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Title: Memoirs of the Late War, Vol 1 (of 2) - Comprising the Personal Narrative of Captain Cooke, of the - 43rd Regiment Light Infantry; the History of the Campaign - of 1809 in Portugal, by the Earl of Munster; and a Narrative - of the Campaign of 1814 in Holland, by Lieut. T. W. D. - Moodie, H. P. 21st FusileersVolume 1 (of 2)
Author: Fitzclarence, George, Cooke, John Esten, Moodie, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of the Late War, Vol 1 (of 2) - Comprising the Personal Narrative of Captain Cooke, of the - 43rd Regiment Light Infantry; the History of the Campaign - of 1809 in Portugal, by the Earl of Munster; and a Narrative - of the Campaign of 1814 in Holland, by Lieut. T. W. D. - Moodie, H. P. 21st FusileersVolume 1 (of 2)" ***

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  VOL. I.

  The United Service Journal

This new and interesting miscellany is regularly published by Messrs.
COLBURN AND BENTLEY every month, price 3s 6d. The following opinion
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    besides an authentic return of the Promotions in the Red and the
    Blue. Independently of the attractions it has for a military man,
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[asterism] The above Periodical is regularly supplied by all
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                             THE LATE WAR:
                       THE PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF
                            CAPTAIN COOKE,
                 OF THE 43rd REGIMENT LIGHT INFANTRY;
                  THE HISTORY OF THE CAMPAIGN OF 1809
                             IN PORTUGAL,
                        BY THE EARL OF MUNSTER;
                          AND A NARRATIVE OF
                   THE CAMPAIGN OF 1814 IN HOLLAND,
           BY LIEUT. T. W. D. MOODIE, H. P. 21ST FUSILEERS.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.
                                VOL. I.

                        NEW BURLINGTON STREET.





  Initiation into military life—State of the militia
    force—Preparations against the expected invasion from
    Boulogne—French prisoners—An accident—The author occupies
    a dull post near Grimsby—An enlivening incident connected
    with the tender passion—Love cooled by aqueous immersion,
    and rekindled by bright eyes—Earl Fitzwilliam—Quarters
    in Bristol—A fatal affray—Clifton—The author engaged in
    an affair of honour—Anecdote—The author enters the
    line—Return of the British army from the Peninsula—Severe
    drilling.                                                          1


  Scene of embarkation for foreign service at Deal—A
    character—Force and objects of the expedition—Arrival off
    Walcheren—Siege and capture of Flushing—Disastrous sickness
    among the troops—Evacuation of Walcheren, with the author's
    adventure on the occasion—The return to England—Napoleon's
    situation at that period.                                         34


  Progress of distemper on the re-landing of the regiment in
    England—Change of quarters—Amusements—Colchester—An
    eventful water party—The author obtains leave to join the
    detachment proceeding to Portugal—A Review—A tale of
    dental dislocation—Embarkation at Spithead—Landing in
    Portugal—Incidents of an evening—Amusements at Lisbon, and
    departure from that city.                                         54


  March to Santarem and Abrantes—Scenery and incidents at
    Aronches—Junction with some other regiments—Military scene
    in a wood—Anticipatory reflections on the fate of some of
    the author's comrades—Quarters at Portalagre, Castello de
    Vida and Marvao—Bridge of boats across the Tagus—Contiguous
    scenery—Horrors of travelling for invalids in the Portuguese
    cars.                                                             71


  March continued—Wild and striking aspect of the
    country—Excellence of discipline—Camp followers—Spanish
    peasant girls and men—Plain of Fuente de Guinaldo—Reflections
    on a soldier's life—A vegetable conflagration—Village of
    Martiago—Difficulties of the French—Arrival in cantonments—The
    paymaster's peculiarities.                                        85


  The author is attacked by illness—Miseries of military
    travelling in that condition—Quarters at Celorico—The
    author's difficult recovery—Grievous sufferings endured
    by the soldiers affected with fever in the sickly season—Death
    of the Paymaster—The author rejoins his Division—Movements
    of the French—A clerical case of disaster—The contested
    mattress—A dance—Expensive celebration of Christmas—Story
    of the German suttler—Village and neighbourhood of Fuente
    de Guinaldo—Theatrical representations by the English
    officers.                                                        100


  Preparations for the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo—A review of the
    light Division by Lord Wellington—The fort and convent of
    Saint Francisco taken—Storming the breach—Capture of the
    place—Regulations for the prevention of plunder—Disorders
    committed in the city—Remarks and anecdotes connected with
    the siege—Burial of General Craufurd—Removal of quarters
    to El Bodon—Vestiges of the previous engagement near that
    place—Ciudad Rodrigo consigned to a Spanish garrison—March
    towards Badajoz—Castello de Vida—Fortress of Elvas—An
    accidental acquaintance.                                         114


  March from Elvas to Badajoz—Defences of that city—The
    investment—A sortie—Operations of the batteries—Capture
    of fort Picurina—Preparations for the grand assault—Advance
    of the "forlorn hope"—Desperate encounter at the
    breaches—Loss of life experienced by the British—The mode
    of attack changed to escalade with success—The city sacked
    by the British troops—Reflections respecting the conduct
    of the siege—Incidental anecdotes.                              133


  Movements of the enemy after the fall of Badajoz—March of
    the British light and third divisions towards Ciudad
    Rodrigo—Dispositions for a fresh campaign—Excellent
    marching arrangement of the light division—Occupation of
    Salamanca by the British, and investment of the forts—Advance
    of the French army—Skirmishing and cannonading—Surrender
    of the forts by the French—English quarters at Rueda, and
    amusements there—Movements of the author's division—A
    breakfast party broken up—Personal escape of the
    commander-in-chief—Active manœuvres of the contending
    forces—Retrograde movement of the British towards
    Salamanca—Relative position of the two armies—Battle of
    Salamanca.                                                       157


  Well-performed retreat of the French after the battle of
    Salamanca—Progress of the English troops—Description of the
    Spanish plains and towns—Custom of the Siesta—Movements of
    Joseph Bonaparte—Bivouac at Olmedo, and ball given there by
    Lord Wellington—Advance of the British army, and entry into
    Valladolid—A swimming adventure—Illness of the author, and his
    removal to the town of Cuellar—Timorous conduct of the Portuguese
    dragoons—The English army enters Madrid—Incidents attending
    the  author's further removal as an invalid to Salamanca—General
    position of affairs on the Continent—Operations of Sir R.
    Hill—Re-capture of Valladolid—Unsuccessful siege of
    Burgos—Various movements of the forces.                         191


  The author becomes convalescent, and proceeds to rejoin the
    army—Guadarama mountains—Park and Palace of the Escurial—An
    enthusiastic native—A Spanish bandit—British quarters in
    Madrid, and description of the city—English theatricals—Renewed
    activity of the contending armies—The British troops evacuate
    Madrid—Romantic attachments—Alba de Tormes—Re-occupation of
    Salamanca—Military discomforts—Skirmishing affairs—The French
    obliged to desist from pursuit through fatigue—Various positions
    of the British forces during the winter of 1812-13.              211


  The light Division reviewed by the Commander-in-chief—Reinforcements
    from England—The army again in motion—Encampment of the light
    division between Rodrigo and Salamanca—The German hussars—March
    to Salamanca, the French retreating—Scene in the Cathedral at
    Salamanca—Crossing the Tormes, and progress of the march—Passage
    of the Esla—Affair at Toro with the French heavy
    horse—Concentration of the whole army, and march through Valencia
    towards Burgos—An accommodating priest—Capture of French baggage
    and prisoners—Details of the battle of Vittoria.                242


  Pursuit of the enemy after the battle of Vittoria—Curious
    spectacle and adventure in a French bivouac—Advance towards
    Pampeluna, and repulse of the French rear-guard—Retreat of
    the main body of the enemy into France—Reflections on the policy
    of King Joseph—Change of the British route, and encampment at
    Sanguessa—A casual dance—Return to Pampeluna—Expulsion of the
    French from the valley of Bastan—The Basque peasantry—Town of
    Bera—Position for covering Pampeluna and St. Sebastian—Preparations
    for the attack of the latter place—The command of the French
    assumed by the Duke of Dalmatia—A family scene—Position of the
    French army.                                                     274


  Offensive operations of the Duke of Dalmatia—Partial retrogression
    of the British—Ill success in the storming of the breaches at
    St. Sebastian—Movements of the various divisions—Great extent
    of the British line along the Pyrenees—Interesting domestic
    scene attending the departure of the Author's Division from the
    town of Bera—Battle of Pampeluna—Embarrassing situation of
    the light division through an accidental separation from the
    army—Successes obtained over the French, and their consequent
    retreat—Active movements, and capture of the enemy's baggage—A
    trait of character—Continued advantages gained over the French,
    who are driven beyond the Pyrenees.                              300




    Initiation into military life—State of the militia
      force—Preparations against the expected invasion from
      Boulogne—French prisoners—An accident—The author occupies
      a  dull post near Grimsby—An enlivening incident connected
      with the tender passion—Love cooled by aqueous immersion,
      and rekindled by bright eyes—Earl Fitzwilliam—Quarters in
      Bristol—A fatal affray—Clifton—The author engaged in an
      affair of honour—Anecdote—The author enters the line—Return
      of the  British army from the Peninsula—Severe drilling.

On the 24th of January, 1805, I made my _début_ on the parade as
ensign in the first West York, powdered and equipped in full uniform,
with an artificial tail of considerable length tied round my neck, a
cocked hat square to the front and a sword five inches shorter than
the regulation, made in proportion to my height, being only four feet
eleven inches, and within one month of attaining my fourteenth year.

My diminutive figure soon attracted the attention of the leading
company of the regiment, composed of gigantic Yorkshire grenadiers[1],
and excited so much merriment among them, and so encreased my previous
confusion, that my eyes became dim and my feet seemed scarcely to touch
the ground. However, some kind expressions from the officers who came
forward and surrounded me, and their gay appearance soon dispelled my

A short time proved sufficient to instruct me in the duties required;
and the varied amusements caused the early months of my career to glide
rapidly on. Our uniform was plain, faced with green, but suddenly
altered owing to an officer of expensive habits, who ordered a new
coat to be made and covered with a profusion of gold lace, in which
he appeared at the mess table, and so captivated his companions by
his rich display, that a unanimous burst of admiration broke forth.
Although the lieutenant colonel was as much averse from any thing of
the sort as it was possible for any one to be, the new pattern was
carried by acclamation, and a tacit consent wrung from the commanding
officer, intermixed with his hearty execrations. Frequently, after the
alteration, he used to wear his old coat at the mess table by way of a
treat, when, to his extreme mortification, the very officer who caused
the change would throw out hints about officers being unregimentally

Such was the ingenuity of this individual, that on being refused leave
of absence, he waited personally on a general, and afterwards declared
that he had represented the necessity of his appearance at home in such
moving words, that he not only obtained double the time originally
asked for, but also drew tears of sympathy from the general's eyes.

In the early part of the summer, General Sir John Moore inspected us
on our parade ground, and was pleased to pass his high encomiums on
the very fine appearance and steadiness of the men while under arms.
Indeed the militia at large were equal to the line[2], in the execution
of their evolutions and discipline, and were well adapted for the
defence of their native shores, at this epoch threatened with invasion
by the French. Had their services been required to repel such an
aggression,—led on by experienced generals, without doubt they would
have proved themselves equal to cope with any troops in the world;
and those who had an opportunity of judging at that time, will, I am
confident, fully coincide with me and join in just admiration at the
high state of perfection that national force had been brought to.

During the summer the troops in the numerous towns and camps in Kent
were reviewed. Our brigade left Ashford and joined two battalions of
the rifle corps, 95th[3], at Bradbourne Lees and manœuvred before the
Duke of York. The 43rd and 52nd light infantry regiments were organised
under the immediate superintendence of Sir John Moore[4] (assisted by
Major General McKenzie) at Hythe, and Shorncliff camp, in the most
exemplary manner. Those corps were indeed the admiration of all, for
their discipline, and the rapidity of their light movements, all of
which being executed on the moveable pivot, by divisions, or sections,
formed columns, squares, lines, and echelon, without a halt, by merely
marking time.

The moveable pivot preserved a regular cadence, handsome to the sight,
and of great utility. In course of time these useful evolutions
extended throughout the army, and, for aught I know, are still called
"NEW!" with perhaps a few alterations.

The officers of these regiments wore a neat soldier-like uniform
of scarlet, facings white and buff, with a pair of small silver
epaulettes; and such was the similarity of costume of the two corps,
that, at a short distance, it was hardly possible to distinguish
one from the other; and, when formed in a line on the green sod at
Shorncliff, they presented a fine coup d'œil. The rifle corps wore dark
green with black lace, helmets and long green feathers[5].

It is a strange coincidence, that these corps should have been so near
each other, (almost within sight of Napoleon's grand camp at Boulogne)
for the purpose of joining their efforts to repel the threatened attack
on the coast, and that, in after years, they should be united in a
series of brilliant victories gained over the French legions, during
a period of service, which, in future ages, will create wonder at the
extraordinary rise and fall of Napoleon in the centre of civilised
Europe; whose legions like an overwhelming lava spread death and
destruction far and wide; drove all nature into mourning, and converted
Europe into an hospital.

Napoleon at this period had formed at Boulogne and its vicinity a
powerful army, which he hoped to be enabled to throw across the
channel by the end of August and effect a landing in England under the
protection of the combined French and Spanish fleets, commanded by
Admiral Villeneuve, who was expected from the West Indies about that
time to concentrate the different fleets in the French and Spanish
ports, to be composed of sixty ships of war destined to cover the
numerous flotilla which was also to be crowded with soldiers inured to

Every effort on the part of this country was made to frustrate such a
design. Martello towers had been erected along the coast of Kent at
certain distances, and thousands of navigators and soldiers were hard
at work cutting the military canal twenty yards wide across Romney
Marsh. Beacons were placed on the tops of the highest hills, to light
up, and alarm the country in case of a sudden descent of the enemy.
Fortunately however the hostile movements of the Austrians obliged
Napoleon to break up his camp at Boulogne, and march to oppose them.
The latter part of this year produced extraordinary events; Napoleon
was again overwhelming the continent by his military achievements, and
Nelson in a like manner, by his naval exploits, was clearing all before
him. These great commanders seemed striving to outvie each other on
their peculiar elements, and each won a great battle[6], and within a
few months of each other.

During the autumn, the regiment to which I belonged marched to
Chelmsford in Essex, and was stationed there a few weeks with other
corps, previously to our proceeding to Norman Cross for the purpose
of guarding some thousands of unhappy Frenchmen, cooped up at that
place, and clothed in yellow (the prison dress) to expiate their
revolutionary sins by many years' captivity and exile in a loathsome
prison, cut off from their relatives and friends.

Their necessities forced them to exert their ingenuity in making
various curious toys, which they disposed of at a very low rate to
enable them to procure a few comforts, to alleviate their extreme
wretchedness, which was beyond description; for want of clothes many
of them suffered every privation rather than be clad in a conspicuous
and humiliating colour; others were in rags and almost in a state of
nudity, having lost their all by gambling; and to so great an extent
did the vice grow, that many would even stake their rations, and every
trifle given to them by strangers, until, by their half famished looks,
they bore a resemblance to skeletons.

The exterior of the prison was enclosed by strong wooden railings, as
well as the four interior quadrangles, in the centre of which stood a
circular block house bristled with three pounders on swivels, their
muzzles peeping out of square apertures (similar to the ports of a
ship) to play on the prisoners in case of their becoming refractory.
Generals Boyer and Rochambeau were, for some reason or other, in close
confinement; one of them played and sang most delightfully on the guitar.

The barracks stood about east and west, occupied by two regiments, with
two field pieces always placed at the gates, in readiness to fire if
necessary. The high north road ran within about two hundred yards of
the west barrack. A troop of the 7th light dragoons[7] were quartered
near at hand to pursue those Frenchmen who might attempt to effect
their escape, which many accomplished by the utmost danger, and the
most unaccountable perseverance; sometimes by working under ground for
months, to excavate a way out of prison. One man, absolutely wrapped
in straw bands, dropped himself into a night cart, (which he was aware
would be drawn away that night) and he was pitched out with the soil at
the usual place on the slope of a hill; but, in his haste to extricate
himself, he was discovered, and brought back half suffocated.

Many of the poor prisoners gave lessons in fencing; and while I was
once displaying the proficiency I had made in that art to an amateur
by placing him in a defensive position to ward off my rapid attack, he
unfortunately guided the point of my cane up his own nostrils which
caused him forthwith to ungrasp his sword, and apply both hands to
the wounded part. Being much alarmed at the accident, I stood at
a respectful distance from my friend, until the pain had subsided;
fearing that, under such torment, he might take signal vengeance on my
slender frame.

The winter passed heavily enough at this dull spot, and without doubt
the best hour of the day was that when the drum struck up the "Roast
Beef of old England," the certain announcement of a well supplied
board, covered with massive plate, and groaning under the weight of the
choicest viands the season afforded.

Early in the spring the long wished for _route_ arrived for Hull in
Yorkshire. When we were on the march through Lincolnshire, a sudden
thunder storm came on, accompanied by heavy rain, and we saw a poor
girl at work in an adjoining field; but, before she was able to gain a
place of shelter from the rain, a flash of lightning struck her on the
forehead and killed her on the spot. Her lifeless body was conveyed to
the nearest town, to her unhappy relatives. After the expiration of
a few days we arrived at Barton, where we crossed the Humber (seven
miles down the river) in the regular passage-boats to the place of
our destination, having experienced the usual comforts of a march in
England: such as good breakfasts, dinners, and a comfortable feather
bed every night.

Soon after our arrival a detachment was ordered to take charge of some
batteries on the right bank of the Humber in Lincolnshire, no great
distance from Grimsby; and, for the good of my morals, I was selected
for that duty, it being considered by excellent judges that so populous
a town as Hull afforded too many temptations for one so young as
myself. Every movement to me was a source of pleasure; already my new
abode was anticipated, and some highly romantic spot pictured to my
imagination. A fancied governor too, surrounded by the inhabitants of
the adjacent country looking up with that respect so flattering to one
placed in so responsible a situation!

The hour of my departure was hailed with joy, and I eagerly jumped on
board a small packet procured for the transport of myself and party.
The sails being spread out, I felt a secret wish that my brother and
another officer had not been on board, so that I might have entered
into my important avocations without further delay. We had glided a
short way on our course, when the wind changed, and became adverse,
and, after a few tacks, I lost my vivacity, my countenance turned
pale, and my brother remarked that I was sea-sick. "How can that be,"
faintly replied I, "when we are only in a river;" although it must be
acknowledged that, owing to its proximity to the sea, the water was
sufficiently agitated to cause some derangement in the stomach of a

At the expiration of a few hours' tossing, we anchored off a solitary
habitation, three sides of which were encompassed by a dreary marsh of
considerable extent, intersected with dykes. On landing, my companions
surveyed the surrounding prospect, casting significant looks towards
each other; and a half stifled laugh followed at my dejected amazement,
as I contemplated the prospect before me, wondering how the coming six
months were to be employed, or myself to be amused, in this swamp,
whitened by innumerable flocks of sea gulls. On entering the boat house
I sat down with little appetite to partake of some eggs and bacon, that
being the best fare to be procured. My companions made a hearty meal,
and, having swallowed a couple of tumblers of brandy and water, took
their departure with a fair wind, leaving me to make the best of my
way, over a pathless waste, in the direction of a small wooden building
rearing its chimnies just above an earth entrenchment decorated by four
heavy cannons mounted _en barbette_, and a bare pole in the centre by
way of a flag staff. The soldiers preceding me were a short way in
front. In vain I strained my eyes in search of a second habitation,
to cheer this monotonous scene; night was fast drawing to a close, and
the disagreeable Humber and its muddy banks disappearing from my view,
amidst a drizzling rain.

On entering the room allotted for my use, I seated myself on my baggage
in no very cheerful mood, waiting the delivery of coals and candles,
while my servant was busily employed mopping the floor. In the morning
the men were placed at the guns, armed with rammers and handspikes, to
learn to load, elevate, and traverse, so as to fire in case any French
ships might enter the river, to disturb the whalers anchored off Hull.

A printed board of orders nailed to the wall at the extremity of my
room shewed me the necessity of visiting another battery under my
charge (at stated periods) distant six miles up the river. I was
also informed that I had a horse at my service; but, when the animal
was brought forward, all hopes of a ride vanished, he proving lame
of a leg, very old, and his coat sticking up like the bristles of a

My instructions also specified that every Sunday the detachment was to
attend divine service, at a church situated inland on a gentle rise,
shrouded by trees, about two miles from the battery, which was to be
left in charge of a corporal's guard.

The sixth day happened to be the sabbath; the weather was propitious.
I therefore decorated myself in hopes of getting a glimpse of some
flowing drapery at the distant hamlet. On our arrival the bell
was tolling, and a few infirm individuals were creeping into the
old church. As the service had not begun, I squatted myself on a
hay-cock—for the grass of this church yard was turned to account, and,
as far as I could judge, was as fine a crop as any around.

At length the bell ceased to reverberate, and I was about to enter
the decayed doors of the church, when on raising my eyes I beheld a
young lady of lovely face and form, stationary, with one foot placed
on the top of the style (leading into the church-yard) and with her
eyes apparently fixed in the direction of where I stood. She evinced an
animation, which I shall long remember; for my heart began to beat with
the most joyful anticipations. She passed close to me, while I remained
fixed, and gazing on her with transported admiration. I soon followed,
and was placed in a pew exactly opposite to her. Her raven tresses hung
carelessly from under a little blue silk hat. Her cheeks vied with the
roses, and the lustre of her sparkling black eyes pierced the inmost
recesses of my beating heart. Before the service was concluded, we were
both holding down our heads laughing; and the only excuse for such
indecorous conduct, (if any can be offered), was our youth—for she was
only sixteen, and I was half a year younger.

Two days after, I wandered towards the village; the peasants had gone
forth to their daily labour. On looking about, I could see but one
house likely to contain the object of my secret regard. It was a large
old building encompassed by an extensive field in the shape of a park.
However, I fancied this was not her dwelling, as she had entered the
church yard from quite a contrary direction. Having wandered some
time without encountering a single person of whom I could make any
inquiries, I at last felt convinced that the fair object of my search
had come from a distant village, and that I should not again behold her
fascinating smiles.

In retracing my steps from thence, the marsh became doubly odious to my
sight; however, on the following Sunday, I placed myself on the same
spot in the church yard, with my eyes steadfastly fixed on the style.
The bell ceased to toll, the church doors closed, the service had
begun, but my _belle_ did not appear; and I now in real earnest began
to consider myself a perfect exile, not having exchanged a syllable
with any one save my servant (or when giving some trifling orders) for
thirteen days. The next morning I started on foot to visit the other
fort (mounting two guns, with a garrison of one serjeant, a gunner, and
fourteen men,) to be assured that the lame horse had safely carried
their provisions, and to see that the defences had not been washed away
during the last spring tide. After a toilsome walk of no inconsiderable
distance, along a dyke, overrun with long grass nearly up to my middle,
I returned, well tired, and perfectly cooled in my governorship.

The next day I made towards the hamlet, being determined to summon up
resolution, and make inquiries at some cottage, or to endeavour to find
out from whence came the sole object of my thoughts. On my accosting an
old woman, who very civilly answered all my inquiries, she communicated
that the young lady was a gentleman farmer's daughter; expatiating
upon her beauty and amiability, and concluded by remarking, that she
supposed by this time she must have returned to school beyond Lincoln,
as she had not seen her for some days. She then informed me that, when
at home, the young lady resided in the large mansion already described.
Having now gained the long wished information, I wandered towards the
spot, and espied a figure clad in white standing at the door of a
cottage, at no great distance from the large house.

I instantly made my way across the field, full of doubts and fears,
and when, within a short distance, I could distinguish the same
figure, and the charming countenance I was in quest of,—I hesitated,
being fearful that the object of my search might vanish. At length
with a palpitating heart, and extremely confused, I found myself
opposite the _brunette_. I attempted to speak, but, alas! my words
were unintelligible; she smiled, and I was rooted to the spot,—she
retreated backwards; her eyes, acting like load stars, drew me forward.
I stumbled over the doorsill, and found myself in a small room in the
interior of the cottage. At the extremity of it sat an ancient dame
at her spinning wheel, who, looking through her spectacles at me,
regarded so small a figure, in a rich scarlet uniform, with a degree of
good-natured surprise.

Some moments elapsed before any one of this trio broke silence. My
_incognita_ blushed and cast the kindest regards towards her old nurse,
who looked alternately towards us for some explanation; but, finding
little chance of any from our confusion, she broke the awkward silence
by requesting to know my pleasure? In reply, I stammered out, that I
had lost my way; she instantly arose, and offered the assistance of her
son, to conduct me into the right road; but my _chère amie_ now found
her voice, and stopped her short, by offering her services to point
out the way for me herself; and, almost in the same breath, asked me
if I did not feel considerably fatigued after so long a walk? Then,
entering into conversation, the hours flew away imperceptibly, until
the old dame reminded her of her unusually long absence from home,
which might induce her mamma to send some one in search of her; we
thereupon parted seemingly equally pleased with each other, and with
an agreement to continue our acquaintance. To my eyes the marsh now no
longer presented a dreary waste; my heart was as light as a feather; I
bounded over planks and ditches, for hedges there were none. Even the
odious twenty-four pounders I could have turned to use, by loading them
up to the muzzles with grape shot, against all pirates or rivals; and
I do verily believe that had it not been for the presence of an old
steady gunner, I should really have fired a salute on the occasion.

I ordered tea to be prepared, and my fire made up. I then opened a
box filled with books that day forwarded to me from Hull with a note
from my brother, saying, that according to my wishes he had sent some
novels, and also a few volumes of the _Roman History_, with his strict
injunctions not to neglect the perusal of the latter in particular.

The first book I extracted was a deep romance; and the pages were
eagerly devoured with all those transports so natural to youthful
minds. It was soon conveyed for the perusal of my _chère amie_; for in
truth the _Roman History_ had never entered my head.

A fresh supply being soon necessary, the box was returned, and the
history kept as a reserve, and, like many other reserves, it was never
brought into action. After a short acquaintance, my little _belle_
intimated to me, that I might expect an invitation when her papa (who
abominated the red coats, great and small) should make his annual
excursion. It struck me that a dark lantern might be of great utility
during such parties as I might chance to attend. I therefore begged of
my brother that one might be purchased for me, which was accordingly
done, although such a request somewhat excited his surprise; however,
on reflection, the extensive prospect he had previously surveyed the
day he conducted me to my lonely abode, soon convinced him that a
nightly tramp would be out of the question, and he set my request down
to the effect of the romances I had recently perused. At length the
time of papa's departure was announced to me, with an invitation from
mamma to take tea with her: and, on the appointed night, having secured
my barrack room door, I walked a short distance, and turned my dark
lantern, to enable me to explore my way over a path intersected by
numerous ditches.

On my arrival near the gate at the end of an enclosure, leading to the
house, the rays of my lantern fell on a figure all in white. I made a
sudden stop, and opened my eyes to their full extent, to satisfy myself
what so strange an appearance could be, so late, and at so lonely a
spot; for various confused ideas crossed my mind, my fancy was worked
up to the highest state of excitement, and a cold chill ran through
my veins,—when suddenly the ground gave way, and I was immersed
above my middle in water in a ditch, the edge of which had given way.
During my alarm, while I was endeavouring to extricate myself from my
awkward situation, the figure moved towards me and I scrambled out of
the ditch, covered with duck weed. As a last resort I summoned up my
remaining courage, and demanded in a loud voice, or rather screech,
"What are you?" when a plaintive voice answered, "It is I." and the
speaker instantly vanished.

After looking cautiously around, in apprehension of making another
false step and getting a second ducking, I explored my way with
considerable difficulty to the house, absolutely following the
direction of the supposed phantom. There I found my new friend waiting
for me at the door much alarmed, who informed me she had seen the
light of my lantern gradually approaching, and had ventured to meet me;
but the hearing the souse, and such a strange salute in total darkness,
had so terrified her, that a hasty flight had been the consequence.

Her mamma had waited tea some time, and on entering the room I
perceived that she was in full dress and highly rouged; I was
introduced to her, wet through, and covered with a green weed, like
some sea monster. She laughed immoderately. What was to be done? A
change was necessary: the husband's clothes would not do. A huge
country girl being called in, while divesting me of my coat, suggested
that I should be attired in one of her young lady's dresses. This
proposal afforded mamma much diversion, who agreed to the proposal,
and I was led into the kitchen, to a rousing wood fire, blazing on the
hearth, under a spacious chimney. Here I was unceremoniously stripped
by the maid, who appropriated so much time to the adjustment of my
female attire, that her _jeune maîtresse_ demanded the reason of my
person being kept so long in custody by this Amazonian wench. My
toilette being arranged, tea and coffee were served up, and the time
passed in the most agreeable conversation. The night had far advanced,
when an unexpected rapping was heard, with the butt end of a riding
whip, heavily applied to the oaken doors, while a hoarse voice demanded
admittance in the well known key of papa: but to my ears the notes were
like the roaring of a lion. All lights were instantly extinguished, and
the back door was thrown open, out of which I was led into a poultry
yard, and from thence into a loft, where, seating myself on a truss
of hay, I waited in much suspense, while the heavy bars were removed
from the gate of the farm yard, to admit the squire and his horse.
His gruff voice soon died away; the gates were again closed and all
became quiet. Shortly afterwards a rustling noise and gentle footsteps
struck on my ear, when my _belle_ again made her appearance accompanied
by the before mentioned Amazonian _fille de chambre_, with my dried
_paraphernalia_ under her arm.

Meanwhile mamma was left to conduct her bloated spouse grunting to
bed, quite overcome, after his devotions to Bacchus and the malt tub.
Soon after I had assumed the attire of my own sex, the crowing of the
feathered tribe announced the time for my departure, when, bidding
tender adieus, I rapidly stole across the meadow, and just before the
sun arose, I found myself once more within my camp bed—_minus_ my dark

I often bended my steps during these May days towards the peaceful
hamlet far removed from any neighbouring village, from whence a green
sod, hedged on each side, was the sole outlet or vestige of a road
winding into the interior, through a rich pasturage country; it was in
these rural shades, and unbeaten tracks, that my blooming companion
and I rambled at large, and, when fatigued, her old nurse would place
before us her best China service, and seem to participate in our
happiness. The summer months flew away, and my indescribable departure
was announced. I presented the hospitable old dame with a new pair of
spectacles, and she wiped her eyes. The Yorkshire-men buckled on their
knapsacks, the wind was fair, the bark cut through the water, the old
church vanished from my sight, and I again landed at the busy and
trafficing town of Hull.

Here the merchants entertained the military with turtle, and such
feasts as their rapidly accumulated wealth enabled them to spread out
in gorgeous abundance. The card parties were crowded to excess, and
very high stakes played for; more particularly as many of the officers
were possessed of large landed property, and also displayed most
splendid equipages.

The venerable Earl Fitzwilliam, who was the Colonel of the regiment,
was there, and when I was introduced to him, he asked me whether I
did not find the colours very heavy in my hands? My face instantly
coloured up; the fact was, I had been blown down, colours and all,
while at a field day at Ashford in Kent. The amiable nobleman, with his
characteristic kindness, took care that I should see my name in the
next gazette as a Lieutenant.

After a very short stay at Hull, we were ordered to Whitby, Burlington,
and Scarboro', situated on the sea coast. I had the good fortune to
march to the latter town, with which I was much struck on entering.
It is compact, and situated in a valley, with the fine old castle
rising abruptly and commanding a bird's eye view of the town, and the
beautiful and extensive sands, which become so hard, that at low water
horse racing used to take place, and with great safety, as there is
hardly a pebble to be seen.

This was a grand place of resort, where the healthy dames and their
daughters from the North, came to sip the spa, to flounder in the sea,
to see and be seen, and to listen to the mild sayings of strangers from
the south, while hurrying down fifty couple at Donna's rooms, with
rosy cheeks, and hair somewhat out of curl. One whole year passed at
this place in a continual round of amusements, such as balls, parties,
picnic excursions, gay promenades, and horse-racing. The band was
magnificently attired in green and gold; in fact, Earl Fitzwilliam gave
up the whole or the greater part of his pay for the benefit of the
regiment.—The volunteering into the line continued from time to time;
the greater portion of the men, being of large stature, entered the
foot guards, the artillery, and marines.

The _route_ at length arrived; and on the morning of our departure the
band struck up, the bass drum beating the marching time, a signal for
windows to be hastily thrown open by many fair ladies _en déshabille_,
waving their white handkerchiefs and delicate hands, until a wind of
the road concealed them from our admiration. The sun shone brightly,
and, as we cast a lingering look behind, the venerable white turrets of
the castle and the sparkling blue sea foaming at its base receded from
our view. We had proceeded about ten miles over the bare wold, when,
our appetites becoming rather keen from the sea breezes, we began to
cast our longing eyes towards a small sequestered village, surrounded
by stone walls, and a few scattered trees, which proved a welcome
sight. On entering, we drew up opposite a small rustic inn, for the
purpose of taking breakfast:—the chubby cherry-cheeked maids flocked
around us, and became so elated at the sounds of the music, and at the
sight of the red coats, that in their hurry to lay before us such
provisions as the place afforded, they pushed and jostled their rustic
swains out of their way, who, while resting on their pitchforks looked
uneasy, as if doubting for the first time in their lives the true
constancy of their sweethearts.

After partaking of a most excellent breakfast, we resumed our road,
and at the expiration of three days again entered Hull, when we soon
received an order to proceed to Bristol; we passed through Beverley to
Hull, then to Doncaster, Birmingham, Derby, Litchfield, Gloucester, and
Worcester, besides many towns of smaller note interspersed through this
highly cultivated country. Having accomplished a march of three hundred
miles, we reached Bristol. While passing through a town, an old woman
perceived the officer of the light company with a knapsack on his back:
she hobbled towards him, and addressed him by the familiar appellation
of "Sergeant;" he answered with a smile, "My good old lady, serjeants
do not carry knapsacks in this regiment," at the same time casting a
glance towards a few of that rank who had left theirs on the baggage
waggons:—the officer loaded himself in this way for the comfort of
a speedy change, on the march during wet weather. A number of French
prisoners were confined at Stapleton prison, about five miles from
Bristol. This duty we found unpleasant, having to tramp over a dirty
road in the winter, in white kerseymere breeches, for the purpose of
mounting guard. A most fatal affray happened here betwixt four French
prisoners, owing to a dispute which arose out of a trifling gambling
transaction. The two principals first engaged, having split a scissars
into two parts and tied the points to the end of canes, with which they
fought, one was soon killed, the seconds then engaged, when another
fell mortally wounded; in fact, both the friends on one side fell.

We frequently visited the village of Clifton within a mile of Bristol.
It is beautifully situated, overlooking the river Avon, which
romantically winds at the base of steep declivities, decorated with
overhanging shrubs.—The promenades and balls were very fashionably
attended, and it was surprising to observe the superiority of manners,
costume, and dancing, compared with those of the company attending the
assemblies at Bristol.

Early in the summer of 1808, we again moved, and passed through the
counties of Somerset and Devon to Plymouth, there to do duty over the
arsenals and more French prisoners.

I had now reached my seventeenth year. One evening while rambling
about, I accidentally met an officer, and entered into conversation
with him, when I was not a little surprised at his making use of my
elder brother's name, in no very complimentary strain, and, as I was
aware that such sentiments could not be used unintentionally by a man
of the world, I made a suitable retort, and left him. On reaching my
brother's barrack room which was adjacent to mine, I found him poring
over a volume of Shakspeare, with his usual _theatrical_ delight, and,
not wishing to disturb his transporting meditations, I bade him good
night and retired to my bed, having given my servant directions to call
me the next morning early, which being duly executed, I sent a friend
with a message to the officer already alluded to, which he instantly
accepted; but, as the regiment was under arms much earlier than usual,
to fire ball cartridge at a target, it was agreed that we should manage
to get leave with our seconds, and fall out one at a time, so as not to
create any suspicion of our intentions.

Our uniforms having been thrown aside, four of us proceeded some
distance before we could find a spot to suit our purpose. The usual
distance being measured, we tossed up for sides. I lost, and stood with
my face towards the sun, as no other level spot could be found at hand.
Having taken our ground, the usual distance (by word), we both fired
without effect: the pistols being re-loaded, a second discharge was
about to take place, when my adversary addressed me by my Christian
name, and said he wished the affair adjusted, so that all that had
passed between us should be forgotten, and that we might be the same
good friends as heretofore,—the seconds then interfered, and all was
amicably adjusted[8].

A general order appeared about this period, exploding hair-powder and
tails throughout the army. But, previously to its coming out, a most
ludicrous occurrence happened. An officer who possessed a very good
figure and a fine head of hair, had shown a great antipathy against
wearing powder, so much so, that it was only by a repetition of orders,
that he could be induced to use the puff, and even then it was so
sparingly put on his crown, as to be scarcely visible. One morning as
usual he appeared on the parade, with his head unwhitened; the captain
of his company not a little roused, at having so frequently reminded
him of his neglect of duty, again remarked that he was without powder;
when he carelessly answered, that he supposed a puff of wind must
have blown it out; which so incensed the captain that he forthwith
reported the circumstance. The whole of the officers being assembled
to the front, the culprit patiently heard the accusation against
him, and as coolly received the slight reprimand from the commanding
officer, who had no sooner finished what he had to say than the accused
officer fixed his eyes steadily on his captain, and, without uttering
a syllable lifted his cap slowly from his head at arm's length,
showing a head as white as snow, while his accuser stood petrified and
confounded, to the no small amusement of the surprised circle who burst
into an unrestrained laugh, joined in by the senior officers. The fact
was, that the rear of the company was close to the soldiers' barrack,
and, while the captain was in the act of reporting his junior officer,
the latter had run into one of the men's rooms, seized a flour tub
(used by the soldiers) and, with its contents, had covered his head,
leaving the side locks untouched as before.

About this time, the expedition to Portugal put into Plymouth, and as
there appeared some probability of an opening for the British army on
terra firma, I felt an anxiety to enter the line. A commission was
promised me in a light infantry regiment, which I soon after obtained;
at this time Plymouth was crowded by Portuguese officers, that had fled
from their native country with the royal family of Portugal, who had
departed for the _New World_. Portugal being cleared of the _French_
and _Spanish invaders_, the British entered Spain to threaten the right
flank of the French army under Napoleon, in the depth of winter, which
ended by Sir John Moore being killed, and the whole of the English army
re-embarking at Corunna. The different regiments landed in England in
the most deplorable condition, having been overtaken by a tempest,
which had scattered them over the face of the waters.

The inhabitants of Plymouth received these troops with open arms, and
threw wide their doors for the benefit of the suffering officers; they
watched over their sick beds in the most assiduous manner, and supplied
them gratis with every comfort; such as shirts and shoes, and crowned
all this magnanimous hospitality, by advancing money to many of the
convalescent officers to enable them to reach their far distant homes,
in England, Ireland, and Scotland. But how different was the treatment
of the army (who had freed Portugal) elsewhere! A young and handsome
officer had landed at another port in a wretched state, bare-footed,
his feet tormented with gravel, suffering from a fever, and supporting
himself against a wall: then, creeping along in an exhausted state, he
was unnoticed by the passers by, until a sailor said, "Why, soldier
officer, you are aground, come lay hold of my arm: I will take care of

In March[9] 1809, I obtained my ensigncy in the line, and proceeded to
Colchester to join the second battalion of the 43rd light infantry.
When an officer entered this corps it was an invariable custom to
send him to drill with a squad, composed of peasants from the plough
tail, or other raw recruits, first learning the facings, marching,
and companies' evolutions. That being completed, the officer put
on cross belts and pouch, and learned the firelock exercise; then
again he marched with the same: and when it was considered that the
whole were perfect, with, and without arms, they began to skirmish in
extended files, and last of all learned the duties of a sentry, and to
fire ball cartridge at a target. The officer after all this was not
considered clear of the adjutant, until he could put a company through
the evolutions by word of command, which he had already practised in
the ranks. It generally took him six months in summer at four times a
day (an hour at each period) to perfect him in all he had to learn.
The drill was never kept more than an hour under arms, when, to a
minute, the time beater rolled his drum, the only one, (light infantry
regiments used bugles) in the corps; and the recruits were instantly

The orderly officer of each company made out the daily morning state
with his own hand. Subalterns inspected squads on parade: the company
was then formed and given over to the captain, who, with the rest of
the officers, never quitted their company to lounge about, so long as
the soldiers continued under arms. The corps paraded twice a week in
heavy marching order, and the mess was equally well conducted, in a
system of style and economy happily blended.

[Footnote 1: The grenadier company was composed of more than one
hundred men, and only contained _eleven men_ so _short_ as five feet
eleven inches.]

[Footnote 2: Their code of military law, their pay, provisions, arms
and accoutrements were the same as in the line; and they often marched
three or four hundred miles at a sweep! In summer they went into camp,
or did garrison duty; and each company possessed a _bat-horse_ with a
pack-saddle, to carry the _iron camp kettles_.]

[Footnote 3: Now the rifle-brigade.]

[Footnote 4: Sir John Moore offered commissions to Lieutenants Booth,
Temple, and myself of the York. The two former joined the 52nd; but,
as my brother fancied that I was too young and as I was not my own
master, I was obliged to submit to his decision. Lieut. O-Reilly also
entered the rifle-corps and was subsequently killed on the river Coa
in Portugal; and Lieut. Booth was killed at the storming of Badajoz in

[Footnote 5: The pelisse was subsequently introduced, and a soldier
clad in (green tartan) the highland costume, carried a small standard.
The three light regiments increased to seven battalions during the war;
43rd _two_; 52nd _two_; rifles _three_.]

[Footnote 6: Trafalgar and Austerlitz.]

[Footnote 7: Now hussars.]

[Footnote 8: My brother and the same officer had a dispute eight
months after this affair. They met; and at the first fire my brother
received his adversary's hall through the upper part of his thigh, but
eventually recovered.]

[Footnote 9: In that month the first battalion marched from Colchester
to Harwich to embark for Portugal with the 52nd and the Rifle corps,
under Major General R. Craufurd, and joined the army in Spain the day
after the battle of Talavera de la Reyna, having made a forced march
in good order, in hopes of participating in that sanguinary battle,
where they found the remnant of those men who had been left sick or
wounded (in the battalion of detachments) in Portugal after Vimiera,
and who had been engaged at the passage of the Douro near Oporto, and
at Talavera. The 43rd had upwards of one hundred men killed in that
battle; and of officers, brigade Major Gardner killed, and Lieutenant
Brown wounded,—the latter now commanding the second battalion Rifle


    Scene of embarkation for foreign service at Deal—A character—Force
      and objects of the expedition—Arrival off Walcheren—Siege
      and capture of Flushing—Disastrous sickness among the
      troops—Evacuation of Walcheren, with the author's adventure on
      the occasion—The return to England—Napoleon's situation at that

In June 1809 we left Colchester with other corps, for the purpose of
embarkation; our route lay through Chelmsford, Gravesend, Maidstone, to
Shorncliff barracks (in Kent) placed on the summit of a hill extending
to the verge of the white cliffs overhanging the sea, and commanding a
clear view of the straits of Dover, and the opposite coast of France.

On the 16th of July we marched through Dover to Deal, where innumerable
boats lined the shore for the purpose of conveying troops to the
various ships anchored in the Downs for their reception. Large bodies
of soldiers were pouring into the town by all the roads to join the
vast armament about to rendez-vous at this point. Hurrying into the
boats, the hardy sailors pulled away: the beach and the bay were
covered with thousands of soldiers, intermixed with the fair daughters
of Albion, who had come from afar to witness this brilliant spectacle.

The army was in a fine state of discipline, and filled with enthusiasm,
while the ensigns of many naval victories floated in the breeze from
the mast heads of those men of war, that had for years swept the ocean,
opened the whole commerce of the world to this island, and filled the
coffers of England with almost inexhaustible resources.

We had no sooner arrived on board the York seventy four, commanded by
Captain Barton, than the usual bustle prevailed on such occasions,
which had in some measure subsided, when a large fat man in a small
boat was seen making towards the ship, dressed in light fawn-coloured
breeches, white cotton stockings and shoes, with a loose coat,
evidently of provincial cut. Coming alongside, he eagerly demanded
the number of the regiment on board, which proved to be the identical
one he was in search of; he then mounted the side of the ship with
breathless exertion, and attempted to bustle through the crowd of
soldiers huddled together. However, the butt ends of some firelocks
falling heavily near his toes, formed a sufficient hint to arrest
his progress, and he was much confounded at finding himself jostled
amongst such a concourse of troops for the first time in his life.
After waiting some time with intense anxiety, he at length succeeded
in clearing the way, crying out in accents of one whose patience had
been quite exhausted by hopelessness of redress, "Will any man in this
ship have the goodness to point out the Paymaster's berth? for really,
gentlemen, I have striven in vain to obtain an answer of the many
persons whom I have already addressed." A voice from the crowd replied,
"Why, there is no such thing,"—at which unwelcome intelligence the
countenance of the applicant underwent a painful transition from hope
to despair.

While at anchor in the Downs, the wind blew sufficiently strong to
cause the unpleasant motion of the ship which produces sea sickness,
and, being one of the junior officers, I was not so fortunate as the
Paymaster, who had secured a berth, for I wandered for three days into
different quarters of the ship, in a state unnecessary to describe
to those who have experienced the heaving of a ship at anchor. A
midshipman about my own age kindly offered to provide me with such
accommodation as the cock-pit afforded, which offer I thankfully
accepted, in hopes of at least getting into a quiet uninterrupted
corner. I had scarcely entered the hammock hung for my reception, when
I was assailed by quantities of cock chafers crawling over my face, and
under the blankets, (the ship having just returned from a cruise from
the West Indies.)

The prodigious armament consisted of thirty-five ships of the line;
two of fifty guns, three of forty-four guns; and one hundred and
ninety-seven sloops, bombs, and other armed small craft,—with an
army of thirty-nine thousand, two hundred and nineteen men, including
officers, all assembled in the Downs on the 27th of July, 1809. The
whole were under the command of Rear-Adm. Sir R. Strachan and Gen.
the Earl of Chatham, in conjunction. These Commanders sailed in the
Venerable at daylight, on the 28th of July, and arrived in the East
Kapelle roads, off the island of Walcheren on that evening; but, owing
to the boisterous state of the weather, and contrary winds, a landing
could not be effected on the Domburg beach. The other two divisions
of the fleet followed in succession from the Downs. The object of the
expedition was, to capture or destroy the enemy's ships, building at
Antwerp and Flushing, or afloat in the Scheldt; also the destruction
of the arsenals and dock-yards at Antwerp, Ternuese, and Flushing; to
reduce the island of Walcheren, and render, if possible, the Scheldt no
longer navigable for ships of war; with directions to the commanders,
should they not be able to effect all these objects, that after the
reduction of Walcheren, (which was to be kept possession of, and a
force left for its protection,) the remainder of the troops were to be
re-embarked, and to return to England.

The island of Walcheren is thirty-four miles in circumference,
including St. Jootsland, and is situated between the mouths of the East
and West Scheldt, inclosed by Cadzand on the south, South Beveland
and Wolfertsdyck on the east, and North Beveland on the north east.
Our division of the fleet sailed from the Downs at half-past ten
o'clock A. M. on the 30th, and came to anchor the next afternoon, in
the East-Kapelle roads off Walcheren, when we observed the mortar and
gun-vessels keeping up a heavy fire on the small town of Ter Veere,
whilst a small body of English troops were lying behind the sand-hills,
keeping watch on the road towards Middelburg, the capital of the
island. Part of the fleet had already entered the Veere Gat, and had
landed a large force, with three divisions of sailors (three hundred)
the day before, at half-past four in the afternoon, on the Bree-sand,
a little more than a mile west of Fort de Haak, the fire of which had
been previously silenced by the gun-boats and mortars. The peaceable
inhabitants sent a deputation from Middelburg to the head-quarters;
the army advanced the next day, the 1st of August, and took possession
of that place, drove the enemy into Flushing, and took from them some

Gen. Sir John Hope landed his divisions in South Beveland the same day,
and took possession of Ter Goes, the capital of the island, which is
thirty-five miles long. The French fleet had retired beyond the chain
which was drawn across the Scheldt near Fort Lillo. On the 3d, a few
vessels were observed leaving Flushing; some boats were sent in chase;
the weather was fine, the wind S.S.W., and the flood tide nearly down,
which gave every hope of their effecting a safe return. The Raven
sloop of war went to their protection, when the enemy's vessels again
retreated into Flushing. The wind suddenly flew west in a squall, first
blowing hard and then baffling. The boats got safe off, but the fire
continued on the sloop for four hours without intermission, round shot
passing through her from the Breskens batteries, and grape dropping on
board from the ramparts of Flushing. She suffered severely in the hull,
masts, and rigging, and had two guns dismounted, the top-mast shot away
above the lower caps, the main-mast, bowsprit, and main-boom, rendered
unserviceable, the sails and rigging completely cut in pieces, and her
Commander, Capt. Hanchett, and eight men, wounded. Night coming on,
she grounded on the Ellboog; at daybreak two brigs were sent to her
assistance, and at seven she floated.

The enemy were very apprehensive lest our army should make an attempt
to pass the East Scheldt, near Zandvliet, opposite fort Bathz, which
they attacked on the 5th with twenty-eight gun-boats, but were driven
off by the batteries. The weather continued so bad until the 7th,
the wind blowing S.W. and S.S.W., that the sea blockade of Flushing
could not be accomplished, and the enemy continued to convey their
wounded soldiers to Cadzand, and also threw one thousand men across
the Scheldt, one mile and three-quarters, to reinforce the town. At
half-past five o'clock in the evening of the 7th the enemy made a
sortie on the right of the line from Flushing, but were repulsed and
pushed back at the point of the bayonet. While all these things were
going on, our regiment had been removed from the line-of-battle ship
into small craft, and anchored in the Sloe passage, between Walcheren
and South Beveland. On the morning of the 9th, ours, the light brigade,
composed of the second battalions of the 43rd, 52nd, and the Rifle
corps, part of Earl Rosslyn's division (two thousand and twenty-two
men) were under the command of Major Gen. Stewart. He considered,
from the nature of the service we were likely to be employed on, and
probably cut off from our baggage by dykes and rivers, that small black
knapsacks, with brown straps, would prove of essential service to the
officers: for these we had paid half-a-guinea each, previously to our
leaving England. However, subsequently, as he expected us to carry
them at brigade field-days, some little discussion arose on that head,
behind a wind-mill.

A day's salt pork and biscuit being served out, and all the officers
with their knapsacks strapped on their backs, we began our march;
the day was extremely sultry, without a breath of air; the road was
perfectly flat, as well as the whole face of the country, which was
intersected with ditches, covered with a thick ooze or vegetable
substance, and high dykes rising on each side of the way. The Paymaster
had joined the column, as the place of the greatest security. As
guns from the gun-boats were sounding at intervals, in front and
rear, we persuaded him that it was probable we might become engaged
without any previous warning, by a front, flank, or rear attack, which
information, added to the heat of the atmosphere, put him into such
a state of perspiration, that when we halted, a liquid stream of hot
water poured from his forehead, such as I have never before, nor since
beheld; added to which, his tailor had fitted his corpulent sides to a
nicety, although equal praise could not be bestowed on his hatter, who
had manufactured his cap so large, that it fell over his face like an
extinguisher, and the worst of it was, both his hands were occupied;
in his right he held his wig and drenched pocket-handkerchief, while
his left was in momentary request to disentangle his sabre from betwixt
his legs. "Well," said he, with a good-tempered smile, "if ever I
knew any thing like this!" and, notwithstanding his uncomfortable
plight, he cracked his jokes, and proved himself a man of more ready
wit, and possessing a greater fund of anecdote and humorous stories,
than any one I ever met with, so that he became a general favourite
throughout the regiment: but such a figure in a light infantry
jacket! such skirts, with pockets large enough to have stowed away
half the striplings of the corps! When the brigade was put in motion,
he remained in the middle of the way, as they passed him right and
left, and waited for the light waggons carrying our baggage; then
stowing himself comfortably away in one of them, he was brought to our
cantonments perfectly sick of campaigning.

As we passed along, we were much struck at the great cleanliness of
the cottages, and at the contented air of the well-dressed peasantry.
The females were decorated with silver or gold ornaments about their
persons, and many of them wore a plate of the same metal across their
foreheads. The little boys of five or six years old held pipes in their
mouths, smoking with all the gravity of men, and wore their hair long
behind, broad-brimmed hats, brown jackets, short breeches, shoes, and
silver buckles, precisely similar to the elders. We passed through
Ter-Goes, a fine old brick town, surrounded by earth ramparts and a wet
ditch; it opened its gates without making any resistance to Sir John
Hope's corps.

Continuing our march half a league farther on, we arrived at the clean
village of Cloting, containing a good church, and a handsome house in
the centre of it, which was the residence of the Burgomaster; we took
up our quarters in the different houses, and the men in the spacious
handsome barns, painted green, such as may be seen near gentlemen's
houses in England. Five companies of our regiment were detached to
another village. The humble dwellings of the peasantry bore an air of
comfort, and the abundantly supplied dairies, paved with well washed
tiles, presented a freshness seldom exhibited among the poorer classes
of other countries.—A considerable flotilla proceeded to Bathz,
where they arrived on the 11th; the enemy attacked the fort with two
frigates, one bearing a Vice Admiral's flag, thirty brigs, eight
luggers, one schooner, and fourteen gun boats; at the expiration of a
smart firing, they were beaten off, leaving six gun boats aground, five
being destroyed, and one brought in. In the afternoon of the same day,
Capt. Lord W. Stuart, commanding the Lavinia and nine other frigates,
availed himself of a light breeze from the westward, (notwithstanding
the tide was against the proceeding,) sailed up the west Scheldt, and
passed the batteries between Cadzand and Flushing; the ships were under
the enemy's fire for nearly two hours, without any material accident,
with the exception of a shell striking the L'Aigle, and falling through
her decks into the bread-room, where it exploded: one man was killed
and four wounded, and her stern frame much shattered. The Amethyst got
aground after passing Flushing.

On the 13th, the batteries before Flushing being completed, and some
frigates and bombs having taken their station, a fire was opened at
half past one P.M. from upwards of fifty pieces of heavy ordnance,
including mortars and howitzers, which was vigorously returned by the
enemy; an additional battery was finished during the night, of six
twenty-four-pounders, (worked by sailors,) and the whole continued
to play on the town; until late on the following day. At half-past
ten on the morning of the 14th, the following line of battle ships
(anchored in the Duerlo passage) got under weigh: the St. Domingo,
Blake, Repulse, Victorious, Denmark, Audacious, and Venerable,—and
ranged along the sea-front of the town, led in by Rear-Admiral Sir
R. Strachan; but before they had opened their fire, the wind came
more southerly, and the St. Domingo grounded inside the Dog-land; an
officer, not knowing her situation, passed inside of her, by which
means the Blake also grounded; the other ships were ordered to haul
off to anchor as at first intended. The Domingo was soon got off,
and the Blake became again afloat, and came to anchor with the rest
of the squadron; the ships continued to ply the enemy with a furious
cannonade until four in the afternoon, when the town presented a vast
conflagration, burning in all quarters. The firing having nearly
ceased from the ramparts, Gen. Monnet, the Governor was summoned
to surrender, but he having given an evasive answer, hostilities
recommenced and continued until two o'clock in the morning of the 15th,
when the enemy demanded a suspension of arms, and within an hour the
Governor surrendered the town, (when two detachments of the Royals
and 71st regiments took possession of its gates,) and the whole of
the garrison, prisoners of war, besides those already taken in the
different forts and islands of Walcheren, South Beveland, Shouwen,
Duivland, Brouwershaven, and Zierigkzee, with all the valuable stores
therein. The loss in killed, wounded, and missing of the British, during
the siege, was about seven hundred and twenty, including officers.

From this moment offensive operations seemed at an end: we were
surrounded with abundance, our days were occupied in the sports of
the field, our evenings passed at each others' quarters in idle and
pleasant conversation, pay was issued almost to the day that it was
due. Provisions of all descriptions were offered for sale at a very
low rate: tea, sugar, and coffee, were not half the price of the same
in England; wines, brandy, hollands, and liqueurs, might be purchased
for a mere trifle; and fat fowls or ducks for tenpence the pair. In
this land of plenty we were lulled into a fatal security, for, about
the 20th, the soldiers fell ill, staggered, and dropped in the ranks,
seized by dreadful fevers[10], and with such rapidity did this malady
extend, that in fourteen days, twelve thousand and eighty six soldiers
were in hospital on board ship, or sent to England; the deaths were
numerous, and sometimes sudden; convalescence hardly ever secure;
the disorders ultimately destroying the constitution, and causing
eventually the destruction of thousands in far distant climes.

The natives now became ill, and informed us that one-third of them
were confined to their beds every autumn until the frosty weather
set in, which checked the exhalations from the earth, and gave new
tone to their debilitated frames, and thereby stopped the progress
of the complaint. Independently of the records of the unhealthiness
of these islands, where every object depicts it in the most forcible
manner, the bottom of every canal that has communication with the sea
is thickly covered with an ooze, which, when the tide is out, emits a
most offensive effluvium; and every ditch that is filled with water, is
loaded with animal and vegetable substances. If persons living in these
islands from their infancy, who practise a cleanliness that cannot be
excelled, and live in good houses, cannot prevent the effects of the
climate, it may readily be supposed how much more a foreign army must
suffer. The inhabitants informed us, that in the preceding autumn, two
hundred French troops were quartered in the village, out of whom one
hundred and sixty had the fever, and seventy of them died.

Our landing had excited a great sensation in the north of France; so
much so, that numerous corps of the national guards marched to the
succour of Antwerp, only garrisoned when we first made our descent on
the coast with three thousand men, besides the eight thousand sailors
on board the fleet, that had retired up the Scheldt. Many of the
national guards suffered from the climate, and shortly returned to
their families with ruined constitutions.

The town of Flushing, after the siege, presented a deplorable
appearance, with many houses burnt down, and most of them unroofed,
and scarcely supplying sufficient covering for the sick soldiers, who
continued to increase so fast, that ten inhabitants to each regiment
were requested to assist as attendants in the hospitals; the medical
officers were extremely harrassed, numbers of them became incapable of
attending on their patients, being themselves seized by the same fatal
malady, so that, as the fever gained ground, the doctors diminished
in numbers. At one period, four hundred and ninety-eight soldiers
died in a fortnight in Walcheren, which place the Austrians were very
solicitous our troops should continue to occupy as long as any chance
remained for them against Napoleon, who was at this time in the very
heart of their empire.

Early in September, while at dinner, a sudden order reached us to move
towards the coast, when we instantly packed up and reached the beach
in two hours, where the troops began their embarkation. The captain of
the company, with agitated looks, ran towards me, and told me that, in
the hurry of moving off, he had left the whole of his company's books
in the corner of the room we had occupied, and that the commanding
officer had most positively refused him permission to fetch them. Under
these circumstances, and at his urgent entreaties, and promises to have
a boat in waiting on my return, I undertook the unpleasant excursion,
and, rapidly retracing my steps, I re-entered the village at a quick
pace, in little more than an hour; it appeared quite tranquil, as if
no foreigners had ever been amongst them. One or two natives only were
looking from their windows. A sudden thought now struck me that I might
be seized and made prisoner, which caused me much uneasiness; but yet
to decamp without accomplishing my object, was sorely against the
grain with me. While assailed by such conjectures, I entered the door
of the house that we had previously occupied, which I found open, and
saw the contented inmates enjoying a comfortable meal, nor did they
evince the least surprise at my reappearance. Without uttering a word,
and passing into the inner apartment, I seized the books, (the dinner
was still untouched on the table exactly as we had left it,) and with
hasty strides repassed the room where the family were seated, making
a slight inclination of the head: they half rose at seeing me loaded;
but not a syllable was exchanged between us. Some of the inhabitants
had now come out of their houses, and regarded me with suspicious
looks: I feigned indifference; but no sooner cleared the village,
than I started almost at speed, and had made great progress, when I
espied at a distance the light waggons and fat hollow-backed horses,
with flowing manes and tails, returning from the beach at a trot;
and, being aware that the soldiers were not very ceremonious on these
occasions, I was apprehensive the drivers of these vehicles might be
disposed to treat me in the same manner, or probably take me back as a
hostage. I therefore concealed myself behind a bank until they should
have passed by. Night soon came on, but I could descry the lights in
the ships' tops, and, in my hurry to follow their direction, I took
the wrong road, which led me into a field where it ended. However,
with the hope that a short way farther would enable me to reach the
beach, I darted onwards, and found a broad ditch impeding my farther
progress. It was in vain I ran up and down in search of a narrow part;
in almost a fit of desperation, I hurled the books across, one after
the other, tried my footing, retired some paces, and, at a run, sprang
across it with the greatest exertion, while a momentary joy gleamed
over my countenance, on mounting a bank, to find myself at the water's
edge. The lights were still stationary, but not a boat to be seen.
Owing to my great exertions and haste in passing over fourteen miles
of ground, I was in a profuse perspiration, which was soon succeeded
by a cold shivering, such as I imagined was the disorder incidental to
this swampy country. I feared that I should be left to perish before I
could reach the ship; a heavy dew fell, and I was almost perishing with
cold, having no other covering than my light infantry jacket, sash,
and pantaloons, without drawers or a waistcoat of any sort. Frequently
I was forced to run up and down to keep my blood in circulation,
and my teeth from chattering. In this manner, alternately sitting,
running, or casting my eye towards the lights, which, at times, and
in the exuberance of my fancy, I thought were receding, I passed the
dreary hours of the night. At daybreak, some sailors pulling in shore,
discovered my flying pocket handkerchief, and came to my relief, and,
after a considerable pull, we found the regiment on board the Ganges.
Then, giving my last dollar to the sailors for grog, I mounted the
side of the ship, and descended into the ward-room, where I found
the officers scattered about, and lying on a main-sail, that had
been spread out for their accommodation. Delivering the books to the
owner, I was fully determined never again to volunteer such a Quixotic
excursion. The officer assured me that all his endeavours to procure a
boat had been unavailing.

The next day two hundred sick soldiers and officers were removed on
board small craft to proceed to England, and, as I happened to be one
of those for detachment, we left the line-of-battle ship, went on board
a transport, and steered our course for the Downs, where we arrived in
two days, and cast anchor for forty-eight hours, then again got under
weigh, and buffeted about for four days more, between the Downs and
Harwich, where we landed our sick soldiers and officers. When we were
stepping on shore, a countryman, looking towards us, exclaimed, "There
goes the King's hard bargains."

The evening we landed, a fine healthy-looking young serjeant brought
me the orderly-book,—and, on visiting the hospital at ten o'clock
the next morning, I heard he had been dead one hour. So much for the
Walcheren malady! In fact, the most fatal battle could hardly have made
such havock in our ranks. Thus, in the short space of seven months,
the English coast had been inundated with sick soldiers and scattered
regiments from the Land's-end to Yarmouth. Walcheren was finally
evacuated in the end of December.

Napoleon had humbled his rivals, had ridden out the storm raised
against him, and repulsed all his enemies. Pope Pius the VIIth had
indeed thundered forth a spiritual excommunication against him and
his followers at the beginning of the Austrian campaign; but he had
unluckily fallen into the power of his temporal master, who, seated
in the saloon of the Palace of the Tuileries, was meditating new
conquests, and weaving silken cords for the Emperor of Austria's

[Footnote 10: The sailors on board ship did not suffer much from the


    Progress of distemper on the re-landing of the regiment in
      England—Change of quarters—Amusements—Colchester—An
      eventful water party—The author obtains leave to join the
      detachment proceeding to Portugal—A Review—A tale of
      dental dislocation—Embarkation at Spithead—Landing in
      Portugal—Incidents of an evening—Amusements at Lisbon, and
      departure from that city.

The regiment soon re-landed in England, and marched to Colchester,
where a vast number of the men died, of ours as well as all the other
corps, thereby keeping the clergy in constant requisition to repeat the
funeral service over the rudely-shaped coffins of the dead soldiers.
Nearly the whole of the corps to which I belonged were laid up with
ague and fever, to such a degree, that those able to walk and the few
fit for duty were removed to Sudbury, for the benefit of change of air.
This proved very beneficial and restored the strength of those who had
not been very badly affected with the malady.

At the expiration of two months we were able to muster again about two
hundred, out of six, fit for duty. Those officers whose health was
sufficiently re-established frequented the balls at Bury St. Edmunds,
which were extremely well attended by the neighbouring families; added
to these, occasional jaunts and a few private parties made the time
pass pleasantly enough until we were ordered to Weeley Barracks, where
we spent a sombre winter, (with two other regiments) which passed
without any occurrence worth mentioning, except that of the garrison
being called out to fire a _feu de joie_ in celebration of George the
Third's having reigned over this country for fifty years.

In the spring we shifted our quarters to Colchester, being perfectly
sickened of our rustic amusements of shooting larks, skating, or pacing
up and down a solitary barrack-square of great extent, and surrounded
by a rich grass country, without any thing worthy the appellation of a
village for a considerable distance.

Soon afterwards myself and another officer went to Portsmouth to
receive volunteers. The officers of a regiment invited us to dine with
them at Gosport, and so plied us with peppered turkeys' legs, devilled
biscuits and port wine, that we were unable to beat a retreat until
two o'clock in the morning. On reaching the ferry, there was not a
boat to be seen; wherefore, from necessity, we were reduced to content
ourselves with a seat on some stone steps, and there to await the
rising sun, whose beams no sooner crimsoned the western hemisphere,
than we hailed the first morning ferry boat, and reached our lodging,
right glad to quaff a smoking cup of coffee in order to settle our
stomachs from the last night's debauch. In a few days we left the
rustic vicinity of Portsmouth, and reached the red-bricked town of
Colchester, where our time passed in such amusements as are usually
practised at a provincial quarter and are so well known to most of the
British army, who have had the honor of promenading up and down its

One day a water party was talked of, and no sooner proposed than put
into execution. A boat was procured and rowers selected—the rest of
the party being armed with fowling pieces for the destruction of gulls
and carrion crows, or such other birds as might chance to cross us
during our acquatic excursion on the river Colne. The boat being put
in motion, after an hour's hard pull, the river became considerably
wider, the tide was on the ebb, the weather propitious, and so much
way made, that we resolved to obtain a glimpse of the sea, which soon
being accomplished, we pulled in shore, made good our landing, and
selected the most rural spot to partake of those viands prepared for
the occasion, which, being spread out on nature's green carpet, were
speedily devoured by eight hungry young officers, and every bottle
of wine and brown stout emptied to the very dregs. The party, full
of hilarity, then returned to their slender bark; but great was our
surprise to find it high and dry, the tide nearly out, and only a
narrow stream remaining of the spacious Colne water we had quitted a
few hours before. A launch being necessary, our jackets and caps were
hurled into the boat, and, by the most strenuous exertions, it was
shoved through the mud, and again afloat; then rapidly plying our oars,
we made some progress, notwithstanding that the tide was still running
out; when at length the water entirely failed, leaving us aground,
amid channel, with extensive banks of mud rising to a considerable
height on each side of us,—the sight of which afforded much mirth
at the idea of our having rowed during high tide over hill and dale;
so much for our geographical knowledge and nautical skill! While in
this plight, one of the party was in the act of divesting himself of
superfluous dress, and tying the articles into a bundle, pleading in
excuse that an appointment with a _fair damsel_ obliged him to land.
A noisy debate ensued amongst us: by way of intimidating him at the
same time, a threat was added, that should he attempt to desert, some
small shot should be discharged at him. While we were loading the guns,
he sprang from the bark and scrambled some yards, assailed by the
vociferations of the party; but, before he had reached the prescribed
distance, twenty yards, his situation became most alarming: every
succeeding step, he sank deeper into the mire; and he was now up to
his middle, calling out for help, forty yards from us, and one hundred
from the shore. To return was impossible,—the fowling pieces dropped
from our hands, as we watched his motions in fearful anxiety, every
instant expecting to see him disappear. Despair gave him strength and
perseverance: but he became a mass of mud, and his features were no
longer distinguishable. I can truly assert, that at no period of my
life did I ever feel stronger feelings of commiseration; a hundred
weight seemed at my chest. In this way he continued his exertions, and,
from time to time, while resting, it could scarcely be ascertained
whether he was not gone altogether, so identified was he with the
mud. Again he moved, and at the expiration of half an hour's toil, he
emerged from his miry bed, presenting the appearance of an alligator,
after a wallowing immersion, more than any thing else! As he reached
the shore, the most unbounded expressions of joy on our part hailed his
deliverance from his perilous situation. Then, spreading out his bundle
of garments in a very dirty state, he put them on, waved his hand, and
speedily vanished from our view—whilst we, less adventurous, or not
being so particularly engaged on that evening, were left shivering and
lightly clothed, until some time after dark, when we had sufficient
depth of water to enable us to steer our course. When at length in
motion, the wind being astern, the only cloak amongst us was hoisted
by way of a sail, but it was long after midnight before we reached the
place from whence we had started.

About this time (June 1, 1811), three hundred and twenty men of the
second battalion, with a proportionate number of officers, were ordered
to proceed to Portsmouth for embarkation to join the first battalion
in Portugal. On the morning of their departure the bugles sounded the
march. My mortification was extreme, for positively the last officer
was selected to accompany them, and two of my seniors stood by my side,
who of course had a prior claim to mine, and who could not succeed in
obtaining permission to go; so that all hope for me seemed now entirely
to vanish, and we were obliged to content ourselves by accompanying
them a short way on the road, until their first halt,—the merry notes
of the horns striking up "over the hills and far away," the signal for
wives to be torn from their husbands, children from their fathers,
friends from their companions,—many bidding a long and last farewell.
The detachment followed the broad path of their profession, while we,
through dire necessity, took that which led to peace and pasturage
amongst the Essex graziers; but no sooner had we reached our quiet
quarters, than another consultation took place, between Lieutenants
the Honourable Charles Gore, Wilkinson, and myself, wherein we pledged
ourselves, that the trio should not be separated for individual
interest, (and, as I was the junior officer, that point was of
consequence to me); then hastening to the house of the senior officer,
we assailed him _ensemble_ by entreaties and arguments, until, finding
we were bent on carrying our point, he consented to forward a memorial
to the Duke of York, penned by us, which he signed. That done, we ran
down to the post office, popped it into the box, and by return of post
a favourable answer was given. What a moment! Gore and myself rubbed
our hands and the little corporal Wilky (for that rank he had borne at
the Military College at Marlow, and still continued the title), fell
on his knees and returned thanks to Heaven, for his good fortune. Our
heavy baggage was crammed into the store, and ourselves, with light
hearts, that evening proceeded to London.

Notwithstanding the usual hurry and preparation when going on foreign
service, I managed to find my way to Wimbledon Common, where, I heard,
a grand review was to take place on the 10th of June of the household
cavalry, a brigade of hussars, commanded by Lord Paget, (now Marquis of
Anglesea), a brigade of the foot guards, a battalion of foot artillery,
wearing cross belts and white pouches, armed with muskets, and a
multitude of volunteers, besides a proportionable train of artillery.
When the Prince Regent rode down the line, I was much struck at the
Duke of York's preceding him, dismounting in front of the two regiments
of foot guards, and standing with his sword across his body, while his
royal brother passed. This was an excellent example of discipline, so
like the prince, the soldier, and the gentleman.

The next day, leaving the metropolis, we arrived at the place of
embarkation, and so managed as to meet the detachment about the same
distance from Portsmouth, that we had left them on the road from
Colchester; being not a little anxious to observe the astonishment
that our unexpected reappearance would create amongst them.

My friend instantly ran towards me and expressed the happiness he felt
at meeting me in such a way; and, almost in the same breath, said,
"Oh! we have had such fun this morning!" On leaving Chichester at the
break of day, the head of the column had been thrown into the greatest
confusion by the assistant surgeon; "Halt! halt!" cried he, "stop,
pray stop; you are trampling on my teeth," at the same moment throwing
himself on the ground, and groping in the dust for four artificial
teeth that had dropped from his mouth. The officers and soldiers were
confounded at his exclamations, while the wondering circle encompassed
him in mute expectation. At length, having put several questions,
to which they only obtained confused and unintelligible answers,
an officer ordered the men to proceed; and several voices, joining
in chorus, exclaimed:—"Why, he's mad; the doctor's intellects are
impaired;"—for they did not fully comprehend his real loss, owing
to his wild incoherent and extraordinary gesticulations—nor did he
overtake the party or make his reappearance until they had halted at
the half-way house, where he found them seated round a smoking tea urn,
hot muffins, toast, chickens, ham, and all those little delicacies
so tempting after an early walk to those possessing youth, health,
and _good grinders_. The woe-begone countenance of the doctor, on his
entering the room, caused a momentary commiseration; but no sooner did
he open his mouth, and display the vacant orifice, which no longer left
any doubt of the nature of the loss he had sustained, than bursts of
merriment, and noisy pity, were the only consolation the unlucky and
crest-fallen _medico_ received—who merely vented his wrath in broken
monosyllables, no longer daring to trust his mouth with a laugh.

The Monarch transport of three masts, and of considerable tonnage, was
lying at anchor at Spithead for our reception. Nearly the whole of us
being embarked, and the Blue Peter flying at the mast head on the 18th,
there was a sufficient warning to the few left on shore to hasten on
board. The sails being hoisted, and spreading their white bosoms to the
gale, we cut through the water, with a spanking breeze, cleared the
Needles, and, steering a prosperous course, in three days were brought
into the Bay of Biscay. The wind howled, the vessel heaved and cracked,
one instant on high, and the next moment hurried downwards as if about
to be ingulphed and buried in the mighty waters; the huge waves lashed
and beat against her sides with foaming violence, whilst every loose
article rattled about the cabin; the strife of pots and kettles being
only interrupted by the smashing of cups and saucers, and other brittle
utensils. During this combination of sounds I lay in my berth, with a
wash-hand basin betwixt my legs, ready at a moment's warning, and with
my eyes, half-closed, fixed on a solitary candle, sliding to and fro on
the table, and threatening to extinguish itself into one of the lower
berths. Thus stretched out, and sinking into a disturbed and feverish
slumber, I soon again awoke with my tongue parched, a horrible taste
in my mouth, and my lips glewed together, counting the tedious hours
of the coming morn, till I should be enabled to procure a refreshing
glass of water. At last the happy moment arrived, my trembling hand was
put forth to grasp the liquid stream—my mouth opened—but my nose gave
warning of that which smelt and tasted like the Harrowgate Spa, and was
any thing but _aqua pura_. The next evening I made an effort to gain
my sea legs, crept out of the cabin, mounted on the deck, and slipped
and staggered towards a poultry-coop, on which I sank in a reclining
position, to inhale the freshness of the air. The dark and broad clouds
flitted past, and at intervals veiled the moon, which seemed flying
away in the opposite direction, and smiling in derision at our clumsy
progress, (with double reefed topsails,) over the troubled waves.
Perpetual motion seemed at last accomplished, as the bows and stern of
the vessels rose alternately, and in rapid succession. In the morning
a thick haze hung over the atmosphere, through which we could discern
the outlines of the ponderous mountains of Spain, rising one above the
other, until their gloomy shadows were lost to view in the interior.

On the tenth morning, with a gentle breeze, and spotless sky, we glided
along the rugged coast of Portugal, and observed a number of barks
making towards us, decorated with white flapping sails, and filled with
swarthy raggamuffin pilots, who were hallooing, pulling, and hauling at
each other in a confused way, which gave the frail bark the appearance
of being about to overturn keel uppermost, and leave its brown visaged
cocked-hatted navigators floundering and splashing for their existence
in the briny waves of the dark blue ocean. Shortly afterwards we
entered the sparkling waters of the Tagus, skirted by purple-capt
mountains, curling vines, fragrant orange groves, and a white city,
reflected in its glassy waters, canopied by an azure sky, a golden sun,
and a genial atmosphere. We dropped our anchor within a short distance
of Lisbon.

The following day, the 28th, we landed, and the soldiers took up their
quarters at the Convento di Carmo. The interior of the city by no means
corresponds with the exterior, as viewed at a distance, owing to the
general narrowness of the streets that are choked up in some places
with heaps of filth, continually stirred up, and eagerly devoured by
packs of prowling and half-famished dogs.

Towards evening a small piece of paper was handed to myself and friend,
with the name of a Portuguese inserted, at whose house we were to be
quartered. Having made the necessary inquiries of a bragging native,
he pointed out to us the direction we ought to take, and also made
motions, by way of intimating to us our good fortune in having so
spacious an abode for our accommodation. Having traversed over a great
portion of the town, in search of our billet, we at length came to a
large gloomy-looking mansion, the door of which we found open, and
ascended a dirty stone stair case, where at each landing-place we found
ponderous doors: but it was in vain we kicked, thumped, and called; the
echo of our own voices was the only answer returned.

Night coming on, we again sallied forth into the streets, and, while
passing near a church, we met a procession following a deceased
nobleman for interment. Large wax tapers being offered to us, about
four feet long, and thick in proportion, we each grasped one, and
entered the church with others. The lid of the coffin being removed, we
beheld the pale corpse attired in a magnificent satin dress, and mantle
superbly embroidered with gold: the pantaloons were of white silk, and
full satin rosettes were attached to the velvet shoes. A full-dress
court sword lay by his side, and a black hat of velvet, with a nodding
plume of ostrich feathers, looped up with a brilliant stone, rested
at the head of the coffin. His costume, in short, was similar to that
worn by Don Juan on our own stage. The ceremony being concluded, a man
stepped forward with a basket filled with quick lime, which he threw
on the dead body in the presence of the spectators: that done, all the
by-standers instantly retired, and gave up their tapers to persons
waiting to receive them at the church door.

Much fatigued, we returned, and reached the cloisters of the convent,
in search of our servants and baggage. While we were debating on the
best method of securing a place of rest for the night, an athletic
figure came stalking towards us, enveloped in the garments of a friar,
having a fine dark countenance, and jet black hair cut short and shaved
on the crown of his head, about two inches in diameter. He demanded how
it was that we seemed wandering about at so late an hour of the night.
We briefly informed him of our situation, when he most courteously
invited us to follow him and led us through several passages and up
many flights of stairs to a couple of small bed rooms at the very top
of the convent; then retired for a short time, and re-appeared, loaded
with wine and sweetmeats. My friend had previously been in the country,
and therefore could make himself understood; and, as he was acting
quarter-master (at eighteen) for the detachment, he was glad of this
opportunity which now offered to be near the men, to enable him to
superintend the serving out of rations early on the following morning.
Our host proved to be the abbot, and after a short conversation he
wished us a sound repose to follow our sea voyage, and retired.

During our stay at Lisbon, we made a point of seeing the handsome
churches, the opera, the grand aqueduct and other curiosities. The
night previously to our quitting this place, the Consul gave a ball, to
which we were invited; and I was surprised to observe the Portuguese
gentlemen in coloured clothes, with pink and various-coloured silk
stockings. The costume of the ladies was gaudy, but their dresses were
ill made and worse put on. We only danced one set, and, some hours
having elapsed without any appearance of supper, (which was of serious
consideration to us, as we were ordered to be on the banks of the Tagus
the next morning at day light for the purpose of embarking in boats
for Villada, some distance up the river,) I explored a suite of rooms
at the extremity of which I espied on a sideboard a huge dish filled
with wafer cakes: but, not wishing to attack such a prize without an
ally, I hastened to my companion to communicate my good luck, who,
without further ado, assisted at their demolition. Although they
were the largest of the kind I had ever before seen, our young teeth
cracked them with an extraordinary rapidity; smash! smash! they went,
and two layers had now disappeared, when a Portuguese attendant out
of livery, observing such dreadful havoc, advanced to their rescue,
assuring us with solemn physiognomy that they were reserved for the
ladies. Hostilities ceased on their protector's consenting to procure
us a bottle of wine, two goblets of which we hastily swallowed, and
instantly sallied out into the odoriferous streets. "_Agua fresca,
agua fresca_" resounded from all quarters, while buckets of the most
nauseous contents fell with a splash from the upper stories of houses
into the space below—like the bursting of water spouts. "Conceal
yourself," cried my friend, "or you will be scented and sprinkled
all over." In this manner, running the gauntlet at every turning, we
proceeded until we reached the dark and narrow flight of stairs leading
to our heavenly apartments, where we had no sooner entered than I put
my foot on the body of a man, who lay stretched at full length across
the doorway. I hung back, and we regroping our way down into the court
yard, and alarming the guard, lights were procured: the rays of the
lamp fell on the face of my drunken snoring servant, encircled with
bottles—having emptied the contents into his own stomach. From the
effects of this he had scarcely recovered at the hour of our departure,
leaving me the agreeable task of packing up, and seeing my mule safe
off, as the baggage and animals were to cross the grand lines of Torres
Vedras, and meet us at the place of disembarkation.

Passing through the principal streets, we entered the boats for our
conveyance (after a stay of eleven days at Lisbon) and landed in the
evening at Villada.


    March to Santarem and Abrantes—Scenery and incidents at
      Aronches—Junction with some other regiments—Military scene in
      a wood—Anticipatory reflections on the fate of some of the
      author's comrades—Quarters at Portalagre, Castello de Vida and
      Marvao—Bridge of boats across the Tagus—Contiguous
      scenery—Horrors of travelling for invalids in the Portuguese cars.

Our animals and baggage having joined us the next day, we took the road
towards Santarem, and about dusk reached the causeway leading up a
steep hill into the town, where the French, previously to their retreat
under Marshal the Prince of Essling[11], had thrown the dead from their
hospitals into the wells,—the idea of which caused such horrible
thoughts, that we could scarcely summon up sufficient resolution to
drink while at that place.

The excessive heat of the following day having somewhat subsided,
towards the cool of the evening we began our march, but, by some
unaccountable accident, took the wrong road for upwards of a league
before the mistake was found out. Retreading our steps, we at length
regained the identical spot from whence we had previously started
nearly three hours before; glancing my eye towards the battlements of
the town, a smile prophetic passed my countenance, that I should not
again behold its turrets. Turning our backs, and pursuing the right
road, we gaily tramped along toward Golegam; and, as the morning
dawned, I was loudly knocking for admittance at the door of a small
house, on the confines of the church-yard, that was strewed with skulls
which had been torn from the sepulchres and graves, in search of gold,
by the French soldiery.

After the usual halt we pursued our march through Punhete to Abrantes,
where two of us were nearly carried away amongst the quicksands, while
bathing in the river Tagus, and only reached the shore by making the
greatest efforts. Various individuals had been drowned at this place by
the current.

Having halted here one whole day, we crossed over the bridge of boats
to the southern province of the Alentejo, and entered Gaviao, where I
was billeted in a very poor house. At night I entered a recess, much
fatigued, and, upon quitting the mattrass in the morning, the bugs had
made such a feast on my right leg from the hip to the very sole of my
foot, so that I could scarcely walk, and was in a most dreadful state
of irritation.

Passing onwards in our march, on the ninth day, we ascended a high hill
on the summit of which stood Aronches, commanding an extensive prospect
over a diversified sandy country, intersected with forests, vineyards,
rocks, and small fields of Indian corn, and encompassed by dilapidated
walls formed of loose stones carelessly heaped one on another without
mortar. The streets of the town were narrow, and almost deserted, with
huge shapeless rocks at every few yards, rearing their heads, and
blocking up the way, whilst a solitary Portuguese was seen striking
an old battered guitar with all his fingers (as on a tambourine) and
hallooing forth some ditty loud enough to be heard in the distant
valleys. The heat of the day was quite overpowering, the firmament was
of heavenly blue, while the sun shone forth in full splendour, forcing
us to retire to some shady spot from its scorching rays, and to take
some repose after the fatigues of the march.

Towards the close of the evening we again stood on the ramparts to
inhale the cool and delicious air. The shades of night had scarcely
hidden the face of the country from our view, when the moon, rising in
all her grandeur, threw a pale light around, and tipped with silver
the battlements of those venerable towers built by the Moors, which
for centuries had endured, and had frowned defiance on the flitting
shadows of many generations, gliding by their grey walls unheeded
and forgotten. As we gazed in sweet contemplation on the surrounding
scenery, all nature seemed hushed, and the universe sunk into slumber,
when suddenly the bell of a monastery close at hand tolled loudly,
and in the gentle breeze, at intervals, we heard the solemn dirge
of a religious procession, which, by degrees, arose on the ear, and
gradually encreasing became louder, and swelled into such an awful
bass strain, as one might conceive to inspire reflection in the firm,
horrors in the nervous, and all the terrors of purgatory in the dying.
The long procession of monks passed us, wrapped in their sombre
drapery, as if they had emerged from the very bowels of the earth. The
scene was impressive. After we had retired, my slumbers were disturbed
by the horrors of the nightmare; and, when the merry rays of the sun
sparkled in at the windows the next morning, I felt as if delivered out
of some dungeon, longed for the camp, and hoped that, should fate cut
short my career, the sun and moon might alternately throw their rays
over my expiring body, rather than that I should die a lingering death,
surrounded by wax tapers and priest-craft, and then buried in satin
and gold, and finally extinguished by a basket of quick lime.

On the 20th of July we descended into the valley, and, at the edge of
a wood, awaited the coming of the division, from an advanced camp on
their way to Castello de Vida. Every eye was on the stretch, and in the
distance we descried a cloud of dust rolling towards us, the bright
sparkling rays of the sun-beams playing on the soldiers' breast plates,
when suddenly the leading regiment of the light division burst forth;
their bronzed countenances and light knapsacks, and their order of
march, all united to inspire a conviction that their early discipline
had not only been maintained amidst privations, battles and camps, but
had become matured by experience. They had traversed mountains, and
forded rivers; the grim and icy hand of death had grasped many in the
unhealthy marshes of the Alentejo, and with sure effect had scattered
balls amidst their ranks without distinction: yet the remainder of
these veterans were still bent onwards, to gather fresh laurels in
the rugged and uncertain paths of fortune. Seven regiments of light
infantry and riflemen defiled before us with their thread-bare jackets,
their brawny necks loosened from their stocks, their wide and patched
trowsers of various colours, and brown-barrelled arms slung over
their shoulders, or carelessly held in their hands, whilst a joyous
buzz ran through the cross-belted ranks, as their soldier-like faces
glanced towards us to greet many of their old comrades now about to
join in their arduous toils after a long separation. A cloud of dust
alone marked their further progress as they receded from our view.
Following in succession, we brought up the rear. At the expiration of
an hour's march, we entered a wood, formed column, called the roll,
and the whole division was then dismissed. The assembled multitude of
voices, the tearing and cutting down of branches of trees, crackling
of fires, rattling of canteens, shooting of bullocks through the
head, and the hurrying of parties of soldiers for rum and biscuit for
rations, the neighing of horses, braying asses and rampant mules, all
resounded throughout the forest, giving new life and merry echoes to
its most intimate recesses. Groups of officers stood in circles; every
countenance seemed decked in smiles, and a hearty welcome greeted us
from all hands.

Under the wide-spreading branches of a venerable cork-tree, decorated
with pack-saddles, accoutrements, and other military trappings, dinner
was served up and laid out on a pair of hampers, which served us
instead of a table. Beef, biscuit, tea, rum, and wine, composed our
fare, it being a usual custom to join breakfast and dinner, so as
to make one meal serve for the twenty-four hours, the troops merely
halting to cook and refresh themselves during the heat of the day.
A more happy meal, I can safely say, I never partook of; and with
infinite admiration did I regard the purple jackets and battered
epaulettes of my companions. Our small keg of wine being emptied, the
word passed to pack up and accoutre; and, in an incredibly short space
of time, the column re-formed. The "assembly" sounded (the signal of
march) threes, from the right of companies, the bands struck up, and at
the end of two hours' march, and towards nightfall, we entered another
wood. The same ceremony gone through as already described, the blankets
were spread out, the earth our bed, knapsacks our pillows, and the
overhanging trees our canopy; the busy hum of life no longer vibrated
through the bivouac, and thousands of soldiers slumbered and reposed
their weary limbs, lying scattered throughout the forest, or around the
dying embers of expiring fires. My companions insisted on stretching
themselves on each side of me, protesting that they ought to do thus,
as a protection against cold for the first two or three nights, since
a very heavy dew fell, so as almost to wet through the blankets,
notwithstanding the great heat of the weather by day. For some time I
was unable to close my eyes, owing to some insects flocking up my legs
in swarms, and creating much irritation.

Let us, for a moment, withdraw the veil of futurity, and make a few
anticipations. On my right tranquilly slumbers a youthful warrior of
sixteen years old, and on my left unconsciously sleeps the other, one
year older. Lieutenant E. Freer is doomed to undergo two more years
of the toils of war, to suffer sickness and privation, and, at the
sanguinary assault of Badajoz, to receive a severe wound in the upper
part of the thigh; and lastly, at the age of nineteen, while in the
Pyrenees, a ball passes through his right arm, and enters his side: he
staggers, utters three words, and falls a lifeless corpse amid those
dreary regions!

Lieutenant J. Considine, at the assault of Badajoz, receives a ball
through his body, and, stretched on the damp sod, enveloped in
darkness, bleeds inwardly. A light is held over his pale face, and
discovers the blood flowing from his mouth. Borne, however, to a place
of security, he recovers. The next year he is tormented by a malignant
fever, and afterwards, on the highest pinnacle of the Pyrenees, a ball
strikes him; his thigh-bone is broken near the hip: he cries for help.
I look down: he lies prostrate between my legs. The balls carry death
and destruction around: we are under the walls storming a fort, and
fighting hand to hand. Four soldiers attempt to carry him off, and,
not being aware of the place of his wound, hoist him up, and turn his
left foot outwards over his shoulder; by which means the thigh-bone is
completely broken asunder. His screams are dreadful, and two of the
soldiers fall dead, pierced with balls. The battle ended, he is carried
to a place of security, where he eventually recovers!—and he now
commands the 53d regiment.

Early the next morning we were again on the road. The martial music
struck up, and continued to play for a short distance: the word
passed to march at ease: conversation then commenced. The soldiers
lighted their pipes; and, before the sun had reached its meridian,
we filed into Portalegre. The streets were marked off, in the first
instance, for different corps; then the houses, again, subdivided
amongst officers and soldiers; the latter portioned off according to
the size of the different dwellings; the butt ends of the soldiers'
firelocks serving as knockers, to rouse the sulky inmates, who would
fain plead ignorance of the arrival of so many guests. It was by no
means an uncommon occurrence for owners of houses to try all kinds of
expedients, by absence, paltry excuses, or otherwise, to drive away
the tired officers in disgust, who presented billets of lodgement.
One day, an officer on the staff had patiently waited some time at
a door without being able to gain admittance, until at length the
_patron_ walked up from the street and feigned civility, making a
low bow, and saying to the officer, "_Senhor_, I have no key;" when
the officer returned his salute, coolly lifted up his long leg, and
applied it to the door with such force that it flew open at the first
blow—then turning to the astonished Portuguese, said "_Senhor, tiengo
bon chave_"[12], and at a slow march and with clanking sabre, took
possession of the house. From that day he was known by the appellation
of _Bon chave_ throughout the army.

Another division entered the town the same day. The army was composed
of eight divisions of infantry, besides cavalry and artillery; the
former force was known throughout the army by the following familiar
appellations: "the gentlemen's sons," "the surprisers," "the fighting
division," "the supporters," "the invisibles," "the never heard of,"
"the all-sorts," and "the division:" but, before the end of this most
sanguinary war, they all fought again and again, covering themselves
with fame and lasting glory.

The following day we proceeded to Castello de Vida, an ancient
fortified place within a league of Marvao. The first brigade entered
the town, and the second bivouacked in a grove without its walls. The
adjacent country presented a wild appearance; but more particularly the
latter town, which was perched on a rugged and stupendous mountain,
inaccessible on every side, save only one approach, and even that
impracticable for carriages, the road winding under the overhanging
shelving of rocks, others of which reared their rugged points in the
very middle of this (hardly to be so termed) pathway. A party of
us with difficulty ascended to this strange place, at a season of
the year when every particle of vegetation is parched and dried up.
The adjacent grey precipices presented a frightful wilderness,—the
hiding-place of innumerable wolves. The mind of the beholder on
surveying such a prospect became perplexed how so barren a spot, even
at the remotest period of antiquity, should have been fixed on for
any human habitation, far more for a fortification. Some cannon of
ancient construction were still on the ramparts, but few mounted,
and even the carriages of those mouldering to decay. Here and there
a few miserable Portuguese were observed basking in a sunny corner,
grouped and huddled together, and consisting of young and old women
with dark countenances, and still darker tresses, enveloped in shabby
blue cloth cloaks, and extracting _piochos_ from each other's heads;
that occupation being the greatest source of delight and amusement
amongst them. Their general food consisted of roasted chesnuts, washed
down with cold spring water—which caused their teeth to decay at a
very early age; and when they could procure a little dried fish, or
_sardines_, with black sour bread, they would consider it a point
of luxury. The extreme heat of the weather, and the exertions that
we had used to reach this spot, created excessive thirst; looking
round, therefore, in search of a house of entertainment, we espied a
leafless branch of a tree suspended over a doorway, which bespoke the
object of our search. On our entering and demanding wine, the corner
of a pig-skin was untied, out of which spouted the wine into a filthy
measure. It was strongly impregnated with the taste of the skin, about
milk warm, and exceedingly thick, owing to its having been recently
removed from a mule's back. These animals are usually loaded with
two dried pig-skins, sewed up and slung across a pack saddle for the
conveyance of wine from one place to the other—the muleteer being
astride in the middle, and, above all, singing a wild air, and beating
time with his heels against the bags.

Quitting this isolated place, and returning to our quarters, we
remained there two or three days, and then resumed our march towards
the northern frontier. The first night we halted in a wood near
Niza. The next morning, an hour before day light, we started; and,
while passing over the summit of a high hill, as the morning dawned,
we observed a thick mist overspreading an extensive valley. As the
sun rose, its refulgent light pierced through the white fog, which
resembled a beautiful floating sea, out of which peeped forth the
tops of hills covered with investing shrubs. As the rolling mist
passed away, so these apparent islands enlarged, until nothing of this
enchanting illusion remained, except a bare country covered with _gum
cistus_, (a small tree,) producing a most sickly smell, and the more
particularly to those with empty stomachs. After a fatiguing weary
march, half suffocated by heat, added to which our eyes, nose, and
mouth, were filled with sand, we descended the pass of Villa Velha,
where we observed a number of vultures perched on the pinnacles
of inaccessible rocks, as if watching our motions, or waiting in
anticipation of more devoted victims.

Crossing the Tagus by the bridge of boats, we bivouacked under the
agreeable shade of an olive grove. The surrounding scenery presented
every where a beautiful, romantic, and grand spectacle; the river
foamed over the rocks that had fallen into its dark stream from the
overhanging crags. The narrow road running at the base of the adjacent
mountains was filled with loose stones; woe, therefore, to the
sore-footed soldier who happened to stumble amongst them! Woe to the
sick or wounded to whose lot it fell to be placed in those Portuguese
cars, rudely constructed, with small solid wooden wheels, revolving on
an unoiled axletree, and causing an indescribable creeking noise to be
heard at a very considerable distance; sounds so horrible, that the
bigotted peasantry declare they frighten away the evil spirit of Old
Nick himself!

The jolting of these vehicles frequently tore off the plasters, and
ripped open anew the wounds of the suffering soldiers; nor was it
at all unusual to behold the sick, wounded, and dying, with pallid
countenances expressive of unheard-of agonies, while these engines of
torture, drawn by a pair of bullocks, with their heads thrust under a
shapeless piece of wood, (for the purpose of yoking them together,)
rolled on their heavy way. The conductor guided them with a long pole,
with a piece of pointed iron at the end of it, which he poked into the
beasts' necks, and directed them by such sort of "sharp practice."

[Footnote 11: Massena.]

[Footnote 12: A jargon mixture of the Portuguese, Spanish, and
French languages was frequently resorted to in our anxiety to make
ourselves understood by the natives, and when one word failed another
was substituted. An officer who had just entered the country was
most anxious to procure an egg, and having failed to make himself
understood, as a last resource, he cut a piece of _pipe-clay_ into the
shape of an egg, and was instantly supplied.]


    March continued—Wild and striking aspect of the country—Excellence
      of discipline—Camp followers—Spanish peasant girls and
      men—Plain of Fuente de Guinaldo—Reflections on a soldier's
      life—A vegetable conflagration—Village of Martiago—Difficulties
      of the French—Arrival in cantonments—The paymaster's

Continuing our route through the town of Castello Branco and several
villages, we obtained to the left a view of the tremendous ridge of
snow-capt mountains of the Sierra d'Estrella. The barrier of bare and
rugged rocks towards the Spanish side, when gilded by the departing
glare of the setting sun, assumes the grandest appearance, and, in the
revellings of imagination, a thousand palaces of burnished gold may
be fancied amid these adamantine rocks, vieing with each, other in
height and endless variety of form. Afar off, an old monastery might
be descried, perched on the summit of bare and wild precipices; its
spiral turrets shooting on high, and encompassed by the immensity
of space; the frowning battlements overhanging the valley below, and
threatening to overwhelm the passing traveller with loose stones and
crumbling ruins—while the deep tones of the monastic bell chimed the
vesper hour. On a solitary eminence a lonely shepherd stood, tending
his flock, with a carbine slung across his shoulder, and a couple of
wolf-dogs crouching at his feet, their necks encircled by strong iron
collars bristling with long spikes, to protect them against the gripe
of the voracious wolves. All around seemed of other times in this
precipitous part of the country, composed principally of solid rock.
The rude hand of time had identified towns and villages with their
primitive stones; houses had fallen to decay, but nothing new had
arisen on the ruins; streets branched out, but it was no wise uncommon
to find huge rocks, of many tons weight, sticking up in the middle
of them, never having been removed, and leaving the traveller the
option of a choice of one of the two narrow roads round these natural

As the division threaded its march over winding and difficult
roads, its horse-artillery might be heard rumbling in the rear,
while the winding notes of the bugle horns echoed in the distant
valleys. Major-General R. Craufurd commanded the light division.
His arrangements and regulations of march stood unrivalled: at the
expiration of every hour, the division formed close columns of
regiments, and halted for about ten minutes; the leading corps were
generally again marching off by the time the rear came up. When any
obstacles came across the line of route, each officer, commanding a
company, saw that they were closed up before he put them into the
regular marching pace, and that even if a break in the column happened
of fifty yards between each company. I have frequently witnessed the
whole division marching in this manner through a difficult country, by
which means they were always in hand, ready to engage by companies. If
a man found himself exhausted between the halts, the senior officer of
the company ordered him to have a ticket, which he was obliged to hand
over on his arrival in camp, or to shew to any one who questioned him
on the road as to his authority for being absent from his corps.

The code of discipline was very strict; but every one knew exactly that
which was required of him, and, in the event of any irregularity even
on the line of route, amidst wilds and mountains, no matter where, the
column was closed up _instanter_, and a summary punishment inflicted
on the spot. This was far from harsh treatment: it was lenity in
the end; it preserved the health of the soldiers, by keeping them in
their ranks; it maintained discipline and concentration, the great
requisites in war; it prevented marauding on the inhabitants; soldiers
were debarred from coming to unpleasant collisions and assassin-like
encounters; and thus peace and harmony were established among those
whom we were bound to defend. The followers of the division (and of the
army) were composed of lank Barbary bulls and bullocks; mules loaded
with bags of biscuit, kegs of rum, kegs of ball cartridge, reserve
ammunition; a few hardy women (mistresses, or wives of soldiers)
mounted on strong and weak asses; Portuguese boys, drivers; officers'
milch goats; purveyors and medicine chests; and sometimes a few
suttlers, headed by a man better known by the name of _Tick_, owing to
his giving credit to officers in precarious times. This person, by the
bye, as a natural consequence, would lay on an enormous per centage for
small articles of luxury; disposing of bread itself at nine shillings a
four-pound loaf. Tea, sugar, and brandy in a proportionate ratio.

On the 9th of August we emerged from Portugal, and passed Albergeria,
a village on the Spanish frontier. My astonishment and curiosity were
highly excited on observing the extraordinary difference between the
natives of Spain and Portugal, and that it could be possible, for
people living so near one another, to be so dissimilar in complexion,
costume, and manners,—even when inhabiting respectively the banks of
a narrow stream, which holds its course near the frontier of the two
kingdoms, being scarcely two yards wide, and only ankle deep.

The merry Spanish peasant girls came forward with bold smiles and
strutting steps, greeting us in familiar terms, such as _Vivan los
Ingleses_; _vivan los Coluros, y Mil años a ustedes_; then pulling out
their castanets, jumping and saying, _den nosotros la musica: vivan
los Ingleses_. Others came running forward with pitchers, and, against
all rules, broke the ranks, insisting on supplying the soldiers with
water. Some of them were extremely pretty; their lively manner and
becoming costume made them appear to great advantage. Their complexions
generally are of a fine healthy brown, they have sparkling black eyes,
and dark hair combed back and tied in a knot with a bunch of black
ribbons, hanging down their backs; their jackets of brown or blue cloth
are laced up the front, and slit open at the sleeves, so as to display
a white chemise. Their petticoats are of various bright colours,
reaching just below the knee; and their stockings are red, blue, and
white, most fancifully worked up the middle of the calf of the leg;
their feet are remarkably small, with silver buckles in their shoes,
besides gold or silver ornaments in their ears and round their necks.
When going to church or visiting each other, they wear a black cloth
mantilla over the head, and held across the breast with both hands.
On entering a place of worship, they cross themselves quickly and
drop down on the pavement on both knees, looking very devout, unless
some object of attraction happens to catch their attention. The male
peasantry are hardy and well-made, but by far the shortest race of
men I ever saw in any other country, although their picturesque dress
gives them the deceptive appearance of a height which they really do
not possess. Their principal amusement out of doors is the game of
hand ball, or throwing an iron bar with the right hand a considerable
distance, and also pitching it betwixt their legs in various other
ways which may suit their fancy. On sundays and fête days they dance
_boleros_ with their village maids, who beat time with their castanets
and sing when music cannot be procured. That favorite dance is formed
by four or eight couple standing opposite one another, not unlike the
formation of a quadrille party. The male attire in the province of Leon
is a large _sombrero_, or broad-brimmed hat, with a wide black ribbon
tied round it; a brown jacket slit open at the sleeves; a blue or green
velveteen waistcoat decorated with two rows of long-shanked silver
buttons, and cut out at the breast, showing a white shirt, handsomely
plaited or worked, with a collar about half an inch wide, fastened
with a clasp. The belt round their waists is of durable leather, about
five inches broad. Their breeches are dark brown, stockings of similar
colour, with shoes and silver buckles. When they go out, or during
holidays, they envelope themselves in large brown cloaks, which they
throw gracefully over the shoulder, and conduct themselves with a
manner and deportment very far beyond the peasantry of other countries.
Their villages are built in a cluster round good churches, the body of
those edifices towering high above the small houses of one story high
that encircle them. The floor is usually composed of earth beat down to
a hard substance. There is no glass in the windows, which are merely
small square apertures, one foot by six inches, divided by an iron bar,
with a little shutter on hinges, which is closed at night. Their usual
furniture consists of a bedstead, wool or straw mattress, covered by
very coarse sheets and blankets, a table, two or three forms with backs
to them, a large chest with a partition for the double purpose for
stowing away flour and holiday apparel. Sometimes in winter a brass
pan with handles is used under the table, which they fill with hot
embers to keep their lower extremities warm. The only chimney in the
house is in the kitchen, where they use a small iron lamp filled with
_aziete_ or oil, and burn wood from their neighbouring forests; and
when afar removed from woods, and that article becomes scarce, charcoal
is substituted for cooking. Their usual food is sausages, garlic, and
chocolate, the latter made into cakes ready sweetened, but only used as
a luxury, and mixed so thick, that a tea spoon will stand upright in
it. The bread is extremely white, and compressed, without yeast, made
in the shape of a pancake, being ten inches in diameter, and about two
inches and a half thick, and weighing four pounds.

The women wash by the side of streams, and continue to dip the articles
in the water, and then strike them on a large round stone, on which
they kneel, and, finally, lay them on the ground to dry; by which means
they bleach their linen very white.

It is curious to observe a mother dressing a young child: after putting
on its petticoat, she rolls several yards of coarse cloth so tight
round the body of the infant, that a stranger would conceive it would
be unable to respire, as its little arms stick out horizontally.

We continued our march over the plain of Fuente de Guinaldo, and within
half a league of that place took up our ground in a wood, where we
encamped, that is to say, cut down branches of trees, and constructed
huts; and although the canopy of heaven, or a rudely formed hut, for
months in succession, was the only shelter for the troops, the bivouac
resounded with merriment, and afforded frequent good cheer. For my own
part, I felt perfectly happy; my eyes and inclinations were directed
towards the front; I felt myself securely lodged on _terra firma_, and
no longer a sort of amphibious animal. I had escaped the dreadful fever
and mortality of Walcheren, nor could I well call to mind the having
ever experienced a day's serious illness. This was about the period
of the year when the sickly season commenced; but I flattered myself
that any impression on my unimpaired constitution was quite out of the
question; in fact, I never troubled myself with gloomy thoughts: a wide
field was now open, to which I looked forward with great anticipation,
little dreaming of the example that was about to be visited, in the
space of a short week, on my active limbs.

What situation is superior to the camp? and what period of a soldier's
life is called to mind in such glowing colours as the days of youth,
when he was reclining under the shady branches of a forest oak,
surrounded by young companions in arms, with light pockets and still
lighter hearts, cheerfully talking to each other of glittering and
moving armies, and all the imposing grandeur and pomp of war?—or fancy
him nourishing the fonder feelings, and expatiating on the beauty of
some foreign damsel, by whose wit and graces all hearts are captivated;
while many another, more constant, indulges the fond hope of once more
clasping the native mistress of all his thoughts to his arms, on his
return to his own shores.

Spain, of all countries, tends to produce in the mind the most romantic
thoughts, from the salubrity of its climate, its diversified scenery,
clear sky, and bright sun—a sun which shines throughout the summer
from morning till night, so that to those who sleep under the canopy of
heaven all days seem the same, and when summer closes and clouds darken
the atmosphere, the preceding season appears to the imagination as one
continued day. These and many other feelings are indelibly fixed on
the mind of a soldier, who closes his eyes on the highest mountains,
in the deepest vallies, in woods, in morasses, in dusty, parched, and
arid plains, or amid orange groves, luxuriant gardens, and beneath the
marble fountain; or amidst frost and snow—the inmate alike of the
palace, or of the peasant's menial hut—one night reposing on a bed
of down, enveloped by satin drapery, the next stretching his tired
limbs on the ground, or on a miserable bed filled with vermin—one hour
gazing on the sumptuous, light, flowing drapery and satin slipper of
the graceful _señora_, the next on the ruddy healthy cheek of the more
humble _muchacha_. All these opposite changes attend the soldiers'
career in rapid succession.

But lo! dinner is served up and announced. A truce to reflections!
While we were employed handling our knives and forks, displaying a
hungry dexterity, and bolting morsels of unchewable ration beef, a
smoke was observed issuing from a valley, in the direction of our
outposts, a mile to the front, which continued to increase, and then
burst into a flame. A gentle wind blew towards our bivouac. The blaze
increasing, and extending with great velocity, the cry of "fire,"
resounded from all quarters—"The camp's on fire." All was confusion;
officers and soldiers seizing their baggage, ammunition, and horses. In
the mean time, some tore large branches from the trees, and advanced
to check the devouring element, the dried corn burning and whizzing
towards us with the noise of a whirlwind; the heat was excessive;
opposition was useless; the trees of the forest blazing away like
a whisp of straw; and the whole brigade were _en déroute_, flying
to save their lives, by reaching the road, where the second brigade
had hastily formed, with boughs in their hands, as a last effort to
endeavour to repel this vast conflagration. Fortunately the wood here
ended, and the grass burnt itself out to the edge of the sandy road,
which was one of great width, such as are frequently met with in the
open parts of Spain. Had I not been an eye-witness to so quick and
extensive a devastation made in a short time, I could hardly have
pictured to my mind such a grand and awful spectacle.

Taking up fresh ground for the night, we descended in the morning the
precipitous banks of the river Agueda, leading to the remote village
of Martiago, nearly at the base of the Sierra de Gata. On the night
we entered it, a pack of famished wolves devoured a donkey, and tore
the hind quarters of a horse away. The poor animal was found in the
morning, having crawled from his ferocious pursuers into the middle of
the village for refuge, in that miserable condition.

Ciudad Rodrigo was to be reconnoitred. As convoys of stores and
provisions were expected from Salamanca, through the great forest, of
four days' march, between those places; and as Don Julien Sanches,
with his Guerillas, hovered about ready to cut off all small parties,
the French were under the necessity, with incalculable inconvenience,
to assemble their army, stretched over a great extent of country, to
keep the inhabitants under control, to protect their hospitals, levy
contributions, and to make perpetual countermarches in order to keep
open their line of communication.

On the 11th of August, before daylight, our division was bending its
course over ravines, and almost impassable pathways, to show front
during a reconnoissance made by Lord Wellington, who usually wore in
the field, at this period, a small low-crowned cocked hat, a blue
pelisse coat, and a Hussar sash.

The sun blazed forth as usual, (for not a drop of rain had fallen since
I had put my foot into the country), and biscuit and rum were served
out to refresh the exhausted soldiers; a humble refection which no one
would think of grudging to those who had been under arms for ten hours,
under a burning sun, and crowning the highest hills without a bush to
shelter them, or a drop of water to refresh their parched lips.

With my rum in one hand, making a shallow appearance at the bottom of a
soldier's tin, and my mouldy biscuit in the other, I beheld an officer
approach me, in the act of drawing from his bosom an old ragged black
silk neck-handkerchief worn out in the service, and now converted into
a pocket-handkerchief. He fumbled it over for a whole corner to apply
his nose to; and during this operation, his eyes were fixed on my tin.
After a variety of hems, coughings, and such like indications, he took
courage to beg that I would permit him to dip his dry biscuit into
my shallow allowance of rum, to moisten his lips: his request being
granted, and thanks returned for the given relief, he told me that,
in the hurry to grasp his share, he had unfortunately upset it on the
ground, and had the additional mortification to see it dry up in an

We were spread out rank entire within sight of the garrison, for the
governor to suppose our force stronger than it really was, so that he
might inform the Duke of Ragusa, and oblige him to bring up and deploy
his whole army, for the protection of his intended convoy.

Late in the evening we reached our cantonments in good spirits, though
well tired, but not so much so as to prevent my making a good meal.
Turning into a small recess, and getting into bed for the first time
for weeks, after some hours I awoke rather feverish, went to the door
in my shirt to cool myself, and found the air so refreshing that I
continued stationary for a considerable time, certainly much longer
than my prudence ought to have dictated; however, I did not feel any
ill effects from it at the time.

On the day following, our paymaster was encircled by a group of
officers, who were listening to his odd remarks, relative to warfare.
He declared that he hated _bullets_ and _swords_, but with fists he
flattered himself he was able to cope with, and would not turn his
back on any man. "Oh!" said he, "how I should like to see a fine
boiled leg of pork, and a pease pudding, smoking before me; why the
very thought makes me ravenous, and I could eat any thing, from a
gnat to an elephant; yes sir, I could eat an elephant stuffed with
militiamen!" Then with both hands, pulling his cheeks, his breeches and
his waistcoat, for in quarters he actually wore the identical dress he
had joined the regiment in; "Look at these," said he, "why they fitted
me as tight as a drum before I came to this cursed country; and look at
them now! Well, only let me get my wife on my knee by my comfortable
fire-side once more, and, if ever I leave old England again, may I
be ——! and as my poor brother _did die_, I wish he had taken his
departure before he ever persuaded me to enter the army!"


    The author is attacked by illness—Miseries of military travelling
      in that condition—Quarters at Celorico—The author's difficult
      recovery—Grievous sufferings endured by the soldiers affected
      with fever in the sickly season—Death of the Paymaster—The
      author rejoins his Division—Movements of the French—A clerical
      case of disaster—The contested mattress—A dance—Expensive
      celebration of Christmas—Story of the German suttler—Village and
      neighbourhood of Fuente de Guinaldo—Theatrical representations by
      the English officers.

Three days after our long reconnoissance I became blind with
ophthalmia, was seized with violent rheumatic pains in the soles of
my feet, and took to my bed. My legs and knees swelled to an enormous
size, first turning red, then blue, and I was no longer able to move.

Many other officers became sick, and were ordered to the rear. I for
one, mattress and all, was shoved into a Spanish car. Our feelings
during the passage of the Agueda were indescribable.—Ye invalids,
stretched on your beds of down! comfort yourselves; submit to your
pains with Christian philosophy, and bless your lucky stars that you
did not belong to the army of Portugal. Rejoice that your very lives
are not shaken out of you by such ups and downs; first over one rock,
then over another, and dragged along by bullocks sometimes forced
into a run, owing to the steepness of the adamantine roads. I could
no longer bear the terrible pain. In my shirt, with my legs enveloped
in bandages of the car, I begged and entreated to be lifted out,
being quite helpless and blind. To get on a mule's back was quite out
of the question, my legs and knees were so inflamed. At length some
sick soldiers offered to try and carry or rather drag me from rock to
rock. First I got a jolt on one side, then an unintentional bump on
the other; the men were exhausted; and I entreated them to hold up my
feet, (while my head lay in the road), for I could not bear them on the
ground. At the end of the second day's tormenting journey, we entered
Castel Nero. The cars were drawn round a stone fountain, and while
waiting for our billets from the _Juez de Fora_, the howling of wolves
was distinctly heard in all directions, amid the surrounding woods and

For five burning days we travelled from morning until nightfall at
the rate of a mile an hour. Each night I was dragged out of the car,
mattress and all, shoved into some horrible recess that was almost
alive with vermin, and replaced in my uneasy vehicle in the morning
for the continuation of the journey. On the fifth day, when within two
leagues of Celorico (the place of our destination), we drew up, as
Major Ellers of our regiment requested that he might rest for a short
time, since he could no longer bear the jolting of his vehicle; in a
few minutes however he expired, and his body was carried forward and

The heat of the weather was almost past endurance. On our arrival
at Celorico, with an empty room for my quarter and the floor for
my resting place, I remained sixty days nearly immoveable, my only
covering a filthy blanket, which had been stained all over from my
mule's sore back. On the journey it had been placed under the animal's
pack saddle to save its back, by day, while in turn I had the benefit
of it as a covering by night. In this miserable plight, what with
bleeding and blistering, and long confinement, I had become a perfect
skeleton, and reduced to the most wretched condition. Five medical
officers came to hold a consultation at the foot of my mattress, and,
having examined my now lank legs, and big feet, they assured me,
that they could not hold out any hope of a speedy recovery, and even
doubted whether I should ever again be enabled to straighten my right
leg, the knee of which had become contracted during the pains of my
rough journey. The staff doctors held out every inducement to persuade
me to go to England, by first offering a spring waggon to convey me
to Lisbon. My suffering had been great, my arms hung nearly useless
by my side, my legs refused their office: yet I still cherished the
hope, that they would again, carry me forward. Doctor Mac Lean most
kindly pressed me to acquiesce in their advice, but without effect:
(poor gentleman—I understood he died a few days subsequently of a
fever!)—how could I leave the army, whom I found amongst mountains
feeding on hard biscuit and drinking rum impregnated with the
mosquitoes? A pretty warlike story to recount at home! The very thought
was frightful! More bleeding and blistering were therefore resorted
to, by which means, added to a good constitution, at the expiration of
another month I was enabled with the assistance of crutches to reach
my window, the trellis work of which being thrown open offered me
ineffable delight at once more enjoy the sight of a few living objects
in the street.

The rain now fell in torrents for days together, and thousands of
British and Portuguese soldiers (now crowding the churches which
had been converted into hospitals) were dying by hundreds, of fever
produced by the sickly season. The excruciating torments, suffering
and privations of the common soldiers were such, that an adequate
description is impossible,—many of them lingering in raging fevers,
stretched out on the pavement, the straw that had been placed for their
comfort, having worked from under them during their agonies, while
hundreds of flies settled on and blackened their dying faces: and so
stationary did these tormentors become, that those who still maintained
sufficient power were obliged to tear them from off their faces, and
squeeze them to death in their hands. Cars piled up, and loaded with
the remains of these unfortunate victims to disease, daily passed
through the streets for the purpose of pitching their bodies into some
hole by way of interment. The medical officers were overpowered by the
numbers of sick, and also fell ill themselves, so that it was a total
impossibility, notwithstanding their strenuous efforts, to surmount
all difficulties, and to pay that attention to all that could have
been wished. The very hospital orderlies were exhausted by attending,
burying, and clearing away the dead. These scenes of misery cannot
be fancied: the sick pouring into the town, lining the streets, and
filling every house, set at nought all theoretical conception.

Our paymaster entered the town with a raging fever. His hopes were not
realized: he never again beheld his wife or his comfortable fire side.
At the end of a few days' anguish he expired, and was buried with the

Captain Poppleton was the commandant at this station. Officers of other
corps held similar commands (with certain privileges) at _Belem_,
_Santarem_, _Niza_, and other towns for the purpose of regulating
quarters for the sick and stragglers of the army.

At the expiration of four unhappy months I became so far convalescent,
as to be enabled to proceed to join my corps. I counted every step
forward which carried me further from the hated and detestable _dépôt_,
where every surrounding object depicted misery, and where, when the
_lively_ army happened to be in motion, such gloomy reports were
spread, as to intimidate the sick and frighten the convalescents out
of the country. Having passed through Guarda, Sabugal, and several
miserable Portuguese villages, at the expiration of five days I
reached Fuente de Guinaldo, the head quarters of the division. It
is unnecessary to say that a hearty welcome hailed my arrival, and
various interesting incidents, which had occurred since I left, were
related by my companions, but none were more agreeable to my sanguine
mind, than to hear that the division had not fired a shot during the
time of my absence; so far dame Fortune had befriended me.

The enemy, under the Duke of Ragusa, had advanced on the 25th of
September to throw provisions into Rodrigo, and had attacked the fourth
division at Adea de Ponte, and part of the third division, who had
distinguished themselves against the French cavalry on the heights near
El Bodon, they having made several vain efforts to break their little
squares for two leagues over firm charging ground; little, I repeat,
because the regiments composing the brigade were very weak in point of

The light division was stationed on the right bank of the Agueda,
hovering on the enemy's left flank; but, owing to the central attack,
it was obliged to march _à détour_, so as to accomplish a concentration
with the third division at Fuente de Guinaldo. This was done with the
loss of one man, and that was the _parson_ attached to the division,
who had entered a house and turned snugly into bed, while the soldiers
were shivering on the ploughed ground with keen appetites. During the
night, the troops retrograded a short distance, suffering all the while
from cold. The march was much impeded owing to a trifling stream in
the road, and other obstacles, which the soldiers could not at first
surmount, for the extreme darkness. By some accident the parson was
not aware of this movement. Towards morning, while wrapped in the arms
of Morpheus, he felt a gentle tap, and on opening his leaden eyelids,
he saw four French heavy dragoons wrapped in white cloaks, with
weather-beaten visages and huge mustachios, (crowned by brazen helmets,
surmounted with tyger skins,) hanging over him in deep consultation on
the best way of disposing of his person. The debate closed by their
allowing him to put on his sable garments, to be conveyed a prisoner
to the governor of Ciudad Rodrigo, who, on being informed of his
harmless pursuits, gave directions for his liberation, so that he might
go in search of the English army. On his being conducted to the gate
of the town, the French soldiers rudely divested him of his coat and
waistcoat, using their feet besides, in a most unceremonious manner,
and left him to pursue his journey in his shirt sleeves.

Although the house occupied by the officers of the company was small,
they declared that I should not seek a bed elsewhere; and one of my
friends assured me that he would soon supply me with that article.
Without further ado he hastily retired, and in a few minutes we heard
a great uproar in the street, and, making for the door, we found my
friend running towards the house loaded with a mattress on his back,
and pursued by a woman out of whose house he had taken it. Rushing into
the room breathless and convulsed with laughter, he threw it on the
floor, which he had no sooner done than the furious owner burst in,
and, laying violent hands on it, began to tug away, showering forth a
string of Spanish imprecations, too numerous to mention, but easily to
be guessed at by those who have heard such refined salutations from an
enraged Spanish _muger_. It was not until her strength had entirely
failed her that she would admit of an explanation; but, on money being
offered her, she turned away indignantly; and as she had not shown any
relaxation of the muscles of her brown visage, and her large black eyes
continued to express unutterable things, the officer thought it better
to reload himself and return that which, in a frolicsome moment, he had
carried off with so much dexterity; but the woman pulled it from off
his shoulder, and, with all the natural generosity of the sex, gave him
the use of it, (as it was for a convalescent comrade,) as long as it
might be required.

A dance was to take place that evening. The officers, therefore, put on
their best uniforms, and decorated themselves with all the precision
and care used when about to attend a ball of a more enlightened circle.

On entering the room we observed the females decorated in their
best attire and trinkets. The band struck up a _bolero_; that being
concluded, the male peasantry retired, leaving their mistresses to hop
down our country dances, and to instruct us in those figures we had
attempted to teach them. Generals, and all ranks, mixed in these rustic
dances, where a variety of little coquetries were practised on the
half-enamoured swains. The smell of garlic was scarce tolerable; but
these were no times for niceties.

Every effort was exerted to do ample justice to Christmas. The
different officers' messes dined alternately with each other, to
partake of lean roast beef and plumb pudding. Poultry was procured; in
fact, no expense was spared. A four pound loaf cost a dollar; moist
sugar three _pecetas_ a pound, and every other commodity equally
expensive; still the festive board was well supplied, and the evenings
most joyfully spent.

One of the suttlers who had taken post with our division, to amass a
fortune, was a German of ordinary appearance with a pretty wife. Here
it so happened that our serjeant-major, a man of portly figure, was
possessed of more small talk than usually falls to the lot of men in
his station of life; and, being remarkably fond of good living, and
other amusements, proved a very losing customer at the above worthy
suttler's shop, who could not help seeing the decline of that stock
which he had brought from Lisbon at so much expense; besides other
annoyances which he _could not see_. He, therefore, in a fit of
extreme irritation, without his hat, made for the commanding officer's
quarters, where he entered unceremoniously, and then laid bare all his
wrongs. "_Sare_," said he, "_your serjeant major is a very bad man. He
drinky my wine. He eaty my sugar. He drinky my tea and my coffee. He
kissy my vife, and he kick * * *. Sare, your serjeant-major is a very
bad man._"

Every morning the officers were engaged rehearsing their different
parts, or superintending the making of theatrical dresses, (as the
tragedy of Henry IV was to be performed by various officers,) and
scene painting. The latter was principally executed by Bell, (the
assistant quarter master general of the division,) in an old chapel,
within one hundred yards of the village, which had been gutted of its
ornaments by the French or the priests.

The compact and small village of Fuente de Guinaldo stands on an
eminence in an open plain, encircled at a certain distance by a number
of stone crosses, said to have been placed there by the peasantry to
frighten away evil spirits. There are no enclosures, no out-barns, or
farm houses, in this part of Spain, which gives the plain during winter
a very lonely aspect, skirted as it is by a distant wood, and a ridge
of wild mountains on the summit of which is a monastery, which is only
to be seen on a clear day; for if the weather is at all hazy, it is
enveloped by clouds. The communication from one village to another, is
a sort of track beaten into the shape of a road by the footsteps and
small traffic of many generations.

The natives of this part of the country form a little colony, unmixed
by a second order of society, as there is no resident beyond the rank
of a peasant, the principal holding the authority of _Alcalde_, and
completely governing the village in all judicial affairs. He exercises
his power with mildness, which is perceptible in the independent
manners of the people.

The girls sing very pretty airs in praise of some renowned chieftain,
or of her who happens to be the acknowledged beauty. Maria Josepha,
of Fuentes de Onor, was the happy _Moza_ whose charms were extolled
at this period: but what most struck my attention was a song about
Marlborough's knowing how to make war, and sung to the same tune
as in England. The mothers lull their children to sleep by it; and
when bodies of troops enter towns, or the girls dance _boleros_,
this is a general tune. I inquired of a _muchacha_ where she learnt
it; she opened her eyes with a ludicrous surprise, and made answer,
in the quick witty manner usual amongst the Mozas, "Why, of my
grandmother,—_Que edad tiene V. M?_"[13]—by way of giving me a hint
not to consider myself the instructor.

The long expected night of performance having arrived, written bills
of the play having been distributed throughout the village (which was
filled like a bee hive with officers who had come from a considerable
distance from other divisions of the army, with flowing camlet cloaks,
and mounted on _boricos_, mules, and ragged-mained stallions;) and
tickets being issued for pit and boxes, we moved in Bacchanalian groups
towards _el Teatro_ (or chapel). It was crammed to excess, as we had
not forgotten to reserve some room for _los soldados_. The curtain no
sooner drew up, than the wonder of the _Muchachas_ knew no bounds, and
they became so loquacious in admiration of the scenery and dresses,
and in disputing among themselves which was _el Principe_, and which
the various characters the officers were to personify, that it was
a considerable time before they could be so far tranquillized as to
permit the performance to proceed, which, however, went off with great
eclat. "Poins, and be hanged." Alas! no. Poor Poins was badly wounded,
and blown up a few days after!

[Footnote 13: How old are you?]


    Preparations for the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo—A review of the
      light Division by Lord Wellington—The fort and convent of
      Saint Francisco taken—Storming the breach—Capture of the
      place—Regulations for the prevention of plunder—Disorders
      committed in the city—Remarks and anecdotes connected with
      the siege—Burial of General Craufurd—Removal of quarters
      to El Bodon—Vestiges of the previous engagement near that
      place—Ciudad Rodrigo consigned to a Spanish garrison—March
      towards Badajoz—Castello de Vida—Fortress of Elvas—An
      accidental acquaintance.

At the expiration of some months' travail by the engineer department,
in procuring stores from various places, active operations were
commenced to collect them near at hand,—such as the battering train,
cannon balls, ammunition, gabions, fascines, scaling-ladders, sand
bags, shovels, spades, pickaxes, &c.—for the purpose of laying
siege to Ciudad Rodrigo, (in the province of Leon,) which stands on
an eminence on the right bank of the river Agueda, surrounded by an
open country, and was garrisoned by two thousand French soldiers. The
walls of the fortress are rather more than a mile and a quarter in
circumference, enclosing monasteries, convents, and churches,—which
gives the city at a distance the appearance of an immense gothic castle.

A few days previously to the siege, Lord Wellington reviewed the light
division on the plains of Guinaldo. He was dressed in full uniform, and
merely rode down the line, looking at the troops in a cheerful manner.
Just as his Lordship was leaving the ground, which was covered with
snow, General Craufurd appeared, and soon after the troops returned to
their quarters. The second brigade came from Martiago, and returned
that night—an immense march. A few days subsequently to this review,
the whole division was concentrated, the first brigade moving to La
Encina, the second to El Bodon. During this march a tremendous storm
of sleet and snow took place; the snow froze and adhered to the horses
hoofs, forming balls which raised them several inches from the ground.
Fortunately, the march was short, as fatigue-parties of soldiers were
obliged to return to prop up the weak and staggering baggage-animals,
that had suffered previously from bad provender.

On the 8th of January, 1812, the light division crossed the Agueda,
_sans culotte_, (_a cooler!_) at a ford about four miles above Ciudad
Rodrigo. The day was fine, and, indeed, during the operations of the
siege, the atmosphere was mild for the season of the year, although
sometimes frosty of a morning.

The division bivouacked for some hours two miles from the town.
When the darkness had set in, three hundred soldiers drawn from the
43d, 52d, and the rifle corps, moved under the command of Colonel
Colborne[14], to assault the fort of Francisco. The enemy fired about
two rounds; our good troops did not allow more time, and the fort was
taken. It was situated on a rising ground, six hundred yards from the
town, was of a square form, with two small howitzers, "_en barbette_,"
and had a garrison of two officers and forty soldiers, who were made
prisoners. Six or eight others either were killed or escaped into the
town, where the drums began to beat to arms, and a furious fire of shot
and shell opened on us, while digging a parallel close to the captured
fort; the earth being thrown up on the town side. The land is arable,
and bestrewn with loose stones, which were flying on all sides from the
impulse given by the cannon balls, and the bursting of shells, which
were exploding on every side, killing and maiming many soldiers.

The great convent of Saint Francisco, in the suburb, was carried a
few days before the storming of the town, and also the ruined convent
of Santa Cruz. On the morning of the 14th, about five hundred French
soldiers made a sortie from the city, and before they retired were
very nearly succeeding in entering the batteries, where the battering
cannon had been placed the night before. The twenty-four pounders were
of iron, mounted like field guns, on handsome carriages, painted lead

An hour before dark on this day, the batteries opened within six
hundred yards of the ramparts for the purpose of battering in breach.
The first, third, fourth, and light divisions, employed in the siege
moved by turns from their cantonments, each taking a twenty-four hours'

On the 19th of January, the light division was ordered to the assault
out of its turn. During the greater part of the day we remained cooking
behind the convent of the Norbortins, a most splendid ruin, with very
extensive cloisters, situated close on the right bank of the Agueda,
three miles S. E. of the town. Soon after three o'clock we moved
towards the ground occupied by the foot guards, who were halted one
mile and a half from the suburbs of Ciudad Rodrigo. These troops came
forward to wish us success, and our band struck up the _fall of Paris_.
The third division occupied the trenches, and the garrison must have
observed the march of the light division from the ramparts,—extra
troops! The governor should have pondered on it! If he had kept a sharp
look-out, he must have been expecting the assault.

There were two breaches effected in the walls of this town. By the
small breach the large one was taken in reverse.

At half-past six o'clock the light division was formed behind the
convent of Saint Francisco, near the suburb, and almost exactly
opposite to the small breach, and about four hundred yards from it. The
third division, under General Sir Thomas Picton, was also formed behind
the ruins of Santa Cruz, and in the trenches opposite the large breach.
All was silent, four or five shells excepted, which were thrown by the
enemy into our left battery, and fell not a great distance from our
column. Now, if the governor thought that the assault was preparing, he
ought not to have fired at all from the ramparts, as it prevented the
approach of the troops from being discovered by the ear.

I heard the town-clock strike seven, and at the same time saw a match
lighted in one of the embrasures—(very awful!) at that moment the
"forlorn hope," headed by Lieut. Gurwood, of the 52d, and the storming
party (composed of three hundred soldiers, with a proportion of
officers) moved on, carrying a number of bags, filled with dried grass,
to lessen the depth of the _fausse braie_ and the ditch. In a few
minutes they were on the brink of the ditch, and the fire of the town
opened briskly on them. There was a sort of check, but no longer than
might be expected, as they had to scramble in and out of the _fausse
braie_, and then to jump into the dry ditch; but having gone too far
to the left, the advance got on the wrong side of the tower, which was
not breached, and the soldiers, for a few seconds, were knocking with
the butt-ends of their fire locks against the wall, crying out "Where's
the breach?" for although the enemy were firing rapidly from the top of
the wall, still the troops, on first descending to the bottom of the
ditch, were in total darkness. This state of suspense lasted, however,
a very short time, for two soldiers, stumbling on the loose rubbish,
called out "Here's the breach," and Lieut. Gurwood[16] led up it; but
the French swore they should not enter, and fought most desperately on
the crest of the breach, throwing down large stones and missiles, and
keeping up a most deadly fire. Here many brave officers and soldiers
fell. General Craufurd received a mortal wound, and fell into his
aide-de-camp's arms, on the glacis, while cheering on the main body
of the division. Major General Vandeleur and Colonel Colborne were
wounded. How the troops contrived to force the breach I know not: I can
only say that it was well done. The breach was exceedingly steep: about
five yards wide at the top, having a cannon, of heavy calibre, placed
sideways, to block up the passage; however, there was a clear yard from
the muzzle of the gun to the wall, a sufficient space for one or two
soldiers to enter at a time, besides those who could pass underneath
the muzzle of the gun, or over the wheels of the carriage.

The moment the division entered, a number of soldiers rushed to the
right, along the ramparts, to the large breach (_one hundred and fifty
yards_), and then engaging those of the French who were still firing
on the third division, absolutely drove them over the breast-work, on
to the large breach. At this time a wooden spare magazine, placed on
the rampart, exploded, and blew up some French grenadiers, and many
of the light division. Lieutenant Pattenson, of the 43d, and Lieut.
Uniacke, of the rifle corps, were of the number. This occurred just
behind the traverse, which, on the enemy's right, confined and guarded
the great breach.

On ascending the small breach, directly after it was carried, I found
myself with the crowd. Lieut.-Colonel M'Leod managed to collect, with
the assistance of some other officers, on the rampart about two hundred
soldiers of our regiment, and was exhorting them to keep together. At
this time there was not any firing on us, with the exception of a few
stray shots from the opposite buildings; but there was sharp musketry
still at the great breach.

I ran towards the large breach, and met an officer slowly walking
between two soldiers of the rifle corps. I asked who it was, when he
faintly replied, "Uniacke[17]," and walked on. One of his eyes was
blown out, and the flesh was torn off his arms and legs. He had taken
chocolate, with our mess, an hour and a half before!

The regiment was now formed, and Colonel M'Leod immediately detached
officers with guards, to take possession of all the stores they could
find, and to preserve order. These parties ultimately dissolved
themselves. If they had not done so, they would have been engaged in
the streets with our own troops.

Colonel M'Leod caused Lieutenant Madden, of the 43d, to descend the
small breach with twenty-five men, ordering him to continue at the
foot of it during the night, and to prevent soldiers leaving the town
with plunder. At eleven o'clock I went to see him; he had no sinecure,
and had very judiciously made a large fire, which, of course, showed
the delinquents to perfection, who were attempting to quit the town
with plunder, in the garb of friars, nuns, or enveloped in silk
counterpanes, or loaded with silver forks, spoons, and church plate,
all of which was of course taken from them, and was piled up, to hand
over to the proper authorities on the following day. He told me that no
masquerade could, in point of costume and grotesque figures, rival the
characters he stripped that night.

The fire was large, and surrounded by the dead bodies of those who fell
in the first onset at the foot of the breach. The troops must have
rushed up and taken the latter without hesitation: had the governor
of the town only placed a few obstacles on the crest of the breach,
he must have stopped the entrance of the light division altogether.
He had time, as the firing from our batteries ceased two hours before
the assault, and then from the rampart there was a gentle slope into
the town, leading into a narrow lane, which was blocked up with a cart
only, leaving a sufficient space for one person to pass at a time. The
Governor was most culpable! There was no musquetry from any part of
the ramparts until the head of the light division column was close to
the small breach.—Amongst others lay Captain Dobbs, of the 52d, on
his back, at the foot of the breach, and stripped of his uniform. An
officer at first thought he was a Frenchman, who had tumbled headlong
during the strife from the top of the breach; but, while he was holding
a piece of lighted wood, to contemplate, with admiration, his extremely
placid and handsome countenance, even in death, a captain of the 52d
knew it to be the body of poor Dobbs. On lifting him up, the blood
flowed copiously from his back, a musket ball having entered at the
breast, and passed through his body.—A soldier of the third division
came up to me and said, "Captain Hardyman, of the 45th, is killed!" for
although three generals and seventy other officers had fallen, yet the
soldiers fresh from the strife talked of him; and if a soldier's praise
can add to a man's fame, certainly no one had a greater share than
Hardyman; he was the real type of a soldier, and kind to every one.

When the troops had sipped the wine and the Cogniac brandy in the
stores, the extreme disorders commenced. To restore order was
impossible; a whole division could not have done it. Three or four
large houses were on fire, two of them were in the market-place, and
the town was illuminated by the flames. The soldiers were drunk, and
many of them for amusement were firing from the windows into the
streets. I was talking to the regimental barber, private Evans, in the
square, when a ball passed through his head. This was at one o'clock
in the morning. He fell at my feet dead, and his brains lay on the
pavement. I then sought shelter, and found Colonel M'Leod with a few
officers in a large house, where we remained until daylight. I did not
enter any other house in Ciudad Rodrigo; and if I had not seen, I never
could have supposed that British soldiers would become so wild and
furious. It was quite alarming to meet groups of them in the streets,
flushed as they were with drink, and desperate in mischief.

On the morning of the 20th the scene was dreary; the fires just going
out; and about the streets were lying the corpses of many men who had
met their death hours after the town had been taken. At eleven o'clock,
I went to look at the great breach. The ascent was not so steep as
that of the small one, but there was a traverse thrown up at each side
of it on the rampart; hence there was no way into the town, as the wall
was quite perpendicular behind the breach. When the third division
had gained the top of the rampart, they were in a manner enclosed and
hemmed in, and had no where to go, while the enemy continued to fire
upon them from some old ruined houses, only twenty yards distant.

I counted more than sixty-three soldiers of the third division lying
dead on the _terre-plein_ of the rampart exactly between the traverses
I have already described. I did not see one dead soldier of that
division on the French side of those traverses; but I saw some of the
light division.

I saw General M'Kinnon lying dead on his back, just under the rampart,
on the inside, that is, the town side. He was stripped of every thing
except his shirt and blue pantaloons; even his boots were taken off.
He was a tall thin man. There were no others dead near him, and he
was not on the French side of the traverse either, nor was there any
possibility of getting at the General without a ladder, or traversing
a considerable distance along the ramparts to descend into the town,
and then passing through several narrow lanes, ruined houses, and over
broken stone walls being a distance of at least a quarter of a mile,
and what no human being could have accomplished during the night. It is
said that he was blown up. I should say not. There was no appearance
indicating that such had been his fate. Neither the state of his skin
nor the posture in which he was lying, led me to think it. When a man
is blown up, his hands and face, I should think, could not escape. I
never saw any whose face was not scorched. M'Kinnon's was pale, and
free from the marks of fire. How strange, that with the exception
of the General, I did not see a soldier of the third division who
had been stripped! Neither was there any officer among the dead, or
else they had been carried away. I should not wonder, (if it is not
uncharitable,) that the General had been killed with all the others
between the traverses, and that some _tender-hearted_, follower of the
army had taken his clothes off, and then just given him a hand over the
wall, and so placed him in the position described.

The two divisions attacked without knapsacks. The greater portion
of the light division lay at the foot of the _small breach_ in the
ditch; hence it was that they fought on the slope, and rolled down in
succession as they were killed; but, on gaining the ramparts (there
being no interior defences) they followed the French right and left,
who retreated, panic-struck, into the interior of the city, keeping
up, however, a running fire from the different streets, or the massive
stone buildings.

The third division, at the first onset, were fired on from the parapets
of the ramparts, and assailed by missiles and live shells, which were
rolled from the summit of the wall: but the enemy did not stand on the
crest of the great breach to oppose their ascent; for, if they had, it
would have been impossible to escape behind their traverses. The enemy
had left a space for one man to pass at a time, on the left of the
right traverse, but expecting the attack, they had previously blocked
it up with barrels filled with earth, having placed others behind to
stand on for the purpose of firing over them. Before the morning, all
these barrels, except one, were thrown down the scarped wall. The
fact is, that the third division mounted to the _terre-plein_ with
facility; but when on the rampart, they were fired on in front and both
flanks, as before described, and in this small space, they suffered a
tremendous loss of nearly five hundred heroic officers and soldiers.
During the fighting, their dead and wounded were piled one on the top
of the other, crying out in agony as they were trampled upon, and
impeding the progress of others, who exerted themselves in vain amongst
such havoc to carry the traverses.

The moment the wooden magazine blew up, all firing nearly ceased,
for the enemy literally jumped over the right entrenchment on to the
_terre-plein_ of the great breach, to save themselves from the bayonets
of the light division. A young Italian officer there seized Captain
Hopkins, of the 43rd, round the neck, and implored his life.

At about eleven o'clock in the morning (of the 20th) the great
explosion took place a few yards to the right of the _small breach_,
blowing up the _terre-plein_ of the rampart, four yards in breadth
and ten in length. This fatal explosion (which was accidental, owing
to some sparks of fire igniting some barrels of gunpowder in a
casement,) happened while the French garrison were marching out of
the city by the _small breach_, which had become so hard, owing to
such numbers of soldiers walking up and down it, as to make the ascent
nearly impracticable. The French, as well as the British soldiers,
were carried up into the air, or jammed amongst the rubbish, some
with heads, arms, or legs sticking out of the earth. I saw one of the
unfortunate soldiers in a blanket, with his _face_, _head_, and _body_,
as black as a coal, and cased in a black substance like a shell; his
features were no longer distinguishable, and all the hair was singed
from off his head, but still the unfortunate man was alive. How long he
lived in this horrible situation I cannot say.

A tall athletic soldier of the 52d lay amongst the dead at the foot of
the breach, on his back; his arms and legs being at their full extent.
The top of his head, from the forehead to the back part of his skull,
was split in twain, and the cavity of the head entirely emptied of the
brains, as if a hand-grenade had exploded within, and expanded the
skull, till it had forced it into a separation with the parts ragged
like a saw, leaving a gaping aperture nine inches in length, and four
in breadth. For a considerable time I looked on this horrible fracture,
to define, if possible, by what missile or instrument so wonderful a
wound could have been inflicted; but without being able to come to any
conclusion as to the probable cause.

From this place I walked to the convent of Saint Francisco to see a
wounded friend. The interior was crowded with wounded soldiers lying on
the hard pavement. A soldier of the third division was sitting against
a pillar, his head bent forward, and his chin resting on his breast,
his eyes open, and an agreeable smile on his countenance. For half a
minute I stopped with surprise to observe him sitting in so contented
a posture, surrounded by the groans of his companions. At length, I
addressed him, but, no answer being returned, I called a doctor, under
the impression that the man was delirious. On the contrary, we found he
was quite dead.

In the afternoon we returned to our quarters by regiments across the
stone bridge, having been relieved by the fifth division, which came
from the rear, and took charge of the city.

A few days after the assault, most of the officers of the light
division attended General Craufurd's funeral. He was buried under the
wall near the small breach.

In a few days we moved from La Encina to El Bodon, where our principal
amusement consisted in playing at rackets, with wooden bats, against
the side of the church, or riding about the country.

One day we visited the heights about half a league from this place,
where, on the previous September, a brigade of the third division had
been engaged. Many skeletons of the French horses lay in deep ravines,
or on the shelvings of rocks, to the very summit of the ridge, on
the crest of which some of the Portuguese gunners were cut down; and
where for a short time the cannon remained in the hands of the enemy.
It must have been at this moment that the second battalion of the
fifth regiment retook them by charging in line, before the enemy's
cavalry had time to form. I rode up the ragged ground myself with
the utmost difficulty; the ground near the summit was so steep that
the Portuguese, while throwing balls into the valley, could not see
the advance of the French cavalry until quite upon them. Not that I
wish to detract from the deserts of the Portuguese; but, as it has
been stated that they stood to their guns to the last, I only wish to
demonstrate how it happened. The very print of the wheels of the cannon
were still indented in the ground, and showed, to an inch, where they
had stood.

The whole of the dead French soldiers lying in the valley were
stripped, and in a perfect state of preservation, blanched like
parchment by the alternate rain and sunshine; and their skins had
become so hard, that the bodies on being touched sounded like a drum.
The vultures had picked the bones of the horses perfectly clean, but
had left the soldiers untouched; and, although _four months_ had
elapsed since they had fallen, their features were as perfect as on
the day they were killed. Some of these soldiers were gracefully
proportioned, and extended in every possible attitude.

The rubbish of the breaches at Ciudad Rodrigo having been cleared away,
the parapets built up with gabions and fascines, all the trenches
filled up, and a garrison of Spanish soldiers left for its defence—at
the latter end of February we marched towards Badajoz, for the purpose
of laying siege to that fortress, a distance of one hundred and sixty
miles, the road more than half way lying through the rocky provinces
of Portugal, where the villages are generally built on the tops of the
highest mountains, with the remains of Moorish castles, or towers,
studding the wildest rocks and the most tremendous precipices.

We remained a week at Castello de Vida, then resumed our march, and,
on the 16th of March, entered Elvas, the principal fortress on the
frontier of the Alentéjo, three leagues distant from Badajoz. It is
situated on a hill, flanked on the right by a fort or citadel, half a
mile without its walls, and on the left by the fort La Lippe, which
stands on a scarped hill, a mile from the town.

While quartering off the soldiers, I observed a very pretty young lady
looking out of a casement, which occasioned her house to be selected
for our quarter. In the evening, myself and messmate were invited to
take chocolate and sweetmeats with the family; and, before retiring,
the good old _Senhora_ remarked our youthful appearance, and begged
that, should either of us be wounded, we would come to her house. My
companion was subsequently shot through the body, and, being conveyed
back to Elvas, the mother and daughter kindly watched over him until he
was perfectly recovered.

[Footnote 14: Now Major General Sir John Colborne.]

[Footnote 15: During the siege, the enemy threw a vast quantity of
shells. One night two mortars kept up an incessant discharge; and
the soldiers called out "Here comes a shell from _big Tom_; and here
comes another from _little Tom_." All the cannon shot that flew over
our trenches lodged on a hill one mile north of the town, at the base
of which was a _spring_, where I saw a soldier killed while stooping
down to fill his canteen with water. This hill, owing to its being
so ploughed up with balls, was familiarly named by the soldiers
_plumb-pudding hill_.]

[Footnote 16: Lieutenant Gurwood took the governor of the fortress

[Footnote 17: He died in excruciating agony.]


    March from Elvas to Badajoz—Defences of that city—The
      investment—A sortie—Operations of the batteries—Capture of
      fort Picurina—Preparations for the grand assault—Advance of the
      "forlorn hope"—Desperate encounter at the breaches—Loss of life
      experienced by the British—The mode of attack changed to escalade
      with success—The city sacked by the British troops—Reflections
      respecting the conduct of the siege—Incidental anecdotes.

On the morning of the 17th of March we formed contiguous columns,
outside the walls of Elvas, and entering a spacious plain, passed the
river Guadiana by a pontoon bridge, a few miles below Badajoz, which
was garrisoned by nearly five thousand French soldiers. It is situated
on the margin of the left bank of the Guadiana, in the province of
Estremadura, in Spain, and encompassed by an open country, without a
tree, a shrub, or even a hut to be seen without its walls. The ramparts
are about two miles in circumference, and were protected by the forts
San Cristoval, Napoleon, and the _Tête de Pont_, at the head of the
fine stone bridge, which communicates with the right bank of the

The fort Picurina, the outworks of Pardalaras, and the _lunette_ of
Saint Roque, constituted the general outworks of the city, on the left
bank of the river.

As we drew near the ramparts of the fortress, we saw the flag of _three
colours_ majestically waving on the top of the great lofty square
tower, in the centre of the old castle, which stands on the summit of
a hill, whose frowning battlements overhang the town, and overlook the
adjacent plains for a considerable distance.

The third, fourth, and light divisions invested the city on the left
bank of the Guadiana[18].

Our division bivouacked within one mile and a half S.S.W. of the town,
our position communicating in a manner with the bridge of boats. The
day was fine; but at six o'clock in the evening the rain began to fall
in torrents, and continued the whole night, which prevented the enemy
hearing the troops when they commenced the first parallel, and the
latter continued to work all night without being molested.

Before daylight on the 18th, the parties fell in to relieve those of
our division who had first broke ground, a thousand yards S. E. of the
town; we had to make a quarter circle, which rendered the march nearly
three miles to the mouth of the trench, where we arrived at daybreak,
and I saw the first shot; it was fired from the Fort Picurina, and
killed two poor fellows in the covering party of the fourth division,
which was formed under the slope of a hill. In a few minutes the
round shot came up the road quite often enough to put our blood into
circulation; and we immediately took our station under a small natural
rise of ground, where we remained covering the workmen for twelve
hours. The cannonade was pretty regular during the day, both from the
town and from Fort Picurina.

We returned to camp an hour after dark, and I was surprised to find the
division had been supplied with Portuguese tents. I found my friend
waiting in one for me, and the canteens laid out with all the affection
of a youthful soldier. I had been exposed in the rain for twenty-five
hours, and this was one of the happiest moments of my life.

On the 19th, at mid-day, the firing from the town was very heavy; every
one in the best position for security, which it was not difficult to
obtain, as the trenches were well advanced, but every body cried "Keep
down," for which truly there was no occasion. Notwithstanding this
cry, Israel Wild, and another man of our regiment, who was afterwards
killed, (a splendid soldier,) got on the top of the trench. I caught
hold of Israel's[19] jacket, to pull him down, but he turned round,
and said, in a most furious manner, "We know what we are about;" then
looking forward for a moment, shouted, with an oath, that the French
were coming on, and instantly sprung out of the trench like a tiger,
following his comrade, just such another fine fellow. Two or three
French dragoons at that instant fired their pistols into the trenches,
having approached within a few yards without being perceived. We had
just entered the mouth of the first parallel, and all joined in a
simultaneous attack on the enemy's infantry, without regard to trenches
or any thing else. The French being beaten out of the advanced lines,
retired and formed line under the castle, having two field-pieces on
their left flank. I cannot say how they entered the town, there was so
much smoke covering them, when near the walls. _General Philippon knew
his business well._ Fourteen hundred men came out—two battalions.

We had quite abandoned the trenches, and approached near to the castle.
I perceived two soldiers of another division, who were stretched
close to where I stood: one was quite dead, a round shot having
passed through his body; the other had lost a leg, his eyelids were
closed, and he was apparently dead. An adventurous Portuguese began to
disincumber him of his clothes. The poor soldier opened his eyes and
looked in the most imploring manner, while the villain had him by the
belts, lifting him up. I gave the humane Portuguese a blow with the
back of my sabre, that laid him prostrate for a time, by the side of
the soldier he was stripping.

I know not what became of the wounded man, as my attention was
attracted by an extraordinary circumstance. I saw a heavy shot hopping
along, till it struck a soldier on the hip; down he went, motionless. I
felt confident that the wounded man was not dead, and begged that some
of his comrades would carry him off to the rear, (we were now retiring
under a heavy cannonade); my words were at first unheeded, but two
soldiers, at the risk of their lives, rushed back, and brought him in,
or he, with many others, would have been starved to death, between our
lines and the ramparts of the town. His hip was only grazed, and his
clothes untorn; but, of course, he was unable to walk, and seemed to
feel much pain, for he groaned heavily.

The sortie took place about a quarter after twelve; (_military time,
quite correct_;) we were filing into the trenches. The day was fine,
and the time well selected by the governor, as he concluded that the
front parallel would be vacant while the relief was coming in; but
there was an order against that.

The trenches were very extensive. The weather again became bad, and
our right battery was silenced; but when the great breaching battery
was completed, it fired salvos, which the enemy returned in a similar
manner from a battery just under the castle-gate, on a commanding
situation. One morning, at daylight, the enemy brought a light gun out
of the town to enfilade the right of the front parallel; but as the
relief came in at the time, I do not know the sequel of it.

The left of our lines, previously to the escalade of Picurina, ran
within about a hundred yards parallel to it. One hundred of our
regiment were employed one night on the delightful job of carrying the
trenches across the Seville road. We commenced at the distance of one
hundred and fifty yards from the fort. The instant the enemy heard
the pickaxes striking on the hard road, they opened, when, strange to
relate, eleven rounds of grape were poured on us, and yet only one
officer was hit. The gunners could not depress their artillery so as to
cover the spot we were on.

I was surprised that they used no musketry; but I imagine they had
orders not to do so at night, unless an attempt was made to escalade
the fort.

Picurina was situated on a rising ground, without the least appearance
of strength. Three hundred of the enemy formed the garrison, and
latterly they were obliged to block up their embrasures with sand-bags,
to screen themselves from the musketry of our lines; now and then they
cleared away to fire grape shot.

Towards the end of the siege the weather became beautiful. One day in
particular, the enemy scarcely fired a shot, all our troubles were
forgotten, and two or three of us amused ourselves by reading a novel
in the trenches.

Lieutenant Wilkinson,[20] was among the wounded on that day. There was
a path across a field, which communicated with our grand battery, and
an order forbade any person to cross it in the day-time, as the French
were continually firing small arms whenever any lazy-fellow took that
road. Poor little Wilky's curiosity was excited; he made a start out of
fun, was just entering the battery, when alas! he fell, shot through
the thigh.

On the night of the 25th, a part of the third division, and also one
hundred of the light division, carrying ladders, assailed Picurina,
directed by General Sir James Kempt, and for a long time without
success: no wonder! The ditch was terrifically deep, and narrow at the
bottom. The soldiers walked round the fort, prying into all corners,
and got upon the gate, which they broke down, and then entered,
bayonets in advance. The French grenadiers would not give in—a
desperate bayonetting took place, and much blood was spilt; already
five hundred French soldiers from the town were at hand. The struggle
continued with hard fighting, inside and outside of the fort. The enemy
wished to vie with their comrades who had defended Fort St. Christoval
at the former siege. Victory was some minutes doubtful; at length the
fort was taken, and the reinforcements were beaten back into the town.
I was sitting at the door of my tent, and witnessed all the firing.

The garrison of Badajoz fired every morning, for a few days previously
to the grand assault, a certain number of rounds, as if for practice,
and to measure the ground.

The first order for storming the breaches fixed it to take place on the
5th of April. I was informed that my turn for trench duty fell on that
evening, because the officer just preceding me was out of the way. I
resolved to play a like trick, and for a like reason, namely, not to
miss the assault. I therefore got a friend to persuade the Adjutant to
allow that the men should march off without me, promising to follow. This
anecdote I relate, because of the curious circumstance that it led to.

When I was quite certain that the assault was not to take place that
night, I mounted my horse, and, riding to the entrance of the first
parallel, I gave the animal to my batman, and proceeded on foot. I had
just crossed the trench, and got into a field, taking a short cut, when
I observed two figures making towards me. There was not any firing; a
solemn silence reigned around. Coming up at a half run, I put my hand
to my sword, for the night was clear, and I saw they were not soldiers;
they soon closed on me, demanding boldly, and in Spanish, the way
out of the trenches: I pointed out the road to them, but, an instant
after, suspected they were not _Spaniards_, but spies. I noticed they
kept their hands behind them, and I thought it also very _civil_ of
them not to fire, for I am confident they were well armed. "_Buenas
noches, Señor_," said they, and hastily retired. When I reached the
great battery, and found every body in it asleep, I thought the place
bewitched. This was my last trip to the trenches. Thirteen times I
visited them during the siege.

A long order was issued relative to the positions the troops were to
occupy. On the 6th of April, the day was fine, and all the soldiers in
good spirits, cleaning themselves as if for a review. About two o'clock
I saw Lieutenant Harvest of our regiment; he was sucking an orange,
and walking on a rising ground, alone, and very thoughtful. It gave me
pain, as I knew he was to lead the "forlorn hope". He observed, "My
mind is made up; I am sure to be killed[21]."

At half-past eight o'clock that night the ranks were formed, and
the roll called in an under-tone. Lieutenant-Colonel M'Leod spoke
long and earnestly to the regiment before it joined the division,
expressing the utmost confidence in the result of the attack, and
finished by repeating, that he left it to the honour of all persons to
preserve discipline, and not to commit any cruelty on the defenceless
inhabitants of the town.

The division drew up in the most profound silence behind the large
quarry, three hundred yards from the _three_ breaches, made in the
bastions of la Trinidad, and Santa Maria. A small stream separated
us from the fourth division. Suddenly, a voice was heard from that
direction, giving orders about ladders, so loud, that it might be
heard by the enemy on the ramparts. It was the only voice that broke
on the stillness of the moment; every body was indignant, and Colonel
M'Leod sent an officer to say that he would report the circumstance
to the General-in-Chief. I looked up the side of the quarry, fully
expecting to see the enemy come forth, and derange the plan of attack.
It was at half-past nine this happened, but, at a quarter before ten,
the ill-timed noise ceased, and nothing could be heard but the loud
croaking of the frogs.

At ten a carcass was thrown from the town; this was a most beautiful
fire-work, and illuminated the ground for many hundred yards; two or
three fire-balls followed, and, falling in different directions, showed
a bright light, and remained burning. The stillness that followed was
the prelude to one of the strangest scenes that the imagination of man
can conceive.

Soon after ten o'clock, a little whispering announced that "the forlorn
hope" were stealing forward, followed by the storming parties, composed
of three hundred men, (one hundred from each British regiment of
our division;) in two minutes the division followed[22]. One musket
shot, _no more_, was fired near the breaches by a French soldier,
who was on the look out. We gained ground leisurely—but silently;
there were no obstacles. The 52nd, 43rd, and part of the rifle corps,
closed gradually up to column of quarter distance, left in front;
all was hushed, and the town lay buried in gloom; the ladders were
placed on the edge of the ditch, when suddenly an explosion took
place at the foot of the breaches, and a burst of light disclosed the
whole scene:—the earth seemed to rock under us:—what a sight! The
ramparts crowded with the enemy—the French soldiers standing on the
parapets—the fourth division advancing rapidly in column of companies
on a quarter circle to our right, while the short-lived glare from the
barrels of powder and combustibles flying into the air, gave to friends
and foes a look as if both bodies of troops were laughing at each other.

A tremendous firing now opened on us, and for an instant we were
stationary; but the troops were _no ways daunted_. The only three
ladders were placed down the scarp to descend into the ditch, and
were found exactly opposite the centre breach, and the whole division
rushed to the assault with amazing resolution. There was no check. The
soldiers flew down the ladders, and the cheering from both sides was
loud and full of confidence.

While descending the ladders into the ditch, furious blows were
exchanged amongst the troops in their eagerness to get forward; at
the same time grape-shot and musketry tore open their ranks. The
first officer I happened to see down was Captain Fergusson, who had
led on our storming-party here, and at Rodrigo; he was lying to the
right of the ladders, with a wound on the head, and holding a bloody
handkerchief in his grasp[23]. I snatched it out of his hand, and tied
it round his head. The French were then handing over the fire-balls,
which produced a sort of revolving light. The ditch was very wide,
and when I arrived at the foot of the centre breach, eighty or ninety
men were formed. One cried out, "Who will lead?" This was the work of
a moment. Death, and the most dreadful sounds and cries encompassed
us. It was a volcano! Up we went; some killed, and others impaled on
the bayonets of their own comrades, or hurled headlong amongst the
outrageous crowd.

The _chevaux-de-frise_ looked like innumerable bayonets. When within
a yard of the top, I fell from a blow that deprived me of sensation.
I only recollect feeling a soldier pulling me out of the water, where
so many men were drowned. I lost my cap, but still held my sword. On
recovering, I looked towards the breach. It was shining and empty! fire
balls were in plenty, and the French troops standing upon the walls,
taunting, and inviting our men to come up and try it again.

Colonel M'Leod was killed while trying to force the left corner of the
large breach[24]. He received his mortal wound within three yards of
the enemy, just at the bottom of some nine-feet planks, studded with
nails, and hanging down the breach from under the _chevaux-de-frise_.

At half-past eleven the firing slackened, and the French detached
soldiers from the breaches to repulse the other attacks, and to
endeavour to retake the castle. I heard the enemy calling out on the
ramparts in German, "All is well in Badajoz!"

The British soldiers did as much as _men could do_. The wood-work
of the _chevaux-de-frise_ was ponderous, bristling with short stout
sword-blades fastened in it, and chained together. It was an obstacle
not to be removed, and the French soldiers stood close to it, killing
deliberately every man who approached it. The large breach was at one
time crowded with our brave troops; I mean the fourth division, the
heroes of many hard-fought victories and bloody fields. The light
division had recently been crowned with victory; but to remove such
obstacles was impracticable by living bodies, pushing against them up a
steep breach, and sinking to the knees every step in rubbish, while a
fearless enemy stood behind pushing down fragments of masonry and live
shells, and firing bullets, fixed on the top of pieces of wood, the
sides of which were indented with seven or eight _buck_ shot.

Generals Picton, Colville, Kempt, Bowes, Hervey, Walker, Champlemond,
and almost every officer commanding regiments, besides more than three
hundred officers, and between four and five thousand gallant veteran
soldiers, fell around these walls.

The left breach[25] had not been attempted at all until a quarter
before twelve o'clock, when Captain Shaw of our regiment[26],
collecting about seventy men of different regiments, and with great
difficulty, after such slaughter for two hours, made a desperate effort
to gain the top; but when half-way up, as if by enchantment, he stood
alone. Two rounds of grape and the musketry prevented any more trouble,
for almost the whole of the party lay stretched in various attitudes!

Captain Nichols[27], of the Engineers, was of the number; he now showed
great courage; and when asked by Shaw, if he would try the left breach,
answered he would do any thing to succeed. A grape-shot went through
his lungs, and he died three days after.

This attack was very daring. It was a forlorn hope, under accumulated
dangers; almost all the troops had retired[28], and, a few moments
before, a great alarm was excited by a cry from the heaps of wounded,
that the French were descending into the ditch. To exaggerate the
picture of this sanguinary strife is impossible:—the small groups
of soldiers seeking shelter from the cart-wheels, pieces of timber,
fire-balls, and other missiles hurled down upon them; the wounded
crawling past the fire-balls, many of them scorched and perfectly
black, and covered with mud, from having fallen into the _lunette_,
where three hundred soldiers were suffocated or drowned; and all this
time the French on the top of the parapets, jeering and cracking their
jokes, and deliberately picking off whom they chose. The troops lining
the glacis could not fire sufficiently, as they were terribly exposed,
and could scarcely live from the cross fire of grape-shot.

Colonel Barnard[29] did all in his power to concentrate the different
attacks. It was in vain; the difficulties were too great. But Badajoz
was not the grave of the light division's valour, nor of the fourth
division's either.

Philippon, the governor, a _Frenchman_, and our enemy, gave the full
particulars of this affair to a friend of mine, while travelling
in England; he said that he thought the great explosion would have
finished the business, but he was astonished at the resolution of the
British troops, who, he said, were fine fellows, and deserved a better

The single musket-shot, fired just as the "forlorn hope" descended the
ditch, was a signal of their approach, which shows how determined the
French were to have a good blow-up, for not a ball was fired before
the explosion. The efforts of the garrison to preserve the place did
them much honour. Philippon was determined not to do as the governor
of Ciudad Rodrigo had done. Had not the Earl of Wellington planned the
two extreme attacks by escalade, on the castle, by the third division,
and on the south side of the town by part of the fifth division, and on
the Fort Pardalaras by the Portuguese, the result might have been very
serious. The Duke of Dalmatia was within a few leagues, and opposite
Generals Hill[30] and Graham[31]. The Duke of Ragusa had pushed his
advanced dragoons as far as the Bridge of Boats at Villa Velha, and
at length got entangled in the labyrinths of Portugal. I have heard
and read of sitting down before a town, _opening trenches, blowing up
the counterscarp, and all according to rule; but this was a crisis_,
time was precious, added to which the Guadiana ran in our rear, and
the pontoon bridge had been carried away once during the siege, by the
swelling of the river.

When the French soldiers found that the town was falling by escalade
on the south side, and that the castle was lost to them, they made
an attempt to retake the latter by an old gate, leading towards the
town; that gate was pierced by their musketry in numberless places.
I never saw a target better covered with holes. The third division
had in return twice discharged a gun through it, which made two large
holes. An old handspike was placed under its breech to depress it,
and remained precisely in the same way three days afterwards. The
scaling-ladders were well placed, _five_ quite close together, against
an old round tower. Many slain soldiers had evidently been pushed from
off the parapet, and rolled nearly fifty yards down the hill; some lay
with heads battered to pieces, whilst others were doubled up, looking
scarcely human, and their broken limbs twisted in all directions.

The third division had been obliged to cross the broken bridge over
the small river Revellas, rank entire, (amidst a shower of grape-shot,
bullets, and bursting of shells,) and during the work of death to
drag the unwieldy ladders up a rugged hill, to plant them against the
walls: their first effort failed; many of the enemy then, contrary to
General Philippon's orders, evacuated the Castle, and went to assist
at the breaches. At this moment, Lieutenant-Colonel Ridge of the fifth
regiment called on an officer of his corps, "There, you mount one
ladder, and I will lead up the other. Come on Fifth, I am sure that you
will follow your commanding officer." _He was killed; but the place was

Let us pause and reflect that this act of heroism was executed after a
long and fearful struggle, high walls and defeat staring them in the

The third division then filled the castle, and there remained until day
light. On the south side of the town, General Walker's brigade of the
fifth division[32], hearing the rolling fire at the breaches, became
impatient, and, with a simultaneous rush, gained (by escalade) the
top of the walls, and even formed on the ramparts. On seeing a light,
the cry of a _mine_ was set up, and a short panic ensuing, the enemy
at the same time charging forward at a run with fixed bayonets and
shouting loudly, these troops were forced to give ground. An officer
informed me, that he had thrown himself over the ramparts to save the
colours of his corps, while nearly surrounded by French grenadiers.
This bold fellow had the choice of either being pinned to the wall, or
the risk of breaking his neck: he chose the latter. The rear regiment,
however, fortunately stood firm. Many of the enemy then precipitately
abandoned the town, accompanied by the Governor, crossed the bridge,
and shut themselves up in Fort St. Christoval, on the other side of the
Guadiana; and the next morning surrendered themselves prisoners of war.
This brigade continued to be _hotly_ engaged in the streets during the
_whole night_. Some even asserted, that many of the Spaniards fired
from their windows on our troops, and _held out lights_ to guide the
French; knowing that their property would fall a sacrifice, should the
town be taken.

The place was eventually completely sacked by our troops; every atom
of furniture broken; mattresses ripped open in search of treasure; and
one street literally strewed with articles, knee-deep. A convent was in
flames, and the poor nuns in dishabille, striving to burrow themselves
into some place of security; however, that was impossible; the town was
alive, and every house filled with mad soldiers, from the cellar to the
once solitary garret.

When I examined the three breaches by day, and witnessed the defences
the enemy had made for their protection, I was fully satisfied that
they were impregnable to men; and I do declare, most positively, that
I could not have surmounted the _chevaux-de-frise, even unopposed_, in
the day-time.

Some _talk_ that grappling-irons would have moved them. Who would,
who could have done it? thousands of warlike French soldiers standing
firmly up to the points, not giving an inch, and ready for the fight.
They fought in the streets to the last, and tried to retake the
castle—_Que voulez-vous?_

The _chevaux-de-frise_ were fixed after dark. Round-shot alone could
have destroyed these defences, which were all chained together, and
not made in a temporary manner, as most military men imagine, but
strong and well finished; and the enemy, behind all, had made a deep
cut, over which they had thrown planks, communicating with the town,
besides three field-pieces to enfilade the centre breach, if the
_chevaux-de-frise_ should be seriously shaken. Had it not been for
this, the divisions would have entered like a swarm of bees.

_One man only_ was at the top of the left breach (the heaps of
dead had, as a matter of course, rolled to the bottom), and that
was one of the rifle corps who had succeeded in getting under the
_chevaux-de-frise_. His head was battered to pieces, and his arms and
shoulders torn asunder with bayonet wounds.

Our batteries did not play on the ramparts that night after dark; but
when the explosion took place, the whole of them opened with _blank
cartridge_ in our rear—probably to frighten the enemy, or to make them
keep down; but they were old soldiers, and not to be so done.

Poor M'Leod, in his 27th year, was buried half a mile from the town,
on the south side, nearly opposite our camp, on the slope of a hill.
We did not like to take him to the miserable breach, where, from the
warmth of the weather, the dead soldiers had begun to turn, and their
blackened bodies had swollen enormously; we, therefore, laid him
amongst some young springing corn; and, with sorrowful hearts, six of
us (all that remained of the officers able to stand) saw him covered in
the earth. His cap, all muddy, was handed to me, I being without one,
with merely a handkerchief round my bruised head, one eye closed, and
also a slight wound in my leg.

The country was open. The dead, the dying, and the wounded were
scattered abroad; some in tents, others exposed to the sun by day,
and the heavy dew at night. With considerable difficulty, I found at
length my friend, Lieutenant Madden, lying in a tent with his trowsers
on and his shirt off, covered with blood, bandaged across the body to
support his broken shoulder, laid on his back, and unable to move. He
asked for his brother.—"Why does he not come to see me?" I turned my
head away; for his gallant young brother (a captain of the 52nd) was
amongst the slain!

Captain Merry, of the 52nd, was sitting on the ground sucking
an orange. He said, "How are you?—You see that _I_ am dying; a
mortification has ensued." A grape-shot had shattered his knee; and he
had told the doctor that he preferred death rather than to permit such
a _good leg_ to be amputated. Another officer had just breathed his
last between these two sufferers.

The camp became a wilderness, some of the tents being thrown down,
others vacant, and flapping in the wind, while the musketry still
rattled in the town, announcing the wild rejoicing of our troops.

[Footnote 18: Some Portuguese troops watched the right bank of the
river on the side of Portugal, but, during the latter end of the siege,
part of the fifth division under General Leith took that duty.]

[Footnote 19: I have often been told, from undoubted authority, that
this soldier was one of the first who entered the small breach at
Rodrigo, and whose Stentorian voice rose above the din of arms.]

[Footnote 20: He was mortally wounded at New Orleans, as Brigade-major,
while scrambling up the enemy's lines. His horse had been killed under
him. He was taken prisoner, and died raving mad from the agony of the
wound through his body.]

[Footnote 21: He was killed; and his twin-brother, of the 52nd light
infantry, fell two years after at St. Sebastian, also at the head of
twenty-five volunteers from that regiment.]

[Footnote 22: This was with the exception of the two regiments of
Portuguese Caçadores, who were left in reserve in the quarries; but
many of them afterwards came towards the breaches.]

[Footnote 23: He had also two unhealed body wounds open, which he had
received at Rodrigo, and one in the trenches at Badajoz a few days
before. He now commands the 52nd regiment.]

[Footnote 24: The right corner looking from the ramparts; but, as we
attacked, it was on the left.]

[Footnote 25: There was a trench three feet wide and four deep, cut
between the centre and left breach, which was choked up with the dead
and wounded.]

[Footnote 26: Now Lieut.-Colonel Shaw.]

[Footnote 27: The engineer officers suffered terribly in killed and
wounded during the siege, as they joined in all the desperate attacks.]

[Footnote 28: The fourth and light divisions retired at midnight from
the breaches; but many of the soldiers did not leave the ditch, being
unable to ascend the ladders owing to the heaps of dead and wounded.
The fourth division descended opposite the large breach by only two

[Footnote 29: Now General Sir A. Barnard.]

[Footnote 30: Now Lord Hill, commander-in-chief of the British army.]

[Footnote 31: Now Lord Lynedoch.]

[Footnote 32: The fifth division took the city of Badajoz, and the
third division the castle.]


    Movements of the enemy after the fall of Badajoz—March
      of the British light and third divisions towards Ciudad
      Rodrigo—Dispositions for a fresh campaign—Excellent marching
      arrangement of the light division—Occupation of Salamanca by
      the British, and investment of the forts—Advance of the French
      army—Skirmishing and cannonading—Surrender of the forts by the
      French—English quarters at Rueda, and amusements there—Movements
      of the author's division—A breakfast party broken up—Personal
      escape of the commander-in-chief—Active manœuvres of the
      contending forces—Retrograde movement of the British towards
      Salamanca—Relative position of the two armies—Battle of

The Duke of Dalmatia, on hearing of the fall of Badajoz, retraced his
steps towards Seville, followed by the British cavalry, under General
Sir S. Cotton[33].

On the 11th of April, the light and third divisions crossed the
fine stone bridge to the right bank of the Guadiana, and entered
Campo-Mayor. The march of the troops presented the most warlike
appearance. Many of the soldiers' blood-stained and torn uniforms
were discoloured from explosions; numbers of the soldiers held their
arms in slings, and carried their firelocks and caps slung on their
knapsacks; whilst others were seen with bandaged heads, or lame from
contusions through wounds inflicted by the iron-crows' feet with which
the enemy had strewed the ditch of Badajoz. In this manner did all
those gallant soldiers, who were able to join their ranks, trudge along
for ten days, for the purpose of chasing out of the province of Beira
the Duke of Ragusa, who now blockaded and threatened the fortresses
of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo. Every morning before day light we were
creeping over the rough, flinty, and winding roads along the _Cordon_
of Portugal, until we reached the neighbourhood of Ciudad Rodrigo, from
which place the enemy had retired on our approach.

On the 19th of May, General Sir R. Hill, with the second division,
attacked, and carried by escalade, and destroyed the forts Napoleon,
Ragusa, and the _Tête de Pont_, which guarded the bridge of boats
thrown across the Tagus near Almaraz in Spanish Estremadura. As the
summer came on, officers and soldiers rejoined us with wounds scarcely
healed; others arrived from England to fill up the vacant ranks. A
fresh campaign was in contemplation, and the officers from various
divisions of the army flocked merrily into Ciudad Rodrigo.

On the 12th of June, the army crossed the river Agueda, the light
division leading the centre column. The march of the light division
was worthy of notice. The men were not tormented by unnecessary
parades—the march was their parade; that over, the soldiers (except
those on duty) made themselves happy, while those with sore feet, by
such a system, had rest, which enabled them to be with their comrades,
when, by a mistaken notion of discipline, it would have been otherwise:
their equipment was regularly examined, nor were the men on any
pretence permitted to overload themselves—one of the most serious
afflictions to an army. A general may be endowed with transcendant
abilities, and by a forced march place himself in a situation to
overthrow his enemies; he may possess the number of divisions, and the
number of regiments, but through internal bad management, half his
army may be straggling in the rear. Again, nothing is so pernicious as
keeping the soldiers under arms, while the officers are rambling about:
it destroys all _esprit_, causing the officers to forget the sufferings
of the men after a weary march, and creating feelings of dislike
towards them in the breasts of the soldiers. Such a system did not
exist in the light division; and when a young officer fell in action,
the old soldiers proffered their services with parental care.

The baggage followed the line of march in succession. The mules of each
company were tied together, and conducted by two batmen in rotation,
right or left in front, according to the order of march. Each regiment
found an officer, and each brigade a captain to superintend. The
alarm-post for them in camp was on the reverse flank of respective
regiments. When the enemy were at hand, the baggage was ordered to the
rear,—the distance according to circumstances.

The army was four days clearing the forest, which was clothed with
verdure, and supplied the most delightful bivouacks. The Sierra de Gata
lay on the right hand, covered with snow, while a cloudless sky formed
our canopy, and the sunshine of hope and happiness was beaming on every
countenance, not excepting those of the growling surly batmen, who were
seen to smile at finding forage at hand for their animals.

On the fourth day the division encamped within two leagues of
Salamanca, and quite clear of the wood. The German hussars had an
affair on that day with the enemy's cavalry. The officers of hussars
described it to us, and related the conversation that took place
between them and the French dragoons stationed on picquet in front of
Salamanca. The enemy requested the Germans not to charge; the hussars
replied, while advancing, that if the French fired, they would. The
enemy then fired their carbines to stop their progress. The hussars
charged, and cut most of them down.

The next morning we advanced, and pushed a body of the rifle corps to
feel their way through a village, near Salamanca, which they found to
be unoccupied by the enemy. The division then brought up their left
shoulders, and passed in open column of companies within cannon range
of the forts, situated on the right bank of the Tormes, and within a
short distance of the north side of the town. The enemy stood on the
ramparts to see us pass; the whole plain was covered by our cavalry
and infantry, crowding towards the ford of Santa Martha, where we
all forded the river, and bivouacked a short distance from the town.
The French army had retired, leaving eight hundred men to garrison
the three forts of St. Vincente, Gayetano, and Merced, that were
constructed with the masonry extracted from the different handsome
convents, monasteries, and colleges, which had been pulled down to be
converted into bastions.

The sixth division took possession of Salamanca, and invested the
forts. Soon after we had taken up our ground, most of the officers
hurried into the town; the inhabitants appeared much rejoiced to see
us, and, as I entered, two ladies ran towards me, each seizing a hand.
My Rozinante dropped her head in search of food, as I believe she had
not enjoyed a feed that day, while I looked right and left, and thought
such congratulations very romantic. The _Señoras_, in black silk, put
numerous questions, few of which I could understand, nor am I confident
whether they were civil or military, although, from the expression of
their eyes, I concluded that they were on a _civil_ subject. I much
admired the female peasantry; they were healthy, well-made, with black
eyes, red lips, little feet, and wore red, yellow, and blue petticoats.

Soon after, I ascended to the top of the cathedral, to reconnoitre the
forts, when I had a full view into the interior of them, and saw that
musketry might have been applied with effect from this point. I then
descended, and entered into the festivities and pleasures of the place.

In the evening the town was illuminated, and resounded with music,
while the merry Spanish _muchachas_ were dancing boleros, and striking
their castanets in the streets. The glare of light was reflected from
the bright arms piled in the great square, surrounded by soldiers of
the sixth division, many of whom were destined soon to fall within a
few hundred yards of the fascinating scene.

Our division advanced the next day, and took up its ground a league and
a half in front of Salamanca. On the 20th a staff officer rode up to a
group of us, and said, "The enemy are advancing." I rode up the side
of the position of St. Christoval, and descried them afar off in the
vast plain. The division then fell in, and were ordered to crown the
heights, which they did; and at the same time some Spanish regiments
came in our rear, with two pieces of cannon: the mules became restive;
some went one way, and some another—every way but the right: they
became entangled in their harness; some kicking, and others feeding on
the uncut corn, and, finally, during this mutiny of the mules a gun was
upset, and, rolling over the bank into the road, quite deranged the
dignity of the Spanish march.

The different divisions of the army were now ascending the heights of
St. Christoval at many points. The French army continued to advance,
and soon after began to debouche from the different roads in order of
battle. The view was not obstructed; the country was level, covered
with a sheet of corn, as far as the eye could reach. To those fond of
military evolutions, the scene was bold; to those of more tranquil
habits, time was given to pray for the good of their own souls, and,
if charitably inclined, for the rest of the army.

At first our division deployed on the left of the front line; then
again moved, and took post in the centre of the second line; the whole
army were deployed in two lines, to oppose the enemy, the cavalry to
the right, and also some detached on the left, to scour the plain
between us and Salamanca, where part of the sixth division remained
to cover the forts of that place. The whole army present consisted
of seven divisions, besides cavalry, artillery, the before-mentioned
Spaniards, and some Portuguese infantry.

At five o'clock in the afternoon the French cavalry approached by the
valley to the left of our position, where our light dragoons began to
skirmish with them, and showed some disinclination to give ground; the
enemy brought up six guns, and opened on our squadrons in reserve, when
the dispute ended.

Towards evening the French made an attack on part of the seventh
division, occupying a village at the base, and on the right of our
position; after some sharp work, it was carried by the enemy. A brisk
cannonade then took place to our right between the two armies. Night
put an end to the firing. The whole army slept on their arms in order
of battle, and after dark the picquets were placed at the foot of our

An hour before daybreak, the troops stood to their arms, fully
expecting to be attacked. The dark shades dispersed; the sun rose; both
armies tranquil, notwithstanding their proximity; the enemy were full
in view, without a bush, or any obstacle to prevent close quarters.
Their right was thrown back in _échelon_ of divisions. I suppose our
General-in-chief wished them to come a little nearer, but the Duke of
Ragusa was now cautious, for his army was inferior in numbers.

Our position was covered with uncut corn, which served the cavalry
for forage, and the infantry for beds. The contending armies caused
great devastation, and trampled down the ripe wheat for miles around.
The river Tormes ran about two miles in our rear, with two fords. Our
division was now withdrawn from the line, and placed as a column of
reserve in rear and centre of the army: it protected the fords in our
rear, and might be used as a moveable mass either to resist cavalry, or
assist where required.

The Earl of Wellington was stationary from morning till night, watching
the enemy, generally alone and on foot, at the crest of the hill, and
in the centre of the position. His staff approached him one at a time
to receive orders. At night the Earl slept on the ground, wrapped in
his cloak.

The troops were much inconvenienced for want of water, as the river
was at some distance, and only a few men could be spared, since it was
impossible to know at what moment the enemy might not attack. Some
Spanish ladies came from Salamanca, and walked through our lines. On
the third night the French retired; our division took ground to the
right, and were posted on the bare and conical hill of Cabrerizos. It
appeared necessary that the forts and the command of the bridge at
Salamanca should be secured before we made any forward movement. The
Duke of Ragusa evidently wished to gain time, and to continue in the
vicinity to succour the forts, also to infuse courage into the little
garrisons, until his reinforcements should arrive.

The Earl of Wellington remained on the hill of Cabrerizos the whole
day. The sun shone with great brilliancy, and it was burning hot.
One of the soldiers of the 43d put up a blanket to keep the rays of
the sun from his lordship. Our bivouac presented a droll appearance,
as the whole division had hoisted blankets in a similar manner. A
Spanish _muchacha_, with sandy hair, named Agueda, from the _pueblo_
of Fuente de Guinaldo, who preferred the sound of the bugle-horn to
her domestic occupations, was the sole female to be seen amid the
sun-burnt soldiers, and the brilliant masses, that now covered hill and
dale, ready at a moment to deploy in battle array. The breaches at the
forts were now considered practicable. At about nine o'clock at night
the attack commenced; but after some time the firing became slack, and
I saw three rockets thrown up from the forts; they were immediately
answered by several rounds of artillery from the French army, on a
rising ground two leagues to our right, which instantly satisfied me
that the assault had not succeeded, and that it was done as a signal
that they were still at hand.

On the morning of the 25th, at daylight, we heard some firing on
the other side of the Tormes during a dense fog, which at first
prevented the force of the enemy from being ascertained. The Earl of
Wellington would not move. The soldiers laughed, and said, "Oh, they
are only shaking their blankets on the other side of the water;" for
in heavy weather musketry produced sounds such as I have described. As
the fog cleared away, a few rounds of artillery took place; and the
General-in-Chief sent a sufficient body of troops by the ford in rear
of St. Christoval to meet the enemy. When the atmosphere cleared, we
saw about a division of the French moving towards Salamanca. They were
opposed by our heavy cavalry, which had been placed there to secure the
flank and rear of our army.

At seven that evening, the French re-crossed, unmolested, to the right
bank of the Tormes, by a ford a league to our right. I did not consider
the movement a serious one, but merely as intended to encourage the
soldiers in the forts to hold out.

On the 27th, St. Vincente being in flames, the enemy permitted our
troops to ascend the breaches without opposition. It was a sort of half
assault and half surrender. The troops in the other forts also laid
down their arms, having suffered severely; and only marched out three
hundred out of eight, their original force, and many of those scorched
by the flames, or otherwise hurt.

The army now moved forward. Our division supported the cavalry, and
advanced towards Ruêda. On the 2d of July, Captain Bull's horse
artillery and the cavalry overtook the enemy's rear guard near that
place. Although the country appeared open, it was unfit for cavalry, as
it was intersected with small vines, the size of gooseberry-bushes. On
entering the town, I observed five of the French killed from the fire
of the six-pounders.

The division bivouacked round the town; and the next morning we
moved about two leagues in advance, and rather to the left, where an
interchange of shots took place between the left of our army and the
enemy, near Pollos, who had no idea of permitting us to cross the Douro
at that time, as the French Marshal wished to maintain his line on that
river for the base of his future operations. We then returned, and took
up our quarters in Ruêda. Pay was issued, all of which we spent in
gaieties and _iced wines_. The inhabitants had all returned to their
dwellings. The mayor was informed that the officers would give a ball;
when he procured _Señoritas_, according to custom. It was extremely
pleasant, with waltzing, and all the fascinating mazes of the Spanish
country-dance in perfection. The Marquis of Worcester, and others of
the Earl of Wellington's staff attended.

On the evening of the 16th July our division was ordered to quit Ruêda,
and marched the whole night over a dusty and arid country; and towards
morning we took up our ground near Castréjon. During this day the
Valencians (commonly called the lemonade-men) came into our bivouac,
the sure harbingers of the approach of the enemy. These men wear a
spiral cap, of felt or leather, and have jet black ringlets hanging
down each side of their dark olive faces; and their fierce black eyes
give them a noble expression of countenance. A white linen jacket is
thrown over the shoulder, and a red sash encircles their loins; they
also wear a white linen kilt, like our Highland soldiers, reaching to
the cap of the knee; the white half stockings are gartered under the
knee, which is bare; and hempen sandals are tied round the feet. They
carry a long tin can, strapped on their backs, cased in the bark of the
cork-tree, which keeps cool the lemonade with which they are filled.
These men generally marched with the French columns, and acted as spies
to both parties. Just before nightfall, the company was ordered a
quarter of a league to the front on picquet; the country was open, and,
as the cavalry passed, I heard a staff-officer giving orders, which led
me to suspect that the enemy were at hand.

At break of day on the 18th, a few shots were exchanged to our right;
the firing increased, and the cheering might be distinctly heard at
intervals, as the sun rose above the horizon.

Our dragoons became visible while retiring before the enemy's horse and
light artillery, which at intervals were blazing away. The scene was
sublime and beautiful. An officer said to me, "There will be a row this
day; however, we had better get our breakfast, as God knows _when_ we
shall have any thing to eat, unless we take advantage of the present
moment." The tea service being laid out, and a stubble fire kindled,
to warm the bottom of the kettle, we suddenly espied some squadrons of
French heavy dragoons in a valley to our right, pushing for the main
road at full trot. An absurd and ludicrous scene now took place. The
crockery was thrown into the hampers; also the kettle, half filled with
hot water; another officer, who had come to _déjeûne_ with us, from the
rear, all the while vociferating, "God bless me! you will not desert my
mule and hampers; they are worth four hundred dollars." In fact, to get
off seemed impossible; the company, however, formed column of sections,
and fixed bayonets, fully determined to cover the old mule, who went
off with a rare clatter, and we after him, in double-quick time. The
enemy were now within two hundred yards of us, brandishing their
swords, and calling out, when they suddenly drew up on seeing some of
our cavalry hovering on their right flank. A rivulet, with steep banks,
ran parallel with the road; but we soon found a ford, where we drew up,
intending to dispute the passage. The right brigade of our division
had moved forward, and had deployed to the succour of our dragoons
first engaged, about half a mile to our right. Soon after this, two
squadrons of our light dragoons formed on a rising ground, two hundred
yards from us, with two pieces of horse artillery on their right, when
about an equal number of French heavy cavalry, handsomely dressed, with
large fur caps, made rapidly towards them, our guns throwing round
shot at them during their advance. When they had arrived within one
hundred yards of our squadrons, they drew up to get wind, our dragoons
remaining stationary[34].

A French officer, the chef d'escadron, advanced and invited our people
to charge, to beguile a few moments, while his squadrons obtained a
little breathing time. He then held his sword on high, crying aloud,
"_Vive l'Empereur! en avant, Français!_" and rushed on single-handed,
followed by his men, and overthrowing our light dragoons. The guns had
fortunately limbered up, and the horse-artillery fought round them
with great spirit, the enemy trying to cut the traces, while the poor
drivers held down their heads, sticking their spurs into the horses'
sides with all their might, and passed the ford under cover of our
picquet. The Earl of Wellington was in the thick of it, and only
escaped with difficulty. He also crossed the ford, with his straight
sword drawn, at full speed, and smiling. I did not see his lordship
when the charge first took place, but he had a most narrow escape; and,
when he passed us, he had not any of his staff near him, and was quite
alone, with a ravine in his rear.

A few stragglers of each party still continued engaged, and this
part of the affray took place within twenty yards of us. One of our
dragoons came to the water with a frightful wound; his jaw was entirely
separated from the upper part of his face, and hung on his breast; the
poor fellow made an effort to drink in that wretched condition.

The round shot now flew in various directions; one spun through a
cottage behind us, and the shepherd ran out in great terror. The light
division now commenced its retreat from the vicinity of Castréjon. The
French had crossed the river Douro with reinforcements, and had made an
amazing march to take us in flank. We had only retrograded a short way,
when we obtained a view of the bulk of the French army, pushing forward
on a ridge of hills to our left. The first false attack had been made
at daylight on our right and in front, merely to draw all our force
to that point, while the Duke of Ragusa executed this movement. The
fourth division were retiring in mass, within range of the enemy's
fire, being critically situated in the valley, while the French cannon
rolled on the crest of the hills above, and poured in their shot with
effect on their right flank.

Our division was obliquely to the rear, in column of quarter distance,
with fixed bayonets, ready to form square,[35] surrounded by large
bodies of our cavalry. To avoid an action seemed impossible. The
enemy's infantry were almost on the run, and we were marching away from
them as hard as we could. While the round shot from a flank fire flew
over us, a French division came running to engage and detain us until
others came up, and obliged us to abandon the road, and trample down
a tract of wheat. The heavy German cavalry drew close round us. The
country was open, and a vast sheet of corn enveloped us for many miles.
The men became much distressed, owing to the rapidity of the movements
and heat of the day. We were again enabled to regain the road (owing to
our numerical superiority of cavalry), which made a curve down a gentle
descent; and the men descried, at a short distance, a dirty meandering
stream, called the Guarena, near Castrillo. A buzz ran through the
ranks that water was at hand, and the soldiers were impelled forward,
with their eyes staring and mouths open; and when within fifty yards
of the stream, a general rush was made. I never saw the troops during
my service so thirsty. The discipline of the division was such, that
I have seen them pass clear water, unbroken, in the hottest weather,
suffering under fatigue known only to those under the weight of a
knapsack and accoutrements.

All this took place under a cannonade, which had continued, at
intervals, for more than ten miles. This was following up with a
vengeance. We had no sooner crossed the river than some squadrons of
the enemy's cavalry galloped up a hill immediately overlooking us. The
division now moved more leisurely; and every one was aware that had our
cavalry given way, the division must have halted to repulse charges,
which would have given time for the French infantry to come up; and had
that been the case, the struggle must have been very sanguinary. Our
reserves now being at hand, we soon halted on a round hill, and showed
front. The fourth division did the same; when a brigade of the enemy,
covered with dust, came in contact with an equal number of the fourth
division; who, firing a volley, charged with the bayonet, and overthrew
the French in good style, taking many prisoners.

The French army had done their best to overtake us, but became glad
of a halt as well as ourselves, and the firing ceased. We remained
stationary during the day, when I fell asleep; and after some time,
I suddenly awoke, with my lips glued together, and my person almost
roasted by the scorching rays of the sun; and actually crawled some
distance before I knew where I was. Dry biscuit was served out; but
we could not get any water until eleven at night, when I obtained a
draught of dirty water out of my batman's canteen; however, it cooled
my inside; and I believe that many hundreds dreamed that night of
limpid streams.

On the 19th the troops stood to their arms an hour before daybreak;
but the enemy continued stationary, and well they might, as they
had made the previous night and day an enormous march to cut us off
in detail, according to the Duke of Ragusa's favourite expression;
however, at four o'clock in the afternoon the Earl of Wellington rode
up to Lieutenant Wilkinson of the 43d, who was on picquet, and said,
"What are the enemy doing?" Wilkinson replied, "The French are in
motion." The dust was flying upwards from behind the ridge of hills
in our front. The General-in-chief said, "Yes—to the right now;" and
ordered the first brigade of our division to make a corresponding
movement, by crossing a valley, to prolong our right. We ascended a
high hill, and formed on our original front, when the French army
issued from behind the hills, presenting a martial appearance, and a
grand display of moving squadrons, with brazen helmets, and a great
body of infantry flanked by their cannon.

The river Guarena was nearly dried up, and was the only obstacle
between the contending armies, as the face of the country still
continued bare and hilly, without even a tree to be seen. The Duke of
Ragusa entered the valley to reconnoitre, surrounded by a numerous
staff, when two guns of our horse-artillery opened, and a ball struck
on the ground, and knocked up the dust in the very centre of the group,
without killing any one: they took the hint, and shifted their ground.

Eight of the enemy's guns instantly began a heavy firing on our
brigade: the first shot struck an officer of the horse-artillery on
the side of his helmet, and displaced him from his horse; after a
short time the brigade went to the right about, to get out of range.
At that moment the Spaniards[36] attached to us simultaneously started
from the left of each regiment, and I do not recollect ever seeing
them afterwards: it was most ludicrous to witness the flight of these
patriots, in disorder, while our troops retired sloping their arms with
the utmost _sang-froid_. We soon halted, and faced about; the enemy's
guns ceased to play, and a large force of our light dragoons mounted
the hill in our rear, with sloped swords. Night coming on, we formed
columns in case of accidents. An officer and myself then stole down
the hill on horseback, in search of water for ourselves and animals:
having passed our advanced posts some distance, and hearing strange
voices, we looked at each other, and whispered that to go further would
be indiscreet, wherefore, rejoining the column, we wrapped ourselves
in our cloaks, and fell into a profound slumber, out of which we were
awakened by a great bustle and the trampling of horses. Word passed
to stand to our arms, and the Portuguese Caçadores fired some shots,
but I was so overcome by drowsiness, that I continued in a squatting
position, rubbing my eyes, too lazy to move. The confusion was caused
by two or three mules breaking their ropes, and becoming lively; not
unusual amongst such animals.

On the 20th our division concentrated soon after daylight, and
descended into the plain of Velesa, where we observed our whole army
formed in a dense phalanx, ready to deploy in order of battle. The
French army were not in sight; however, it was evident they intended
to avail themselves of the high ground; a brigade of our cavalry had
pushed half way up the ridge, to entice them to show front, and to
develope their movements, as it appeared during the night they had
moved on a quarter circle, round our extreme right flank, and were
now pushing on, and trying to cut off our communications. The Duke of
Ragusa would not accept battle as long as he could gain ground without
it, unless we attacked at a disadvantage, as he seemed to be a perfect
master of the localities of the country.

Our army, under all these circumstances, broke up, and began to
retreat, the different divisions arranged in such a manner, that,
should it become necessary, by wheeling to the left, they could show
front, and be ready to engage, the more particularly as both armies
were again moving parallel to each other; and in this order they
continued some leagues, and bivouacked. It became necessary for the
troops to cook with fires of stubble, as there was not any wood in the
neighbourhood. A brigade of Portuguese cavalry happened to be left at
some distance in the rear, and, as it slowly retired in line, presented
such an imposing _front to their own rear_, that, by mistake, an
artillery officer ordered them to be saluted by a couple of shot, which
unfortunately did some execution.

On the 21st, two hours before daylight, we began our march, branching
off towards Salamanca, and took up our ground in the valley, below St.
Christoval, the enemy having moved on Alba de Tormes and its vicinity.
Toward evening, we fell in, and crossed the Tormes by a ford, under
the hill of Cabrerizos, and marched in the direction of Salamanca, the
river being on our right hand. Night approached, and a German hussar
passed us at full speed, and said, "_She's co-ming_," meaning the
French dragoons, who had pushed forward to the village of Calbarasa de

The atmosphere became now overspread with an unusual darkness; the
thunder began to roll, the lightning was vivid, and the rain fell in
torrents. During the storm a whole troop of horses galloped past at
full speed, without their riders, having broke loose from fright,
caused by the loud claps of thunder. Continuing our march, we soon
bivouacked about two miles from Salamanca, our left wing resting on the
Tormes, and in vain attempted to screen ourselves from the pelting of
the storm. However, the morning of the 22d broke beautiful and serene;
and at six o'clock we heard to our right, and about two miles to the
front, a brisk fire of small arms, which continued for an hour, and
then died away. The enemy had attacked the seventh division, in a wood
near the heights of Nuestra Señora de la Pena, to ascertain whether
the Earl of Wellington intended to give up Salamanca. A young officer
was washing his shirt in the Tormes when the order came to fall in at
eleven o'clock, and was under the necessity of putting it on wringing

The light division advanced, and took up the ground which the seventh
division had occupied in the morning; the wood extended a short way to
our front. The division was formed in open column, concealed from a
small body of the enemy, who were stationed in small force half a mile
to our front, with two pieces of cannon, on some rocks, round the old
_quinta_ of Nuestra Señora de la Pena. From our situation we formed a
corps of reserve, communicating with the third division placed on the
top of the conical hill of Cabrerizos, on our extreme left, and rather
in advance of us, on the right bank of the Tormes.

We had no sooner piled arms, than I began to look about me. A _Table
Mountain_, or rather one of _Los dos Arapiles_, was a short way to the
right, and a mile to the front, with a very large mass of troops formed
behind it, in contiguous columns, with one red regiment presenting
their front towards the enemy in _line_ at the top of it. Large bodies
of cavalry, the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh divisions
of infantry, with a proportion of artillery, composed the right and
centre of the army in the plain, towards Las Torres; also a corps
of _Spanish Patriots_. Placed thus, who could have thought that the
General-in-Chief intended that day to retreat? I _never did_. Nor could
I see the reason for it: it seemed advisable to beat the French before
_El Rey_ Joseph coming from Madrid, and General Chauvel, who, with a
reinforcement of cavalry and horse-artillery, had crossed the Duoro,
near Pollos, should make their appearance with additional forces.

The arrangement of our troops was inimitable; _years_ could not have
improved it. Our right had been fairly turned since the 20th; the army
were presenting a new front, so that the _first_ or _last_, whichever
it may be termed, of military movements was to be effected, that is for
the contending armies to _change places_. The French could not attack
our left that day; if they had, the right of their army must have been
either surrounded or cut to pieces. The third division would have hung
on their flank, the light division would have engaged them in front,
the masses behind the Table Mountain could have debouched on either
side, while our cavalry, artillery, and the rest of the army, could
have moved forward, and attacked the left of the French in the plain,
which must have advanced to support such a movement. The Table Mountain
is the mark of the French marshal's discomfiture. Military men say the
French ought to have taken possession of it: but was their army up and
strong enough to maintain it? The advance of the enemy at six o'clock
in the morning was not that of their whole force: I should say, that
it was merely a _reconnaissance_; half a dozen squadrons of cavalry
and a division of infantry must not be taken for a whole army. Nor had
the French soldiers wings; for in justice to them, more could not have
been done by legs. The Duke of Ragusa might have had his army in hand,
and could have placed a corps of observation where his centre stood;
then towards evening manœuvred with his main body at a greater distance
from our right flank, and threatened to cut us off from Rodrigo, (and
thereby change positions with us) until nightfall; at the same time
keeping his communications open with Alba de Tormes, in the event of
his not deeming it advisable to follow up such a movement the next day.
At all events, the French general would have gained time, which was
precious to him, as reinforcements were on the road to join him. The
fact was, the French marshal was completely out-generalled: the Table
Mountain puzzled him; and the third division descending from Cabrerizos
at twelve o'clock, and raising clouds of dust as they passed along the
rear of our army[37], caused the Duke of Ragusa to imagine that we
were drawing off, which I am confident led him to take hasty measures,
forgetting that he had been manœuvring only on _blank_ ground the four
previous days. The Earl of Wellington saw his over haste and his error;
knowing that to support such an extension of the left, the enemy ought
to have advanced in force on the village of the Arapiles, or that they
must expose their left to a flank attack, which they did. On the other
hand, had they advanced towards the Arapiles in the plain in force, our
right and centre would have become engaged, and the troops concealed
behind the Table Mountain could have debouched, and hovered on their
right flank.

This was the first _general action_ fought on the Peninsula, where
the Earl of Wellington _attacked_; which led the French marshal still
farther from his reckoning. The General-in-Chief, of course, did not
wish to fritter away his army in useless skirmishes, and therefore only
waited for a _fit moment_ to bring it fairly in contact with the enemy,
to _finish_ well when once commenced; and as the Duke of Ragusa brought
himself to action within the precincts of Salamanca, the advantage was
ours, the wounded soldiers having speedy assistance, while those of
the enemy who managed to drag themselves far from the field, endured
the most distressing privations. The French were formed on the heights
behind the village of the Arapiles, with an extensive forest in their

The field of battle generally was composed of light sand, with a few
straggling blades of parched grass. A very light breeze blew towards
the French, which gave them the benefit of the clouds of dust and
the volumes of smoke arising from the immense masses in motion,
notwithstanding the heavy rain on the preceding night. Near one P. M.
the third division were passing in rear of ours. I was strolling about,
here and there coming across a dead or wounded soldier of those who had
fallen in the morning, when a Portuguese caught my attention. He was
resting on his elbows with his legs extended, suffering indescribable
pain from a wound in his stomach; his face pale, his lips discoloured,
and stifled groans issuing from his nearly lifeless body, while an
almost tropical sun was shining on his uncovered head.

Soon after the third division had reached its destination, a column
of French descended a hill _en masse_ on our extreme right, towards
the village of Miranda. Three eighteen-pounders opened on them, which
took full effect, and spoiled their regularity. The enemy hesitated,
while the discharges of our heavy ordnance were overthrowing all
opposition. They went to the right-about to get out of range. Our
columns, formed behind the Table Mountain, now debouched in double
time, showing the French Marshal that the long-expected crisis was at
hand. A sharp fire of musketry opened on some companies of the seventh
fusileers, supported by the light companies of the foot guards, as
they broke through the village of the Arapiles at half-past two. The
third division had already brought up their right shoulders, and were
pushing on very successfully, when the enemy's horse furiously charged
the grenadiers and right of the 5th regiment, while advancing in line,
which they repulsed and continued their movement. The fire gradually
increasing, at half-past four the armies were well in contact. The
musketry rolled without intermission, only interrupted by the still
louder artillery. The fourth division, breathless, amidst showers
of grape, musketry, and round-shot, had succeeded in planting their
standards on the crest of the enemy's position; but at that moment a
French division, in close column, and at a run, with fixed bayonets,
forced them down the hill, whilst others advanced on their left flank,
which was exposed, and carried the centre of the battle again into the
valley; but our heavy cavalry, in the right centre, were bearing down
all opposition, driving the left of the enemy before them, and putting
them into the greatest confusion. Major-General Le Marchant was killed
heading this charge. Marshal Beresford[38], Generals Leith, Cole,
and Alten, were wounded. On the part of the French that fell, were
the Duke of Ragusa, Generals Fercy, Thomieres, Desgraviers, Bonnet,
Clausel, and Menne, besides their losing numerous prisoners, standards,
and cannon. At six the battle was at the height—no cessation of
musketry, and the cannon of both armies thundering away as if there
were to be no end of it. The columns of smoke and dust were rolling up
in dense volumes, so that the atmosphere became dark above the bloody
scene; yet there was not a cloud to be descried, except those which
arose from the battle. A Spanish peasant was looking on with his arms
folded; I heard him exclaim, "_Que grandisimo mundo!_[39]"

The inhabitants of Salamanca were crowding the places of public
worship, to offer up prayers for the success of our arms. _Apropos_, it
was Sunday.

At half-past six, a brigade of Portuguese guns opened on the enemy,
in front of our division. At seven, the Prince of Orange, one of the
General-in-Chief's aides-de-camp rode up, and ordered our division to
move on the left to attack. We moved towards the Table Mountain, right
brigade in front, in open column; having passed it, we then closed
to column of quarter distance. The enemy's skirmishers soon advanced,
and opened a brisk fire. The shades of evening now approached, and
the flashes of cannon and small arms in the centre and on the heights
were still vivid, while the enemy were making their last struggle
for victory. An English officer of General Pack's brigade passed us,
covered with dust and perspiration; he complained of the rough usage
of the French. They allowed the Portuguese to approach nearly to the
summit of the point of attack, then charged them, and used the bayonet
without remorse, taking that part of the field under their especial

The enemy's light infantry increased, and retired very deliberately;
the ascent was gentle. The first brigade deployed, supported by the
second; the first division was marching in reserve.

Our skirmishers were obliged to give ground to the obstinacy of the
enemy; and nearly ceased firing. The line marched over them, dead and

Appearances indicated a severe fight, for we were near the enemy's
reserves. The Earl of Wellington was within fifty yards of the front,
when the adverse lines commenced firing. The General-in-Chief ordered
us to halt within two hundred yards of the enemy. They gave us two
volleys with cheers, while our cavalry galloped forward to threaten
their right flank. At this time I heard that a musket-ball had
perforated the Earl's cloak, folded in front of his saddle. As we were
about to charge, the enemy disappeared, not being in sufficient force
to withstand the attack. This advance was beautifully executed.

Night coming on, the firing died away. Thus ended a battle which bore
on the destinies of Europe, by showing the decline of French power in
Spain, and leaving the British army for the first time free to pursue
their enemy at pleasure. It lasted six hours.—Our line continued its
movement. A French cavalry picquet fired on us at ten; the _ruse de
guerre_ would not do[40]. We continued to advance until midnight; and
bivouacked round a village.

The Duke of Ragusa was carried off the field by a company of French
grenadiers. He had manœuvred well, from the 19th till the battle, and
had moved round our flank on a half circle.

As morning dawned on the 23rd, the light division advanced, supported
by the first division, and crossing the ford, near Huerta, formed
_en masse_ in a valley, while the heavy German dragoons ascended the
hill, moving on the left of the enemy. After some time we debouched.
The Germans made a brilliant charge, and broke the French rear guard,
formed on the side of a hill near La Serna. They suffered much. The
whole of the enemy had not formed square. I observed five hundred stand
of muskets on their left, lying on the ground in line, as if they had
been piled and knocked down, and the owners had shifted as well as they
could; the muskets were not grounded to the front, but lying sideways.
The enemy only formed two squares. I saw a man and horse dead, the
rider still in his saddle. They must have received their mortal wounds
at the same instant.

On mounting the hill, the enemy's army were in full view, in one great
mass. Our horse artillery threw some shot into them. The troops soon
halted, and the enemy were seen no more.

[Footnote 33: Now Lord Combermere.]

[Footnote 34: The company was formed up, and fronting the right flank
of our dragoons. We, therefore, had an admirable view of the space
between the combatants. The soldiers of the company had made ready,
holding their firelocks horizontally, or rather at the charging
position, but to have fired would have been rather unchivalric, and
would probably have destroyed the valiant French officer, who, though
our enemy, was an honour to his country.]

[Footnote 35: Six companies of the second battalion of rifles joined us
on the retreat, just arrived from England.]

[Footnote 36: During this campaign only a few Spaniards were attached
to each British regiment in our division.]

[Footnote 37: The third division did not pass through Salamanca, when
they descended from the hill of Cabrerizos. They forded the Tormes, and
passed within a mile in rear of us.]

[Footnote 38: Now Lord Beresford.]

[Footnote 39: He was the only peasant I ever saw in battle, except one
who offered his services at Vittoria, to conduct our division over
an unprotected bridge, when the second shot fired took off the poor
fellow's head.]

[Footnote 40: It has been affirmed, that the firing of the French
picquet of dragoons in the forest caused us to go too much to the left.
On the contrary, we were moving directly towards the ford of Huerta,
on the Tormes, as it was supposed that the Spaniards left in the old
castle of Alba de Tormes would prevent the enemy crossing the bridge at
that place. These Spaniards, however, unknown to the General-in-Chief,
had surrendered the day before.]


    Well-performed retreat of the French after the battle of
      Salamanca—Progress of the English troops—Description of the
      Spanish plains and towns—Custom of the _Siesta_—Movements of
      Joseph Bonaparte—Bivouac at Olmedo, and ball given there by
      Lord Wellington—Advance of the British army, and entry into
      Valladolid—A swimming adventure—Illness of the author, and
      his removal to the town of Cuellar—Timorous conduct of the
      Portuguese dragoons—The English army enters Madrid—Incidents
      attending the author's further removal as an invalid to
      Salamanca—General position of affairs on the Continent—Operations
      of Sir R. Hill—Re-capture of Valladolid—Unsuccessful siege of
      Burgos—Various movements of the forces.

A great portion of the French army had marched more than twelve
leagues[41] in thirty-six hours, (advancing and retreating from the
field of battle,) and had also been engaged in hard-fighting six hours
out of that time; therefore, until the night of the 23d, they had
hardly made a halt for any considerable time during two days and a
night, and I think I may venture to assert, that the rapidity of their
movements, before and after the action, and their ultimate escape
under Gen. Clausel from the very jaws of destruction, are equally

Early on the morning of the 24th of July, we passed Pena-Aranda, from
whence the inhabitants sallied out, loaded with bread, wine, and
liquors, and rent the air with their acclamations in praise of the
glorious victory that we had won over the French; and even the little
boys straddled out their legs and bent forward their heads in derision
of the enemy's soldiers, to represent to us to what a state of distress
and exhaustion they were reduced. As we passed onwards, numerous
objects of commiseration, lying by the side of the road, reminded us of
the miseries of war in all its horrors: many of the French soldiers lay
dead, exposed to the scorching rays of the sun, which had so blistered
their faces, and swelled their bodies, that they scarcely represented
human forms, and looked more like some huge and horrible monsters, of
gigantic dimensions, than any thing else. It is impossible to convey
an adequate idea of such spectacles, or of the sensations they must
have endured during their last agonies. These, now inanimate, objects
had marched over sandy plains, without a tree to shelter them, while
suffering from fatigue, sore feet, and want of water; then crowding
into the battle, covered with dust, and under a scorching sun, they
had received severe wounds, and were finally dragged, or carried
on rudely-constructed bearers, from the scene of action, during
excruciating torture, and ultimately left to perish by the side of the
roads, or on stubble land, with their parched tongues cleaving to the
roof of their mouths, and (to complete their miseries) before breathing
their last sigh, to behold, with glazed and half-closed eyes, the
uplifted hand of a Spanish assassin, armed with a knife, to put an end
to their existence. These dreadful fates awaited the defeated French
soldiers in Spain; it was impossible to gaze on the mutilated bodies
of these our enemies without feelings of deep commiseration for our
fellow-creatures, who, a day or two previously, had been alive like
ourselves, and perhaps the admiration of their comrades.

The vast _campos_ in Leon, the two Castiles, and other parts of
Spain, are apparently interminable sandy plains, covered with corn or
small stumpy vines. In summer, many of the principal rivers become
very shallow, and numerous tributary streams are dried up, leaving
their winding beds, or indentures, filled with pebbles. In many parts
there is not a tree, a hedge, or a shrub to mark private or public
boundaries, nor a drop of water to be procured. The shapeless roads, or
beaten tracts, are ancle-deep in sand, and in some places fifty yards
wide; at other spots branching off into three or four paths, which
again join at a given point. During the excessive heat of the day a
solemn silence frequently pervades these immense plains; and the high
steeples of churches, or the venerable turrets of monasteries of _las
villas_, or _pueblos_, alone present a land-mark, and direct the weary
footsteps of the traveller.

The towns are constructed of ancient massive buildings of stone or
dingy brick, (the lower windows barred with iron,) intermixed with
innumerable churches, convents, and religious edifices of the most
ancient construction.

During the middle of the day all shops are closed by a pair of unwieldy
doors, and the inhabitants enjoy their middle sleep or _siesta_.
At this hour the streets may be traversed without meeting a single
person, and the great monastic edifices stand in solemn grandeur as
monuments of that superstition exercised by the monks at the time of
their foundation in the darker ages. As soon as the scorching heat has
somewhat subsided, the doors are thrown open, and towards evening the
streets are thronged by merry dancers and songstresses; the tinkling of
the guitar is heard from the casements, balconies, and verandas; the
servant maids go chatting and laughing to the fountains; the muleteers
lead their animals to water; the peasant girls bring in cans of goat's
milk, and the shopkeepers sit at their portals without coats, having
their shirt sleeves tucked up, and smoking cigars.

On the 25th we made a halt to enable the stragglers and stores of the
army to come up. On the same day El Rey Joseph had arrived at Blasko
Sancho, near Arevalo, with a reinforcement, principally composed
of Spaniards, for the purpose of joining the Duke of Ragusa; but
on gaining intelligence of the defeat his troops had sustained at
Salamanca, he countermarched in the evening towards his capital,
leaving a picquet of cavalry behind at Blasko Sancho, who were all
taken prisoners, while carousing in a wine-house, by a corporal's party
of the 14th light horse. About this time General Sir R. Hill had moved
with the second division on Zafra, in Estremadura, to observe a French
force in that quarter.

On the 28th our division bivouacked round the ancient town of Olmedo,
where the Earl of Wellington gave a ball, with a general _invite_
to all those officers who liked to attend. The Alcalde selected the
different ladies as usual, whose merry hearts and supple forms were
always ready for the dance.

The following morning, an hour before daylight, we advanced, and it was
a droll sight to see the officers sleeping as they rode along after
the fatigues of the previous night, still dressed in their ball attire,
such as crimson, light blue, or white trowsers, richly embroidered with
gold or silver, velvet and silk waistcoats of all colours, decorated
in a similar manner: dandies ready alike for the dance and the fight;
most of them had received a wound, and others more, nor can I call to
mind one of the officers present at this time, including the senior
officer, who had reached twenty-five years of age. Owing to the heat of
the weather, it was the fashion of the times to wear the jacket open,
which was the only particle of dress left to denote to what nation we
belonged; as to any other uniformity for the officers, it was quite
out of the question: the fantastical dresses of those days would have
confounded the most ancient or modern disciplinarians.—The enemy still
continued their flight across the Douro through Valladolid, which city
the Marquis of Wellington entered on the 30th, at the head of a large
body of horse. The country on the banks of the Douro is remarkably
sandy, and highly cultivated with vines; we forded to the left bank
of the river on that day within two leagues of Valladolid. While
our baggage was crossing, a batman and pony got out of their depth,
and were carried down the stream a considerable distance; and so
determined was the soldier to hold on, that he disdained, at the risk
of his life, to quit his charge, and continued swimming until a rope
was thrown to him, by the assistance of which he conveyed the little
animal and his master's portmanteaus safe on shore.

We had no sooner heard of the large town in the vicinity, than we
began to prepare for the visit; however, it struck me that it would be
very refreshing to enjoy a swim first, and also wishing my horse to
participate in the luxury, I stripped myself and mounted its back, and
together we plunged into the stream; but, as ill luck would have it,
for a moment, the provoking animal hardly made any exertion, so down
he went, and thinking there was no time to be lost, I sprang from his
back; but owing to his plunging I received a slanting kick on my chest,
such as most probably would have proved fatal, had the full weight of
the blow struck me direct. The animal, however, soon recovered itself,
and swimming with the current, it was with considerable difficulty I
succeeded in getting it on shore.

Valladolid is a fine old city, (with a spacious square,) the
inhabitants of which were glad to see us, but evinced none of those
rapturous and warm expressions of delight displayed by those of

The next morning we crossed the river, and branched off in the
direction of Madrid. Having halted a day or two, we again became in
motion, and struck on an excellent road, leading to the capital. Many
exclaimed, "Is this the road to Madrid? are we really going to the
capital of Spain, the centre of romance"? My mind was filled with all
sorts of illusions, and various anticipations of pleasure; my rest
was disturbed, and my dreams were of Madrid; every day's march was
counted, every object brought something new, and I made up my mind to
dance every night when I should arrive. Continuing our route, we had
reached within two days' march of the city of Segovia, in the kingdom
of old Castile, and occupied a pine wood. On seeing an officer pass,
who was likely to give me every information relative to the movements
of the army, I issued from my small Portuguese tent, and entered into
conversation with him, which lasted a considerable time. Being without
my cap, I felt the top of my head extremely hot from the rays of the
sun, and was about to withdraw several times for a covering, which
unluckily I failed to do. When the dinner-hour arrived, composed of
rice and boiled beef, (without any bread or biscuit,) my appetite
failed, and I laid me down, in hopes that a few hours' sleep would
restore me. At daylight, the following morning, we were again _en
route_, and had just cleared the sandy wood, enveloped in dust, when
a sudden giddiness seized me, and I fell from my horse. On recovering
my senses, I found myself supported by an officer. There was no water
to be procured, and, on overtaking the division, I was advised to ride
gently on to avoid the dust.

For the first time in Spain, I observed a Spanish grandee travelling
in a carriage drawn by eight mules, escorted by fourteen servants,
clothed in long yellow coats, with cocked hats, and all regularly
armed, like horse soldiers. The costume of the peasantry now became
somewhat different; one of that class was walking by my side, with a
sort of spiral cloth cap, and clad in dark brown, who asked me if I did
not admire a little girl passing on the road, whom he called a _Wappa
Chica_; she wore also a stiff spiral cap of cloth, perched on the top
of her head, with round balls of different colours up each side of
it: her hair was plaited on each side of her head, ending in a huge
pig-tail, about eight inches long, and precisely similar to those worn
by British sailors; the jacket was brown, laced up the front; a yellow
petticoat, reaching just below the knee, blue stockings, red clocks,
shoes, and silver buckles. Having travelled some leagues, I came to
a village, where I observed one of the commissaries of our division
standing at the door of a cottage, who remarked that I looked very
ill, and asked me where I was going. I told him "about half a league
farther on, when I intended to lie down under a tree until the troops
came up, as I concluded they would not proceed much farther that day."
He politely begged that I would partake of breakfast with him, as it
was already prepared, which offer I thankfully accepted. My fever
continued rapidly to increase, so that I could scarcely sit upright,
and I soon began to talk very incoherently, which induced him to put
me to bed; the division shortly afterwards filed through the village,
and bivouacked half a league in advance. In the evening, the two other
officers of the company with whom I messed, paid me a visit, and
said, "Why, what is the matter?" when I replied, "That the commissary
had used me very cruelly, and had been smothering me in blankets, to
prevent my going on to Madrid." The assistant-surgeon having felt my
pulse, asked whether I would permit him to throw some water on my head?
which I readily assented to, entreating him to do any thing to make
well. Then, being lifted out of bed, and divested of my linen garment,
I was placed in a chair, while the doctor, standing on a table,
emptied two pitchers of spring water on my crown; which produced a most
painful sensation.

The following morning my companions assured me that I could not
be permitted to proceed; but that, as there was a station to be
established at the town of Cuellar, it would be necessary that I should
go thither, when they felt no doubt that I should speedily recover, so
as to be enabled soon to rejoin them. A car was accordingly procured,
drawn by two fine mules, with a blanket extended over the top as an

At the expiration of two days' journey, I reached the entrance of
Cuellar, when a soldier came forward, and intimated that no sick could
enter the town until the commandant's permission was obtained; and
we were actually detained nearly two hours roasting in the mid-day
sun, before a free passage was granted us. Much exhausted, and
half suffocated, I at length obtained a most excellent billet in a
gentleman's house, where I received the greatest attention from an
assistant-surgeon belonging to one of the regiments quartered there;
being unable to quit my bed.

At this time the army had possessed itself of the passes of Segovia and
the Guadarama, and had moved forward on the 11th of August towards
Madrid, having, in the course of their march, forced the enemy's
advanced guard of cavalry to retire; but in the afternoon these
again advanced from Malajahonda towards Rosas, to reconnoitre the
Portuguese dragoons, who were drawn up on a rising ground above the
latter village, and made a show of charging, but when they had arrived
sufficiently near to observe the hardened-looking visages of the sturdy
French heavy horse, who displayed their long shining weapons, with
brass hilts, like the Highland broadsword, with the exception of being
one-third longer—at such a sight these our allies simultaneously
wheeled about, and scampered off as fast as their Portuguese horses
could trot and gallop, followed by their unmerciful pursuers, stabbing
and hacking them down, and riding past three pieces of horse artillery
that had been overturned. The heavy dragoons of the King's German
Legion took to horse as speedily as possible, amidst the confusion,
and, after a good deal of savage sabring, the enemy retired, leaving
at night the captured guns behind them. El Rey Joseph had retired with
his followers behind the Tagus, and the following day our army entered
Madrid, where the French had injudiciously left a garrison in the Buen
Retiro, who surrendered themselves prisoners of war, just as part of
the third division, and some other detachments, were about to escalade
the works. A vast quantity of stores, powder, and ball, fell into our
hands, besides one hundred and ninety pieces of cannon, principally

About the 20th of August, a detachment of our regiment, from England,
passed through Cuellar, but, as they had experienced a long march
during the hot months, an enormous number of them died, and the sick
continued to increase from the army in such a ratio, that most of us
were ordered to proceed to Salamanca. Accordingly, on the sixth day
after my arrival, I was placed in a car, drawn by bullocks, to begin
another tedious journey. The sixth division was on parade, having been
left at that station as a corps of observation, and to protect the sick
and the stores of the army.

That night I travelled a short way, and was billeted on a very clean
house, where the _patron_ was most anxious to have all the particulars
of the late battle recounted to him; however, finding that I was not
a sufficient master of the Spanish language to satisfy his curiosity,
he was determined to make up for it by entering into the history of
his own country. It was in vain that I exerted all my patience, and
requested he would have the goodness to leave the room, pleading my
indisposition in excuse for my apparent rudeness. Having maintained
silence for a few minutes, he offered me every thing in his house,
inquired if I was better, and recommenced his volubility to such a
degree, that I almost became distracted, and was under the painful
necessity of calling in my servant, who, in half fun and half earnest,
turned him out of the room by the shoulders.

The next day I reached Arevalo, where the market was filled with fresh
vegetables, a sight only to be appreciated by those who have travelled
over a dry country, devoid of vegetation. A smiling _muchacha_, who
sat by the side of a well-made young Spaniard, jumped up, and handed
me a large bunch of grapes, with a dignified air of affability and
frankness, so peculiar to the lower orders of that country. I obtained
a billet on a very handsome house, situated in a luxuriant garden; and,
on being supported out of the car, I was so weak that I fell down, and
continued in fainting fits for some time, my servant all the while
sousing me with water in imitation of _the Doctor_. The fascinating
_Señorita_ of the house, about seventeen years of age, very kindly
administered every attention; and at night, with a small lamp, remained
in a recess, in readiness to offer me liquids, for which I continually
inquired. My recollection did not entirely forsake me, but my head was
in a bad state, so that I fancied I saw groups of monkeys grinning at
the foot of my bed; and, as I was unable to endure the slender rays
of the lamp, I begged of the young lady to retire. At such a request
her countenance pourtrayed every mark of disappointment: whether she
considered me as one of the deliverers of her country, or whether so
young a girl, residing in so sequestered a spot, fancied me under
her especial protection, I know not; but I do know that her amiable
solicitude and her lovely eyes made such an impression, that she
continued the mistress of my thoughts, and heroine of my fancy, for a
long period afterwards.

Taking my farewell on the following morning, and apologizing to the
little _Señorita_ for my want of gallantry, I proceeded on my journey,
and at the end of four hours reached the middle of an extensive plain,
when one of the bullocks became dead lame, and the enraged driver
declared vehemently that he would go no farther; my servant, therefore,
dismounted from my palfrey, and placed me on its back. We made for
the distant steeple, which skirted the horizon, as the point of our
destination. At the expiration of a toilsome ride, we reached the
_Pueblo_, and there sojourned until the next morning. In two more days
we reached Alba de Tormes; I was quartered at an _apothecary's shop_,
where I lay on the mattress for twelve hours in a sort of stupor; on
recovering, in some degree, my servant fancied that I was dying, and
proposed sending for the Spaniard, which I would by no means consent
to, from the apprehension that he would bleed me to death.

The next day, while quietly passing through a wood, at a lonely spot,
my horse made a sudden start, and, on looking to the right, I observed
a dead man, perfectly naked, placed against a large piece of rock.
He had been killed at the battle of Salamanca. His hair was long and
grey; his beard had grown to a considerable length; and his arms and
legs had been placed in an extended position; in fact, he was in an
exact fencing attitude, in an extraordinary state of preservation, and
presenting, of course, a dreadful spectacle.

I noticed during the period that I was in Spain, that those soldiers
killed in action, who were exposed to the rays of the sun, immediately
became a mass of corruption, but of those, on the contrary, who fell
under trees or in shady places, exposed to heavy dew or rain, the skin
became as hard as leather, and they would remain in that state for a
very considerable period, unless they were devoured by wild animals or
birds of prey. I have often seen vultures feeding on dead horses (that
had been killed in battle) so fat, that they could scarcely take wing,
or raise themselves from the ground.

On reaching Salamanca, I obtained a billet, on presenting which, I
was treated with the greatest insolence by the man of the house, who
declared that I might enter, but that he had no accommodation for
my servant; under these circumstances, I was under the necessity of
sitting down in the street, until the soldier went to seek elsewhere
for better success. After some farther delay, he procured me another
on a public notary, where I was civilly received; but in the middle
of the day my _patron_, smelling of tobacco and garlic, came in to
take a _siesta_, in one of the two beds in a large recess. I asked him
if he intended to sleep there; he replied "_Si, Señor_." To such an
arrangement I objected; but he would not give up the point; a struggle
then ensued between us, which lasted some minutes, although eventually
I made him surrender. He was merely a diminutive old man; but I had
become weak from the effects of my fever; and the scene was so amusing,
that his own son, with a smiling countenance, was quietly looking on.

A hospital mate being put in requisition, the first dose administered
to me was an _emetic_, and whenever I complained, the same dose was
repeated; therefore, whenever he visited me, I invariably declared
_that I was better_.

Our army had now occupied the heart of Spain, and the enemy, with rapid
strides, were endeavouring to concentrate in the distant provinces
round our centre, blowing up magazines, and eating up all before
them, like a swarm of locusts. Napoleon was at this period traversing
the wilds of Russia with his grand army, and his magnificent and
highly-appointed Imperial guard. _The banners of Austria, Prussia,
Italy, and the Germanic States, were marching under his control._
The _north_ and _south_ of Europe were in a blaze, and had become
the extreme points of contest, which were ultimately to decide this
mighty struggle for supremacy. The victory of Salamanca had shaken the
combinations of the enemy in all parts of Spain, and put the whole
of them in motion. On the 25th of August they destroyed their works
before Cadiz, leaving behind them stores, heavy artillery, and mortars,
many of the latter having been cast at Seville, by the order of the
Duke of Dalmatia, for the purpose of throwing shells into the town of
Cadiz.[42] Some Spaniards and British immediately advanced from the
lines, and took forcible possession of Seville.

On the 29th of August, Sir R. Hill, with the second division, entered
Illerena, and pushed on to Ayllones, on the borders of Estremadura;
but, finding the French were retrograding on Cordova and Granada,
for the purpose of communicating with Joseph, who, in like manner,
was forming a junction with the Duke of Albufera, intending to make
Valencia the centre and the base of his future operations against
Madrid; Sir R. Hill, thereupon, by a flank movement, marched towards
the city of Medellin, on the left bank of the Guadiana, so as to be in
readiness to act wherever his presence might be required, or to open
his line with the third, fourth, and light divisions, cantoned in the
vicinity of Madrid.

The General-in-Chief no sooner saw a probability of his right
flank being cleared of the enemy, than he set off from Madrid, and
concentrated the first, fifth, sixth, and seventh divisions round
Arevalo, (early in September,) with a force of cavalry and artillery,
passed the Douro, and retook Valladolid, which had been re-occupied by
the enemy for a short time. On the 19th he crossed the river Arlanzon,
and laid siege to the old castle of Burgos, bristled with cannon and
the bayonets of its hardy defenders. Various attempts by escalade,
mining, explosions, and breaching were tried for a month without
success, owing to the want of a sufficiency of battering artillery,
and to the obstinate defence made by the enemy, who firmly lined the
walls, and threw their balls and bullets with deadly aim against the
assailants. The enemy's vanguard was at Briviesca, and his main body
behind the river Ebro, during the greater part of the siege.

In the mean time the second division had moved, in the middle of
September, across the river Guadiana, through Truxillo Jaraceijo,
towards Almaraz, and then crossed the Tagus by a pontoon bridge, and
continuing its movement on the right of that river, passed Talavera de
la Reyna, and arrived on the 30th at Toledo, occupying both banks of
the river Tagus. General Sir Rowland Hill pushed forward his advance
to Yepes and its vicinity, taking the command of the right wing of
the army, composed of the second, third, fourth, and light divisions,
besides cavalry and artillery stationed in the vicinity of Madrid.

[Footnote 41: About forty-eight miles.]

[Footnote 42: One of these mortars was brought to England, and is now
placed on the south side of St. James's Park.]


    The author becomes convalescent, and proceeds to rejoin the
      army—Guadarama mountains—Park and palace of the Escurial—An
      enthusiastic native—A Spanish bandit—British quarters in
      Madrid, and description of the city—English theatricals—Renewed
      activity of the contending armies—The British troops evacuate
      Madrid—Romantic attachments—Alba de Tormes—Re-occupation of
      Salamanca—Military discomforts—Skirmishing affairs—The French
      obliged to desist from pursuit through fatigue—Various positions
      of the British forces during the winter of 1812-13.

For my part, I had no sooner contrived to get out of bed at Salamanca,
than I began to pace up and down the room, and in a very few days
gained sufficient strength to be enabled to inhale the fresh air in the
cool of the evening. While walking slowly along, I met one of the staff
doctors of our division, who expressed much regret that he had not
been aware of my being sick in that town, and offered every assistance
in his power; I expressed my thanks, but informed him that I intended
to join my regiment. He asked me if I were mad, and insisted on my
giving him a promise not to think of prosecuting so wild a scheme for
the present; which I was necessitated to acquiesce in, from a fear that
he would effectually stop my rambles: however, two days afterwards,
I presented myself to the medical board, which sat daily to examine
officers: the group of _medicos_ were seated round a table, and,
having eyed them particularly, I experienced great relief at finding
the worthy doctor did not form one of the party. I felt considerable
agitation, (from a fear that they would not sanction my departure,)
which gave me a colour; in fact, I reported myself in perfect health,
and obtained permission to proceed to rejoin the army with a strong
detachment, who were about to depart for that purpose. At five o'clock
next morning, the day before I was to recommence my journey, my servant
entered my quarter, and announced that my mule had been stolen, during
the night, out of the stable, and that my horse had been running about
loose, with the door wide open. This unwelcome intelligence caused me
to tremble so violently, that I sank down on the bed, nor do I ever
recollect being so agitated in my life, for I had no means left to
supply its place, and I could not have walked in my weak state half a
league. Fortunately an officer, who had just come from England to join
us, relieved my anxiety, by offering to carry my baggage on one of his

At daylight the next morning we started. The spangled dew still hung
on the trees, the morning breeze refreshed my body and mind, and
with exhilarated spirits I felt as if new life and fresh vigour had
been conveyed throughout my frame. The dead French soldier was still
stationary in the wood, and in exactly the same position already
described. On re-entering Alba de Tormes, I passed the _apothecary's
shop_, with exultation, which only four weeks before I had entered in
such a miserable plight. When we passed through Arevalo, one of the
narrow streets leading to the Plaza was choked up with cars from the
city of Burgos, crammed to overloading with exhausted, speechless, and
wounded Highlanders, covered with hot sand, and many of them slumbering
unto death; their pallid countenances portended the speedy dissolution
of their lingering sufferings, while their sable plumes and torn
tartans hung loosely on the pointed stakes, which formed the temporary
sides of the rude vehicles. I searched in vain, through every narrow
avenue, and amongst the numerous convents and monasteries, for the
house of the young lady who had been so attentive to me in that town.
I well recollected the high walls of one of those fabrics inclosing
one side of the garden; I was, therefore, in hopes that in some spot of
difficult access, I should find the fair object of my solicitude. The
whole of the following day (during our halt) was passed, however, in
fruitless search.

Continuing the march, our little column consisted of three hundred and
fifty men, and when within sight of the distant villages, which were
surrounded by extensive plains, the church bells rang merry peals.
Almost the whole of these places had been entrenched by temporary
works, and the churches loopholed by the French posts of communication,
to protect their small detachments from being destroyed or cut off by
the _guerillas_, or surprised by the infuriated peasantry. Shortly
before we reached the Guadarama mountains, we struck into the high road
to Madrid; for many miles there was scarcely a house to be seen. At
length we came to a _venta_, on the right of the road, but the house
had been thoroughly gutted, and it was impossible for the owners of it
to procure any thing for us to eat. The country bore a very solitary
aspect until we began to ascend the pass by a paved road, cut in a
zigzag direction up the face of the mountain, on the top of which
stands a marble fountain. The prospect from this point is very grand,
commanding a distant view of Madrid, of the palace of the Escurial,
and of the rugged mountains extending towards Segovia, which are
covered with snow during the greater portion of the year. The poor
village of the Guadarama is situated in a valley at the foot of the
grand pass, in the kingdom of new Castile.

Towards evening, our horses being in some degree refreshed, we rode
into the park of the Escurial, which is of considerable extent, and
lies adjacent to the village, producing pretty good pasturage, but
infested by prowling wolves and wild boars. The trees are generally of
small growth, consisting of oak, carob, ash, and cork. The front of the
palace of the Escurial looks towards the mountains of the Guadarama,
and is built of a grey granite, in the shape of a gridiron. This
culinary utensil is represented in the books of mass, on the doors, and
in various parts of the building, which is perforated by innumerable
windows. The pantheon of the palace is octagon, composed of marble;
about fourteen niches are occupied by embalmed kings and queens; and
there are a variety of other curiosities worthy the observation of the
traveller. Returning towards the village, the old man of the house
assured us the effect of the extraordinary edifice we had explored
was nothing to the wonder and astonishment we should experience at
the grand bull fights of Spain. The tears rolled down his furrowed
cheeks as he ran about the room, (which was paved with red tiles,)
representing the wild Andalusian bull staring with surprise on first
entering the arena; and then, getting astride of a chair, showed us
how the _Picador_ received the bellowing bull on his lance, and the
way he was frequently tossed, mangled, and killed, by the infuriated
animal. Then again, he skipped and danced about the room to represent
the men insinuating the pointed darts and crackers into the animal's
neck; and finally gave us the _graceful Matador_, with a red cloak
slung over one arm, and a short sword in his hand, making his obeisance
with a profound bend to the _señoras_ and _caballeros_, who excite him
by countless _vivas_, and the waving of the white hands, and whiter
pocket-handkerchiefs, to dispatch the staggering bull at one thrust.
At length the ancient _caballero_ became so much exhausted by his
exertions and feelings, that he fell back motionless in his chair,
exclaiming, "_Oh, los ladrones Franceses!_ they have eaten up all
our Andalusian bulls, killed our poultry, corrupted all our _mozas_,
and knocked all our _Santa Marias_ from the altars, and out of their
_sacred niches_ by the road side."

During this rhodomontade we remained quiet spectators, quaffing the
excellent wine which our host had extracted from a concealed deposit.

Taking our departure the next morning, two of us being some short
distance behind the detachment, at a very lonely spot, we observed a
Spaniard of most ferocious aspect, with huge mustachios, a capacious
_sombrero_, and clad in a leathern jacket, like a cuirass, with a short
broad sword by his side, and a brace of pistols in his broad belt,
which was buckled round his waist. We were instantly convinced that he
was a robber on the look out, in the capacity of a spy, for his hidden
_camarados_; however, saluting him as we passed, which he returned by
a cold and distant bend of the head, the few baggage animals being in
sight, we thought it necessary to warn the soldiers in charge to be on
their guard, although, generally speaking, the British might pass all
over the country without danger; yet some robberies had been committed
in Spain and Portugal also by banditti.

This day we halted at the village of Rosas, about two leagues from the
capital. The country is bare and hilly, and even when within half a
mile of Madrid, the traveller might fancy himself in a bare wilderness,
as the town stands isolated in the midst of a rugged plain, skirted on
the north side by distant mountains, and there is not the least sign
of traffic, with the exception of a few mules or asses loaded with
chopped straw, the usual forage (instead of hay) given to animals; all
other vegetation being parched up, and even the shallow river of the
Manzanares having at that time ceased to flow.

After the short absence of seven weeks, having travelled, as already
described, more than two hundred and thirty miles, and nearly recovered
from the effects of my fever, I rejoined our first brigade quartered in
Madrid, as well as the third division; the second brigade was stationed
two leagues from the town, in support of those troops cantoned in the
line of the Tagus. Here I received the welcome information, that since
I had quitted the division they had not seen the enemy. The troops were
quartered in the various convents and monasteries, and the officers
were billeted on the most splendid houses; many of these had white
papers stuck on the windows, to denote that the former occupiers of
them had followed the fortunes and court of _El Rey Joseph_, thereby
deserting their country's cause.

One of my friends, whom I had left under a tree, I found occupying
the house of a marquis, and decorating and perfuming himself before a
splendid toilette, previously to making his bow to the beautiful and
attractive object of all his desires, who had invited him to spend
that evening at her house. He described to me their proud entry into
Madrid as a conquering army; then the variegated drapery hanging from
the windows, the acclamations of the people, and all the beauty of the
place welcoming them, striking guitars, tambourines, and castanets,
with eyes beaming love and admiration in a manner indescribable,
known and felt only by those who have won the battle, after having
been wandering under the heaven's bright blue canopy for sixty days,
and traversing hundreds of miles over burning plains. Another officer
reposed his limbs on a bed of down, (enveloped by white satin curtains
edged with long gold bullion,) encompassed by mirrors, the whole
surmounted by a gilded helmet, adorned with a noble plume of ostrich
feathers. The rest of the furniture in this superb mansion was composed
of the most costly materials.

Madrid is a compact town; the lower windows of all the monasteries and
houses are defended by iron bars; many of the streets are spacious, and
the whole of them are remarkably clean. The Plaza Major is a square of
lofty houses, many of them stained of various colours; the windows are
very close together, out of which hang mats and drapery of a variety
of striped patterns, to shade the rooms from the mid-day sun. Here
is the principal market for vegetables and other commodities, and it
invariably presents a bustling and busy scene. The Royal Palace is
of a square form, and surrounds an interior court-yard, which has
two gateways. The grand staircase rises out of the court-yard near
the principal entrance; it is a most splendid work, wide and lofty,
leading into the principal suite of rooms, magnificently furnished. As
we passed through them, I noticed the man in charge locking the doors
after us: when, therefore, the curiosity of the admiring spectators was
satisfied, we were ushered into another, and again made prisoners for
the time being. A picture, beautifully executed, represented Napoleon
in his younger days crossing the Alps, at the head of his bare-footed
army, and was considered, by those who had seen him, to be an exact
likeness; the face was extremely handsome. The Callé Major and Alcala
are the principal streets of the town; the latter is wide and spacious,
lined by large buildings, leading direct into the _Prádo_, which is
much admired for its broad walks, divided into avenues by rows of
trees, and running the whole length of one side of the town, being
terminated at each end by gates leading from it. On the north side
stands the Buén Retiro, encompassed by temporary works, (which had
been thrown up by the French,) gardens, and pleasure grounds.

The fountains stand at certain distances from each other in the middle
of the walks, and are framed after antique models. The water from one
of them is esteemed the best in the town; the broad walk in the centre
is adorned by these cascades, and is crowded every evening by the best
company. It is here the stranger may examine, with advantage, the
costume, style, and gait of the Spanish ladies. Their dress is composed
of a mantilla or veil, gracefully thrown over the head, a long-waisted
satin body, black silk petticoats, fringed from the knee downwards,
white silk stockings, with open clocks, kid shoes, of white or black;
they carry a large fan in their little hands, which they open and shut
as they glide along; it serves to shade them from the sun, or to salute
their different acquaintances as they pass, which they do by shaking
the fan rapidly, and simpering an affable smile.

At sunset the bells of the convents and churches give notice for
offering up the evening prayer to the Virgin; instantaneously the crowd
becomes stationary, the _Caballeros_ take off their hats and remove the
cigars from their mouths, the _Señoras_ cover their faces with their
fans, while they inwardly mutter a short prayer. At the expiration
of a few minutes, the profound silence is broken, when all again are
in motion. In this place, dedicated to pleasure, our time was so
divided as to be occupied night and day, either in dancing or at the
_tertúlias_; public balls were also held twice a week at the _Callé de
Baños_ and _el Principe_.

The officers of our division were anxious to display their powers as
actors to their beloved _señoritas_; therefore, among other things,
they were occupied in ordering dresses, and studying their theatrical
parts. "The Revenge" was fixed upon as the tragedy to astonish the
Spaniards. Capt. Kent, of the rifle corps, played the part of Zanga,
in _El Teátro del Principe_, with due solemnity, and the piece went
off in silence, until he began to move backwards and forwards, like
the pendulum of a clock, his sinewy arm and clenched fist, cased in a
black silk stocking, or glove, encircled by a shining bracelet—which
caused the muleteers in the gallery to roar with laughter. The
_señoras_ tittered, and held their fans to their faces. During the
remainder of the evening poor _Zanga_ was treated more like a comic
than a tragic character, and whenever he raised his arm, which he had
frequent occasion to do, the same round of salutations greeted him on
all sides, such as "_Arré Múlo_," &c. &c. At the conclusion of the
piece, a Spaniard and a girl danced a _bolero_, in inimitable style:
both of them were habited in male attire; the black hair of the female
was clubbed up behind, and tied with a bunch of ribbons hanging down
her back; she wore a richly embroidered silk jacket, white kerseymere
breeches, fitting tight to the shape, white silk stockings, shoes, and
buckles. She rattled the _castanets_ exquisitely, and beat admirable
time with her pretty little feet.

On the 21st of October our division was hastily concentrated, and
first moved to some lonely villages, and then to Alcala de Henarez,
one of the principal universities of Spain. On the night of the 21st
the Marquis of Wellington raised the siege of the castle of Burgos,
and slowly retired on the Douro, followed by Gen. Souham. Joseph and
the Duke of Dalmatia had also formed a junction, and were making
various demonstrations on the line of the Tagus. On the 22nd, the
second division was put in motion on that river to observe the enemy's
movements. On the 24th, the third division, which had continued in
Madrid, moved towards Pinto, on the road to Aranjuez, in support of the
fourth and second divisions. On the 26th, the second division crossed
to the right bank of the Tagus, and extended its left on the Jarama.
On the same day we marched four leagues and a half from Alcala, and
entered Arganda, which is situated on the high road from Valencia.
The enemy continued to make such a variety of movements, that it was
impossible to ascertain positively whether he would attempt his grand
push on the south or east side of Madrid, which obliged General Hill to
show front on two sides of a square, for the protection of the great
roads leading towards the capital, across the rivers Tagus, Jarama, and

At ten o'clock at night (of the same day we had entered Arganda,) the
bugle-horns sounded the assembly, which never occurred without the
most urgent necessity, as it was not customary for the horns to sound
when manœuvring near the enemy, except under peculiar circumstances.
The orderlies usually passed round, and gave the word to _pack up and
accoutre_, no farther questions being asked either by officers or
soldiers, and all repaired to the alarm post, and patiently awaited
farther orders; and that so often without seeing an enemy, owing to
the variety of marches and countermarches in war, that such orders had
ceased to be a novelty or any surprise to us. The division soon fell
in: I had to precede the column on duty with another officer, who was
mounted on a sorry lank pony, which, on being touched on the near or
off side, kicked out with one leg at every mule that passed him, in the
most singular manner. I never recollect laughing more heartily; the
muleteers cursed and swore, and particularly one who received a severe
kick on the leg.

This class of men wear a large hat, or a pocket-handkerchief of various
colours, tied tight round the head, with the corner hanging down their
backs, and a sort of red Moorish sash round the loins, dark blue, or
green velveteen breeches, open at the knee, and leather gaiters, (with
innumerable buttons up the sides,) open in the middle, so as to show
the calf of the leg to advantage. The mules are very gaily caparisoned,
with bells at the head, and the backs closely shaved; the tails tied
up in bunch, with red or other coloured worsted binding; and when they
are loaded, the men sit on the top astride, singing boisterously. They
usually bivouac in the woods, when the day's journey is finished, cover
themselves with a tarpauling, and allow their mules to browse about all
night. These muleteers robbed the English army of hundreds of mules
during the war. I lost two myself, and, during the time the light
division was quartered in Madrid, the _ladrones_ caused false keys to
be made to fit the stable-doors, and actually, in the middle of the
day, took the animals clear off, which were never afterwards heard of.

At the end of a tedious night march, the division bivouacked in the
morning on a rising ground, about a mile from Alcala, watching the
right bank of the river Henarez, and the cross-road leading from
Arganda; the enemy, however, did not make their appearance, and at
night we entered the town. The troops lay on their arms under the
piazzas, which run through nearly all the principal streets; the
inhabitants were so fearful that we might become engaged in the
streets, that they illuminated the town for three successive nights.

On the 30th we crossed the Jarama at a bridge near St. Fernando, which
was already mined to blow up, and continued our retreat on Madrid.
A slight affair also took place more to the right, at Puente Largo,
between the van of the enemy and our troops, who had formed a junction
with us from Cadiz. The General-in-chief, on the same day, made a
movement to his left towards Ruêda, on the left of the Douro, causing
the bridges to be destroyed, right and left, on that river, to guard
his flanks, to enable him to keep open his communication with his right
wing at Madrid, and to cover its rear and left flank while retrograding
from that place, through Arevalo to Salamanca.

Towards nightfall, as we approached Madrid, a slight rain fell,
and when within a league of the town, the whole of the dismounted
cannon taken from the enemy in the _Buén Retiro_ were blown up with
a tremendous explosion, which quite convinced us that a retreat was
decided on. We hastily traversed, by column of companies, the long
walks of the _Prádo_, which reverberated with the tramping of the
soldiers' footsteps, and on passing the last gate of the town without a
halt, we observed the bright fires of a portion of our army in bivouac
on the distant hills, on the road leading to the Guadarama, which sight
completed the gloomy thoughts of many who had formed attachments, and
had, until this moment, cherished hopes of once again passing a short
time in the society of the fair objects who had captivated their hearts
in Madrid. We filed to the summit of the comfortless bleak hills, and
as our baggage did not reach us until two hours before daylight, we
passed a tolerably uncomfortable night.

At nine o'clock in the morning, with gladdened hearts, we received
orders again to advance on Madrid, but our anticipations were of short
duration, as we merely halted without the walls to cover the troops who
had been marching all night from the direction of Arganda and Aranjuez.

Many of the ladies came on the walks to take their last farewell, and
just as we were moving off, forming the rear guard, in the afternoon
of the 31st, a beautiful girl, lightly clothed, refused to leave her
lover, an English officer in the Portuguese Caçadores, who dismounted,
tied his silk handkerchief round her neck, and placed her sideways
on his horse. Towards evening the wind blew keenly, and I saw her
enveloped in a soldier's great-coat. Many females left their homes in a
similar manner with the French officers, and travelled about with the
army, on horseback, and astride, clad in uniform of the Polish lancers,
or hussars, splendidly embroidered, with crimson trowsers, made very
wide, in the Cossack fashion. The ladies of Spain frequently ride
astride, with pantaloons and hessian boots, with a habit buttoning up
before and behind, and, when they are on horseback, it is unfastened
and hangs down on each side, to conceal their legs from view.

On the 1st of November we bivouacked in the park of the Escurial, where
two wild boars galloped through the lines, and caused great confusion;
a soldier of the 52d was overturned by one of them, which bounded over
him without doing any further damage.

During the retreat the enemy did not press us, nor were our marches
unusually long; in fact, every thing went on so regularly, that
several days' march passed with merely the usual incidents. The whole
army from Burgos and Madrid were now in junction, the left marching on
the heights of St. Christoval, to cover Salamanca, and the right on
Alba de Tormes, to take up a line of defence on the right bank of the

On the evening of the 7th, our division reached within a league
and a half of Alba, where it drew up until temporary defences were
constructed, to resist the enemy at that small town. The country
was perfectly open, without a house or tree to be seen, and I was
contemplating the dreary prospect, and regretting the loss of my
blanket, placed under the saddle of my horse, which I had sent to
the rear, sick, on the previous morning. As the night closed on us,
the rain began to pour down in torrents; we were without food, or a
particle of wood to light fires.

Before daybreak we stood to our arms, looking out for the enemy: what
a moment for an engagement, our clothes completely soaked through!
At about eleven o'clock, the order came to retire, when we filed
through the narrow streets of Alba, and crossed the bridge, where we
found sappers hard at work, mining, and laying barrels of powder to
blow up the centre arch, if necessary. The river Tormes had swollen
considerably, owing to the torrents from the mountains: therefore the
fords became difficult and uncertain. Continuing our march on the left
of the river, we entered a dripping wood, half-way to Salamanca, when
we found our baggage waiting for us. The division being dismissed, all
the trees were filled with soldiers, cutting and tearing down huge
branches to build huts.

In a short time great fires blazed up in every direction, while
the soldiers encircled them with joyful countenances. Having been
disencumbered of our drenched clothes, and rations having been served
out, we set to work making dumplings; before dark the canteens were
laid with smoking tea, rum, hot puddings, and beef. This was, indeed,
a relishing and luxurious meal. The whole of the spirits having been
exhausted, a heavy slumber (under a tottering hut) put an end to our

The next morning, before daylight, we were again under arms, and moved
towards Salamanca, to occupy that town with the first division and some
Spaniards. Every morning we assembled an hour before daybreak, without
its walls, waiting the approach of the enemy. I noticed the Spanish
officers invariably covering their mouths, before the sun had risen,
with their cloaks, and blowing the smoke of their cigars through their

The Duke of Dalmatia moved slowly and with great caution, and evidently
wishing, if possible, to force us to retire without coming to blows.
His army had been collected at vast trouble, and by enormous marching;
many of his troops had marched, within the last three months and a
half, over seven or eight hundred miles of ground. On the 10th, the
enemy made a strong reconnoissance in front of Alba de Tormes, but,
after a heavy firing of artillery, they drew off at finding they could
make no impression. On the 12th, some musketry was distinctly heard
in the direction of the position of San Christoval. Our division had
been dismissed as usual early in the morning, but was again formed, and
ordered to crown those heights, where we remained the whole day, the
alarm having been occasioned by a few Spanish _guerillas_ firing at the
French cavalry.

On the 14th, we all left Salamanca, and moved by the left bank of
the Tormes, on the road towards Alba de Tormes, the enemy having
crossed the river by some fords, two leagues above that town. As soon
as this movement was ascertained by the General-in-chief, he made a
reconnoissance under a fire of cannon, and found the enemy strongly
posted on the left of the Tormes, at Mozarbes; the second division
remained near Alba. In the evening our advance fell back, and the
whole army was collected in the neighbourhood of the Arapiles, and
showed front in the same direction as at the previous battle; it
was supposed during the night by every one, that a great action
would be fought on the following day. The country was illuminated
for miles around from the quantity of fires, which marked the line
of our bivouac. All hands caroused until nearly midnight, being
fully determined to make themselves happy previously to the supposed
approaching struggle; then, stretching themselves under the trees or
around the fires, they tranquilly slept until an hour before daybreak,
when we formed and stood to our arms, and were again dismissed.

At noon the baggage animals were ordered to the rear, and soon after
we observed great masses of our army, moving in dense columns from the
right by echelon of divisions towards the great forest. The enemy had
laboured hard to strengthen Mozarbes, as a _point d'appui_, under cover
of which they continued to extend their left at a distance, to outflank
our right, and to threaten our communications with Ciudad Rodrigo. At
about two o'clock in the afternoon, our division followed the movements
of the army. The rain had begun at mid-day, and now fell in torrents,
and we passed a miserable night under the trees. As soon as the road
was distinguishable in the morning, we were again on the march,
ankle-deep in mud, which tore the shoes from off the soldiers' feet;
in this manner we trudged along the whole day; towards evening we saw
the enemy on our left[43] flank, when a little cannonading took place.
One hour after nightfall, we drew up under the trees, hungry, and in
the most miserable plight; the fires were kindled with difficulty, and
while roasting on one side, we were shivering and perishing on the
other, the rain still pouring down most unmercifully, as if the very
flood-gates of the heavens had opened on us; for we were literally

On the morning of the 17th, not having received any orders to move, we
were in groups roasting acorns to satisfy the cravings of hunger, when
an officer, who had ridden a short way to the left, came unexpectedly
on the French heavy horse, who were stealing through the wood, and
would have made a prisoner of him, had it not been for the speed of
his English horse, which was at full gallop as he passed us, calling
out, "The enemy's cavalry!" "Fall in!" "Join the ranks!" The division
were only waiting for orders to move off, and instantly seized their
arms and debouched from the wood, and formed contiguous columns, with
our horse-artillery filling up the intervals. A few of the enemy's
horse, with polished helmets, and covered with white cloaks, appeared
moving backwards and forwards amongst the trees, looking at us. Two
officers of infantry, mounted on English horses, went to reconnoitre
them, when the enemy tried to decoy them into the thicket. A troop of
light horse were formed on our left flank, with sloped swords, but
they did not throw out any skirmishers to feel the enemy in front.
After a short time, the division retired, and crossed a narrow rivulet,
and re-formed. One company of our regiment was left amongst some old
houses on the margin of the stream, when some French dragoons slowly
came forward to look at us; one in particular went to our right, as
if he intended to cross the stream, when a German hussar, (I believe
an orderly,) went towards him, and challenged the Frenchman to single
combat, provided he would cross the water. The Frenchman laughed,
and made a similar proposal to him, as he approached quite close to
the edge of the water: thereupon the German advanced, but instead of
fighting they entered into a jocular conversation, and parted very good
friends. Our division again went to the right about, and moved off
to the rear; fortunately the road continued very wide, which enabled
us to march in column of quarter distance, with screwed bayonets,
and ready to form squares. The soldiers of the division bore the wet
and privation with unexampled fortitude; nor did they lose their
organization. At three o'clock in the afternoon, things began to look
black; we heard that all the baggage had been captured, and that
Lieut.-Gen. Sir E. Paget was taken prisoner; all this having occurred
on the very road which it was absolutely necessary for us to traverse.

The Marquis of Wellington at this time joined us, and continued riding
on the left flank, and quite close to our column, for he could not
well join the main body of his army, as the enemy's horse scoured
the road, and all our cavalry had retired. It was one of the chances
of war, and could not be wondered at in a forest of such an amazing
extent, that the army was three days passing through it. The French
heavy horse continued to accompany us on each flank amongst the trees,
and frequently spoke to the soldiers in the ranks. We made two halts,
to keep the men fresh, and in good order to engage, and then resumed
a quick march, but not so rapid as to cause any soldiers to be left
behind. The column preserved a profound silence; not a shot was
discharged, for, had we begun to fire, the noise would have brought
from all quarters the enemy, who could not be aware otherwise of our
isolated march.

Just before we reached a break in the forest, at four o'clock, it
was absolutely necessary to detach a few skirmishers to prevent the
audacious French horse from almost mixing in our ranks. The enemy's
infantry were now coming up, mixed with their cavalry. Owing to the
reverberation in the wood and dense atmosphere, the report of each
musket sounded as loud as a three-pound mountain gun. The Marquis of
Wellington made a sweep round the column, to examine for the best
fighting ground, while a lively firing of musketry took place close
on the left, and in rear of our column, intermixed with the shouting
of our assailants and the whizzing of bullets. As we emerged from the
forest, to our surprise we were saluted on the left by a number of
the enemy's cannon, posted on a high hill just above San Muñoz. The
division broke into double time across the plain, about half a mile,
and made for the ford of the river Helebra. The second brigade branched
off to the right to cross elsewhere, to extend a line of defence behind
its banks. The seventh division was already formed in close columns on
the other side of the river, near San Muñoz, and suffering terribly
from the effect of the round shot.

Two squadrons of our heavy dragoons came forward to protect us over the
valley. We had no sooner reached the river, than we plunged in up to
our middles in water, (under a sharp fire of artillery,) and we were
obliged to scramble up the steep bank, (having missed the ford,) by
which the troops were thrown into a momentary malformation. While we
were forming up in a hurried manner behind the horse-artillery, who
were drawn up to protect the ford, the Marquis of Wellington rode up in
front of the left of number one company, and looked placidly at them,
saying, "The enemy must not cross here." At this moment a round-shot
carried away one of our officer's legs, and knocked a German hussar
from his horse, leaving his hands hanging by a few shreds or sinews,
notwithstanding which he got up and walked off, with an agonized
countenance, and his head bent forward, resting on his breast.

The three companies of our regiment who had been left in the opposite
wood, now issued out at full speed, pursued by the enemy, and were
obliged to run the gauntlet across the plain, with the round shot of
both armies flying over their heads. The second brigade, which had
already formed on our left, were keeping up a sharp fire of musketry,
to oppose the French crossing the river. A Portuguese regiment was
stationary, in close column, two hundred yards behind us. I saw three
cannon-balls strike in precisely the same spot, carrying away a number
of men each time. The firing of artillery and musketry continued until
after dark, and then gradually died away, when the soldiers of the
contending armies approached the river for water, and amicably chatted
to each other in their different languages.

The French infantry wore broad-toed shoes, studded with nails,
wide trowsers of Spanish brown, a brown hairy knapsack, a broad
leather-topped cap, decorated with a ball, and shining scales, and
fronted by a brazen eagle, with extended wings. In action they usually
appeared in light grey great coats, decorated with red or green worsted
epaulettes, belts outside, without any breastplates, with short
sleeves, slashed at the cuff, to enable them to handle their arms,
and prime and load with facility. Their flints were excellent, but
the powder of their cartridges coarse; that of the British army was
remarkably fine, but their flints were indifferent.

During this day the rain had held up for eight hours, but after dark
it again fell heavily. Beef was served out, without biscuit; our
cooking was speedily made, as we toasted it on ramrods. After another
wretched night, about two hours before daybreak, the soldiers began to
clean their arms, by the light of the fires, to prepare for the coming
morning. Day broke, but the enemy made no attempt to molest us, and
for two tedious hours we continued without any order to move, owing to
a stream, four hundred yards, behind us, which had detained the other
division some hours in crossing it. As we moved off, the dead and the
dying lay under the trees, (the trunks of many of them in flames,) pale
and shivering, with their bloody congealed bandages, imploring us not
to leave them in that horrible situation, in the middle of the forest
in the depth of winter. However, to attempt to afford them assistance
was impossible. Every individual had enough to do to drag himself
along, after three days' privation. The stream we had to cross was only
a few yards wide, but so deep that the soldiers were forced to cross it
by single files over a tree, which had been felled and thrown across;
had the enemy been aware of such an obstacle, we should have had a
terrible struggle at this point; but the French army had suffered so
much during the pursuit that they could no longer follow, and became
glad of a halt; and we equally glad to get rid of such disagreeable
neighbours. Numerous soldiers from the other divisions of the army,
(which retired in three columns,) fell out, and kept up a heavy firing,
right and left, in the wood at wild pigs, or any other animal they
could see. Many hundreds of these exhausted men fell into the hands of
the enemy, and when they arrived at Salamanca, _El Rey Joseph_ gave the
English prisoners a _pecéta_ each.

During this day's march the weather was fine, but the road was
overflowed, and up to the men's knees for many miles. Two hours after
dark we drew up on a bare hill, clear of the forest; the atmosphere
became frosty, but there was scarcely any wood to be obtained, and we
spent another shivering night (without rations), gazing at the starry
heavens, and counting the dreary hours.

Early on the 19th we moved off. The twentieth Portuguese regiment,
eight hundred strong, which had come from the south with Col. Skerret,
and had been attached to our division the morning we left Madrid, could
only now muster half that number of men in the ranks, owing to the cold
and not being accustomed to campaigning; and they were obliged to fall
out of the column of march to halt for their stragglers. The light
division still continued in wonderfully good order, and reached Rodrigo
on that day, and bivouacked a mile from the walls of the town, without
suffering scarcely any loss, except from the enemy's balls the day
they were engaged.

Six divisions of the army entered Portugal for winter cantonments; the
second division crossed the Sierra de Gata, and took up its quarters
in the vicinity of Coria, in Spanish Estremadura, and the light
division remained near Rodrigo, on the left bank of the Agueda; the
head-quarters of the first brigade being at Gallegos, and those of the
second brigade at Fuente de Guinaldo.

The Marquis of Wellington established his head-quarters at Frenada, in
Portugal, as usual. There Señor Fuentes, a good-looking Spaniard, used
to play on the guitar, and sing romances. One air in particular I well
remember hearing him sing at a dinner party at Gallegos; it was also
sung by the Spanish _muchachas_ in all the _puéblos_ and hamlets, soon
after the Duke of Ragusa's defeat at Salamanca. The conclusion of each
stanza was as follows:—

      Adónde vayas Marmont? Adónde vayas Marmont,
      Tan tempráno de a mañana? Si te cogé Vellington;
      Ah! Marmont, Marmont, Marmont!

[Footnote 43: On the right as we were retiring, but, when we faced
about, on the left flank, _à la militaire_.]


    The light division reviewed by the Commander-in-chief—Reinforcements
      from England—The army again in motion—Encampment of the light
      division between Rodrigo and Salamanca—The German hussars—March
      to Salamanca, the French retreating—Scene in the Cathedral at
      Salamanca—Crossing the Tormes, and progress of the march—Passage
      of the Esla—Affair at Toro with the French heavy
      horse—Concentration of the whole army, and march through Valencia
      towards Burgos—An accommodating priest—Capture of French baggage
      and prisoners—Details of the battle of Vittoria.

Early in May, 1813, the light division, commanded by Major-Gen. Baron
C. Alten, formed line in the plain, near Gallegos, with one regiment of
the German hussars, and a brigade of horse artillery, for the purpose
of passing in review before the Marquis of Wellington, who appeared on
the ground encircled by a numerous and brilliant staff.

During the winter we had remained cantoned by regiments on the Spanish
frontier, on the left of the Agueda, in the different villages,
during which period we, us well as the whole army, had received
various reinforcements from England, the greater proportion of whom
had continued in their quarters in Portugal, and near Coria, in
Estremadura. The 10th, 15th, and 18th hussars had recently landed at
Lisbon, and also the household brigade, consisting of two regiments of
Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards. Every effort had been made by
the General-in-chief to make the infantry as effective as possible, and
the great depôt was removed from _Belem_ to _Santarem_. Previously to
our advance, the great coats belonging to the soldiers were delivered
into store, it being considered that the blanket was a sufficient
covering for them at night, the more particularly as tents were served
out for the use of the whole army, in the proportion of three to
each company, to be carried by the mules that had formerly conveyed
the iron camp-kettles for cooking;[44] instead of which a light tin
kettle, between every six men, was substituted, to be strapped on
their knapsacks, and carried alternately on the march. Each man was
provided with a reasonable supply of necessaries, including three pairs
of shoes, and an extra pair of soles and heels, in his knapsack. The
daily allowance of rations for soldiers and officers consisted of one
pound of beef, one of biscuit, and a small allowance of rum or wine;
the former was invariably preferred by the old soldiers, although
frequently much adulterated by the mischievous _capitras_.[45]

The left of the army being already in motion from the interior of
Portugal, the second and light divisions concentrated on the 20th of
May; the former crossed the Sierra de Gata, near Baños, the following
morning, which brought it in communication with our right; our
division forded to the right bank of the Agueda the same day, and
encamped on the skirts of the extensive forest situated between Rodrigo
and Salamanca. The German hussars rode up, smoking their pipes, and
singing some delightful airs, their half squadrons at intervals joining
in chorus. We had heard that the hussar brigade was to supersede these
veterans, and to act with our division: the whole of us left our
canvas, and lined the road to greet our old friends and companions of
out-post duty. The hussars became so much affected by our cheering,
that tears rolled down many of their bronzed faces. "Oh!" said they,
"we are always glad to see the old _lighty division_, who will ever
live in our hearts."

On the third day we had arrived near San Muñoz, and encamped on the
river Helebra. Many of the forest trees were covered with beautiful
blossoms, and the plumaged tribe hopped from branch to bough, while
here and there a solitary skeleton lay bleached, and reminded us
of those starved, drenched, and wounded victims, the recollection
of whose cries for help still rang in our ears, as we had marched
past them on our retreat from Burgos and Madrid the previous winter.
Now, how changed the scene! the inmost recesses of this extensive
wood resounded with many voices, and a long line of animated troops
continued to thread its mazes and winding roads. On this day the
household brigade of cavalry came up; their horses' backs were in a
very bad state, owing to the heat of the weather. In the evening, while
sitting at our tent-door, we observed one of the Germans making up his
fat horse for the night, and afterwards employing himself in sharpening
his sabre with a stone. "That man," remarked an officer, "seems to be
preparing for single combat."

Early on the 26th we halted on the verge of the wood, within a short
distance of Salamanca; our cavalry and some guns pushed onwards,
and crossed to the right bank of the Tormes by two fords above the
town, where they found three thousand French infantry preparing to
retrograde. Our cavalry made a demonstration to charge them, but the
enemy presented so firm a front, and then retired in such good order,
that it was thought advisable not to attempt to break them, until a
few discharges of artillery should have shaken the resolution of these
veterans: which that course failed to accomplish. They at length formed
a junction with a part of the French troops retiring from Alba de

Our dragoons were then drawn off, and the enemy continued to retreat
without farther molestation. In the afternoon our division moved
forward, and took up their ground in a wood immediately overlooking the
left bank of the Tonnes, a league below Salamanca.

The next morning, as there had not been any order for the troops to
move, I mounted my horse, and, in company with some other officers,
rode into Salamanca. The inhabitants expressed their congratulations on
seeing us again, although our reception was not of that warm character
shown towards us in the preceding summer; and, indeed, it would have
been out of all reason to expect to find countenances decked with joy,
when contending armies had trampled down and destroyed their corn over
a fertile plain of many leagues in extent.

On entering the great square, we observed the principal inhabitants,
full-dressed, flocking towards the cathedral, a very handsome stone
structure, where we alighted, and, following the crowd through the
grand entrance, found a great multitude waiting the arrival of the
Marquis of Wellington, who soon entered, escorted by a numerous
retinue of Spanish generals and other staff officers, in a variety
of uniforms magnificently embroidered. I was much struck with the
simplicity of the Marquis of Wellington's attire, who wore a very
light grey pelisse coat, single-breasted, without a sash, and a white
neck-handkerchief, with his sword buckled round his waist, underneath
the coat, the hilt merely protruding, and a cocked-hat under his arm.
He stood with his face towards the altar during the prayer offered up
for the success of our arms in the approaching struggle, (for during
this time the divisions of our centre were branching off and marching
over dusty plains towards Miranda de Douro, to support the extreme
left, under General Sir T. Graham, which had crossed to the right bank
of the Douro, east of Lamego, had passed through the defiles of Tras
os Montes, and was marching on the right of that river through Leon,
towards Carvajales and Tabara, to outflank the enemy;) the deep-toned
organ played some fine pieces during the ceremony; and at the
conclusion, the ladies, by way of a benediction, dipped their delicate
fingers into a marble basin at the door, _and sprinkled us with holy

At daylight on the 28th, we forded the Tormes, and continued a forward
movement along a winding road, through a rich valley compassing the
base of a hill, on the summit of which stood a number of videttes
belonging to the household brigade; and although the men and horses
looked gigantic, and bore a fine appearance, still the idea of out-post
duty for the heavy cavalry caused much merriment in the ranks. At
the expiration of a long march, we encamped in the vicinity of Aldea
de Figueras, on the high road to Toro, where we halted four days; the
second division, under General Hill, besides Portuguese and Spanish
auxiliaries, were encamped half a league to our right, for the purpose
of keeping in check and watching the movements of the enemy stationed
on the right of the Douro, and also at Polios and Ruêda, situated about
two leagues from Tor-de-Sillas, on the left bank of the river, where
the French still remained in some force, hovering on our right flank.
Under all these circumstances, it became necessary to be vigilant,
as the left and centre of the army were now moving to pass the river
Esla, under the immediate orders of the General-in-chief, who had left
Salamanca to join them, and to superintend this delicate movement in
person, which he had caused to be executed for the purpose of turning
the enemy's right, and to threaten his northern line of communications.

Owing to this manœuvre, the French army was thrown on two sides of a
square, and only possessed the chance of extending a line on the Esla,
by throwing their left forward against General Hill at the moment
when he was separated from the bulk of our army; (thereby making
Madrid the base of their operations). However, _El Rey Joseph_ had
not concentrated his army, and showed no inclination to keep open his
communication with that capital; and therefore he gave up the line of
the Esla and the Douro without a blow.

The passage of the Esla having been effected on the 31st, without
opposition, the Marquis of Wellington moved on Toro, where he arrived
on the 2nd of June, and the hussar brigade fell in with a strong body
of the enemy's heavy horse between that town and Morales, where they
overthrew the French, after a very vigorous charge, and made upwards
of two hundred prisoners. Our division on this day made a forced
march over a bare country, halted to cook during the heat of the day,
then resumed its movement, and reached the vicinity of Toro in the
evening, where we encamped among some luxuriant, well-watered vegetable
gardens on the left bank of the Douro, the sight of which proved very
refreshing after a long, sultry, and weary march; and it was most
gratifying to observe with what zest and relish the officers and
soldiers devoured the raw cabbages, onions, and melons.

The next morning our division crossed the fine stone bridge. The centre
arch of it had been blown up and entirely destroyed. The soldiers,
therefore, in the first instance, descended by ladders placed close
together, communicating by planks thrown across to the steps of the
opposite ladders, by which the men again ascended, thereby surmounting
the obstacle with little difficulty, and then marching through Toro,
which is situated on high ground on the right bank of the river, and
commands a fine prospect for some leagues over the surrounding country.

The artillery and baggage forded one hundred yards above the bridge,
without difficulty; the water being only knee-deep at this season of
the year. We encamped half a league from the town. In the afternoon
I walked in to see the prisoners who had been taken by the English
hussars on the previous day, all of whom bore a very martial
appearance, and many of their countenances were so covered with hair,
that it was difficult to distinguish their features: one man, in
particular, had a long red beard which reached down to his middle; he
wore a brass helmet, surmounted with tiger's skin, with a bunch of
horse hair hanging down his back from the casque. One hundred of these
French dragoons, who had not been wounded, were assembled to march
to the rear. Their officer maintained a profound silence, and looked
angry and highly indignant, with a large stick over his shoulder,
stuck through the middle of a four-pound Spanish loaf. The whole of
the captured, raw-boned horses, were huddled together in a court-yard,
and bore evident marks of bad provender, escort duties, marches, and
countermarches; and nearly the whole of them had the most horrible sore
backs, almost frying in the sun, while innumerable flies settled on and
irritated the poor animals. A number of English medical officers were
busily employed dressing the wounds of the French cavalry; some of them
were of a most shocking description, from sabre cuts on their heads and
faces. A Frenchman, of enormous stature, lay extended with a dreadful
thrust from a pike, which had been inflicted by a cruel Guerilla, some
hours after he had surrendered himself a prisoner. A medical officer
was on his knees trying to bleed him, and held his wrist, moving his
arm gently, having made an incision in hopes of causing the blood to
flow; but every effort to save his life was useless; the dying soldier
nodded thanks to the doctor, and soon after expired.

On the 4th, the whole army being concentrated[46], it moved in three
columns, the centre in the direction of Palencia. The country was
beautifully diversified, studded with castles of Moorish architecture,
realizing the descriptions given in the chivalric days of Ferdinand
and Isabella. The sun shone brilliantly, the sky was of heavenly blue,
and clouds of dust marked the line of march of glittering columns.
The joyous peasantry hailed our approach, and came dancing towards
us, singing and beating time on their small tambourines; and, when we
were passing through the principal street of Palencia, the nuns, from
the upper windows of a convent, showered down rose-leaves on our dusty
heads, and the inhabitants declared, by way of compliment, that the
Oxford Blues were nearly as fine as the Spanish royal horse guards. Our
division took up their ground close to the town, and on the exact spot
where the French had bivouacked the same morning.

Continuing our advance towards Burgos on the 12th, the right of our
army made a demonstration to attack the enemy, who had taken post
there, while our division brought up its left shoulder, and hovered,
with the hussar-brigade, on their right flank; the left of our army
halted, until the effect of this movement was ascertained, by which
the enemy were again thrown on two sides of a square. The day was
remarkably cold and cloudy.

Towards morning on the 13th, we heard a great noise, which we
considered distant thunder, but it was soon known that the enemy had
blown up part of the works of the Castle of Burgos, and had retreated.
The left of our army was now pushed on in echelon, to turn by a flank
movement the line of the Ebro, while our right and centre hung on the
enemy's rear, ready to engage them in support of this movement. The
country here was extremely wild and mountainous[47].

On the 15th we descended by a narrow pass, about a league in extent,
which had the appearance of being scarped; the road was extremely
rugged, and, winding suddenly, we found ourselves in the valley of the
Ebro, which extended some distance to our right. The beauty of the
scenery was far beyond description, and the rocks rose perpendicularly
on every side, without any visible opening to convey an idea of any
outlet. This enchanting valley is studded with picturesque hamlets,
orchards of cherry trees, and fruitful gardens, producing every
description of vegetation. We crossed the river by the Puente Arenas,
where we saw a number of sturdy, thick-legged women, loaded with fresh
butter, from the mountains of the Asturias. I had not tasted that
commodity for more than two years, therefore it will be unnecessary to
describe how readily I made a purchase, and carried the treasure in
front of my saddle, until we had encamped; but, as ill luck would have
it, there was not any biscuit served out on that day.

The next morning we ascended by a most romantic winding road for a
league, and obtained a view of the tents of the fifth division, who
had made a _détour_ to outflank the enemy, and to secure the passage
of these narrow defiles. While passing a village, I asked several of
the inhabitants to sell me some bread; a shake of the head was the only
answer returned. I at last caught a glimpse of a priest, and, as I was
determined to have bread to eat with the fresh butter, I made towards
him, saluted him by a most gracious bend, pulled out a _pecéta_,
and requested he would procure me a loaf; he very good-naturedly
acquiesced, and soon again made his appearance with a three-pounder,
and also returned half my money: he seemed pleased, so was I, and,
more courteous salutes having been exchanged between us, I rejoined
the ranks. Travelling onwards, we perceived a large building on the
side of a hill, with something white waving at each window, which, on a
nearer view, we perceived to be a convent, and the nuns shaking their
white handkerchiefs to greet our approach. On taking up our ground for
the day, the baggage made its appearance, and ample justice was done to
the bread and butter by myself and companions.

On the 18th, while we were advancing left in front, along a narrow
road, shrouded by overhanging woods and high mountains, a hussar
informed us that the enemy were at hand. On reaching a more open space,
we observed a brigade of the French drawn up behind a rivulet, and
their front covered by a few houses. Two battalions of the rifle corps,
supported by the 52nd, instantly attacked them, and, after some smart
firing, the enemy gave ground. During this skirmish our regiment turned
off the road to the left, and formed line on a hill, as a rallying
point, in case of need; when, to our astonishment, we observed the
head of another column of the French issuing, by a road parallel to
us, out of an opening between two perpendicular rocks, and in rear of
our second brigade, already engaged. The other regiments composing
our brigade scrambled over the rocks, to endeavour to attack their
left, which the enemy perceiving, turned off the road, and made for a
hill: the 52nd brought up its left shoulder, and actually formed line
facing to the rear, at a run, and encountered the enemy on the crest of
the hill, who, the moment they met that regiment, turned round, and,
throwing off their packs, fled to the mountains, keeping up a running
fight. The second brigade was now engaged front and rear.

During this desultory _fusillade_, the baggage belonging to the French
division debouched from the already described outlet. The whole of the
enemy's escort huddled together, and made a most desperate resistance
amidst the rocks, while their affrighted animals ran loose, and were
seen on the highest pinnacles of precipices. Nearly the whole fell into
our hands, besides three hundred wounded and prisoners. The position of
the division became singular after the fight, with its centre at the
village St. Millan, and keeping a look-out to the front and rear. The
enemy had also attacked the left of our army, near Osma, in hopes that,
by causing such a delay, it would enable these two brigades, marching
from Frias, to form a junction with their main body.

On the 19th we moved forward, and, at about ten o'clock in the morning,
part of the fourth division became engaged with the light troops of
the enemy. Our division then made a short _détour_, and turned the
left of the French, who precipitately retired towards Vittoria. The
next day we halted, and the army took up a line on the river Bayas,
after long and arduous marching. The Marquis of Wellington approached
the river Zadorra, which covered the enemy's position, for the purpose
of examining the ground they occupied, and pointing out to different
generals the various debouches, and their necessary line of attack, in
the event of the French continuing to occupy the same ground on the
following day.

On the 21st, we stood to our arms, and moved forward in darkness, some
time before daybreak. A heavy shower of rain fell; but, as morning
dawned, the clouds dispersed, and the sun arose with fiery splendour.
A towering and steep ridge of mountains rose abruptly from the valley
on our right, which the Spaniards climbed early in the morning, at
first unopposed; the ascent was so steep, that, while moving up it,
they looked as if they were lying on their faces, or crawling. They
were supported, and soon followed across the river Zadorra, and through
the town of Puebla de Arlanzon, by part of the second division, for
the purpose of attacking the left of the enemy, who were posted on
the heights above Puebla de Arlanzon and Sabijana de Alava, where the
contest, at the former place, began at nine o'clock, amongst deep
ravines, rocks and precipices. The second division becoming heavily
engaged with the enemy, under all these disadvantages it could only
maintain the ground already won, and the firing seemed to die away
in that quarter. Our right centre, composed of the light and fourth
divisions, continued to advance, as also the great bulk of our cavalry.

At about ten o'clock, on ascending a rising ground, we observed the
French army drawn out in order of battle, in two lines, their right
centre resting on a round hill, their left centre occupying a gentle
ascent, and their left hid from view on the heights of Puebla; the
river Zadorra ran at the foot of this formidable position, and then
took a sudden turn, embracing and running parallel to their right
flank, towards Vittoria.

_El Rey Joseph_, surrounded by a numerous staff, was stationary on
the hill, overlooking his own right and centre. The French army was
unmasked, without a bush to prevent the sweeping of their artillery,
the charging of their cavalry, or the fire of their musketry from
acting with full effect on those who should attempt to pass the bridges
in their front, and which it was absolutely necessary to carry before
we could begin the action in the centre. When within a short distance
of the river, five of the French light horse advanced on the main road
to look out, and were overtaken by an equal number of our dragoons,
when they wheeled about and attempted to make off, without effect;
they were assailed on the near side, when three instantly fell from
their saddles, covered with sabre wounds, and their affrighted horses
galloped at random.

The light division left the road when within one mile of the river, and
drew up in contiguous close columns behind some shelving rocks near
Olabarre, with the hussar brigade dismounted on the left; the fourth
division made a corresponding movement, by branching off to the right,
and took post opposite their intended point of attack; the greater
part of our heavy cavalry and dragoons remained in reserve, to succour
the central divisions, in case the enemy should advance before the
third and seventh divisions should have taken up their ground on the
enemy's right flank. The first and fifth divisions, with two brigades
of Portuguese, a Spanish division, and two brigades of dragoons,
were making a _détour_ from Murguia, to place themselves on the line
of the enemy's retreat, towards St. Sebastian; the sixth division
remained some leagues in the rear of our army to guard the stores at
Medina. Gen. Clausel's division was manœuvring on our right, but not
sufficiently near on this day to give much cause of apprehension.

All the movements of our army required the nicest calculations, both
for the attack and defence; for at this time the four great columns
advancing were separated by difficult rocks and a rugged country,
interspersed with deep gulleys, narrow roads, and scattered hamlets.
The enemy were again under the painful necessity, for the third time in
one month, of manœuvring on two sides of a square; and the first cannon
fired by General Graham, at Abechucho and Gamarra Major,[48] must have
been to Joseph and Marshal Jourdan, (his Major-General,) like a shock
of electricity: all in an instant was riot and confusion in Vittoria;
the baggage stuck fast, blocking up all the roads, and even the fields.

At half-past eleven o'clock the Marquis of Wellington led the way
by a hollow road, followed by the light division, which he placed
unobserved amongst some trees, exactly opposite the enemy's right
centre, and within two hundred yards of the bridge of Villoses, which
we understood was to be carried at the point of the bayonet. I felt
anxious to obtain a view, and, leisurely walking between the trees, I
found myself at the edge of the wood, and within a very short distance
of the enemy's cannon, planted with lighted matches ready to apply to
them. Had the attack begun here, the French never could have stood to
their guns so near the thicket; or at least the riflemen would have
annihilated them. The General-in-chief was now most anxiously looking
out for the third and seventh divisions to make their appearance. We
had remained some time in the wood, when a Spanish peasant told the
Marquis of Wellington that the enemy had left one of the bridges across
the Zadorra unprotected, and offered his services to lead us over it.
Our right brigade instantly moved to its left _by threes_, at a rapid
pace, along a very uneven and circuitous path, (which was concealed
from the observation of the French by high rocks,) and reached the
narrow bridge which crossed the river to Yruna. The 1st rifles led the
way, and the whole brigade following, passed at a run, with firelocks
and rifles ready cocked, and ascended a steep road of fifty yards, at
the top of which was an old chapel, which we had no sooner cleared,
than we observed a heavy column of French on the principal hill, and
commanding a bird's-eye view of us. However, fortunately, a convex
bank formed a sort of _tête de pont_, behind which the regiments
formed at full speed, without any word of command. Two round shots
came amongst us; the second severed the head from the body of our
bold guide, the Spanish peasant. The soldiers were so well concealed,
that the enemy ceased firing. Our post was most extraordinary, as we
were at the elbow of the French position, and isolated from the rest
of the army, within one hundred yards of the enemy's advance, and
absolutely occupying part of their position on the left of the river,
without any attempt being made by them to dislodge us; scarcely the
sound of a shot, from any direction, struck on the ear, and we were in
momentary expectation of being immolated; and, as I looked over the
bank, I could see _El Rey Joseph_, surrounded by at least five thousand
men, within eight hundred yards of us. The reason he did not attack
is inexplicable, and, I think, cannot be accounted for by the most
ingenious narrator.

Gen. Sir James Kempt expressed much wonder at our critical position,
and our not being molested, and sent his aide-de-camp at speed across
the river for the 15th Hussars, who came forward singly, and at a
gallop, up the steep path, and dismounted in rear of our centre. The
French dragoons coolly, and at a very slow pace, came within fifty
yards to examine, if possible, the strength of our force, when a few
shots from the rifles induced them to decamp. I observed three bridges,
within a quarter of a mile of each other, at the elbow of the enemy's
position. We had crossed the centre one, while the other two, right and
left, where still occupied by the French artillery; at the latter, the
enemy had thrown up an earth entrenchment.

We continued in this awkward state of suspense for half an hour, when
we observed the centre of the enemy drawing off by degrees towards
Vittoria, and also the head of the third division rapidly debouching
from some rocks on our left near the hamlet of Mendoza, when the
battery at Tres Puentes opened upon them, which was answered by two
guns from the horse artillery on the right of the river. Some companies
of the rifle corps sprang from the ground, where they lay concealed,
and darted forward, opening a galling fire on the left flank of the
enemy's gunners, at great risk to themselves of being driven into the
water, as the river ran on their immediate left, while the French
cavalry hovered on their right; however, so well did this gallant band
apply their loose balls, that the enemy limbered up their guns, and
hastily retired; and the third division, at a run, crossed the bridge
of Tres Puentes, cheering, but unopposed.[49]

The enemy withdrew the artillery from the bridges in their centre at
two o'clock, P. M., and were forming across the high road to Vittoria.
The third division had no sooner closed up in contiguous columns, than
General Picton led them forward in very handsome style, in column,
by a flank movement, so as to place them exactly opposite the French
centre. The fourth division directly after crossed the river by the
bridge of Nanclara, and were hurrying forward to support the right
flank of the third division; the seventh division also crossed the
bridge of Tres Puentes, supported by the second brigade of the light
division, and faced the small village of Marganta. Our heavy horse and
dragoons had deployed into line, on the other side of the river, so as
to communicate with the rear of the second division, (in the event of
their being driven back from the mountains,) or to support the centre
of the army, in case of any disaster. They made a brilliant display of
golden helmets and sparkling swords, glittering in the rays of the sun.

Three divisions being in motion, the centre and left supported by the
light division and the hussar brigade, the battle began by a terrible
discharge on the third division, while they were deploying into line.
We closed up to them, behind a bank; when, with loud huzzas, they
rushed from behind it, into the village of Ariyez, with fixed bayonets,
amidst flashing small arms and rolling artillery, and, after a bloody
struggle, carried it. The enemy's artillery was within two hundred
yards of us, ploughing up the ground in our rear: fortunately, the
bank nearly covered us, during the time it was necessary to remain
inactive, to support the front attack, if needful. A Portuguese
regiment, attached to our brigade, had been detached for a short time,
and rejoined in close column; but, just before they reached the cover,
some round shot tore open their centre, and knocked over many men; and
such was the alarm of a Portuguese officer, at the whizzing of balls
and bursting of field shells, that he fell into an officer's arms,
weeping bitterly. For ten minutes at this point, what with dust and
smoke, it was impossible to distinguish any objects in front, save the
shadows of the French artillerymen serving the guns, and the shouts
of troops while forcing their way into the village. The smoke had
no sooner cleared away, than we came on the bodies of many dead and
gasping soldiers, stretched in the dust. The sharp fire of musketry
and artillery in the centre, announced it to be the point of contest.
The "advance" of the second division had been severely handled on the
mountains to our right, but they were now getting on as speedily as the
nature of the ground would admit, it being composed of deep ravines,
and such natural obstacles, as almost to delay their progress unopposed.

The first and fifth divisions were engaged at Gamarra Major and
Abechucho, in front of the bridges over the Zadorra. These villages
were carried after a smart action, by which a position was gained
threatening the enemy's line of retreat by the high road to France,
running N.E. some distance close on the left of the river. The bridge
was attempted, but was found to be impracticable, until our centre had
forced the enemy to give up Vittoria. The different divisions in the
centre were exposed to a desultory fire, while passing the villages
of Gomecha and Luazu de Alava, and over broken ground, forming lines,
columns, or threading the windings of difficult paths, according to
the nature of the country, or the opposition of the enemy. The fourth
division pushed back the left centre of the French, and were fighting
successfully, and performing prodigies of valour, among crags and
broken ground. The seventh division now came in contact with the
enemy's right centre, which resisted so desperately, and galled them
from a wood and the windows of houses with such showers of bullets,
that victory for a short time was doubtful; however, the second brigade
of the light division coming up fresh and with closed ranks, assisted
by the seventh division, broke through all opposition at a run, and
routed the enemy at the point of the bayonet. The four divisions of the
centre continued to gain ground, shooting forward alternately, leaving
the killed and wounded scattered over a great extent of country. At six
o'clock in the evening, by a sort of running fight, with hard contests
at certain points, the centre of the army had gained five miles in
this amphitheatre; for General Hill's corps was on the mountains, and
General Graham was still on the right of the Zadorra.

The Marquis of Wellington was in the middle of the battle, vigorously
driving the enemy, to finish that which the wings had so well begun.
First, General Hill's movement in the morning had caused the enemy to
weaken his left centre; then General Graham's attack induced him to
give up the front line of the Zadorra, without a shot (hardly) being

At half-past six we were within one mile of the city of Vittoria, the
capital of Alava, situated in a fruitful valley; but the French army
now drew up, and showed such an imposing array in front of the town,
that our left centre facing _Ali_ was completely kept at bay, owing to
the blazing of one hundred pieces of cannon vomiting forth death and
destruction to all who advanced against them. This roaring of artillery
continued for more than an hour on both sides, with unabated vigour:
the smoke rolled up in such clouds, that we could no longer distinguish
the white town of Vittoria; the liquid fire marked the activity of the
French gunners. During this momentous struggle, the left centre of
the French covered a bare hill, and continued for a considerable time
immoveable; while, pouring their musketry into the now-thinned ranks
of the third division, it was doubtful whether the latter would be
able to keep their ground, under such a deadly fire from very superior
numbers: however, they maintained this dangerous post with heroic
firmness, having led the van throughout the thick of the battle.

At this period of the action, it was absolutely necessary to strain
every nerve to win it before nightfall. The fourth division, on our
right, shot forward against a sugar-loaf hill, and broke a French
division, who retired up it in a confused mass, firing over each
other's heads, without danger to themselves, owing to the steepness of
its ascent. I was laughing at this novel method of throwing bullets,
when one struck me on the sash, and fell at my feet, thereby cooling
my ardour for a short time: however, when a little recovered from the
pain, I picked it up, and put the precious bit of lead into my pocket.

The scene that now presented itself was magnificently grand: the
valley resounded with confused sounds like those of a volcanic
eruption, and was crowded with red bodies of infantry and the smoking
artillery, while the cavalry eagerly looked for an opening to gallop
into the town. On one side of the field rose majestically the spiral
and purple-capped mountains, rearing their pinnacles on high; on the
other ran the glassy waters of the Zadorra: and the departing sun
threw his last beams to light up the efforts of those struggling in
dangerous strife for the deliverance of Spain. The enemy sacrificed all
their cannon, with the exception of eight pieces, while withdrawing
the right of their army behind the left wing, under cover of this
tremendous cannonade, which was the only chance yet left them to quit
the field in a compact body. This movement being executed in strange
confusion in and about Vittoria, their left wing retired by echelon of
divisions and brigades from the right, while delivering their fire;
and finally, their last division quitted the field with nearly empty
cartridge-boxes, and taking the road towards Pampeluna. The greater
portion of our army then brought up its left shoulder, or rather
wheeled the quarter circle to its right; which movement brought us on
the road to Pampeluna. The French managed to drag the eight pieces
of artillery across the fields for nearly a league; but, coming to
marshy ground, they stuck fast, and three of them rolled into a ditch,
with mules struggling to disentangle themselves from their harness.
Two pieces the enemy carried clear out of the action, leaving their
numerous cannon behind them, owing to the roads being so blocked up
with waggons.

The dark shades of evening had already veiled the distant objects from
our view, and nothing of the battle remained, save the lightning
flashes of the enemy's small arms on our cavalry, who continued to
hover and threaten their rear guard. The road to Pampeluna was choked
up with many carriages, filled with imploring ladies, waggons loaded
with specie,[50] powder and ball, and wounded soldiers, intermixed with
droves of oxen, sheep, goats, mules, asses, _filles de chambre_, and
officers. In fact, such a jumble surely never was witnessed before; it
seemed as if all the domestic animals in the world had been brought to
this spot, with all the utensils of husbandry, and all the finery of
palaces, mixed up in one heterogeneous mass.

Our brigade marched past this strange scene (I may well assert) of
domestic strife, in close column, nor did I see a soldier attempt to
quit the ranks, or show the most distant wish to do so; our second
brigade had not yet joined us, when we bivouacked a league from
Vittoria, on the road towards Pampeluna. The half-famished soldiers had
no sooner disencumbered themselves of their knapsacks, than they went
to forage; for even here the sheep and goats were running about in all
directions, and large bags of flour lay by the side of the road: in
fact, for miles round the town, the great wreck of military stores was
scattered in every direction.

Night put an end to the contest: the growling of artillery ceased,
the enemy were flying in disorder, the British army bivouacked round
Vittoria, large fires were kindled and blazed up, and illumined the
country, over which were strewed the dead and suffering officers and
soldiers: strange sounds continued throughout the night, and passing
lights might be seen on the highest mountains and distant valleys.

[Footnote 44: The iron kettles were very heavy, and were carried on
the backs of mules, one of which was attached to each company; but,
when near the enemy, and the baggage had been sent to the rear, these
unwieldy and capacious kettles were not at all times to be laid hold
of. Besides, it occupied the soldiers a considerable time to cook their
rations, particularly in the extensive plains, where only stubble
could be procured; and also during the rainy season, when the forest
trees were damp. I have often observed these ponderous kettles turned
bottom upwards, (at a time when there happened to be a scarcity of
provisions,) and encircled by ten or twelve weather-beaten soldiers,
who, with empty stomachs, stepped forward, one at a time, and each
of them in turn rubbing his blacking-brush on the sooty part of the
kettle, blacked his dusty shoes, cap-peak, canteen strap, and knapsack.]

[Footnote 45: A muleteer, so called from having the charge of five
mules, for the use of which he received five dollars daily, and one
for himself. The biscuit, rum, and reserve ball-cartridge, were
carried by the mules;—under charge of the above men the lean Barbary
bulls and bullocks followed the different divisions on their line of
march—the whole originally provided by, and under the superintendence
of commissaries.]

[Footnote 46: The British army was composed of eight divisions of
infantry, as usual. The first, of two brigades of Guards, with two of
the King's German Legion; the second, three brigades of British, and
three of Portuguese; the third, two of British, and one of Portuguese;
the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, the same; the light division
of two brigades. Total, seventeen brigades of British infantry, two
of Germans, ten of Portuguese; besides other detachments. The cavalry
consisted of four brigades of Heavy, and four of Light Dragoons, and
two of Portuguese.]

[Footnote 47: The enemy left in the Castle of Pancorbo, (which commands
the narrow and tremendous pass through which the high road runs towards
Miranda,) a small garrison, who soon afterwards surrendered themselves
prisoners to the Spaniards.]

[Footnote 48: We could not see the extreme right of the enemy,
stationed near Arunnez, in front of Abechucho and Gamarra Major.]

[Footnote 49: The French did not defend any of the seven bridges
across the Zadorra, except the two lying north and N.E. near Vittoria,
although it was their original intention to do so. The able manœuvres
of the General-in-chief threw the French generals into doubt: they
knew not whether to defend their left, their right, or their centre;
so they gave up one after the other, in conformity with the threatened
attacks of the Marquis of Wellington—which was exactly what he wished,
and most accommodating of his opponents, who thus left this intended
great battle without beginning or without end; for the French infantry
were not half beaten, before disjointed orders and crowds of baggage
blocking up the different roads, completed their confusion past all

[Footnote 50: Some excesses were committed, although the greater part
of the booty, as usual, was bagged by the followers of the army.]


    Pursuit of the enemy after the battle of Vittoria—Curious
      spectacle and adventure in a French bivouac—Advance towards
      Pampeluna, and repulse of the French rear-guard—Retreat of the
      main body of the enemy into France—Reflections on the policy
      of King Joseph—Change of the British route, and encampment
      at Sanguessa—A casual dance—Return to Pampeluna—Expulsion
      of the French from the valley of Bastan—The Basque
      peasantry—Town of Bera—Position for covering Pampeluna and St.
      Sebastian—Preparations for the attack of the latter place—The
      command of the French assumed by the Duke of Dalmatia—A family
      scene—Position of the French army.

On the morning of the 22d the atmosphere was overcast, and, being
without either cloaks or blankets to cover us, our uniforms were
very damp, owing to the heavy dew which had fallen during the night;
notwithstanding this, we arose from the ground exceedingly refreshed,
and gazed around, in mute amazement, at the prodigious wreck of
plundered Spain; for, beneath the French caissons, tumbrils, and brass
cannon, lay scattered _los doblones de oro, of the same virgin gold_
which had been extracted in former times from the peaceful Incas
of the new world, by those vindictive Spanish adventurers, whose
avaricious veins boiled at that epoch with the hot blood of the Moors.

At nine o'clock the rolling of the tenor and bass drums, and the clank
of cymbals, beating the marching time, announced that the leading
regiments of the division were in motion for the purpose of following
the enemy. During the rest of the day we marched through a valley,
enclosed by highlands, but did not overtake the enemy; the corn was
trampled down in many places, which showed they had moved in three
columns, whenever the ground would admit of it. Soon after dark, the
division bivouacked in a wood, a drizzling rain began to fall, and
we laid down under a tree to enjoy a nap, until the arrival of our
sumpter mules, heavily laden with flour and live stock, which we had
industriously scraped together from the refuse of Vittoria's field.
At midnight we were awakened, with keen appetites, by the well-known
neighing of the horses, and braying of donkeys; but none of the baggage
animals came our way, and during our anxious and broken slumbers the
night passed away, and the morning was ushered in by a sweeping rain,
which thoroughly saturated the troops before they began their march.
As I chanced to be for the duty of bringing up any stragglers who
might happen to lag behind, and my hungry messmate being also for the
baggage guard (of those who had come up), we journeyed together along
the sloppy road, when the conversation naturally turned on the splendid
victory gained over the French legions two days before, and we remarked
how gladdened the people of England would be on the receipt of such a
piece of glorious intelligence, while they would little imagine that
the greater portion of the victors would willingly lay down half their
laurels for a good breakfast.

At the close of the evening we came to the remains of a French bivouac,
consisting of doors and window shutters torn from a neighbouring
village by the enemy, and propped up to screen them from the inclemency
of the weather. The sole person to be seen was a draggled-tailed old
woman, with a ragged petticoat, who, without noticing us, or once
raising her eyes, continued to pursue her interesting employment of
stirring up with a stick the mud (which was interspersed with fragments
of books and French novels,) or handling the broken fragments of
earthenware pots. Our curiosity was so much excited, that we reined in
our steeds to watch the progress of the wrinkled and copper-coloured
old dame, who, stretching out her bronzed and shrivelled arm, at last
laid hold of a whole utensil, and as she hastily splashed off, I caught
a glimpse of a chicken, resting on one leg, behind a shutter, which
somehow or other had escaped the ramrod of the enemy, and the hawk-eyed
soldiers of the pursuing column. Unsheathing my sabre, I jumped to the
ground, and sprang forward either to grasp or maim the destined prize;
however, the ground was in such a slimy state, that my speed availed
not; on the contrary it hastened my fall. My companion, disdaining to
take warning at my mishap, must needs himself begin a hot pursuit;
however, the practical experience convinced him of the slippery
obstacles; he soon lay sprawling on his face, plastered with mire:
suffice it, the bird escaped, and we resumed our wet saddles, in a
condition and appearance nowise enviable.—Soon after dark we came to a
river, but as the enemy had not sufficient time to blow up the bridge,
they had set fire to many of the houses in the main street of the town,
(which were still in flames,) in hopes of blocking up the way with the
burning rafters, which they had hurled from the roofs of the houses, in
expectation of preventing our artillery from passing through, and thus
harassing our retreat. The rain still falling in torrents, by degrees
extinguished the red embers of the smoking ruins, and prevented the
place from being entirely consumed to ashes. The soldiers of the
division crowded the houses, and huddled under cover wherever they
could find shelter. We were obliged to content ourselves by squeezing
into a small hovel, where the smoke found egress through the broken
roof; the floor was composed of slabs of rocks, in some places rearing
their primitive heads amid flints and loose stones. During the night
a ration of meat and six ounces of mouldy biscuit were served out,
which was greedily devoured by the victorious troops. It was in vain
that we scraped into a heap the stones of this macadamized lodge, for
the purpose of lying down; for bumps and holes only increased our
difficulties, and we were forced to ascend a broken ladder into a
wretched loft, swarming with vermin, to prick for a soft plank, whereon
to stretch our chilly limbs.

At dawn, on the 24th, we were again on the road; the weather cleared
up, and the cheerful rays of the sun sparkled in the crystal drops,
which fell on our heads as we glided beneath the wet foliage. Having
advanced a few miles, we found the enemy's rear-guard posted at a bare
and steep pass, which covered the highroad, two leagues from Pampeluna.
The column having closed up, two battalions of the rifle corps
(supported by the horse artillery[51]) pushed forward, and, after a
sharp skirmish, they succeeded in pushing back the French rear-guard;
the guns then galloped up the road, and plied the round shot with
such effect, that they succeeded in dismounting one of the only two
cannon which the enemy had extricated from Vittoria's entangled field.
They had rolled the gun over a steep bank on the right of the paved
causeway, on which were regular league stones, and the first I had
noticed in Spain. One round shot had struck down seven of the enemy on
the left of the road; some of them were dead; others still alive, with
either legs or arms knocked off, or otherwise horribly mutilated, and
were crying out in extreme anguish, and imploring the soldiers to shoot
them, to put an end to their dreadful sufferings. A German hussar, in
our service, assured them that they would be kindly treated by our
medical officers. "No! no!" they vociferated, "we cannot bear to live.
Countryman, we are Germans, pray kill us, and shorten our miseries."

Continuing onwards, we soon after drew up on the slope of a hill,
within sight of Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre; it is well
fortified, with a strong citadel, and situated near the banks of the
river Arga, in a fertile plain abounding with wheat, the ears of which
we rubbed between our hands to satisfy the cravings of hunger. Just
before our arrival, the enemy's scattered army had clustered beneath
the ramparts of the fortress, where they were in hopes of entering to
obtain rest and provisions; but the place was so scantily supplied,
that the gates were ordered to be barred against all intruders. From
this place an excellent road branches off in a north-westerly direction
to Tolosa; but as General Graham, with his corps, was marching direct
on that town, by the great road to France, it was of no avail to the
main body of the enemy, who were obliged to continue their retreat into
France, by Roncesvalles and other roads, merely leaving a rear-guard in
the valley of Bastan.

The following morning we filed over a rugged and flinty mountain,
south-west of Pampeluna, from the summit of which we almost commanded
a bird's-eye view into the very heart of the town, garrisoned by four
thousand of the enemy. This place, well provisioned, should have
been fixed on for the grand base of Joseph's defensive and offensive
movements; for, had he made it the pivot of his operations, and opened
his line on Aragon, (and the strong holds in Catalonia, held by the
Duke of Albufera), his flanks would have been secured by the Ebro and
the Pyrenees, and would have thrown our army on two sides of a square,
and entangled it between two strong fortresses, and the labyrinths
of the Pyrenees. Most probably such a movement would have kept the
war from the immediate frontier of France, whence fresh troops, under
favourable circumstances, could debouch and attack our left face. From
political reasons, the time had not arrived for the decided invasion of
that country; besides, if it had, such an invasion could not have been
executed, so long as the enemy hovered in force on our right flank.

Continuing our route, we crossed the river Arga, and entered the town
of Villalba: our baggage at last came up, and the Casa in which we were
quartered was enclosed by a good garden, well stocked with vegetables,
which was considered a piece of good fortune in those times. This
day, the 25th, General Graham overtook General Foy, retiring from the
vicinity of Bilboa, who, on hearing of the unhappy extent of the French
disasters at Vittoria, made an effort to block up the passage through
Tolosa, but the victorious English broke through all obstacles, and
continued to advance. In a few days the small garrison of Los Passages
surrendered themselves prisoners. Thus it was that the left wing of the
army had hardly halted since issuing from the _bowels of Portugal_,
until the precipitous bank of the river Bidassoa (which divided France
and Spain), put a stop for a time to its memorable march and victorious

On the 26th we had an idea that we should halt, but during the day we
were again under arms, (marching by an excellent road running S.S.E.,
leading direct on Tafalla,) accompanied by the third and fourth
divisions, with a proportion of cavalry and artillery, to endeavour to
cut off General Clausel's corps, which had approached Vittoria the day
after the battle; but he also, being made acquainted with the total
route of _El Rey Joseph_, immediately countermarched on Logroño, and
thence to Tudella.[52] During the movements of the right and left wings
of the British army, General Hill, with the centre, showed front, and
_masked_ Pampeluna.

The weather now cleared up, but continued variable during the whole
summer; the seasons here being totally different from the dry and
scorching heats in the more southern provinces, where the sun-burnt
mountains and vast plains, are covered, at this time of the year, with
a parched vegetation, or the remains of many cindered forests.

Continuing our movement, we became once again extricated from the
mountainous regions, which had every where enclosed us for more than a
fortnight. The country was now open, and highly cultivated, with groups
of bold peasantry lining each side of the way, and greeting us by
crying _Vivan los Coluros, y viva el Réy Fernándo séptimo_; and, while
moving in the direction of Tudella, our enthusiastic hopes were raised
to the highest pitch, at the probability of reaching the venerable and
renowned city of Saragossa; but our line was all at once changed, and
by a forced march we entered the province of Aragon, passing through a
barbarous-looking country, barely peopled, (the forlorn _pueblos_ lying
wide asunder, the poor dwellings being mostly constructed of dried mud,
and plastered over with the same substance;) and at the expiration of
five days we reached Sanguessa, and encamped.

Here we halted one day,[53] and, while promenading the town in the
evening, the soft notes of music floated in the air, and on a nearer
approach to the place whence the sounds issued, we were agreeably
saluted by the scraping and cheerful notes of violins. A crowd of
Spaniards had assembled round the door of the _Casa_, and on being
questioned by another officer and myself whether the ball was public,
"_Oh si señores_," answered they, "_es muy público_:" so, bustling up
the stone steps, and feeling our way along a dark passage, we found
ourselves, on opening a massive door, amongst many _señoritas_, with a
scarcity of _caballeros_. A staff-officer, who was the promoter of the
dance, expressed his gladness at so opportune an arrival. Although a
friend, we apologised to him for the apparent intrusion; but he was a
man of no ceremony, and declared it to be a lucky mistake; which turned
out to be the case, for we beat good waltz time during the whole night,
to the great satisfaction of the _señoritas_.

On reaching the camp the following morning, the tents were already
struck, and the troops moving off on their return to Pampeluna. What
with the overpowering rays of the sun, the rising clouds of dust, and
our overnight's exertion, we were so overcome, that had it not been for
the kindly arms of the soldiers, we should have dropped from off our
horses, while fast asleep, dreaming of black-eyed _señoras, waltzing,
and precipices_!

In two days we reached Pampeluna by a more direct road, but the men
began to flag, owing to irregular and poor feeding; besides which, we
had been marching for thirty-two days, with only two regular halts,
since quitting our camp between Toro and Salamanca; therefore, those
plagued and suffering from sore feet were under the painful necessity
(unless totally unable to proceed), of going on until they got well
again. I have often seen the blood soaking through the gaiters, and
over the heels of the soldiers' hard shoes, whitened with the dust.

The general-in-chief having cleared his right flank, and again
condensed his right and centre round Pampeluna, debouched thence on
the 4th July, for the purpose of taking possession of the passes of
the western Pyrenees, and pushing the enemy's vanguard out of the
valley of Bastan into France; which was executed by part of the second
division, on the 7th. Our division, forming the left centre of the
army, flanked this movement.

Our route at first lay through verdant and luxuriant valleys,
abounding with apple orchards, groves of chesnut trees, and small
fields of Indian corn; from thence we ascended by broken roads, over
rugged mountains, which were cracked in many places into vast chasms,
overhung with oak trees of enormous magnitude, whose ponderous and wide
spreading branches cast their dark shadows over the dried water-courses
and natural grottos, formed by the intricate mazes of the underwood,
entwining around the peaked and overhanging rocks, which in many places
were garnished with wild strawberries.

The third day after leaving Pampeluna, we descended from the mountains
into the compact little town of St. Estevan, situated on the rocky
and woody bank of the clear stream of the Bidassoa, over which a good
stone bridge communicates with the opposite side of the river: here we
halted, with full leisure to explore the lovely scenery, which on every
side encircled this secluded valley.

Our curiosity was much excited by the peculiar method of washing in
this part of the country, the women squatting, or rather sitting on
their bare heels, with their lower garments tightly pulled about them,
whilst others stood in the river rinsing the linen, with their only
petticoat tied in a knot very high up betwixt their legs, displaying
the most perfect symmetry; and it was morally impossible to refrain
from admiring the natural and graceful forms of these nymphs.

The dress of the Basque peasantry is totally different from that of
other provinces, and many of the females possess very fair complexions
and are extremely beautiful, being a happy mixture of _las brunas y
las blondas_; their hair is combed back without any curls, and plaited
into a long tail, which hangs down below the hips; their jackets are
of blue or brown cloth, and pinned so exceedingly tight across the
breast, that the bosom seldom swells to any size; the woollen and only
petticoat worn by them is of a light or mixed colour, reaching to the
middle of the calf of the leg; and, with the exception of the bosom
being so compressed, they are divinely formed. They are also remarkably
nimble of foot, and always carry their little merchandize on the top of
the head; they seldom wear shoes or stockings, except on Sundays and
saints' days. The men go bare-necked, and wear a blue cap, or bonnet,
(precisely similar to those worn in the highlands of Scotland,) with
bushy hair hanging in ringlets on their shoulders. In hot weather
they usually carry the short blue, or brown jacket, slung over the
left shoulder, and with long and rapid strides, or at times, breaking
into a short run, they traverse the steep acclivities with their shoes
and stockings frequently slung on a long pole, which they either carry
sloped over the shoulder, or grasped in the middle like a javelin, and
use it for the purpose of assisting them in scaling or descending the
crags, or frightful precipices. Their waistcoats are double-breasted,
without a collar; the breeches are of brown cloth, or blue velveteen,
fitting tight over the hips, (without braces), and reaching to the cap
of the knee, where they are usually unbuttoned, to give full play to
the limbs; a red sash is twisted round the loins. They are a gaunt,
sinewy, and remarkably active race of men, of sallow complexions; their
limbs are admirably proportioned, and they are as upright as a dart.

After a rest of two days, we marched towards Bera by a narrow road,
running parallel on the right bank of the river Bidassoa, the greater
part of the way being blocked up with large stones, or fragments of
rock, which had tumbled from the overhanging cliffs, that were rent in
many places into terrific chasms, partly choked with huge trunks or
roots of trees, through which overwhelming torrents gushed from the
mountains during the heavy rains and formed vast cataracts, often
swelling the river into a foaming and angry torrent. Its rocky bed is
fordable at this time of the year, and varies from thirty, to more
than a hundred yards in breadth. Owing to the badness of the road, a
number of infantry soldiers were employed in clearing away obstacles,
or lifting the wheels of the cannon, with handspikes, over the loose
fragments or projecting slabs of rock, which, at every few paces for
three leagues impeded their progress.

During the march we passed near the bridges of Sunbilla, Yansi, and
Lazaca, which cross to the left bank of the river, where some Spanish
sentinels were posted on the cliffs, who called out to us, "_miren
ustedes, miren los Franceses_," and on casting our eyes upwards, we
observed three of the enemy's _chasseurs à cheval_, looking down on us
as if from the clouds. Part of the division had been already detached,
for the purpose of keeping a look out up the narrow road to the right
leading to the heights of Echalar. Just before we reached the mouth of
this contracted defile, a buzz from the head of the column proclaimed
the enemy's infantry to be at hand, and the musketry had no sooner
commenced, than an officer, who had been amusing himself by the perusal
of a volume of _Gil Blas_, hastily placed it under the breast of his
grey pelisse: almost at the same instant a musket ball buried itself
in the middle of the book, and displaced him from his horse, without
inflicting any further injury; it is a curious fact, that the exact
pattern of the silk braiding of the pelisse[54] was indented in the
leaden bullet.

Our front being speedily cleared of the enemy's skirmishers, the firing
ceased, and we entered a pleasant valley, within half a mile of Bera,
which on this road is the frontier town of Spain, and is situated at
an elbow, on the right bank of the Bidassoa: it has a good church with
a lofty steeple, and consists of one long straggling street, a quarter
of a mile in length, and immediately at the foot of the mountain de
Comissari, over which a steep road, three yards broad, crosses the
summit, which is called the _puérta de Bera_, and leads N.N.E. to St.
Jean de Luz, in France; two other roads, if they may be so designated,
branch off right and left from Bera, the first running easterly along
the valley, (parallel with a small rivulet which empties itself into
the Bidassoa), and passes between the great rock of La Rhune and the
opposite mountain of St. Bernard, to St. Barbe and Sarré, into France;
at this point the rugged defile is very narrow, and almost causes a
complete _break or separation_ in the western Pyrenees: the other road
from Bera runs across the Bidassoa, over a narrow stone bridge, four
hundred yards from the town, to Salines, thence branching off through
gloomy forests and over steep mountains to Oyarzun, Passages, and Saint

From Salines there is also a narrow rugged pathway, which traverses
N.N.W. by the winding current, on the left bank of the Bidassoa; it is
intersected with loose stones, and in many places ascends the steep and
difficult acclivities over the naked rock, and finally enters the great
road beyond Irun, which leads across the Bidassoa (where the enemy had
broken down the bridge) into France, thence passing over the river
Nivelle to St. Jean de Luz, and on to Bayonne, a distance of about
twenty-four miles from Irun, which is the frontier town of Spain by
that route.

The right of the enemy immediately opposed to us rested on a nearly
perpendicular rock, at an elbow of the Bidassoa, and overlooking the
small market place of Bera, so much so, that, if inclined, they might
have smashed the roofs of the houses, at the west end of the town, by
rolling down upon them huge fragments of rock. This post was decorated
with a variety of fancy flags, or strips of cloth, of various colours,
tied at the top of long poles while groups of French tirailleurs, who
encircled them, sounded their small shrill trumpets, _and jocosely
invited us to the attack_.

Their centre or reserve, composed of black columns, crowned the heights
on each side of the _Puerta de Bera_, and also the wooded heights
extending to the base of the rock of La Rhune, on which their left was
stationed in an old ruin.

The ground having been fully examined, and the picquets properly
placed, we re-entered the mouth of the pass, and, having cut down two
or three small fields of Indian corn, and stored it up as provender
for the animals, we encamped on the stubble close to the river. The
day was fine, but during the night the rain descended in torrents, and
continued to fall so heavily for two days, as to swamp the ground on
which our tents were pitched, and it was with the utmost exertion that
we could keep them upright, owing to the frequent gusts of wind tearing
the pegs out of the liquid mud. In these damp and chilly regions the
tents proved of incalculable service to the army. The weather again
clearing, our first brigade ascended the bare heights of Santa Barbara,
the second brigade occupied a rising ground to protect the entrance
of the defile leading to St. Estevan, and the picquets were pushed
into the town of Bera, (within half a stone's throw and beneath those
of the enemy), and into the farm houses in the valley, enclosed by

The stupendous and lofty chain of the western Pyrenees being now taking
up for the purpose of covering Pampeluna and St. Sebastian, the second
division occupied the various rugged paths and passes winding Up the
steep sides of the mountains near Roncesvalles and Maya; the seventh
division those of Echalar; the light division the heights of Santa
Barbara, and the road leading to St. Estevan, opposite to Bera; and the
first division and Spaniards guarding the left bank of the Bidassoa
to the sea-coast. The latter troops helped to block up the numerous
_gaps_, all along the crest of the position, such as mountain paths,
goat tracts, and dried water-courses, as well as the numerous fords
across the Bidassoa. This extended position is about thirty-eight miles
in extent, as the crow flies, running north west from Roncesvalles
to the town of Fontarabia, (which is situated near the mouth of
the Bidassoa, where this river empties itself into the sea,) but
necessarily following the rugged and zigzag flinty roads, along the
winding or crooked valleys, or over difficult mountains, intersected
with deep glens, chasms, craggy defiles, tremendous precipices, and
through almost impenetrable forests. The distance may be fairly
calculated at sixty miles for troops to march from right to left.

On the 13th, the Duke of Dalmatia came from the north for the
purpose of taking the command of the French army. The 15th being the
anniversary of Napoleon's birth-day, the enemy at night illuminated
their bivouac, by ingeniously festooning the branches of the trees with
thousands of paper lamps, which produced a very bright glare, and of
course presented a very novel appearance.

Four days after this, the fifth division began to dig the trenches at
St. Sebastian, for the purpose of erecting batteries to batter _en
brêche_. The third and fourth divisions, which had been kept in the
neighbourhood of Pampeluna in reserve, and also to assist the Spaniards
in drawing a line of circumvallation round that place, for the purpose
of hemming in and starving the garrison into a surrender, now moved
forward (leaving a Spanish corps to guard the lines); the former went
to Olacque, and the latter to Biscarret; the sixth division was at
St. Estevan: _these three divisions being the reserve_, and ready to
succour at those points where their assistance might be required. The
cavalry and artillery were cantoned in rear of the centre and left of
the whole army.

One evening, while reclining on the parched and sun-burnt turf at
the tent door, our milch goat nibbling particles of hard biscuit out
of my hand, on looking around, I was much struck with the beauty of
the scenery; the azure sky was reddened and glowing with a variety of
brilliant tints, reflected from the glare of the setting sun, whose
bright rays glided the rugged peaks of the towering and great bulging
mountains which every where inclosed us. A long line of grey-coated
French sentinels lined the opposite ridge, and one of their bands was
playing a lively French air. In the valley below us, the little active
Basque boys and girls were pelting each other with apples,[56] between
the hostile armies, while the straggling and half-starved Spanish
soldiers (who dared not pluck the fruit) pretending to enjoy the sport,
but in reality were picking up the apples, and carefully depositing
them in their small forage bags. In the back ground sat our tanned and
veteran batman,[57] employed in mending a pack-saddle, after a long
day's forage, and casting an eye of affection towards his animals,
which were tied round a stake, feeding, with ears turned back, on some
fresh heads of Indian corn. In the meanwhile my messmate was conversing
with, and drawing a caricature of, a dowdy woman,[58] (from the
Asturias,) loaded with an oblong basket of fresh butter, with her arms
akimbo, and her nut-brown knuckles resting on hips which supported no
less than four short coarse woollen petticoats; from underneath these
branched out a pair of straddling legs, of enormous circumference, the
feet being wrapped in brown hairy skins, by way of sandals. In this
position of things my contemplative mood was all at once interrupted
by an officer of the _rifle corps_ riding up, who, with a mysterious
air, whispered me, by way of a profound secret, that he had become
acquainted with a Spanish family, residing in the town of Bera, and
offered to introduce me, provided I would agree to limit my attentions
to the eldest daughter, _Maria Pepa_, who, he acknowledged, was endowed
with very ordinary attractions, whereas her sister, _Ventura_, of
seventeen, possessed charms of a far superior description. As a matter
of course, not wishing to throw any impediments in the way of so
liberal an offer, I readily acquiesced in the proposal, and forthwith
accompanied him to the _destined_ Casa, for as such I may justly
nominate it, as I may affirm that this introduction was subsequently
the means of the life of a wounded brother officer being preserved,
owing to the kind attention of its inmates, who watched over his
mattress night and day, until he was out of danger: his hurt in fact
was so severe, that when a doctor was asked how he found the patient, he
replied. "Pretty well, but no man can ever recover from such a wound."

On alighting from our horses we entered the house, and having ascended
the staircase, we found _el Padre, la Madre, y las dos hijas_ seated in
a spacious apartment, with the casements open, and a French sentinel,
who was posted on a projecting grey rock, so thoroughly overlooking the
house, that we could almost fancy he could overhear the lamentations
of the anxious parents, who, devoutly crossing themselves, prayed that
the siege of St. Sebastian might be speedily brought to a conclusion,
to enable them to return to their house at that place, and secure the
valuable plate and property, which they had been forced to abandon in
great haste, to escape being confined in that town during the siege.
Having passed some hours with them in a very agreeable manner, we took
our departure, with a promise of shortly renewing our visit.

The left and main body of the French army, being now concentrated,
formed a line at the foot of the Pyrenees, in the vicinity of Forage
and St. Jean Pied de Port, in France, with its right wing occupying the
mountains from the Rock of la Rhune to Bera, thence by the right of
the Bidassoa to Andaye, and flanked by the Bay of Biscay. This ridge
immediately covers the country in front of St. Jean de Luz and Bayonne.

Preparatorily to offensive movements, the French marshal issued a
flaming proclamation to his troops, in which he reminded them that
the standards of Britain waved aloft, and that her army, from the
summits of the Pyrenees, proudly looked down on the fertile fields of
France,—an evil which he attributed to the want of decision in the
late French commanders. "Let us then," said the Marshal, "wipe off the
stain from our faded laurels, by chasing the English beyond Vittoria,
and there celebrate another triumph, to add to the many victories which
have so often decorated your brows, in all parts of Spain, _and on many
a hard-fought day_."

[Footnote 51: Lieut.-Colonel Ross of the Horse Artillery, as usual,
commanded this troop.]

[Footnote 52: There he gained information of our movements, which
forced him to follow the right bank of the Ebro, until he reached
Saragossa, where, crossing the river, and leaving a small garrison
behind, he moved towards the pass of Jaca, and entering France on the
1st of July, he at last succeeded, after a round-about march, with the
loss of the greater part of his _matériel_, in forming a junction with
the French army.]

[Footnote 53: There was a great scarcity of wood in the neighbourhood
of this place, and as the third division followed ours, Sir Thomas
Picton cast his eye on a pile ready cut, and, as soon as he had
dismissed his division, sent a regular party, with a _val_, to secure
it, when, lo! it had all vanished!]

[Footnote 54: Many of the officers of our corps wore red and grey
pelisses, similar to those of the Hussars. The bullet which I have
described was afterwards shown as a curiosity, and I examined it
myself; the silk braiding had been carried into the compressed leaves
of the book, and remained twisted tight round the ball.]

[Footnote 55: These produce an abundance of small tart apples.]

[Footnote 56: This was a usual pastime among them, throughout the
mountains, which abounded with vast quantities of apple trees. One
day another officer and myself were enjoying a rural walk, when we
met two of our friends, whom for amusement we pelted with apples, and
drove them at full speed out of the orchard. All of a sudden, we were
assailed by a number of the Basque boys, led on by a girl, who had
witnessed our sport at a distance, and, although we piqued ourselves on
being pretty good throwers, we found it a difficult matter to contend
with them, from their dexterity in dealing out such irritating blows
on our faces and legs; until, being ashamed to ask for quarter of
such diminutive and laughing antagonists, we made a last effort, and
succeeded in hitting one of their leaders on the bare heel, when they
all ran away, to our exceeding satisfaction. My companion had been a
Cadet at the Royal Military College at Marlow, and declared that he had
never experienced a warmer rencontre in his more juvenile affrays at
that place.]

[Footnote 57: The batmen of the army were hard-working and privileged
characters, who, after unloading at the end of harassing marches were
obliged to go a great distance in search of forage, and armed with a
sickle ready to cut down even rushes, or any thing they could lay their
hands upon, for their famished animals. If all happened to be right,
after a long day's journey when questioned by the anxious officers (no
matter of what rank), they would negligently turn away, and scarcely
give any answer; but if one of their horses or mules happened to be
lame or suffering from a sore back, or had cast a shoe, they would
fret, fume, curse, swear, throw the ropes about, and give such a
catalogue of evils, as to terrify the master with the idea that all was
going to rack and ruin.]

[Footnote 58: These hardy women are in the habit, thus heavily loaded,
of walking thirty or forty miles a day.]


    Offensive operations of the Duke of Dalmatia—Partial retrogression
      of the British—Ill success in the storming of the breaches at St.
      Sebastian—Movements of the various divisions—Great extent of
      the British line along the Pyrenees—Interesting domestic scene
      attending the departure of the Author's Division from the town
      of Bera—Battle of Pampeluna—Embarrasing situation of the light
      division through an accidental separation from the army—Successes
      obtained over the French, and their consequent retreat—Active
      movements, and capture of the enemy's baggage—A trait of
      character—Continued advantages gained over the French, who are
      driven beyond the Pyrenees.

The Duke of Dalmatia, on the 25th of July, assaulted the passes in
the neighbourhood of Roncesvalles,[59] and the Count d'Erlon that of
Aretesque, four miles in front of Maya. The result of this day's combat
obliged Generals Cole, Byng, and the Spanish General Morillo, to fall
back from Roncesvalles; owing to which retrograde, the British army
were taken in reverse. The fifth division, at daybreak, had stormed
the breaches of St. Sebastian without success; two thousand men had
fallen, or were made prisoners, at the various points of contest; and
General Hill fell back, during the night, from the pass of Maya. So
far every thing seemed propitious to the views of the French marshal.
Under all these circumstances, General Campbell, (who was stationed
with a Portuguese brigade at the pass of Los Alduides,) finding his
flanks laid bare, retired from that post, and, during the 26th, formed
a junction with General Picton, who, by a flank movement to the right,
had marched from Olacque to Lizoain, for the purpose of succouring the
troops falling back from Roncesvalles.

During these operations, General Hill had taken up a strong position at
Irrueta, sixteen miles from the pass of Aretesque, where he opposed,
for the time being, the farther progress of the Count d'Erlon. This
position covered the flank of General Picton's column, retrograding
from Zubiri, and prevented the Count d'Erlon from uniting with the
Duke of Dalmatia; and also enabled the sixth division to march direct
to the rear from San Estevan, and to unite at the well-arranged
point _d'appui_, five miles in front of Pampeluna, where, on the
27th, the general-in-chief joined those troops which had retired from
Zubiri, under the command of Generals Picton, Cole, Byng, Campbell,
and Morillo, and who were now drawn up on a strong ridge in front of
Pampeluna, and flanked by the rivers Arga and Lanz. General Picton was
in a manner thrown back on the left of the Arga, in front of Olaz,
and supported by General Cotton, with the cavalry in reserve, for the
purpose of preventing the enemy from taking the right of the army in
reverse by the road from Zubiri. The enemy, who had followed the march
of the troops by that road, had no sooner arrived opposite the third
division, than by an oblique prolongation to their right, they began
to extend their line across the front of the General-in-chief, under
a fire of small-arms,—by which manœuvre they succeeded in cutting
off General Hill's retreat by the Maya road, running through Ortiz;
he, therefore, having passed through Lanz, hedged off diagonally in
a westerly direction, and, by an oblique march, formed a junction
with the seventh division (from St. Estevan) at Lizasso, thence to
co-operate, if possible, with the left of the General-in-chief,
whose position in front of Pampeluna was about eighteen miles from
that place. During these various movements, General Graham, with
the first and fifth divisions, and a corps of Spaniards, remained
stationary on the left bank of the Bidassoa, for the double purpose
of covering St. Sebastian, (the siege of that place was now converted
into a blockade, and the battering train embarked at the port of los
Passages,) and watching General Villate. The latter lined the opposite
bank of the river, to be in readiness to assume the offensive, for the
purpose of raising the siege of St. Sebastian, or hanging on General
Graham's rear, in the event of the Duke of Dalmatia gaining a victory
at Pampeluna, or succeeding in cutting off in detail the various
divisions of the British army, now thrown into echelon, and extending
from the banks of the Bidassoa, in front of Irun, to seven miles in
an easterly direction beyond Pampeluna; a distance of at least sixty
miles for the army to unite to either flank, (between two fortresses,
whose ramparts were garnished with the cannon and small-arms of the
enemy,) on an irregular quarter circle: amid multifarious barren rocks,
towering mountains, and extensive forests, over whose inhospitable
regions it was necessary, amongst other things, to convey provisions,
ammunition, and biscuit bags, for the daily consumption of the
moveable divisions,—an operation attended with great difficulty under
such circumstances.

Although the right of the army had been retiring for two days, the
light division still tranquilly remained unmolested in front of Bera;
but on the morning of the 27th, on finding that the seventh division
had quitted the heights of Echalar, and uncovered our right flank, the
first brigade quietly descended from the heights of Santa Barbara,
and the whole division concentrated behind the defile on the road to
Lazaca, the picquets being left to mask this movement, and form the
rear-guard. As soon as the division had got clear off, the picquets
evacuated the farm-houses in succession from the right; and lastly,
at ten o'clock, A. M., quitted the town of Bera within pistol-shot of
the enemy's sentinels, who pretended not to notice this retrograde,
probably being apprehensive of bringing on an action without being
able at this point to display a sufficient force to assume offensive
movements, and also conjecturing that the division might meet with
a reception little anticipated, on reaching the neighbourhood of
Pampeluna. The Duke of Dalmatia, at this moment, was still pursuing the
troops from Roncesvalles and Zubiri, and actually within a few hours
of the vicinity of Pampeluna, _two days' march behind the second and
seventh divisions, and three in rear of the light division_, and even
_threatening to intercept the sixth division_ from St. Estevan.

As I was left with the picquets at Bera, I had a good opportunity
of witnessing the _sang froid_ of the French outposts. They made
no forward movement, and as I was loitering behind, within a short
distance of the bridge of Lazaca, over which the troops had crossed to
the left bank of the Bidassoa, I observed the Spanish family, (with
whom I had recently become acquainted,) with rapid strides trudging
along the flinty road, having rushed from their only dwelling through
fear of the French, the instant they perceived the sentries retiring
from their posts. They now presented real objects of commiseration,
clad in thin shoes and silk stockings; the glossy ringlets were blown
from off the forehead of _la Señorita Ventura_, and a tear from her
dark blue eye, (shaded with raven eye-lashes), rolled down her flushed
cheek, into the prettiest pouting lips to be imagined; a _mantilla_
loosely hung across her arm, fluttering in the breeze, and a black
silk dress, hanging in graceful folds around her delicate form, gave
her, with all her troubles, a most enchanting appearance. _El Padre_
accepted the offer of my horse, and, sticking his short legs into
the stirrup leathers, composedly smoked a cigar. The mother took
my arm, the other I offered to _Ventura_, who smilingly declined,
saying, "It is not the fashion for _las Señoritas_ to take the arm of
_los Caballeros_," but politely offered her hand. While crossing the
bridge, "Here," said the little heroine, "why do you not call back
_los soldados_, and tell them to _tirár las bálas a este puénte_?" I
endeavoured to explain that our flank was turned, and all the grand
manœuvres of an army; little to her satisfaction, for she could not
comprehend any other than the front attack.

On entering the town, the family stopped at a large stone mansion of a
relation, where they intended to take up their abode for the present:
the parents urged my departure, through fear that I might fall into the
hands of the enemy. I then took my farewell of them, (as I thought, for
the last time), and galloping through the town, soon came within sight
of the division, threading its march up a steep defile, enclosed on all
sides by an extensive forest. Towards evening we encamped, one league
and a half W. N. W. of San Estevan, on the mountain of Santa Cruz, from
whence we still commanded a view of the French bivouac. Here we halted
during the night.

On the following day, the battle of Pampeluna took place thirty
miles in our rear, but, being entangled amongst the mountains, we did
not hear of the event until three days afterwards. The combat began
in a singular manner: the sixth division, under Gen. Pack, while on
its march over a rough country, intersected by stone walls, within a
few miles of Pampeluna, suddenly encountered the grey-coated French
columns in full march, debouching from behind the village of Sauroren
for the purpose of outflanking the left of the fourth division. The
consequence of these two hostile bodies clashing was, that the enemy's
van were driven back by a hot fire of musketry. The French, being thus
foiled in this manœuvre, turned their grand efforts against the front
of the heights on which the fourth division was stationed, commanded by
Sir L. Cole. The valour of the red regiments shone transcendant, and
the Marquis of Wellington repeatedly thanked the various corps, while
they were recovering breath to renew fresh efforts with the bayonet, in
driving the enemy headlong from the crest of the rugged heights; thus
forcing them, after a most sanguinary and furious contest, to desist
from farther offensive movements on that position.

The General-in-chief could only collect, at the end of three days,
two brigades of the second division, General Morillo's, and part of
the Count d'Abisbal's Spaniards, and the _three reserve divisions_,
to oppose the Duke of Dalmatia; which clearly demonstrates the great
difficulty of occupying such a vast and rugged range of country. The
_first_, _second_, _fifth_, _seventh_, and _light divisions_, were
too far distant to join in the action of the 28th; and even the third
division, only a few miles to the right of the field of action, could
not take part in it, as the enemy had a corps of observation opposite
General Picton, backed by a numerous train of artillery and a large
body of cavalry, in readiness to engage him, should the _sixth_ and
_fourth_ divisions lose the day.

The light division continued in position at Santa Cruz during the
whole of the 28th, having completely lost all trace of the army; and,
during these doubtful conjectures, at sunset we began to descend a
rugged pass, leading W.S.W. near Zubieta, to endeavour to cut in upon
the high road between Pampeluna and Tolosa, as it was impossible to
know whether General Graham, by this time, was not even beyond the
latter town. To add to our difficulties, the night set in so extremely
dark that the soldiers could no longer see each other, and began to
tumble about in all directions; some became stationary on shelvings
of rocks, or so enveloped in the thicket, that they could no longer
extricate themselves from the trees and underwood. The rocks and the
forest resounded with many voices, while here and there a small fire
was kindled and flared up, as if lighted in the clouds by some magic
hand. For myself, I at length became so exhausted and out of temper, at
the toil of lugging along my unwilling steed, that in a fit of despair
I mounted, and keeping a tight rein, permitted the animal to pick its
own steps. The branches of the trees so continually twisted round my
head that I expected every minute to find myself suspended; at last the
trusty horse made a dead stop, having emerged from the forest into a
small hamlet, where I encountered a few harrassed soldiers, enquiring
of each other where the main body had vanished to, or what direction
to pursue, for they no longer knew whether they were advancing or
retiring; and, without farther ceremony, they began to batter with
the butt-end of their firelocks the strong and massive doors of the
slumbering inhabitants, demanding, with stentorian voices, if any
troops had passed that way?—a difficult question for people to answer
who had just risen from their mattresses, and now timidly opened their
doors, in considerable alarm, being apprehensive that we had come at
midnight hour to rob and plunder them. At last a resolute Spaniard[60]
threw a large capote over his shoulder, and, stepping forward, said,
"_Señores Caballeros_, only inform me whence you came or whither you
are going, and I will be your guide;" but we were so bewildered, owing
to the crooked path, and the intricate windings of the forest, that no
one could take upon himself to point towards the direction of the bleak
mountain we had come from, or the name of the place we were going to;
as a matter of expediency, therefore, we patiently awaited the coming

At daybreak, a scene of complete confusion presented itself, the
greater part of the division being scattered over the face of a steep
and woody mountain, and positively not half a league from whence they
had started on the previous evening. As soon as the various corps had
grouped together, they followed the only road in sight, and soon met
a mounted officer, who directed them towards Leyza: near that place
one-half of the division were already bivouacked, having reached the
valley before the pitchy darkness had set in. It was now the third
day since we had retired from Bera, and Gen. Baron C. Alten became so
uneasy, that he ordered some of the best-mounted regimental officers
to go in various directions to ascertain, if possible, some tidings of
the army, with which he had had no communication for three days, being
now isolated amongst the wilds of the Pyrenees, on the left of the
river Bidassoa, half-way between St. Sebastian and Pampeluna. At six
o'clock the same evening we again broke up and marched two leagues in
the direction of Arressa, and then bivouacked in a wood, with an order
not to light fires, thus to prevent any of the enemy's scouts or spies
ascertaining our route. Two hours after nightfall, the troops were
again put in motion, and I was left in the forest, with directions to
continue there all night, to bring off in the morning any baggage or
stragglers that might happen to go astray. At daylight on the 30th,
having collected together a few women (who dared not again encounter
another toilsome night-march along the verge of precipices); it was
a droll sight to see this noisy group defiling from the forest, many
dressed in soldiers' jackets, battered bonnets, and faded ribbons,
with dishevelled locks hanging over their weather-beaten features, as
they drove along their lazy _borricas_ with a thick stick; and, when
the terrific blows laid on ceased to produce the desired effect, they
squalled with sheer vexation, lest they might be overtaken, and fall
into the hands of the enemy's light horse. Having travelled for two
hours as a sort of guide to these poor women, I perceived an officer
at some distance in front, and, on my overtaking him, he expressed the
greatest joy at seeing me, and declared that he had been wandering for
some hours in the most agitated state of mind, not knowing whither to
bend his footsteps. The division had drawn up again during the night,
and he having, lain down on the flank of the column, had fallen into
a profound slumber, out of which he had awoke at broad daylight, with
the rays of the sun shining full on his face; and, when somewhat
recovering his bewildered recollections, he wildly gazed around for
the column which had vanished, and springing on his feet, hallooed
with all his might; but no answer was returned, a solemn silence
reigned around, save the fluttering of the birds amongst the luxuriant
foliage of the trees; the morning dew no longer bespangled the sod,
nor did the print of a single footstep remain to guide his course: at
length, in a fit of desperation, he hastily tore a passage through the
thicket, and luckily reached the road, and at random sauntered along
in no very pleasant mood, until I overtook him.—Soon after this we
heard to our left sounds like those of distant thunder; as the sky was
perfectly serene, we concluded that the noise must be caused by a heavy
firing of musketry.[62] On reaching Arriba, we found most of the doors
closed; however, we succeeded in purchasing a loaf, and then seated
ourselves on the margin of a clear mountain-stream, where we devoured
it, and forthwith solaced ourselves with a hearty draught of the
refreshing beverage. This stream looked so inviting, that we threw off
our clothes and plunged into it. Notwithstanding the cooling effects
of the bathe, the feet of my companion were so much swollen, owing to
previous fatigue, that with all his tugging he could not pull on his
boots again; fortunately mine were old and easy, so we readily effected
an exchange, and then followed the road across a high mountain, from
whose summit we saw the division bivouacked to the right of the broad
and well-paved road (near Lecumberri) which leads from Pampeluna to
Tolosa; from this position we could march to either of those places,
being half-way between them; here the division awaited the return of
its scouts the whole of the following day.

The French army being completely worn out, and having suffered terribly
in killed and wounded, continued to retreat during the 31st, followed
by the five victorious divisions of the British in three columns, by
the roads of Roncesvalles, Maya, and Donna Maria. On the evening of
the same day, although obliquely to the rear of the pursuing columns,
we received orders, if possible, to overtake the enemy, and attack
them wherever they might be found. Accordingly, in the middle of the
night we got under arms and began our march. Towards the middle of the
following day, (the 1st of August), having already marched twenty-four
miles, we descended into a deep valley between Ituren and Elgoriaga,
where the division drew up in column to reconnoitre the right flank of
the enemy, who were still hovering in the neighbourhood of San Estevan.
After an hour's halt, we continued our movement on the left of the
Bidassoa, and for three hours ascended, or rather clambered, the rugged
asperities of a prodigious mountain, the by-path of which was composed
of overlapping slabs of rock, or stepping-stones. At four o'clock in
the afternoon a flying dust was descried, glistening with the bright
and vivid flashes of small-arms, to the right of the Bidassoa, and
in the valley of Lerin. A cry was instantly set up "the enemy!" the
worn soldiers raised their bent heads covered with dust and sweat:
we had nearly reached the summit of this tremendous mountain, but
nature was quite exhausted; many of the soldiers lagged behind, having
accomplished more than thirty miles over the rocky roads intersected
with loose stones; many fell heavily on the naked rocks, frothing at
the mouth, black in the face, and struggling in their last agonies;
whilst others, unable to drag one leg after the other, leaned on the
muzzles of their firelocks, looking pictures of despair, and muttering,
in disconsolate accents, that they had never "fallen out" before.

The sun was shining in full vigour, but fortunately numerous clear
streams bubbled from the cavities and fissures of the rocks,
(which were clothed in many places by beautiful evergreens,) and
allayed the burning thirst of the fainting men. The hard work of an
infantry soldier at times is beyond all calculation, and death, by
the road-side, frequently puts an end to his sufferings,—but what
description can equal such an exit?

At seven in the evening, the division having been in march nineteen
hours, and accomplished nearly forty miles, it was found absolutely
necessary to halt the second brigade near Aranaz, as a rallying
point. Being now parallel with the enemy, and some hours a-head of
the vanguard leading the left column of our army, our right brigade
still hobbled onwards; at twilight we overlooked the enemy within
stone's throw, and from the summit of a tremendous precipice: the
river separated us; but the French were wedged in a narrow road, with
inaccessible rocks enclosing them on one side, and the river on the
other: such confusion took place amongst them as is impossible to
describe; the wounded were thrown down during the rush, and trampled
upon, and their cavalry drew their swords, and endeavoured to charge
up the pass of Echalar, (the only opening on their right flank,) but
the infantry beat them back, and several of them, horses and all, were
precipitated into the river; others fired vertically at us, whilst the
wounded called out for quarter, and pointed to their numerous soldiers,
supported on the shoulders of their comrades in bearers, composed of
branches of trees, to which were suspended great coats, clotted with
gore, or blood-stained sheets, taken from various habitations, to carry
off their wounded, on whom we did not fire.

Our attention was soon called from this melancholy spectacle to
support the rifle corps,[63] while they repulsed the enemy, who had
crossed over the bridge of Yanzi to attack us, to enable the tail of
their column to get off. Night closed on us, and the firing ceased;
but, owing to our seizing the bridge, we cut off the whole of their
baggage, which fell into the hands of the column of our army following
from St. Estevan.

In this way ended the most trying day's march I ever remember. On the
following morning, soon after daylight, we filed across the bridge of
Yanzi, held by our pickets, and detached a small force to guard the
road towards Echalar, until the troops came up from the direction of
San Estevan, which had hung on the enemy's rear for the then three
previous days. Continuing our march, we once more debouched by the
defile opposite Bera, where the French sentinels were still posted,
as if rooted to the rocks on which they were stationed the day we had
taken our departure.

As soon as the second brigade came up, we again ascended the heights
of Santa Barbara, where we found a French corporal, with a broken
leg, his head resting on a hairy knapsack, and supported in the arms
of a comrade, who generously remained behind to protect the life of
his friend from the _cuchillo_ of the Spaniards. As soon as he had
delivered him to the care of the English soldiers, he embraced the
corporal, saying, "_Au revoir, bon camarade Anglais_," and, throwing
his musket over his shoulder, with the butt-end _en l'air_, he
descended the mountain to rejoin the French army on the opposite
range of heights. Of course, no one offered to molest this _simple
soldat_, who easily effected his escape. As our picquets could not
enter the valley until our right was cleared, and the enemy pushed
from the mountain of Echalar, as soon as another division attacked
those heights, the 1st rifles moved on and clambered the mountain of
St. Bernard, supported by five companies of our regiment. The soldiers
had been for two days without any sustenance, and were so weak that
they could hardly stand; however, an excellent commissary had managed
to overtake us, and hastily served out half-a-pound of biscuit to each
individual, which the soldiery devoured while in the act of priming and
loading as they moved on to the attack.

The summit of the mountain was wrapped in a dense fog: an invisible
firing commenced, and it was impossible to ascertain which party was
getting the best of the fight; the combatants were literally contending
in the clouds. When half-way up the side of the mountain, we found a
soldier of the rifles lying on his face, and bleeding so copiously
that his havresack was dyed in blood: we turned him over, and, being
somewhat recovered before he was carried off, he told us, in broken
monosyllables, that three Frenchmen had mistaken him for a Portuguese,
laid hold of him, thrust a bayonet through his thigh, smashed the stock
of his rifle, and then pushed him from off the ledge of the precipice
under which we discovered him.

The second French light infantry were dislodged, before twilight, from
the top of this mountain; but the sparkling flashes of small-arms
continued after dark to wreath, with a crown of fire, the summits of
the various rocks about Echalar.

Thus, after a series of difficult marches, amongst a chaotic jumble of
sterile mountains, the enemy were totally discomfited, with an enormous
loss, by a series of the most extraordinary and brilliant efforts that
had been made during the Peninsular War. For three days the French
indeed had the vantage ground, owing to their superiority of numbers at
a given point; but on the fourth day, the same divisions which had so
heroically fought while falling back, sustained, with their backs to a
hostile fortress, (whence the enemy sortied during the battle,) a most
desperate assault made by the Duke of Dalmatia, over whom the Marquis
of Wellington gained a memorable victory, and ceased not in turn to
pursue the French marshal, until he was glad to seek shelter from
whence he came. The standards of Britain again waved aloft, and flapped
in the gentle breeze over the fertile fields of France.

[Footnote 59: Pampeluna is about thirty-five miles from the extremity
of the principal pass at Roncesvalles, forty-five from that of
Aretesque, in front of Maya, and fifty miles from the pass of Bera; all
these points it was necessary to occupy on the right of the Bidassoa;
which clearly demonstrates the advantage the enemy possessed by
attacking principally at Roncesvalles.]

[Footnote 60: It was a frequent custom, when in want of a guide,
to employ a peasant, who received a dollar at the end of his day's
journey. These _Pizanos_, being accustomed to pastoral lives, were
well acquainted with every inch of ground or by-path for leagues
around their habitations, as well as the various fords across rivers
and tributary streams, the depth of which depends on the season of the
year, or the quantity of rain that might happen to fall at uncertain
periods on these mountains.]

[Footnote 61: On the 29th, at the end of four days' fighting, both
Marshals desisted from hostilities in front of Pampeluna. The French
employed themselves in edging off to their right to assist the Count
d'Erlon, who had followed the march of General Hill by Lanz. The
Marquis of Wellington, on the other hand, was drawing in the seventh
division to insure a communication with General Hill, and also watching
his adversary's movements, to take advantage of what might accrue on
the morrow.]

[Footnote 62: This firing was near Lizasso, where the enemy endeavoured
to turn General Hill's left flank by the road to Buenzu, and while
the Count d'Erlon was striving to execute this movement, the light
division, unknowingly, were marching on his right flank: however,
the General-in-chief being still in position in front of Pampeluna,
finding that the Duke of Dalmatia had weakened his left and centre, to
support the Count d'Erlon, immediately countermanœuvred, and attacked
the right of his opponent with the sixth and seventh divisions, under
Lord Dalhousie, and the left with the third division, and then pierced
the centre of the enemy with the fourth division and General Byng's
brigade of the second division, and thus before sunset pushed back
the enemy beyond Olacque. By this attack the left flank of the Count
d'Erlon became uncovered, which obliged him to fall back during the
night, towards the pass of Donna Maria, to avoid falling into the snare
originally intended for his adversary.]

[Footnote 63: One of the first I saw wounded was Capt. Perceval, of the
rifle corps. "Well," said he, "I am a lucky fellow, with one arm maimed
and useless by my side from an old wound, and now unable to use the




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Transcriber's Note:

  Footnotes placed at end of respective chapter.

  Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
  in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
  punctuation remains unchanged.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of the Late War, Vol 1 (of 2) - Comprising the Personal Narrative of Captain Cooke, of the - 43rd Regiment Light Infantry; the History of the Campaign - of 1809 in Portugal, by the Earl of Munster; and a Narrative - of the Campaign of 1814 in Holland, by Lieut. T. W. D. - Moodie, H. P. 21st FusileersVolume 1 (of 2)" ***

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