took command of
the left wing, as Sir Thomas Graham was so ill that he was obliged to
go to England.

[Sidenote: 7th]

The enemy's position now had a very formidable appearance upon the
summit of the ridge of Petite La Rhune. Where it was at all accessible,
strong walls were built, with loop-holes to fire through. The ground
was scarped, and at small distances along the front, strong redoubts
were placed to strengthen more effectually their line of defence. Four
French regiments were encamped upon Petite La Rhune ready to man the
works at a moment. The roads through the mountains in our rear had been
made and put in order by strong parties of soldiers so that cannon
could be brought up with facility at any time.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Pamplona fell on the 31st of October, after being blockaded for about
four months, the Governor, General Cassan, and 4000 men becoming
prisoners of war. This circumstance enabled Lord Wellington to make a
forward movement with his whole force. Officers commanding regiments in
our Division received instructions at what points their regiments were
to attack the enemy's works. At the same time the whole of the allied
army was to co-operate with us and make a simultaneous attack upon the
enemy's line of works, redoubts, etc.

After dark, the Light Division filed from the encampment behind La
Rhune with the least possible noise and formed up into columns and lay
down close behind our advanced piquet, which was partly across the deep
valley that separated the French from us. Here we remain anxiously
waiting until the day should dawn for the attack.


Battle of the Nivelle

[Sidenote: 10th]

The happy moment came at last. The French piquet was seated around
the fire, and with no apprehension of what was going to take place.
Some heavy cannon sounded the advance, and in a moment every one was
in motion up the sides of this tremendous steep. Obstacles of an
extraordinary nature were opposed to us, and the enemy kept up a very
brisk fire from behind their walls, but nothing could impede the ardour
of England's brave sons. The works were carried in every direction.
Other works, more concentrated and filled with men, were now opened to
our view and immediately attacked. Many gallant fellows fell to rise
no more in this world. I saw some French officers standing upon their
walls, and trying every means in their power to make their men remain.
One young officer was doing prodigies of valour and would not leave
the wall; he was shot, and came tumbling down. The French were driven
from all their positions, and our army took up the line of the Nivelle.
Colonel Barnard, towards the end of this day's fighting, received a
musket-ball in his right breast, which made him tumble from his horse;
he fell upon the hilt of his sword and bruised his side very much.
I was near him when he fell, and put my hand into his bosom to feel
where the ball entered. I found his lungs had been wounded, as blood in
quantities and air issued from the wound; some blood was passing from
his mouth also. He in a most collected manner said, "Do you think I am
dying? Did you ever see a man so wounded recover?" I observed, "Your
wound is a very bad one, but there have been many instances of men
recovering from such wounds, and your pulse does not indicate immediate
dissolution." "Thank you," he exclaimed, "you give me hopes. If any man
can recover, I know I shall." He was immediately bled very largely and
taken by four men in a blanket to a farmhouse. After all was over, Sir
James Kempt, who commanded the Brigade, sent for me, and said it was
his wish, as well as that of all the officers, that I should go to the
Colonel and stay with him a few days. My brother Joseph had been in the
day's fight. I was anxious to find him. He soon turned up, as lucky as
myself, without a wound.

[Sidenote: 13th]

I went to the house where the Colonel had been taken to and remained
with him. Constructed a bearer, upon which the Colonel was placed and
supported upon the shoulders of our band through the pass of Vera to
that town. I remained with him night and day until every dangerous
symptom was subdued, and having a good constitution, he speedily
recovered, and on the 7th of December we rode to headquarters at
St. Jean-de-Luz. Continued here till 24th December, when we joined
the Battalion at the château of Arcangues. The companies occupied
farmhouses in the vicinity. The French army were now in an entrenched
camp under the walls of Bayonne, a strongly fortified town upon the
confluence of the rivers Nive and Adour. The high road from Paris to
Madrid passes through this town, and the road to St. Jean Pied-de-Port
runs from it, and takes its course between the Adour and Nive. The
by-roads in every direction are exceedingly bad, and more particularly
at this time, as the rain had continued to fall in quantities for some
time back. The Light Division had been occupied in fortifying the
church and château of Arcangues, and field-works were thrown up in many
other places. On the 10th, my friends informed me that Marshal Soult
advanced with a large force by the high road from Bayonne and formed
up near Bassussarry, which is directly opposite the church and château
of Arcangues, and made an attack upon the left of our line. Lieutenant
Hopwood and Sergeant Brotherwood were killed. A ball passed through
both their heads, happening to be standing a little behind one another.
They were both capital soldiers and were put in the same grave.

[Sidenote: 1813 Dec. 31st]

Marshal Soult made a number of attacks on different parts of our line,
which in no one instance succeeded, and the loss to the enemy was
very great. This night the regiments of Frankfort and Nassau, with
their commandant, Colonel Kruse, came over in a body. These regiments
were very well-appointed and good-looking soldiers. They marched to
Passages, and were shipped for their own country. Marshal Soult after
this affair told his soldiers that a hundred battles still awaited them.

The campaign of 1813 now terminated; it certainly had been a most
brilliant one indeed. I now and then have mentioned officers of my
corps that were killed and wounded, but there were also many that I
have not in my hurry thought of.


Letter No. XXII

      Saint Jean-de-Luz, France,
      _7th December 1813_.

My dear Parents—As I informed you, some unforeseen accident might
prevent me having the extreme felicity of paying you a visit this
winter, so things have turned out. However, when you are acquainted
with the circumstances you will rather attribute it to good fortune
than otherwise. To begin my story. On the 7th of October a combined
attack of the whole army commenced upon the whole line of the enemy's
position. The papers have already given you the particulars. The
enemy were so thunderstruck at the desperate bravery of our gallant
fellows, that they were driven from all their fortified positions
in succession, and when they had the temerity to stand, the bayonet
decided the business. The enemy that day was sent scampering into his
own territory. Thus, using the words of Soult, "The proud islanders
overlooked the fine fertile valleys of France."

The part of the line occupied by our Division was on the top of an
immense high chain of mountains. In consequence of very bad weather,
and being so elevated, we were exposed to continual hurricanes
and incessant snow, sleet, or rain. Some men died from the cold.
This respite gave the enemy time to construct works, which he was
incessantly labouring at. Our situation, as you may well conceive, was
not an enviable one. We wished for the happy moment to drive the enemy
from his present position, in order that we might have some warmer
cantonments for the winter. Our noble chief soon gratified our wishes,
and gave out an order on the evening of the 9th of November: "To-morrow
the army will drive the French upon Bayonne and behind the river Adour.
Light Division will get under arms at 2 o'clock in the morning and
march to the point of attack, where the Division will form in three
columns of attack and remain until daylight, and the signal to advance
will be a salvo from thirty pieces of cannon." This order produced the
greatest joy. We spent a jovial evening, singing and dancing until
12 o'clock. I then rolled myself up in my blanket and slept until
two, fell in, and marched to the place appointed. As soon as the day
dawned the long-wished signal was given. No music is so delicious to
the ear of a soldier. We moved forward under a heavy fire from the
enemy's works without ever exchanging a shot until we got up to them
and scaled the walls. Then the work of death commenced. _Johnny_ was so
paralysed at the cool bravery of the British that he instantly became
panic-struck and ran in every direction. Some few who had the temerity
to stand were instantly no more. I saw some heroic officers who tried
to rally their men. They fell like brave soldiers, covered with
wounds and with glory. In this way we carried work after work which
were apparently invulnerable. It was a beautiful sight to see 70,000
men or more moving in every direction. A continued roar of cannon and
musketry, the smoke rising along the whole line. We marched and fought
until about three o'clock in the afternoon, when we formed to attack
the last body of troops opposed to us (I mean to our Division). The
ground was at that place very strong. Just as our gallant Colonel
Barnard was reconnoitring how to move to the best advantage, a
musket-ball entered his right breast. He fell. I was near him, and got
him put into a blanket and taken a few paces to the rear. He began to
spit blood, the ball having passed through his lungs. He soon came
to himself and said, "Simmons, you know my situation. Am I mortally
wounded?" I felt the wound, and answered, "Colonel, it is useless to
mince the matter; you are dangerously wounded, but not immediately
mortally." "Well, Simmons," he replied, "be candid. I am not afraid
to die." I answered, "I am candid." He said then, "I am satisfied." I
was preparing to bleed him when two surgeons came up. I handed over my
charge and ran back to my company, and had the honour of being at the
finishing stroke.

As soon as the battle was done, Lieutenant-Colonel Gilmore and the
surgeon came to me and requested me to go and take charge of the
Colonel. I must tell you that Colonel Barnard for his great gallantry
was made Prince of Wales's aide-de-camp. He is also a man of family
and interest, and universally beloved by the regiment. I went to him
and commenced as a surgeon. I bled him occasionally when the symptoms
required it, and had the entire treatment of him. In ten days he began
to recover, and has done so well that he is now out of danger. I daily
wrote reports of him, which were shown at headquarters. Lord Wellington
was particularly anxious about him. The most eminent surgeons in the
army have paid me high compliments for my treatment, and the Colonel
has not suffered any one to interfere with me.

Five days back we removed to this place, the headquarters of the army.
I dined the other day with Lord Wellington, and have since dined at the
tables of the first men of distinction in the army. I shall stay at
this place for a fortnight, and then return to my regiment. To gain the
friendship of a man of Colonel Barnard's ability, who will next year be
a General Officer, will always be of use.

Joe is very well. He behaved himself most gallantly, I assure you. The
regiment are very proud of him, and in my absence he is invited to dine
out frequently. Joe sticks by me. I got him placed in another company,
as the boy wanted me to take care of his money and concerns. As I am
a bird of passage, I wished to teach him how to take care of himself,
for fear he might be deprived of me one day or another; he then would
be at a loss. He lived away from me for a fortnight, that was, he paid
to another mess, but whenever I had anything good I always found Joe
present. I therefore told him he might live with me, but he should pay
regularly and keep his own accounts, which he agreed to. Since I left
the regiment he still lives with my captain, with whom he is a great
favourite. I have a note from him daily about some nonsense or another.
The last two fights cost us about four officers killed and wounded;
we have been very lucky in not having more. Joe is now at the top of
the list, and will be a lieutenant in two or three months, which will
give him ten dollars a month more. I gave him a horse to ride. He has
another for his baggage. If I have a fine jacket or anything _dressy_,
he manages to make friends with my servant to use them. I have got the
name of an old fellow. All the women say I am his father and laugh when
I tell them he is my brother. I had almost forgot Maud. He is well, and
I mean him to spend his Christmas with me if we are quiet. I anticipate
the happiness we shall enjoy. If we could spend it under your humble
roof, how much more happy we should be. However, you will have the
satisfaction to know that your sons are moving in an honourable sphere
of life, and their good fortune ought not to make them forget (though
in a distant clime) those dear ties that can never be divided but by
death. We are six months in arrear, and I have been at much expense
this year. When I can raise a little money I shall send it. I hope
my dear Ann is well, also Charlie and Betsy. When Charlie is fifteen
I shall be able to provide for him. Three years more will give me a
company. I then shall be able to maintain you handsomely. Something
may turn out before. I do not like to build castles in the air. I hope
my uncle is well. My best respects to him. It will give me pleasure in
letting him read my letters, but do not make my affairs known to the
world, I beg of you. Accept my earnest prayers. I am, my dear parents,
yours affectionately,

      Geo. Simmons.

If the weather becomes good, I think the army will advance. The French
people do not offer to kill any British soldiers and we behave to the
people the same as if we were in England. The Spaniards were sent back
into their own country, as they began plundering, which Lord Wellington
would not allow. It is much better policy to use the inhabitants well.
If you did otherwise, the whole country would be in arms, and a soldier
durst not go a hundred paces from the battalion without being liable to
be murdered by some injured connection, whose misfortunes had driven
him to desperation. The French through their horrid atrocities made
themselves hated everywhere. This circumstance alone has been of great
use in making the nations, subjugated by these monsters, throw off
the yoke, or perish in the attempt. Fortunately they are succeeding
beyond human calculation. The God of Battles is now inflicting this
just judgment upon the French. Write soon and let me know how Charlie
improves; Betsy also. Educate them well, I beg of you.

As there is every likelihood of a peace taking place, I shall endeavour
(if such a circumstance should happen) to get into the service of some
country allied with England after taking my pleasures in England for
some time, as I am determined to spend my life and to advance myself,
as a soldier. However, there is time enough before this project need be
resorted to.

We expect another fight in a few days. I hope we shall soon be in
possession of Bayonne. The foreign corps in the enemy's army, if they
have an opportunity, will, I have no doubt, come over in bodies.

To be addressed, Lt. Simmons, 1st Batt., 95th Regt., Light Division,
British Army, France.



CAMPAIGN OF 1814


 Early in February 1814, Wellington, leaving a strong force to invest
 Bayonne, resumed the offensive, and having successfully passed a
 portion of his forces across the Adour and the Gaves, he fell upon
 Soult at Orthez and severely defeated him. Soult fell back slowly,
 but after a fight at Vic Bigorre it became clear to him that he must
 retreat on Toulouse.

 Three miles from Tarbes he formed for battle once again, with Clausel
 in front of him, covering that town with Harispe's and Villatte's
 Divisions. Wellington, following up, launched the Light Division
 against the centre of the French position. The three Battalions of
 the Rifles who were in the van, made a violent attack on Harispe's
 Division and drove it from an exceptionally strong position without
 assistance.

 Clausel made a skilful withdrawal upon Soult, and the latter retreated
 during the night.

 Then ensued the operations on the Garronne which terminated in the
 battle of Toulouse, fought on 10th April. A few days later the news of
 the abdication of Napoleon arrived, and with it hostilities ceased,
 but not before the garrison of Bayonne had made a desperate sortie, in
 which many hundreds of lives were uselessly sacrificed.

 There exists no more pathetic description of the treatment meted out
 by England to her soldiers, who had, by their gallantry and devotion,
 rescued Europe from the tyranny of Napoleon, than the words with which
 Napier brings to a close his stirring account of the long and bloody
 struggle in the Peninsula. "... The British infantry embarked at
 Bordeaux, some for America, some for England; the cavalry, marching
 through France, took shipping at Boulogne.

 "Thus the war terminated, and with it, all remembrance of the
 veterans' services.

 "Yet those veterans had won nineteen pitched battles and innumerable
 combats; had made or sustained ten sieges and taken four great
 fortresses; had twice expelled the French from Portugal, once from
 Spain; had penetrated France, and killed, wounded, or captured 200,000
 enemies, leaving of their own number 40,000 dead, whose bones whiten
 the plains and mountains of the Peninsula."

 It was not till 1848, _thirty-four_ years after the termination of
 the war, that the services of the few veterans who then survived was
 acknowledged by the issue of a medal!



CHAPTER XIII

_Journal—12th January-21st March 1814_

 Is appointed to superintend the telegraph of the Light Division—Visit
 from brother Maud—Commencement of the campaign of 1814—The 1st
 Battalion sent to St. Jean-de-Luz for new clothing—Simmons joins
 the 2nd Battalion—Bayonne invested—The 2nd and 3rd Battalions ford
 the Gaves—Simmons and some of the 2nd Battalion occupy a house
 and fire from the windows—Excitement of the lady who owned it—The
 French peasantry are in great fear of the English, but are soon
 reassured—Passage of the Gave de Pau—Simmons puts his socks in his
 cap, as he is certain the Rifles will be sent across the river—Three
 British Divisions cross by a pontoon bridge.

_Battle of Orthez_

 The 1st Battalion and the gallant 43rd Light Infantry not present—The
 52nd Light Infantry make "a beautiful advance in the face of
 thousands"—The French driven off the field—The French people treat
 the British soldiers as friends—The 1st Battalion rejoins the army
 and Simmons his Battalion—Sharp skirmish by 15th Hussars, supported
 by some Rifle Men and two six-pounders with French cavalry—Advance
 resumed.

_The Action of Tarbes_

 The French occupy a strong position—The three Battalions of Rifles
 ordered to dislodge them—The French fill a wood with skirmishers, but
 are driven out—A very stiff fight—Heavy losses—"Never saw Frenchmen so
 thick on the ground"—Towards evening is severely wounded—Rescued by
 his servant, Henry Short—Is moved into Tarbes—Brother Maud hears he is
 wounded and searches for him all night—Finds him and gets him a good
 billet—Battle of Toulouse—"Is much hurt at not being there."

Letter No. XXIII

_To his Parents, from Tarbes, France, dated 27th March 1814_

 France a most delightful country—Detestation of the people for
 Buonaparte—Their faith in the British—Description of Soult's
 position at Tarbes—The eighteen companies of Rifle Men (1st, 2nd,
 and 3rd Battalions of the 95th) attack it and have some "fine
 rifle practice"—Is knocked over at close of fight—Holds a medical
 examination of himself, and finds his knee-pan is fractured—"Not
 for Chelsea yet"—Hopes to get well and have another fight with
 _Johnny_—"Our Boys got sadly mauled as usual."

_Finished by Maud Simmons_

 Describes his brother George's wound and the life at Tarbes.

_Journal—13th April-23rd July 1814_

 Is moved to Pau in a coach—Recovers and starts to rejoin—Marches to
 Toulouse—Goes to the theatre with his two brothers—Rejoins the 1st
 Battalion at Castel-sarrasin—Pleasant life amongst the French—End of
 the war—Orders to return to England—The Rifles give a ball—The Light
 Division bid farewell to their Portuguese comrades—Gets leave for
 England—Sails down the Garronne for Pauillac—Embarks on a transport—In
 collision—The voyage home—Lands at Portsmouth, takes the London coach,
 and arrives at the Old Slaughters Coffee House.


_Journal—12th January-21st March 1814_

[Sidenote: 1814 Jan. 12th]

This day I was appointed to superintend the telegraph of the Light
Division stationed near "Garat's house."[25] Had a log house formed to
remain in. This post was near Arraunts.

[Sidenote: 15th]

My brother Maud paid me a visit. I gave him a good beaf-steak. The
battalion he belonged to was returning from St. Jean-de-Luz with new
clothes. One of his baggage animals lay down close to my post. I was
obliged to send for a mule and take the half-starved devil in exchange.
His servant seemed quite delighted when he had got his master's baggage
upon my mule, and hurried away for fear I might change my mind.

[Sidenote: 24th]

The 1st Battalion Rifles was placed in the 2nd Brigade, and the Brigade
is now commanded by Colonel Barnard. The 2nd Battalion joined the other
Brigade of the Light Division.

Numbers of French families who had left their homes have returned, as
they find the British soldiers only war with those who have arms in
their hands, and not with the unfortunate inhabitants of the country.

[Sidenote: 1814 Feb. 16th]

The British army was again put in motion. The Light Division moved to
within a league and a half of Labastide-Clairence.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched near the town, and encamped near the heights overlooking it.

[Sidenote: 18th]

Put into houses, the weather being very cold and rainy, also changing
into sleet and snow.

[Sidenote: 19th]

The 1st Battalion Rifles with the 43rd Light Infantry marched to St.
Jean-de-Luz for their clothing. I took the advantage of being on
telegraph duty, and remained with the army.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Marched to Isturits and joined Captain Duncan's company (2nd Battalion)
until the return of the 1st Battalion.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Marched to St. Palais. The enemy had blown up the bridge over the
Bidouze River. Sir John Hope with the 1st Division passed the Adour
near its mouth and invested the citadel of Bayonne. A bridge was soon
after constructed, and the town closely blockaded.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Marched to near La Chére and Charrette; on piquet.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Passed the Gave de Mauléon at a ford near the village of Nabas. Moved
forward to the Gave d'Oleron. Found a squadron of French Dragoons drawn
up on the opposite bank of the river. A neat little cottage close to
the river had been built upon an eminence on its bank. I entered with
some men and commenced firing from the chamber windows upon the French
to cover the advance through the ford; the river being nearly up to
the men's shoulders, compelled them to link together by the arms to
enable them to cross. Millar's and Duncan's companies were the first
that crossed. The poor housekeeper, when my men began to fire from the
windows, laughed and cried and jumped about in a most extraordinary
manner, but still her curiosity led her to the window. I was afraid the
foolish woman would be shot, and with little ceremony, assisted by one
of the men, put her into a back room and bolted the door upon her. One
bold fellow galloped forward to the ford. One of my Rifle Men from the
window shot him off his horse in very pretty style. The ford was at
Ville Nave.

Marched to near Oreon and encamped. I went into a respectable farmhouse
on the roadside and found the people within in great confusion and some
of the women in tears. It was very wet and cold, and my appearance was
not much improved from having so recently waded up to my shoulders
in the river. I sat down by the fire and asked for a little wine and
something to eat. The people ran to get me some. A chubby, rosy-faced
child, who appeared to be the only one of the family that did not look
upon me with horror, came near. I took him up and began to kiss him.
We were soon, as well as the whole family, great friends. These poor
people expected that we should carry fire and sword amongst them. The
French, I am sorry to say, did so in Spain and Portugal, and too often
in their career committed atrocities that savages would shudder at.

[Sidenote: 25th]

Marched to near Orthez. The enemy blew up the stone bridge over the
Gave de Pau on our approach. The suburbs ran on both sides of the
river, so that a sharp fire was kept up between the French and our
Light troops. Towards evening, as a column of the enemy were entering
Orthez, Lord Wellington ordered it to be cannonaded. Some French
officers rode up and down their line of march to make the men move
steadily along. The enemy appeared in great force, having concentrated
large bodies near the town.

[Sidenote: 26th]

About 12 o'clock the Light Division was ordered to move to the right of
Orthez and pass a ford. I was so much impressed with the certainty of
an attack being made that I pulled off my socks and put them into my
cap to keep them dry. A large force of the enemy was formed up ready
for us, with several pieces of cannon. When we were nearly within
range, an order came to retire, and now a movement was made to the
left of Orthez, so that by this feint the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Divisions
had crossed the Gave de Pau by a pontoon bridge thrown over the river
some distance to our left, and we were now moving to these Divisions.
The Light troops skirmished with the enemy until dark. Encamped near
Salles, close to the pontoon bridge.


Battle of Orthez

[Sidenote: 27th]

The enemy were in position in great force, determined to wait our
attack. We passed the river and moved forward. Unluckily our 1st
Battalion and the gallant 43rd Light Infantry were away from the Light
Division, so that during this action the Division was scarcely engaged,
being only occasionally exposed to a cannonade, with the exception
of the 52nd Light Infantry, who made a most beautiful advance in the
face of thousands, and drove the enemy from their commanding position,
which seemed to be the signal for the whole line to retire. Our columns
followed until dark. The French appeared to me to have fought this day
better than usual. The loss was severe on both sides. Numbers of killed
and wounded were found upon the roads, and several of their soldiers
threw away their arms and put on farmers' clothing. Encamped for the
night near Bonne Garde.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Move forward to Duerse.

[Sidenote: 1814 March 1st]

Crossed the Adour at a very deep ford, and entered Mont de Marsan. The
last of the enemy left it as we approached.

I purchased a horse for twenty-five dollars, and took him away to my
billet. This place is large, and abounds with wine and eatables of
all descriptions. The next morning the Frenchmen would not have sold
me the horse under a hundred dollars, so that I was very lucky. It is
quite droll to see the French people treating us as if we were friends
instead of enemies. We certainly paid for everything, and now it was
found necessary to pay us regularly. A horse of mine died here.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Marched to Bretagne. Bad weather.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Marched to Barcelonne, nine miles, and bivouacked near Aire. Frosty and
cold.

[Sidenote: 10th]

At daylight marched to some straggling houses near Arblada. Snowy day.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Moved into a better house.

[Sidenote: 12th]

My Battalion joined the army again. I left the 2nd Battalion. I gave my
friends an account of the late operations. Took over the accounts of
Captain C. Smith's company.

[Sidenote: 14th]

The Light Division formed on the high road. An attack expected.
Continued here the whole day. At six o'clock marched back to quarters.
Marshal Soult menaced the 2nd Division. Nothing done.

[Sidenote: 16th]

A party of the 15th Hussars, supported by some Rifle Men and two
six-pounders, attacked a party of French cavalry and cut them up in
good style and took a number of prisoners. Strange enough, a French
captain was desperately wounded close to his father's house, which
house he had not seen for many years. He was taken into it, and died
soon after.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Marched to St. Simon. On piquet.

[Sidenote: 18th]

The Division assembled at Ville St. Germain. Crossed the Arros at Task.
The Division halted at Plaisance. Three companies of our battalion
crossed the river, and took up their quarters in a small village. Close
to the house that I, with the company, occupied, an inhabitant was
murdered. I heard the shot fired just before I lay down, but had no
idea that a human being had been deprived of his existence. We tried
every means to find out the villain, but to no purpose. We collected
and gave the widow a sum of money.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched to near Auriébat. Continued there some hours. Moved to Aget and
vicinity.


Action of Tarbes

[Sidenote: 20th]

Marched through Rabastens to near Tarbes. The enemy were posted in
very strong position on a chain of heights, and occupying the town of
Tarbes. Our three battalions of Rifle Men were ordered to dislodge the
enemy, which we went about at once. The front of the commanding ground
was covered with wood. The enemy filled it with skirmishers, which we
turned out, and then attacked their line. We were a considerable time
in driving _Johnny_ from all the strong ground whereon he was posted,
but ultimately we succeeded. I never saw Frenchmen before so thick upon
the ground; it was covered with dead bodies. Captain Duncan was killed;
Lieutenant-Colonel Norcott, three captains, and five lieutenants
wounded, and a number of our poor fellows bit the dust towards evening,
after having passed through the day's fight. A Frenchman took a long
shot at me; the ball fractured my right knee-pan and knocked me down as
if I had been struck with a sledge-hammer. Some others, seeing me down,
fired several shots at me. My noble servant, Henry Short, as soon as
he observed me, came running to me, and, with an oath, observed, "You
shall not hit him again but through my body," and deliberately placed
himself in front of me. Colonel Barnard rode up, jumped off his horse,
and showed me the greatest kindness.[26]

[Sidenote: 21st]

The following morning I was moved into Tarbes in a cart. Part of my
brother Maud's regiment remained to guard the wounded. He was acting
as Town Major. He was afraid I might be hurt, and before dark came to
see me. Several soldiers told him I was wounded. He hunted about to
find me the whole night, but without success, and quite in despair
was returning into the town when I espied him. He soon got me a good
billet. The battle of Toulouse took place soon after. I felt much hurt
at not being there.

The fighting now terminated, and we lived upon the best terms possible
with the French people.


Letter No. XXIII

      Tarbes, France, _27th March 1814_.

My dear Parents—I received your letter at Arraunts. As I had nothing
worthy of your notice at that time, I deferred writing until this
period. The remark in your letter pleased me. "You could willingly
forego the pleasure of seeing me, if it was not compatible with my
duty to leave my regiment." It was a remark that showed a nobleness of
soul which every father of a soldier ought to possess when duty and
honour are the barriers. My brother Maud's regiment casually passed my
quarters the day I received your letter. He was pleased with it. He
took a beef-steak and set off. Joe left the regiment "on command" two
months back to take charge of all the convalescents belonging to the
Division in Spain. I have heard from him several times. I have at last
got him relieved, so he will soon be again with his regiment.

I was appointed Director of the Light Division Telegraph, for which
I received a dollar per day for some time. Colonel Barnard presented
me with a gold watch, which he purposely sent for to London. France
is a most delightful country and abounds with everything. The people
detest Buonaparte—all but the officers of the army and those others
who only support him and his diabolical cause from interested motives.
The people are astonished at the liberality of the English. We behave
to them as if we were at home, and, though fighting frequently with
Soult's army, in their towns the peaceable inhabitants have more faith
in us, generally speaking, than in their own army. This is a happy way
of making war, for how many thousands of our brave fellows when wounded
and left on the ground would not otherwise have been murdered by the
injured peasantry. Instead of that, they take the wounded to their
houses, protect and feed them. The army that is now opposed to ours is
Marshal Soult's. He is a persevering fellow. Though thrashed every time
we come in contact with him, still he moves to another position, making
it as strong as possible, and waits till we move up and thrash him out
of it. The French army fought very obstinately at the battle of Orthez,
better than usual, but every cock ought to fight better upon its own
dung-hill. After the business at Orthez our army seldom could get a
peep at _Johnny_. Though we endeavoured to stick close to him, still he
moved off in the night. However, Soult began to pluck up courage and
get very bold, he having drawn us back to the Pyrenees. His army was
placed in position, the left upon the base of the Pyrenees, the centre
covering the town of Tarbes (the high road to Toulouse passes through
this place, and it is consequently a place of importance to Soult);
his right ran along the high ridges of hills that rise abruptly from a
fine plain. There was a small river in front of the position, the hills
occasionally patched with clumps of brushwood and trees, which assisted
the enemy much, as he had an opportunity of hiding his columns.

Lord Wellington, with his usual coolness, took a peep at the enemy's
position (our columns were at the same time concentrating) with the
eye of an eagle, and ordered the different columns to advance to
their different points. Our eighteen companies of Rifle Men attacked a
steep hill, covered with wood, under a tremendous fire; we soon hunted
them out of it, and had fine rifle practice upon the plain. This day
my usual good luck did not attend me, for near the close of the day
about ninety men threw themselves behind a ditch and kept up a running
fire. We were moving upon it to dislodge them when a musket-ball struck
me upon the knee, forced into the wound my trousers and drawers, and
glanced off. My fighting was finished. I fell, and seeing my knee
bloody, I began to think I should soon be without a leg. However, on
examination, after collecting myself a little, I found the joint had
not received material injury, only the knee-pan, which is fractured,
so that I shall not enlist for Chelsea yet. I hope in two months to
be on the march with my regiment. I had the pleasure to see the enemy
beaten at all points before I left the field of battle, which was great
consolation. On the 21st I was moved on a waggon into this town. The
first person that saluted me was Maud. Judge how delighted I was. He
had got me a comfortable quarter. I had nothing to do but enter it. I
have kept my bed until to-day. I have managed to get up and sit by the
fire with my leg supported upon pillows. The pleasure I feel in having
done my duty more than doubly repays me for the pain I suffer. If I
am rendered incapable of joining my regiment as soon as I could wish,
I shall come home for a while, but on the other hand, if I soon get
better, I must have another fight with _Johnny_. I had been collecting
some money for you, as my pay and other emoluments were very good, but
this job has brought me back upon six shillings and sixpence per day,
and the money will only support me with what I have saved. My brother
told me I ought to be very thankful I had it. I assure you it is a
great pleasure and a comfort to me to have him here. Three companies
of his regiment have been left to protect us from any armed peasantry,
so I am safe enough. You will see by the _Gazette_ our boys got sadly
mauled as usual. I am glad Joe was not there as things have turned out.
If I can purchase a veil for Ann I will. God bless her. My best love
to dear mother. I am glad Charlie is so stout. Betsy I have forgotten;
she was young when I left home. My love to her. I am happy to hear
my uncle approves of my conduct. I am striving always to deserve his
esteem. Let him see my letters, but again I caution you not to mention
them publicly on any account. Maud will finish. I am tired. Sergeant
Fairfoot is well and with the regiment, unless wounded on the 20th.


_Finished by Maud Simmons_

My dear Parents—I am happy to say your brave son is in a fair way of
recovery, thank God! He and I spend our days together very comfortably.
We have everything very cheap. Claret and Bordeaux wines very good and
cheap—about a shilling a bottle; every other thing in proportion. We
are well out of the fighting at present, confound it! Left here as a
guard to take care of the sick and wounded in this town. However, I am
repaid for being out of the fight by being able now and then to drink
George's allowance of wine as well as my own and talk over past times.

The lady with whom I live is a most respectable woman. She made me
laugh heartily just as I finished this letter. She observed I was
uneasy, and asked me the cause. I told her my leg was very cold. She
immediately pulled off her flannel petticoat and wrapped my leg in it;
so much for French politeness. She has been showing me all her fine
clothes and dressing herself in the most ludicrous manner. Of course
I tell her she looks charming. I have now a dozen French books upon
my table, and the good lady is determined to learn me the language.
She has also got me a master, so I shall be a complete Frenchman in a
little time by force. My time, as you may suppose, with the exception
of ague by way of interlude, passes very comfortably. George, I can
assure you, is a desperate fellow amongst the French boys, but I do not
think he will see any more fighting. Soult's army is deserting in great
numbers. I am adjutant here for the present, merely for amusement,
as I have had the command of a company for nearly twelve months, and
lost nearly two-thirds of my company when I was wounded. However, M.
Français has been paid off all old scores lately. Joe is expected up
here. This is a very fine town, and contains everything to make a man
happy. I am delighted with it, and could spend my life here were there
not such people in the world as dear father and mother and sisters.
Peace must shortly bring us together, when I hope we shall all meet
without the loss of legs or arms. I am advising George to go home, but
he wishes to see more fighting. If George gets his company before an
old soldier like me, it will be strange. I wish he may, for he deserves
it. Tell Ann I was inquiring the price of veils, and find them too dear
as yet. We may go on to Paris, and then we will have an opportunity to
buy cheap. Let my mother know I have a snuff-box for her, which French
manners oblige me to keep filled, and I now and then take a pinch
myself, which never fails to remind me of my dear mother. George and I
mess together for the first time since we came to the Continent, and
live here like fighting-cocks. I wish it was possible for you to come
and spend a few days with us. You would not be a little surprised to
see how happy we live in an enemy's country, as they call it, but I
think them friends. The Dragoon is just going off, so excuse. My love
to you all. God bless and take you into His Holy Keeping.

      M. Simmons,
      Lieutenant, 34th Regiment.


_Journal—13th April-23rd July 1814_

[Sidenote: 1814 April 13th]

Moved in a coach to Pau. Got into a billet the next day. Went to the
Mayor and got a superb one upon M. Colombots. The kindness I received
from this gentleman and his charming lady will never be erased from my
mind. Passed my time pleasantly, visited the play, and attended their
balls. The ladies pretty and handsomely dressed.

[Sidenote: 1814 May 9th]

On the 9th of May, with much reluctance, took my departure from Pau.
Rode to Tarbes. My former landlady highly rejoiced to see me.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Halted.

Moved forward to Rabastens, being crowded.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Moved on to Contal. The roads covered with Spaniards returning from
prison.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Marched to Mirande.

[Sidenote: 13th]

To Auch, a very fine and large town. Halted at the inn and dined. Moved
forward in the evening to a country house near Aubliet; the countrymen
very civil.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Marched through Gimont to L'île en Jourdain. Tired of dining _à la mode
Français_, so bought a fine piece of veal on my way and had it roasted.

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched to the famous city of Toulouse, and met my brother. The town
well built, the entrance by the west gate very pleasing. The bridge a
very fine one, composed of arches over the Garronne.

[Sidenote: 16th]

Visited the position and redoubts carried on Easter Sunday by the
English. I arrived at Toulouse and went to my brother's quarters, his
battalion (the 2nd Battalion 34th Regiment) being in the town. To my
agreeable surprise I found my brother, the Rifle Man, with him. We
talked over battles together, and in the evening we went to the play.
Some whim struck me, and I put on my brother's red jacket, and he took
mine. The Colonel said, "I think Simmons looks very dark in the face
to-night, much darker than I ever saw him before." The officer laughed
and told him I was the Rifle Man, which afforded them much amusement,
and made me acquainted with a person, who but for this freak I should
not have known.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Marched through Castelnau to Grizolles. Dined with Captain Eaton, 2nd
Battalion.

[Sidenote: 20th]

Joined my Battalion at Castel-sarrasin once again, and found the
officers living in the gayest manner possible. The people extremely
kind to us. On the 22nd passed the Garronne with a party of ladies and
gentlemen to dine and dance at Belpeart. Passed a pleasant afternoon,
the dinner _à la mode Français_. Plenty of eatables, but no knives or
salt.

[Sidenote: 26th]

On the 26th passed the ferry opposite Moissac and visited the town. The
French officers were jealous of the civility shown us by the people,
and requested we would not visit the town any more.

[Sidenote: 31st]

The order having arrived for the English army to leave the country, we
gave a ball and supper to the gentry, who were highly delighted with
our generosity.

[Sidenote: 1814 June 1st]

Marched from Castel-sarrasin, the people in tears at our departure, and
hundreds followed us a great distance; showed the greatest concern at
leaving us. Halted at Montech.

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Passed the Garronne by two boats at a ferry and billeted in the town of
Bourret.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Halted. Visited Le Mas, situated on the left bank of the Garronne. The
country very well cultivated and abounding with everything.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Marched to Beaumont. The people at my house very kind. The good lady
very sad and in tears in consequence of a tremendous hailstorm having
materially injured her young crop of corn.

[Sidenote: 5th]

Marched to Tournecoupe. Yesterday left a fine turkey behind; a woeful
mistake.

[Sidenote: 6th]

Marched to Lectoure. Billeted upon an apothecary.

[Sidenote: 7th]

Marched to Condom. Very wet. The road extremely bad.

[Sidenote: 8th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 9th]

Marched to Nérac.

People remarkably civil. A lady presented me with some good Bordeaux
wine.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Casteljaloux, an interesting place. The country covered with woods of
pines, and the soil sandy. It reminded me of some bivouac in Spain near
Madrid.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Bazas. The Portuguese in our Division formed into a Brigade. Colonel
Cerquiero commanded it. All the Portuguese boys and women, and Spanish
ones also, to leave us and to go home in charge of this Brigade,
in order to be able to draw rations on the road to their different
homes. These soldiers had been in the Light Division for several
years and were brave fellows. The Portuguese regiments, viz. 1st and
3rd Caçadores and 17th Portuguese regiment of the line, formed in
contiguous columns. The 52nd and 1st 95th were drawn up on each side of
the market-place and at 2 o'clock presented arms and gave three cheers
to the regiments as they filed through us, which mark of our attention
highly flattered the Portuguese.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Sailed down the Garronne from this place, the banks covered with
vineyards and highly cultivated villages; country houses innumerable.
Arrived at the celebrated mercantile city of Bordeaux about 9 o'clock
A.M. Found my brother, who happened to have got there before me. Dined
with him. Visited the theatre, and also the small one (Gaieté).

[Sidenote: 15th]

Marched at 4 A.M. Followed the regiment to the camp near Blanquefort,
about two leagues from Bordeaux. Joe went to see his brother.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Returned to the town.

[Sidenote: 19th]

Camp.

[Illustration: =SKETCH-MAP=

  _ILLUSTRATING MOVEMENTS OF_

  =LIGHT DIVISION=

  _DURING THE CAMPAIGNS OF 1813-14._]

[Sidenote: 20th]

Dined with Clerk, 66th regiment, at a small venta. Lambrecht not there.

[Sidenote: 21st]

Dined with Terry, 74th, and some others. Drank to the memory of our
brave fellows who fell at Vitoria. The men very jovial in camp.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Returned to Bordeaux.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Got leave for England.

[Sidenote: 24th]

Took leave of my brothers and sailed with Captain Kelly, 60th, and
Lieutenant Dixon, from this place in a boat about 5 o'clock. Went on
shore at an _auberge_. Had a dinner. Dixon and an officer of the 32nd
fell out. Got into the boat at 10, rolled myself up in my blanket, and
did not wake until daylight, when the boatmen informed me I had arrived
at Pauillac. Everything very expensive. Got a billet upon M. Mathier at
Masset, two miles off. Bad people.

[Sidenote: 27th]

Got an order to embark, hired a boat, and sailed at 1 A.M. for Verdon
Roads. Captain Kelly's servant deserted and, by mistake, took away a
bag of provisions. The Garronne very wide and rough. Never so sick in
my life. Every wave ducked me and passed over us. Sailed among the
vessels, and found the ship had sailed the day before. Returned to
Pauillac. Went to my old billet. Not well received. Gave me a bed. Had
a good dinner and plenty of wine.

[Sidenote: 28th]

No ship for England. The boatman wanted 100 francs. I offered him 40.
He refused. Took him before the Mayor and an officer of Marine. Nothing
satisfactory. Damned him and left him.

[Sidenote: 30th]

The boatman took 40 francs. Major Lynche and Captain Dillon came into
our quarters. Dixon played the flute, danced, and astonished the
natives.

[Sidenote: 1814 July 1st]

Got an order to embark on board the transport B.M. A brig very much
crowded and a very small cabin (name _Louisa_).

[Sidenote: 2nd]

Went down the river. A signal made from a man-of-war to come near and
put our people on board. Found it was a mistake.

[Sidenote: 3rd]

Continued at anchor.

[Sidenote: 4th]

Our Commodore on the _Zephyr_ brig had the Blue Peter flying. Got under
weigh at 8 o'clock A.M. Passed the Cordouan Lighthouse, situated about
four miles from the shore. Captain Kelly, 60th; Lieutenant Dalton,
R.A.D., a curious fellow; Lieutenant Dixon, and myself formed a mess.
The wind now unfavourable daily.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Our fresh provisions out; the ship's beef not very good; but the
Captain did everything in his power to make us comfortable. Taken in
tow frequently by the _Zephyr_.

[Sidenote: 12th]

Becalmed when in tow. The _Zephyr_ could not clear us, and stove in the
quarter-gallery, giving the vessels a tremendous shock. Dalton, not
having much faith in the vessel being able to put up with such rough
usage, sprang out of bed and bellowed out, "Sinking, by G—!" He ran out
of the cabin. Kelly and Dixon also turned out. I also made the best
possible haste, being asleep, but started by the uproar on deck, where
every one expected we should be stove in. I believe, from the good
skill displayed in nautical affairs, the Captain cleared us. Dalton
uttered some heavy "damns" against the _Zephyr_ and took three or four
stiff glasses of grog.

[Sidenote: 14th]

Caught two sharks. The sailors persuaded me to try some. I was tempted,
having been so long feeding on salt food. The flesh very disagreeable.
In the evening caught some mackerel, which was a great luxury.

[Sidenote: 17th]

Entered the chops of the Channel. Soon had a view of the shores of
Albion; a sight very gratifying after the long absence.

[Sidenote: 22nd]

Disembarked on the 22nd of July at Portsmouth. My messmates dined with
me at an inn. Took the coach the same night for London.

[Sidenote: 23rd]

Arrived in town. Went to Old Slaughters Coffee House.



CAMPAIGN OF 1815


 Napoleon, on his return from Elba in March 1815, finding that his
 overtures to the European Powers were without avail, and not daring
 to risk another defensive war, decided on assuming the offensive.
 For many reasons, the allied armies in Belgium offered him the
 most advantageous point to aim at, since, from their position
 and propinquity, they menaced Paris; also the Belgian nation was
 sympathetic to his cause, and if he could defeat the British and
 Prussians and possess himself of the Rhine frontier, he would be on
 the flank of the advancing hosts of Russia and Austria, and in the
 most favourable position for making peace on advantageous terms.

 Having concentrated over 92,000 infantry, 22,000 cavalry, and 350 guns
 on the frontier, he suddenly broke in on 15th June, and the following
 day defeated the Prussians at Ligny with his main body, whilst his
 left wing, under Ney, fought an indecisive action with the British at
 Quatre Bras. After despatching Grouchy to pursue the Prussians, he
 turned with all his force on Wellington, who fell back to the position
 of Waterloo.

 Here, on 18th June, the decisive battle was fought, the British and
 Hanoverians sustaining the repeated attacks of Napoleon throughout the
 day. The arrival of the Prussians on the right flank of the French
 during the afternoon greatly relieved the pressure on the British
 position, and towards evening the French, having been repulsed in all
 their attacks on Wellington, and being taken in flank by Blucher, were
 completely defeated and driven off the field of battle.

 The Allies marched on Paris, which they entered on 7th July.



CHAPTER XIV

_Journal—25th April-June 1815_

 The 1st Battalion embark at Dover for Ostend—Land at Ostend and
 proceed in barges to Bruges and Ghent—The Rifle officers call on Louis
 XVIII.—Reviewed by the Duke of Wellington—March to Brussels—Simmons is
 billeted upon Monsieur Overman.

Letter No. XXIV

_To his Parents from Brussels, dated 19th May 1815_

 Describes embarkation—Brother Joseph left in England as adjutant
 of the "four skeleton companies" at the depôt—The expenses of
 equipment for service—The voyage—Dreadfully sea-sick—Good quarters in
 Brussels—Many messages and good advice to his family.

_Journal—15th-18th June 1815_

 The night of 15th June at Brussels—The call to arms—The Rifle Men
 march to Quatre Bras and get "a view of _Johnny_"—The British
 cavalry not yet arrived—The 42nd cut up by the French cavalry—The
 Rifles bivouac on the field of Quatre Bras—The morning of the 17th
 June—Breakfasts at a farm—The British Divisions retire and are joined
 by the cavalry—The French follow them up—Heavy rain and impassable
 condition of the cultivated land—The 7th Hussars charge—Also the Life
 Guards and Oxford Blues—The British army reach Waterloo and take up a
 position there—Cannonading till dark—Bivouac on the field—The battle
 of Waterloo—Dawn of the 18th June—The men clean their arms and prepare
 for the contest—The French "form to give battle"—No doubt now but that
 Napoleon himself was there—Delight of the old Peninsular warriors at
 the prospect of fighting under the Duke against Buonaparte—The French
 artillery opens fire—Disposition of the Division under Sir Thomas
 Picton—The Rifles on the _chaussée_ by La Haye Sainte—Destructive fire
 from French guns—The latter are advanced, and the French infantry
 columns move to the attack—Terrible fire from the British Rifle
 Men—The French column stopped—Simmons receives a severe wound, and is
 dragged into the farm of Mont St. Jean.

Letter No. XXV

_To his Parents, from Brussels, undated, but bearing a postmark of 1st
July 1815_

 The march from Brussels to Quatre Bras—"A bloody and obstinately
 contested battle"—The retirement to Waterloo—The battle of
 Waterloo—The French cannonade—Advance of "immense columns in
 imposing masses"—"Proud and fierce appearance of the British"—Is
 wounded and trampled on in the mud for some time—Finds himself in
 the farm of Mont St. Jean—Mr. Robson, the assistant surgeon of the
 Rifles, cuts a musket-ball out of his breast—Dreadful nature of the
 wound—Sergeant Fairfoot endeavours to take him to the rear—The French
 fire "riddling the house"—The French press on, and the British have
 to fall back—Fairfoot puts Simmons on a horse and he escapes—Terrible
 sufferings during the ride to Brussels—Reaches his billet at Monsieur
 Overman's at 10 P.M.—Is bled and has a quart of blood taken from
 him—Followed by _five_ more in the next four days—Is going on well,
 but very weak—Sends money to his parents—Expectations of a pension for
 his wound, which will "make them comfortable."

Letter No. XXVI

_To his Parents, from Brussels, dated 21st July 1815_

 Refers to his last letter as being written on 1st July—Has a severe
 relapse two days after writing it—For seven days is in a desperate
 condition with violent inflammation—Is bled regularly two or three
 times a day—Followed by a stupor of four days—The inflammation
 returns with more violence—"The lancet was the only thing to save
 me"—Another seven days of misery—Gets worse than ever, so sends for
 the surgeon—Has "two large basins" of blood taken from his arm—The
 surgeon is alarmed and does not like to try bleeding again—An eminent
 physician prescribes leeches—Thirty are applied, followed by more,
 for three days—Suffers great torture—Robson tells him he cannot
 live—Distress of his poor little nurse (Mademoiselle Overman)—"Death
 has no pangs for me"—The thoughts of his family too much for him—Lies
 in a stupor for three days—Nature effects a cure—Monsieur Overman's
 kindness, and devotion of his "dear little nurse"—Is dreadfully
 emaciated, but "sound at heart"—Makes arrangements for paying for
 Ann's schooling—"The next letter will be from Paris."

Letter No. XXVII

_To his Parents, from Brussels, dated 18th September 1815_

 Is able to walk about—First attempts to do so—Detailed account of the
 scene in Mont St. Jean—Sergeant Fairfoot although wounded, tries to
 put Simmons on a horse, but the latter faints—The French cannon-balls
 and shells riddling the farm—The surgeon's opinion of the wound and
 inutility of moving him—Desperate onslaught of the French—All who
 could crawl leave the barn—The dying Rifle officer—Sergeant Fairfoot
 returns and lifts Simmons on to a horse, also the other officer—Sends
 money to his parents—Paris "a sink of iniquity"—Fears it may corrupt
 the morals of the Rifle Men—Brother Joseph has more good advice—A
 celebrated surgeon inspects Simmons's wound—"The next letter will be
 from London."


_Journal—25th April-June 1815_

[Sidenote: 1815 April 25th]

Embarked at Dover at seven o'clock in the evening; after passing the
pier the wind was not very favourable. Arrived at Ostend on the 27th
at daylight and disembarked from on board the _Winsley-dale_ packet.
Embarked again on board Dutch schuyts with six companies of the 1st
Battalion, consisting of ninety-two men per company. The boats were
drawn by horses. Arrived at Bruges before dark. Our boats halted
for the night in the environs of the town. It being dark, had no
opportunity of seeing the place.

[Sidenote: 28th]

Sailed at 4 A.M. The country flat, but highly cultivated and abounding
with everything. The people dirty, and had not the appearance of being
a healthy peasantry. The country in every direction intersected with
dykes and canals. Arrived at Ghent about 3 o'clock P.M. Got billets in
the third section. My billet upon Mr. Barth, sugar merchant, Quai de la
Grue, No. 29. The people very civil and hospitable, every one making
the same observation. The houses very good and the town well supplied
with vegetables and fish. In fact, it abounded with everything.
Rhenish wine, 2s. 3d. per bottle, of most excellent quality.

[Sidenote: 30th]

Paid a visit with all our officers to Lewis (Louis) XVIII., who was
flattered by the compliment. The public buildings very good; the
churches decorated in the Roman Catholic style. The statues in some of
the churches are masterpieces of Art, and strike an attentive observer
with astonishment at the natural appearance of the figures.

[Sidenote: 1815 May 7th]

Reviewed by the Duke of Wellington, who was pleased to express his
satisfaction at our appearance. In the evening went to the play. The
house neither handsome nor well lit up.

[Sidenote: 10th]

Marched to Alost; it being filled with Lewis's people, we went into the
village of Wella.

[Sidenote: 11th]

Halted.

[Sidenote: 12th]

At 3 A.M. marched to Bruxelles. Arrived about 11 A.M. After much
trouble got a billet upon the house of Mr. Overman, Rue du l'Etoile,
No. 119. His family consisted of Monsieurs Jack, Albert, Edward,
Gustavus, Mademoiselle Julia, Harriott, Ulalia, Mademoiselle Bolinus,
Madame Notter, M. Lusmar. Continued here very comfortable until 15th
June.


Letter No. XXIV

      Bruxelles, _19th May 1815_.

Dear Parents—On the 27th of April five companies of the 1st Battalion
embarked on board packet boats at Dover. As the senior officers of each
rank had the refusal of going, the juniors were under the necessity
of staying at home, which was a very great mortification to Joseph.
However, if we commence hostilities he will soon be wanted to fill the
place of some unlucky fellow that may bite the dust.

Four skeleton companies remained behind. Joseph was made adjutant of
the depôt. He will have to drill the recruits and young officers. He
takes a delight in his duty, and I have no doubt he will fill the
situation with credit. It is highly flattering to my feelings to
see him pitched upon for a situation of such responsibility by the
commanding officer. When I embarked it was nearly dark. Our Boys had
been stationed some time at Dover, and the people came in crowds to see
us off, cheered us, and wished us success. It was at the same place
that in 1809 I embarked with as fine a regiment as ever left England.
Joseph was very sorry to part from me. I wanted him to come on board
and sup, but he would take nothing, and said, "I must leave you." He
assured me that through life he would always be a friend to you, and
if anything happened to me he would endeavour to become your protector
and tread in my steps. I have no doubt of him; he is everything that I
could wish. The moment at parting proved his heart, and makes me daily
bless the Almighty for putting it in my power to serve him.

I think soon he will be able to send you some money. I was put to much
expense in providing the necessary articles for service. I managed
to buy a baggage horse, which cost 15 guineas, and 3 guineas for
embarking. I shall have £20 in July, but that is some time to look
forward to. When I get it I will transmit the money. I have not yet got
a riding horse, but I must buy one; my legs will never carry me through
a long campaign. After a day's march I am lame. If I get hit again they
must promote me or recommend me for Chelsea.

I was dreadfully sick all the way to Ostend. My throat swelled with
vomiting to such a degree that I could scarcely speak for a week after.
I saw very little of Ostend. We embarked upon the canal and arrived at
Bruges in the evening. The next morning we moved forward to Ghent, a
very fine town, the people remarkably civil, provisions and wine very
cheap. Louis XVIII. is at this place. Our officers paid him a visit on
the 13th. We marched to this town, which is very large. I have a room
in a garden. The officers who mess with me prefer dining at my house,
as I have the use of a delightful summer-house. At present we are
enjoying ourselves. Rumour says Buonaparte is concentrating his forces,
and means to attack us very soon; for my part, I do not care how soon.
I hope I shall see Paris before the summer is over, in a whole skin.

I hope my sister still continues to apply diligently to her studies.
If she cannot pay Mrs. Sterling exactly as she could wish, I will be
bound to pay the money for her. Do not let that damp her ardour or give
uneasiness. I would rather sell anything I have got than suffer any of
them being neglected on so essential a point as education.

I hope Charles is going on well, and Betsy also. If they endeavour to
become clever I shall bring them some pretty things when I return.

I suppose Joseph sent the parcel after I left England. I have not
written to him yet.

Let me know Charlie's age and his height, as I want to ascertain when
he will be able to commence his military career. I wish he was big
enough. However, we must wait patiently.

I regret much having lost my old servant. His time of service was out
previous to my leaving England. I was this morning obliged to turn
off[27] some of our men for drunkenness. Liquor is so cheap here,
the people give them it. My cook spoiled my dinner yesterday. I had
friends dining, which made it more provoking. I am, as caterer to a
mess, something like the father of a family. I always fed the officers
in whatever company I belonged to. Major Beckwith is still with the
company. He will go upon the staff very soon. On my own account I
regret his leaving; he is the most worthy of men. I am led to expect
something handsome when the prize money for Spain is paid. It is
expected to be paid soon. I hope it may. I shall empower Joseph to
receive it, and send it to you.—Yours ever sincerely,

      Geo. Simmons.

Direct, 1st Battalion, 95th Regiment, British Army, Netherlands.


_Journal—15th-18th June 1815_

[Sidenote: 1815 June 15th]

At 11 o'clock P.M., when in bed, my servant came to rouse me, saying
the assembly was sounding. I directly dressed myself and went to our
alarm post. Our Division (the 5th) formed in column of regiments
near the park and waited for orders. We had many vague reports in
circulation about the French.

[Sidenote: 16th]

At daylight we marched through the Port de Namur. Numbers of people
came to see us leave the town. We marched through Waterloo and halted.
I lay down for an hour. The Duke of Wellington passed with his staff.
The Division fell in and moved forward to Quatre Bras, where we had a
view of _Johnny_.

The enemy commenced a cannonade, and our regiment filed through high
corn to the left. Four companies were sent to drive _Johnny_ from
some fields intersected with thick hedges and also ditches, which we
effected.

On this day our cavalry had not arrived, which gave the enemy a decided
advantage, and made us keep nearer each other than otherwise would have
been necessary. The Cuirassiers charged the 42nd and cut through them,
but on recovering themselves they formed a square, and the Cuirassiers
paid dear in turn for their temerity.

Until dark we had very sharp fighting.[28]

A man of ours was left near the French. When it fell dark I went with
three men to fetch him away. Both the poor fellow's legs were broken.
I deposited him in a house and joined my regiment. Our Division formed
in column of companies at wheeling distance, the officers on the left
of their respective companies. In this way we lay down. I pulled a
greatcoat off a Cuirassier who was dead, and covered myself, which made
me sleep well till one hour before daylight.

[Sidenote: 17th]

The piquets began to fire. We directly stood to our arms. As soon
as the day cleared we commenced firing at each other merely for
amusement. I got a fire kindled, and purchased from a farmer, ham,
etc. I made a good breakfast. This man's house contained upwards of
fifty wounded French. Our men gave them water. About 11 A.M. the 5th
and 3rd Divisions who had fought the day before, being the only part
of the army engaged, retired. We soon were joined by the cavalry. The
enemy followed close after us. The rain began to fall in torrents. The
country being in a high state of cultivation, covered with corn, and
the ground remarkably soft, the cavalry could scarcely raise a canter,
the animals sank so deep. The 7th Hussars charged, but were sadly
mauled. The Life Guards and Oxford Blues made some very fine charges,
and literally preserved the 7th from being cut to pieces. About 3
o'clock in the afternoon the whole army moved into position in front
of Waterloo. The enemy in parties reconnoitred, and was amused with
the music of our cannon till dark. The night was very bad. The field
where we were was all mud. I got a bundle of straw to lie upon, and I
smeared an old blanket with thick clayey mud, and covered myself with
the blanket, which prevented the rain from passing through, and kept me
tolerably warm.

[Sidenote: 18th]

At daylight the weather cleared. The men commenced cleaning their
arms and preparing for the tremendous contest. We were soon convinced
the French were forming to give us battle, and had no doubt but
Napoleon himself was there. Many old warriors who had fought for years
in the Peninsula were proud of being pitted with our gallant chief
against Buonaparte and the flower of France. About 11 o'clock in the
morning the enemy commenced a heavy cannonade upon our line, which was
spiritedly returned from us. The 2nd Brigade of our Division occupied
the extreme left of the line, the 1st 95th were upon the _chaussée_ to
Charleroi from Bruxelles; 32nd, 79th, and 28th on the left, under the
command of Sir J. Kempt; Sir D. Pack commanded the 2nd Brigade; Sir
Thos. Picton commanded this Division. Our Brigade formed column and,
from being much exposed to the enemy's guns, suffered severely. About
1 o'clock the enemy's guns were moved nearer. We knew the attack must
soon commence, and under cover of their guns, four columns now made
their appearance, amounting to 20,000 men. They moved steadily towards
us. We formed a sort of line and commenced a terrible fire upon them,
which was returned very spiritedly, they advancing at the same time
within a few yards. I had an impression I should not be touched, and
was laughing and joking with a young officer about half-past four in
the afternoon. At this time I was a little in front of our line, and
hearing the word charge, I looked back at our line, and received a
ball, which broke two of my ribs near the backbone, went through my
liver, and lodged in my breast. I fell senseless in the mud, and some
minutes after found our fellows and the enemy hotly engaged near me.
Their skirmishers were beaten back and the column stopped. Two men
dragged me away to the farm of Mont St. Jean, a little to the rear,
where Mr. Robson extracted a musket-ball from my breast.


[Waterloo Journal ends. The preceding was apparently written in
Brussels between 1st and 3rd July 1815.]


Letter No. XXV

[Undated but bearing post-mark of 1st July.]

      Bruxelles, _1815_

My dear Parents—Through the blessings of Almighty God I am at last
able to give you some account of myself, which I never expected to be
able to do in this world. On the 16th of June, after passing a long
tranquillity at this place, our Division marched at 4 o'clock in the
morning. We moved forward 20 miles and gave the French battle. A more
bloody or obstinately contested thing had seldom or never been seen.
This convinced me that the French would fight for Buonaparte. The
darkness of the night only separated us.

The following day was passed principally in reconnoitring and squibbing
at one another; nothing done of consequence. Towards noon retired to a
position. Our cavalry and the French had some charging and sabring each
other. The rain fell in torrents, and continued raining all the night.

On the 18th the French seemed to be very busy moving immense columns
opposite us preparatory to an attack. About noon they commenced a
cannonade, from, I daresay, 150 pieces of cannon, which was very soon
answered by us. Immense columns in imposing masses now moved towards
us. If you could have seen the proud and fierce appearance of the
British at that tremendous moment, there was not one eye but gleamed
with joy. The onset was terrible. After four hours' exposure to it
I received the dangerous wound which laid me amongst many others in
the mud. Most of the men with me were killed, so it was some time
before any officer noticed me, and not until I had been trampled over
many times. The next place I found myself in was where the men and
officers had been collected for the surgeon. A good surgeon, a friend
of mine, instantly came to examine my wound. My breast was dreadfully
swelled. He made a deep cut under the right pap, and dislodged from
the breast-bone a musket-ball. I was suffocating with the injury my
lungs had sustained. He took a quart of blood from my arm. I now began
to feel my miseries. Sergeant Fairfoot was also here wounded in the
arm. He got me everything he could, and said he would go and knock
some French prisoner off his horse for me in order to get me off. The
balls were riddling the house we were in. He got me a horse. They
tried to lift me upon it, but I fainted; some other officer took it.
In consequence of a movement the French made with all their forces,
our people were obliged to retire. If I stayed I must be a prisoner,
and being a prisoner was the same as being lost. Poor Fairfoot was
in great agitation. He came with another horse. I remember some Life
Guardsmen helped me on. Oh what I suffered! I had to ride twelve miles.
I forgot to tell you the ball went through my ribs, and also through
my body. The motion of the horse made the blood pump out, and the
bones cut the flesh to a jelly. I made my way to the house I had been
billeted on—very respectable people. I arrived about 10 o'clock on
that doleful night. The whole family came out to receive me. The good
man and his wife were extremely grieved. I had everything possible got
for me, a surgeon sent for, a quart of blood taken from me, wrapped
up in poultices, and a most excellent nurse. In four days I had six
quarts of blood taken from me, the inflammation ran so high in my
lungs. At present everything is going on well. I am so weak, if I lift
my head from the pillow I faint. I have sent you a five-pound note.
This business has bothered me, but I shall get a year's pay, and most
likely a pension, which will enable me to make you comfortable. My
love to you all. Remember me kindly to my uncle. It distresses me that
I cannot send Ann the sum she wants. She shall have it soon. A number
of our officers are wounded in the town. Poor Lister was killed the
first day. He was wounded in the stomach, and died a few hours after.
We have so many applications for commissions in this regiment that it
would be impossible to do anything in the way that Ann wishes. The only
plan I can advise is, should there be a turning out into the line, to
volunteer into any regiment the colonel may wish.

I am not allowed any person to help me, so I know nothing, and for
God's sake do not talk about me or show this.

[The above bears no signature.]


Letter No. XXVI

      Bruxelles, _21st July 1815_.

Dear Parents—I wrote you on the 1st of July. Enclosed in the letter was
a £5 Bank of England note, which at the time I could ill spare, but was
afraid you were much in want of money. If you directed your letter to
me, 1st Battalion, 95th Regiment, wounded, Bruxelles, Netherlands, the
letter would have come to hand. I am afraid you directed it some other
way.

On the 3rd I was attacked with convulsions, and at night with vomiting.
Afterwards I lay in a state of insensibility until the morning, when
a violent inflammation had taken place in my body. I was bled three
times, which gave me temporary ease. In this way I went on for seven
days, bled regularly two or three times a day. I felt better, but
continued in a stupor for four days, when the inflammation recommenced
with far more violence than ever. The lancet was the only thing to save
me, so I was bled again very largely. My liver now was much swollen,
and consequently my body was a good deal enlarged. I had always an
intolerable burning pain in the liver. I never slept—often in dread of
suffocation. Bleeding was the only remedy for it. In this way I went
on for seven days more, when one evening, the pain being very violent,
I sent for my surgeon to bleed me. He took two large basins from my
arm. The pain abated much. I requested a little more might be taken,
but I suddenly fainted. It was about half an hour before I could be
brought to life. This alarmed my friend so much that he did not like
to try bleeding again. He went and brought an eminent physician to see
me, who recommended leeches. I had thirty immediately provided and
applied to my sides. The next day, I had twenty-five more on the same
spot, and the day after, twenty-five more. The last application of
them was horrible. My side was inflamed and nearly raw from the biting
of the others. I got fresh leeches every time; they bit directly. I
was in the greatest state of debility when the last were put on the
raw part; all taking hold at once made me entirely mad with anguish.
I kicked, roared, and swore, and tried to drag them off, but my hands
were held. Such torture I never experienced. As soon as they came off
I ordered my servant to kill them, as well as about fifty more I had
in the house. My dear friend who had attended me so kindly through
this doleful scene came to see me. It was then one o'clock in the
morning. "I am sorry they have tormented you with leeches, as they are
of no use. Are you resigned? You cannot live,"—this, poor fellow, with
tears trickling down his cheeks; on seeing which my poor little nurse,
knowing so well the meaning, sobbed aloud. I answered, "Death has no
pangs for me," but, alas! at that moment my poor family appeared before
my eyes. I thought you would have no provision. My heart seemed fit to
break. I told Robson[29] the only uneasiness I felt was for my family.
He endeavoured to console me. He went away, not expecting to see me
again. In the morning he found me in a state of stupor, in which state
I continued for three days, to the astonishment of all. I suddenly
found my body very wet, and called my nurse, who was astonished to
find me speak. The bed-clothes being turned down, there I was deluged
in matter. The plaster was taken off the wound, when the matter flowed
forth as from a fountain. I was immediately rational and my body began
to decrease. I knew in a moment my life was saved. My surgeon came
and jumped for joy at my good fortune. The whole family in my house
came too. The kindness and delight which Mr. Overman showed was beyond
everything. Every night before he went to bed he came to me; sometimes
I was insensible. He regularly went into his study and prayed for me
every night. He is a very good man, a Protestant, and speaks English
well. My dear little nurse has never been ten minutes from me since I
came to the house. When I was in that dangerous state I often fainted
in the night. She had in a moment a strong spirit at my nose to revive
me. For ten nights together she never went to bed, but laid her head
on my pillow. I now must finish with observing that I am with the
best people in the world. The ball passed through my liver.... I am
dreadfully emaciated, but I am sound at heart. I eat roast meat daily.
In consequence of this discharge, I am obliged to eat very largely. I
daresay in three weeks I shall be able to get out of bed. My spine is
cut through at the hips. My backbone hurts me sadly. I was afraid of
my shoulders, but I feed so well and drink such good wine that I must
put flesh on my bones. I bless Almighty God for His mercy to me, for
restoring me as it were to life in so wonderful a manner. I wish the
Frenchman had not hit me quite so hard. I am afraid it will take many
years off my life and make an old man of me. I have got the ball, and
shall make Ann a present of it. Joe passed by the place, but did not
come. I suppose he has not heard I was worse. However, it is as well,
as he would be hurt to see me in this emaciated state after writing
and telling him I was out of danger. Ann must be much in want of money
to pay for schooling. Now the only thing I can advise you to do is to
draw the £20 out of Mr. Boyse's hands and pay it. I shall not be fit to
travel for two months to come, and I can get no money until I arrive at
my regiment. After I have been a little time at the regiment I shall
go to London and get a year's pay. I shall send you £100, and the £17
will pay my expenses back to France. It is likely that we may stay in
France a long time, which will be very lucky, as I shall get wine good
and cheap—in fact, everything else in proportion. One year from the day
I was wounded being passed, I mean again to go to London and apply for
the pension, which, if I am lucky enough to procure, you will never
again be in want of money.

My dear Ann I hope continues diligently her pursuit after knowledge;
Betsy also. Charles I expect delights in his studies. If he means me to
be his friend, it is the only way to acquire my friendship.

       *       *       *       *       *

My uncle will, I am sure, be very happy to hear that I am in the land
of the living. My best regards to him. You will think me a strange
fellow to write so much, but I write perfectly at my ease. I have
plenty of books, and amuse myself all day very agreeably, and knowing
the danger of offering to stir, I am quite happy. Adieu. God preserve
you all in His holy keeping,

      G. Simmons.

The next letter I hope will be from Paris. Write soon.


Letter No. XXVII

Brussels, _12th September 1815_.

My dear Parents—I am now, thank God, able to enjoy myself once more.
My health is nearly as good as ever. I increase in strength daily.
The felicity I feel at being capable to walk about is hardly to be
described. My legs swelled very much when I first arose out of bed. For
some days I was often obliged to be carried back and rubbed with hot
flannel for hours together. I was afraid of becoming dropsical, but
these bad symptoms have entirely left me. On Sunday, being the birthday
of my worthy landlord, we were very gay. After a splendid dinner I
was gallant enough to walk with the ladies into the country nearly a
mile, where we had cakes, etc., at a house, and then returned back.
Two young ladies supported me, which amused the people that passed. I
have invitations to dine out almost every day, but as I must live very
steadily, I often refuse. The more I know of the good family I live
with the better I like them. If I happen to mention my thoughts of
returning to England, they are all melancholy, and request me not to
think of it. Their fine children, as soon as they get up, come into my
bedroom to kiss me and wish me good morning. A little girl often puts
me in mind of my dear Betsy; she always calls me her uncle.

I shall be able to return to England in a month if I continue going
on well. The violent spasms that often seized me have entirely
disappeared; sometimes they came on when eating or drinking, and
obstructed my throat in such a manner that I could not swallow. At
first when I got into the garden I was so delighted with the scenery
that I fancied I could walk in the presence of several ladies who came
to pay an afternoon visit. I attempted it, and fell to the ground in
fits. I certainly was out of my senses at the time. I alarmed the good
folks, so that they all went home. I continued in convulsions all the
night. This circumstance made me keep my bed a fortnight longer. I
forgot to mention a circumstance which deserved my notice. Sergeant
Fairfoot was wounded through the arm, and also through the hand, on
the 16th. When I was carried off the field of battle and deposited in
a stable upon straw, he came near me and expressed much concern. He
supported me while the surgeon cut into my breast and dislodged the
ball, which, being flat and terribly jagged, required some time. Every
five minutes the cannon-shot from the enemy and shells were passing
through this house, which made it a very dangerous place. Fairfoot was
very anxious to get me away. He went in search of a horse, and returned
with a Frenchman's, and tried to put me on it, but I fainted, and was
carried back to my straw. When I came to myself, I heard the surgeons
say, "What is the use of torturing him? he cannot live the night; he
is better where he is than to die on horseback." This admonition
made Fairfoot desist, but he got me water and behaved very kind. The
enemy made a very desperate attack, and it was thought this place
would in a few minutes be between the fire of the parties; under such
circumstances we should be either burnt or shot. Everybody that could
crawl left the place. I asked the hospital sergeant, who was the last
man there, if we were to be left? He durst not answer me. A gallant
young friend of mine, who was badly wounded and dying, crawled near me
and said, "George, do not swear at the fellow; we shall soon be happy;
we have behaved like Englishmen." At this moment Fairfoot entered, and
a Rifle Man who gallantly exposed himself to carry me off the field.
Fairfoot said, "We must not, nor shall not be murdered, but there is
no time to spare." A Life Guardsman and he put me on the horse. I was
held on by the legs. Fairfoot also got my friend away, but he died the
same night, being a delicate young man.[30] I stated this affair to my
Colonel, and all the officers know how much Sergeant Fairfoot merits
my praise.[31] If I can do him a service he may always command me; his
character as a brave soldier stands with the first in the regiment.
You may tell this to his father. I hear from Joe frequently. He is
well. Never mention me in conversation anywhere, as I do not want to
be known at Hull. My side continues very numb still, but time will, I
hope, render it better. I am anxious to come to England for the purpose
of procuring the year's pay, which I shall send you—at least one
hundred pounds. One year after, I shall present myself at the Medical
Board for the pension, and if I get it, which there is every likelihood
of, why then, I shall laugh at my wounds; for to protect and support
those that are dear to me, my sufferings will be highly recompensed.
I enclose a five-pound note, which I hope will reach you safely. When
I landed I bought a horse, which cost me nineteen pounds; now that I
want to sell it, I cannot get £10 (ten pounds) for it. I have sent
the animal to my brother. He has one already of mine. If there is any
likelihood of staying long in this country, I shall return. My horses,
in that case, will be ready for me, and otherwise I have ordered them
to sell them. I wish our brave fellows were away from Paris. It is a
horrible sink of iniquity, and I am afraid will corrupt the morals of
the thoughtless.

I have given advice to Joe, but I am convinced that he will not run
into extremes or extravagance. I had some very good accounts of him
from the depôt before he came out. I have shown myself to several
surgeons. A celebrated one from Edinburgh saw me and asked me all the
particulars. My case will be published among many others. The next
letter will be most likely from London. You need not answer this.—Yours,

      Geo. Simmons, Lieut.



CONCLUSION


Little more remains to be said about the career of George Simmons.
He remained at Brussels for several weeks after the last letter here
published was written, and was then well enough to travel to England,
where he landed on 28th October 1815. He was sufficiently recovered of
his severe wounds to start to rejoin his regiment on 1st January 1816,
and served with the British army of occupation in France for nearly
three years, returning to England with the 1st Battalion in November
1818. It was after the battle of Waterloo, on 23rd February 1816, that
the 95th Rifles were, in the words of the _Gazette_, "by command of the
Prince Regent, in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty," ordered
to be "taken out of the numbered regiments of the line and styled THE
RIFLE BRIGADE"; in those days a unique honour.

Simmons makes no mention of the return of the regiment to England
beyond noting the date of their arrival at Dover. Sir John Kincaid,
however, in his usual vivacious style, gives the following account of
the officers commanding companies on the day of inspection after their
return. "Beckwith with a cork leg; Pemberton and Manners each with a
shot in the knee, making them as stiff as the other's tree one; Loftus
Gray with a gash in the lip and minus a portion of one heel, which
made him march to the tune of dot and go one; Smith with a shot in the
ankle; Eeles minus a thumb; Johnston, in addition to other shot-holes,
with a stiff elbow, which deprived him of the power of disturbing
his friends as a scratcher of Scotch reels on the violin; Percival
with a shot through his lungs; Hope with a grape-shot lacerated leg,
and George Simmons with his riddled body held together by a pair of
stays, for his was no holy day waist which naturally required such an
appendage lest the burst of a sigh should snap it asunder, but one that
appertained to a figure framed in nature's fittest mould to 'brave the
battle and the breeze!'"

Simmons subsequently served at home until July 1825, when he
accompanied the Battalion to Nova Scotia. On 17th April 1828 he was
promoted Captain, at which time he had close on nineteen years'
service. In 1834 he married in Jersey a daughter of Sir Thomas le
Breton. In 1836 he returned to England with the 1st Battalion; ten
years later he obtained his majority, and in 1845 retired from the
service after thirty-six years' service. Some three years later he was,
in common with the other survivors of the Peninsular War, granted the
"General Service Medal." He died on 4th March 1858, aged seventy-two.

"Brother Joseph" exchanged to the 41st Regiment, and served with it in
the Burmese War of 1824, where he greatly distinguished himself at the
storming of several stockades. He served also throughout the campaign
of 1842 in Afghanistan, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was
granted a C.B. He lived to a great age, dying in 1882.

"Brother Maud" served in India with the 34th Regiment, and died at
Madras of cholera some time after 1816.

"My dear Ann" died unmarried.



APPENDIX I


The following letter has been selected out of many written to George
Simmons by his old Peninsula comrades, since it is of especial
interest. Sir Harry Smith served as a Lieutenant with Simmons
throughout the Peninsular War, and was wounded with him at the Combat
of the Coa in 1810. His wife, Lady Smith, whom he alludes to as "Juana"
and "Juanita," was a Spanish lady whom he first met under most romantic
circumstances the day after the storming of Badajoz. Sir John Kincaid
in his _Random Shots of a Rifle Man_, describes this meeting and its
consequences.


_Letter from General Sir Harry Smith after the Victory of Aliwal_

      Simla, _16th June 1846_.

My dear old Comrade, George Simmons—On the 13th of May I received yours
of the 15th of March, and on the 15th of June, yours of the 13th April.

You know me well, George, and therefore know nothing can make me a
vain ass, but when I tell you I have received since the battle of
Aliwal upwards of 150 letters of heartfelt gratification conveying to
me theirs and your participation in every feeling of success which
Almighty God has so guided me to, then, George, my heart expresses
its fulness through the eyes by tears of gratitude and reciprocal
affection. From every old friend—I have several still left to us—from
every old comrade of the Light and 4th Division, have I received every
expression of their approbation, their happiness in my having realised
their often-expressed anticipations.

Your old friend possesses the good sense which you so kindly give him
credit for, keeps pace with his delight in all the congratulations of
our friends. Then, George, comes the _encomium_ of THE DUKE.

Dear old master! if I have done that which meets _your_ approbation,
then is the cup of glory full indeed, for it is to your example I have
desired to apply any share of the ability bestowed upon me.

I have had too from him the kindest of messages, and to his old friend
Juanita, as he still calls her. George, my fight of Aliwal was really
beautiful, and now I cannot say I wish on that day I had done this or
that, but what I give myself any credit for was on the 21st of January,
when the enemy, with his army of 24,000 men and 50 guns, so ably,
energetically, and secretly anticipated my move to effect a junction
with the corps at Loodiana, and nothing but pluck, Light Division
experience, and inflexible adherence to purpose, brought me to the
desired field of Aliwal. I lost some of my baggage, but should not have
done that if my orders had been obeyed, but _Finis coronat opus_. I
have had a letter from Joe, who tells me your happiness was such that
your nerves so thrilled through your desperate old wounds as to make
you quite ill.

Dear George, we little thought at Belem, when hopping about there, I
should become a master of that art we were both "gurning" under, or a
swimming master, with pupils in Sutledge!

I certainly hurried the rogues over the river a little unceremoniously,
and the credit you all give me is not thrown away, I do assure you.
I am appointed to a Divisional command, and must leave these hills
at rather a bad season of the year, viz. the rainy. Between the
alternations of a fiery sun and torrents of rain, some 600 miles, Juana
will go, through not staying here as I advised her. I begin to long to
get once more to my native land. Mine has been an awful banishment.
I do so long to seize by the hand all those old friends who have so
adhered to me notwithstanding my absence, and who thus so kindly feel
_my_ success and honour _their own_. If anything could make a man an
ass _this_ ought.

Juana sends her love, and you and your good wife I pray accept
mine.—Your old friend

      Harry Smith.


Our old, dear, and mutual friends, Sirs Kempt, Barnard, and Lord
FitzRoy Somerset, have written in most enthusiastic terms. Oh! such a
noble son of Lord F.'s was killed close to me.[32] George, the hand of
Almighty God has shielded me; all my staff were killed or wounded, and
not I, or even a horse of mine, has _been touched_. I never dismounted,
and I never in my life so exposed myself.



APPENDIX II

Medical Certificates


      Brussels, _2nd September 1815_.

I do hereby certify that Lieutenant Geo. Simmons of the 1st Battalion,
95th Regiment, was dangerously wounded on the 18th of June 1815 in
the Battle of Waterloo. A musket-ball entered the right side near the
spine, fractured the 9th and 10th ribs, passed through the liver; I
extracted it from the breast near the lower end of the sternum.

He experienced a high state of inflammation from the nature of the
wound.

A formation of matter took place in the liver, and was discharged by
the wound where the ball was extracted.

      James Robson, Assistant Surgeon,
      1st Battalion, 95th Regiment.


I certify that Lieutenant Simmons, 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade (late
95th), received a severe wound from a musket-ball in the thigh in
action with the enemy at the Battle of Almeida, in Portugal, on the
24th of July 1810. He suffered much from the injury to the bone, and a
consequent confinement of near twelve months.

He even at this period, if he uses much exercise, complains of pain and
lameness. Also a spent ball on the leg.

I also certify that Lieutenant Simmons received a wound in the right
knee from a musket-ball, in action with the enemy at the Battle of
Tarbes, in France, on the 20th of March 1814. He suffered most severely
from violent inflammation. There is still an enlargement of the knee,
attended with pain in using much exercise in consequence of the ball
having fractured the patella in its course.

I further certify that Lieutenant Simmons received an alarming wound
from a musket-ball in the side, in action with the enemy at the Battle
of Waterloo on the 18th of June 1815. The ball entered his right side,
and was extracted from the breast.

In its course it fractured two ribs and wounded the liver. He suffered
severely from suppuration of that viscus, as well as from a profuse
discharge from the wound of his breast. He complains of spasmodic
attacks of his side and pain shooting towards the right shoulder, with
pain of the breast and difficulty of breathing, particularly in moist
weather. His digestion is also much impaired. With a view to moderate
these distressing symptoms and prevent their more frequent recurrence,
he is under the necessity of using stays in order to give support to
the body, and also to adopt the most abstemious plan of diet, with
almost a total abstinence from wine and fermented liquors.

        Joseph Burke, Surgeon,
        1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade.

  Boilieu en Artois,
  France, _24th October 1816_.

This certificate I gave to Sir James M'Gregor, with the following one
from our friend Lindsay.—G. S.


      Cambrai, _1st November 1816_.

I hereby certify that Lieutenant Simmons, 1st Battalion of the Rifle
Brigade (late 95th Regiment), received a severe gun-shot wound at the
Battle of Waterloo. The ball entered the right side, and having in its
course passed through the liver and fractured two ribs, was extracted
from the breast. This officer suffered considerably from the succeeding
inflammation and suppuration, as also from the effects of the large
and repeated bleedings which it was necessary to have recourse to in
order to moderate the inflammation and fever.

He is still very liable to frequent spasmodic attacks in the side
and pain in the shoulder. The powers of digestion are considerably
impaired, and his breathing is rendered difficult by using any exertion.

Mr. Simmons is under the necessity of wearing stays in order to give
support to his body, otherwise he would be unable to enjoy the exercise
of walking or riding.

      Owen Lindsay,
      Staff Surgeon, 1st Division.



FOOTNOTES:


[1] This Battalion was disbanded in 1818. The present King's Royal
Rifle Corps are its representatives.

[2] _Twelve Years' Military Adventure_, London, 1829.

[3] _Military Lectures delivered to the Officers of the 95th (Rifle)
Regiment at Shorncliff Barracks, Kent._ Reprinted recently, as well as
Manningham's _Regulations_, by John Bale and Sons, 87 Great Titchfield
Street, London, W.

[4] Napier's _History of the War in the Peninsula_, vol. ii. p. 407.

[5] George Simmons' second brother in 34th Regiment.—Ed.

[6] Napier also gives these figures, but Simmons in his letter to his
parents has a somewhat different version. See p. 31.—Ed.

[7] Peter O'Hare joined the Rifle Corps (from the 69th Foot) on its
first formation in 1800, and fought with it at Monte Video, Buenos
Ayres (severely wounded), Roliça, Vimeiro, Coruña, The Coa, Busaco,
Fuentes de Oñoro, and the Storming of Ciudad Rodrigo. He was slain at
the Storming of Badajoz when leading the Forlorn Hope.—Ed.

[8] William Napier, 43rd Light Infantry, the author of _History of the
War in the Peninsula_.—Ed.

[9] Colonel Arentschildt, of the 1st German Hussars, was very kind to
me and put me upon a horse, sending two Hussars to accompany me. He
thought I was dying. The tears trickled down the veteran's face. God
bless his memory.—G. S.

[10] This soldier belonged to the 43rd Light Infantry. I was on the
ground, and very ill from loss of blood; he had been placed on a
paillasse of straw and was dying, but his noble nature would not allow
him to die in peace when he saw an officer so humbled as to be laid
near him on the bare stones. I have experienced many such kindnesses
from soldiers, and indeed if I had not, I should not be alive to tell
the tale.—G. S.

[11] This night I was so reckless of life, thinking the artery injured,
that some fool gave me a bottle of strong wine, which I drank off at a
draught. It was very wicked of me.—G. S.

[12] Lieutenant-Colonel Beckwith and the Battalion were particularly
thanked in Lord Wellington's despatches for their gallant conduct on
this trying day, and indeed nothing could exceed the devoted gallantry
displayed by every one. The Light Division lost in killed and wounded
on this day 27 officers and 336 men; 53 Rifle Men were made prisoner;
many of these were also wounded. The French loss must have been very
considerable from the immense numbers in the field.—G. S.

Napier puts the French loss as "above a thousand."

The losses of the 95th Rifles during this fight were 1 officer, 1
sergeant, and 10 Rifle Men killed, and 9 officers, 1 sergeant, and 54
Rifle Men wounded. Of the wounded officers, three died within a few
days of the fight, and many of the wounded Rifle Men also succumbed to
their injuries.—Ed.

[13] I regret as a soldier I was not in the battle, but I could not
help it, being unable to crawl, from my wounds in the thigh and leg. I
was at that time so ambitious of being in the fight that I really wept
at not being there.—G. S.

[14] Afterwards General Sir Harry Smith, G.C.B., the victor of
Aliwal.—Ed.

[15] Sir John Kincaid, in his _Adventures in the Rifle Brigade_,
published in 1830, mentions having had a hand in this affair.—Ed.

[16] Afterwards General Sir Hew Ross, G.C.B.

[17] Afterwards Sir John Kincaid, author of the spirited sketches,
_Adventures in the Rifle Brigade_, and _Random Shots by a Rifleman_.—Ed.

[18] Major Stewart, as many others have done, asked me if he was
mortally wounded. I told him he was. He thanked me, and died the day
following. Lieutenant Strode died of his wound some little time after
at Coimbra.—G. S.

[19] Brother John had entered the Mercantile Marine, and on his first
voyage his ship was captured by a French privateer, and he himself
killed in the engagement. At the time of writing this letter it was
believed that he was alive and a prisoner of war.—Ed.

[20] Afterwards Major-General Sir Edward Pakenham, who was killed in
the disastrous attack on the lines of New Orleans, 1815.—Ed.

[21] Salamanca.—Ed.

[22] Captain Cadoux.

[23] Joseph Dornford was originally at Trinity College, Cambridge,
which he left for the Peninsula. On returning home he entered at Wadham
College, Oxford, and in 1816 was elected a Fellow of Oriel. After
some years of College work he retired to a country living, first in
Northamptonshire and afterwards in Devonshire.—See Rev. T. Mozley's
_Reminiscences of Oriel College and the Oxford Movement_, ii. 55,
78.—Ed.

[24] I have since heard that he made a most excellent divine and a most
worthy member of society.—G. S.

[25] The Château d'Urdanches near Arcangues was thus styled by the
British, after its owner.

[26] I suffered much from this wound until the bone united. I was put
into a house for the night with many of my wounded comrades.—G. S.

[27] _I.e._, to "tell off" or punish.—Ed.

[28] Marshal Ney says in a report that Buonaparte had taken away his
reserve, or he would have annihilated us. In this fight he must have
had three to one, with the advantage of cavalry.—G. S.

[29] James Robson, the regimental Assistant-Surgeon.

[30] Lieutenant Elliott D. Johnston of the Rifles was being conducted
on horseback towards the village of Waterloo by two Rifle Men when a
French cannon-ball, of which there were many bounding along the road,
struck him and killed him on the spot. This was evidently unknown to
Simmons when he wrote this letter. It is hardly to be wondered at that
this "delicate young man" died.—Ed.

[31] Sergeant Fairfoot had been with him throughout the six campaigns
in the Peninsula, and is mentioned by Simmons as having been present
at the fight at the bridge of Barba del Puerco in March 1810. He was
subsequently made Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion, and died in 1838
at Galway, in the cathedral of which town there is a tablet "inscribed
by his brother officers to record his good and gallant services as a
Rifle Man in the Peninsula, France, and the Netherlands."—Ed.

[32] Major Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, Grenadier Guards. He was the eldest
son of Lord FitzRoy Somerset (afterwards Lord Raglan), and was serving
in India as Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, General Sir
Henry Hardinge. He was killed at the battle of Ferozeshah on 21st
December 1845, upon which occasion Sir Harry Smith commanded a Division
under General Sir Hugh Gough (afterwards Lord Gough). The battle of
Aliwal, at which Sir Harry Smith commanded, was fought on 28th January
1846.—Ed.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



_In Square Crown 8vo. Printed on Light Paper, with Deckled Edges, and
bound in Buckram. Price 6s._


A

PRISONER OF FRANCE

BEING THE REMINISCENCES OF THE LATE

CAPTAIN CHARLES BOOTHBY, R.E.


_Containing a Frontispiece Portrait of the Author, and several small
Illustrations from Pen-and-Ink Sketches in the Author's Journals._


"We cordially recommend this charming bit of autobiography. A page of
it is worth a whole sackful of the trumpery trash which figures in the
publishers' advertisements as the historical novel."—_Daily News._

"Exceptionally interesting on account of the details which it supplies
concerning the manner in which he was treated."—_Glasgow Herald._

"A very vivid picture of military life in the Peninsula."—_Speaker._

"It is impossible to read his diary without liking a man who
made so light of trouble, and who bore himself so gallantly in
captivity."—_Standard._

"The cheerfulness with which he writes throughout is singularly
refreshing."—_Academy._

"It will be read with eager interest.... The narrative often reads like
romance, but the author had too high a sense of probity to palm off
fiction for actual personal experience."—_Scotsman._

"A very engrossing story.... It abounds in interesting anecdote and in
intelligent observation."—_The Broad Arrow._

"These Memoirs thoroughly justify their publication, and they will be
perused by students of military history with considerable advantage as
well as keen enjoyment."—_St. James's Gazette._

"'A Prisoner of France' should be in the hands of all young soldiers,
for it is a manual of soldierly kindness and fine humanity."—_Vanity
Fair._



_In Square Crown 8vo. Printed on Light Paper, with Deckled Edges, and
bound in Buckram. Price 6s._


A MIDDY'S RECOLLECTIONS

1853-1860

BY REAR-ADMIRAL THE HONOURABLE

VICTOR ALEXANDER MONTAGU


_Containing 2 photogravures and 6 other full-page Illustrations._


"Full of interest as illustrating the life of a midshipman afloat in
the last days of the wooden Navy, and as recording a much larger and
more varied share of war experience than has fallen to the lot of most
young officers in these latter days."—_The Times._

"Few officers could have had so much active service crowded
into the first few years of their career as the author of these
reminiscences."—_Morning Post._

"The life on board ship, the boisterous humour of the gun-room, and the
stern discipline of those rough-and-tumble days are described with a
sailor's breezy frankness."—_Pall Mall Gazette._

"It will interest all who are fond of exciting incident, quite apart
from its personal interest."—_Outlook._

"His descriptions are written with as much freshness and _verve_ as
if the events recorded were of quite recent occurrence, and with a
sailorly downrightness and infectious good-humour that help to render
this extremely interesting volume a welcome exception to the great
majority of works of its order with which the book market has lately
been flooded."—_The World._

"Breezy, full of cheerfulness, Admiral Montagu lived his boyhood in
stirring times, and was a part of them. His record is a piece of
pleasant and straightforward work."—_Country Life._

"The book is full of good things from beginning to end."—_Army and Navy
Gazette._

"His accounts of active warfare, of pirate-hunting, and shipwreck are
exhilarating, and there are many enlightening pages in the book dealing
with punishments in the Navy, the leisure hours of a middy's life on
board ship, his duties and companionships."—_Daily Mail._

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eagerly read."—_Whitehall Review._

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to reproduce his impressions of nearly forty years ago so clearly and
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"A most delightful volume. Many delightful records of experience in
the Naval Service have recently appeared, and for genuine interest and
frank and easy style I am disposed to reckon Admiral Montagu's volume
among the best."—_Navy and Army Illustrated._


A. & C. BLACK, SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Minor punctuation and printer errors were corrected.

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold text by =equal signs=.

The sidenotes have been regularised. In the original, the year was at
the top of every page, the month was specified in the first sidenote
entry for each page, and continuing sidenotes on a page only gave the
day unless there was a change of month. I have included the year and
month at the start of each section and added the year to the first entry
of a new month.





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