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Sketches of The Character, Manners, and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland


History of the Royal Highland Regiment

Section I

England, 1809—Walcheren—Scotland, 1810—England, 1811— Portugal, 1812—Spain — Salamanca—Burgos—Portugal— Campaign of 1813—Vittoria—St Sebastian—Pyrenees—France Bidassoa —Bayonne —Orthes —Bourdeaux —Ayre—Tarbes — Toulouse—Peace of 1814—War of 1815—Quatres Bras—Waterloo—Conclusion of the Annals of the Royal Highland Regiment.

The soldiers soon recovered from their wounds, and from the fatigues of the march to Corunna. No officer of this regiment died except Major Campbell, whose constitution, previously debilitated by a service of twenty-five years in the regiment, sunk under the severity of the weather to which he had been exposed on the march. He died a few days after landing at Portsmouth. [Major Archibald Argyle Campbell was son of Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan Campbell, who had served in the Royal Highland Regiment during the Seven Year's War, in the 84th, or Highland Emigrants in the American war, and as Lieutenant-Colonel in the Breadalbane Fencibles in the last war. Major Campbell died honoured and lamented by his regiment. So sensible were the officers of his value, that they subscribed a sum of money, in which the soldiers requested to join, to erect a monument to his memory in the Calton Hill burying-ground in Edinburgh, where it now stands as a mark of respect to a brave soldier, whose courage was guided by judgment and prudence, and whose prudence was warmed by the best heart and the kindest disposition.]

The regiment was marched to Shorncliffe, and brigaded there with the Rifle corps, under the command of Major-General Sir Thomas Graham. In these quarters the men were again equipped, and soon ready for further service. The second battalion, which had been quartered in Ireland since 1805, was now under orders to embark for Portugal, and could therefore spare no men to supply the loss sustained by the first battalion on the retreat to Corunna. In the last day's march of forty-five miles from Lugo, numbers of the men being without shoes, and all half famished and exhausted, orders were issued that " the rear guard cannot stop, and those who fall behind must take their fate." Upwards of 6000 men of the army had already, from disease and fatigue, dropped behind. The loss of the Royal Highland Regiment, from the same causes, was also considerable. Including those killed and dead of wounds, and prisoners, the number amounted to 136 men. Of the prisoners who dropped behind on the march, and fell into the hands of the enemy, numbers were released and sent to England, and rejoined their regiment.

It was supposed by some that the soldiers of the 42d, 79th, and 92d regiments, suffered from the Highland dress. Others again said, that the garb was very commodious in marching over a mountainous country, and that experience had shown that those parts of the body exposed to the weather by this garb, are not materially affected by the severest cold; that, while instances are common of the fingers, toes and face, being frost-bitten, we never hear of the knee being affected; and that, when men, in the Highland garb, have had their fingers destroyed by frost, their knees remained untouched, although bare and exposed to the same temperature which affected other parts of the body.

[An extraordinary instance of the degree of cold which the human body can be brought to sustain, is exemplified in the instance of a man of the name of Cameron, now living on the estate of Strowan, in the county of Perth. This man showed an aversion to any covering from the time he was able to walk, always attempting to throw off his clothes. Being indulged by his mother in this, he went about at all times, even in the deepest snows, and during the hardest frosts, in a state of nudity, and continued the same practice without the smallest detriment to his health, till increasing years made it necessary, for the sake of decency, to give him some covering. His parents, wishing to send him to a neighbouring school, a loose kind of plaid robe descending to his knees was made, and thrown over his shoulders; but he was fifteen years of age before he wore the usual dress. There is nothing remarkable in his character; disposition, or constitution, nor does he appear to be stronger than other men, but he is perfectly healthy.]

The warmth which the numerous folds of the kilt preserved round the centre of the body was a great security against complaints in the bowels, which were so prevalent on this occasion among the troops; and it may be supposed that men who are in a manner rendered hardy by being habituated, at least from the time they joined Highland corps, to a loose cool dress, would be less liable to be affected by violent and abrupt changes of temperature.

As the present was not a period of rest for soldiers, this regiment and the Cameron and Gordon Highlanders were again ordered to hold themselves in readiness for active service, and, in July 1809, marched to Ramsgate to join an armament collecting there for the purpose of effecting a landing on the islands in the mouth of the Scheldt, and of attempting the capture and destruction of the fleet and arsenal at Antwerp. For this purpose a body of troops were collected in Kent, more numerous than any that had sailed from England at one time since the days of the Edwards and Henrys, who had so frequently invaded France with great and numerous armies.

In the month of July the whole were embarked, consisting of 2320 Cavalry, 34,409 Infantry, 16 companies of Artillery, a troop of Horse artillery, 2 companies of the Staff corps, and a detachment of the Waggon train, in all, above 38,000 men, with a fleet of 39 sail of the line, and 30 frigates, besides mortar-vessels and gun-boats; the land forces being under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Chatham, and the fleet under that of Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan. This powerful armament sailed on the 28th of July 1809. The Royal Highlanders were in the brigade of Brigadier-General Montresor, and the division of Lieutenant-General the Marquis of Huntly. Of this disastrous enterprise I shall only state, that the principal object having been found impracticable, and the sickly state of the army in this worst of climates having rendered it impossible to retain the inferior stations already captured, part of the armament returned to England in September, and the rest in October. The 42d was included in the first division, and landing at Dover, marched to Canterbury on the 11th of September, having only 204 men fit for duty, of 758, who, six weeks before, had marched through the same town for embarkation.

The men recovered very slowly from the disease caught at Walcheren. This was the more deeply to be regretted, as the ranks of this regiment were not now to be filled up with the same facility and enthusiasm as in past times, for neither recruiting in the country, nor volunteering from the Scotch militia, was successful. This was so strongly felt when the 2d battalion embarked for Portugal, that the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Blantyre, recruited from the Irish militia, who furnished 150 men to be transformed into Highlanders. If Highlanders will not enlist into their native regiments, it is, doubtless, necessary to complete those corps by other means; but, otherwise, it must appear inexpedient to introduce men into a corps where they must assume a garb so different from that to which they have been accustomed, and where they must be called Highlanders, although ignorant of the language and strangers to the habits of the country whose designation they bear, and whose military character they are supposed to support.

The regiment was removed to Scotland in July 1810, and quartered in Musselburgh; a number of the men still labouring under the influence of the Walcheren fever.

It might be interesting to observe, and trace through a succession of years, the changes in the moral conduct of this corps, changes that did not indicate those improvements which, in an enlightened age, might have been expected, but which, on the contrary, betrayed a relaxation of that moral feeling and spirit which had distinguished the service of the national corps in the reign of George II., and in the early part of that of his late Majesty.

With regard to the soldiers of this regiment, I know not whether it was this supposed relaxation of moral character in Highlanders, by which they were affected while in Musselburgh, but they certainly did indulge themselves in an excess of drinking not easily restrained, and altogether opposite to the temperate habits of this regiment during the American war, and at earlier periods: And as drinking to excess is the great source of vice in the British army,—indeed, I may say, almost the only cause of irregularity in quarters,—more severe restrictions and a stricter discipline than usual became necessary. However, like the other deviations already noticed, this was only temporary, and partly disappeared with a change of duty; at the same time, it may be observed, that in the earlier service of the regiment no change of station or of duty caused an alteration in conduct or character.

During the twelve months the regiment remained in Scot-land, few recruits were added. In August 1811, it embarked and sailed for England, and was quartered in Lewis Barracks till marched to Portsmouth, and embarked for Portugal in April 1812. It joined the British army in May, after the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. The capture of two such strongly fortified places, under all the circumstances of difficulty and trial to which the besieging army was exposed, and defended as they were by a brave and highly-disciplined enemy, presents us with most splendid instances of the power of talent and military genius in the Commander, and of invincible ardour, joined with firmness and perseverance, on the part of the troops; and gave the British nation an earnest of that career of honour and success of which these were the opening scenes. At this auspicious period the 1st battalion joined the army, and meeting the 2d battalion, which had already been two years in the Peninsula, they were now consolidated.

[The 2d battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Blantyre, served two years in the Peninsula, was actively engaged at Fuentes d'Honoro in May 1811, and through its whole service sustained a respectable character. This battalion, as has been already noticed, was formed from the quotas of men furnished by several Highland counties in 1803. To these were added the 150 volunteers, also noticed, from the Irish militia, when the battalion embarked from Ireland for the Peninsula. The corps suffered exceedingly from sickness on the banks of the Guadiana; and when the 1st battalion was completed, the few who were left with the second were ordered to Scotland, to be stationed there till the reduction at the peace in 1814.]

The officers and staff of the 2d battalion were ordered to England, leaving the first upwards of 1160 rank and file fit for service, and included in Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham's division. The two brilliant enterprises above mentioned opened a road to Spain either to the north or south, and in a manner isolated the divisions of the French army, cutting off their communications, except by circuitous routes. Lord Wellington allowed his army a few weeks' rest, after a spring campaign of such brilliant success. The allied army now amounted to 58,000 men; a larger body than any single division of the enemy, although the whole of the French force in Spain exceeded 160,000; but the increasing activity of the Spaniards, encouraged by the success and steady support of their allies, afforded full employment to numerous bodies of the French troops in different parts of the kingdom : for, although generally defeated, the Spaniards always rallied, and both occupied and consumed numbers of the common enemy.

While Lord Wellington was preparing for the principal operations of the campaign, he detached Lieutenant-General Hill, with 10,000 men, to attack and take possession of Almarez, a strong position commanding one of the principal passages over the Tagus, and of great importance to the enemy, who had erected formidable works for its defence on both sides of the river, while the difficulties of the enterprise were greatly increased by the redoubts and castle of Mirabole, situated at a short distance. This difficult duty the Lieutenant-General executed with the success which always attended his spirited and well-conducted enterprises. The surprise which had been intended was prevented by the extreme badness of the roads, in consequence of which the General could not form his columns before day-break, and the enemy, of course, had full intimation of his approach. Determined, however, to carry his point, at all hazards, he pushed forward, escaladed the works on one side of the river at three different places at once, and attacked the enemy at the point of the bayonet. This last mode of attack the enemy seldom withstood. They fled in all directions; but, as their friends on the other side had destroyed the bridge, many of those who escaped from the works were drowned in the river. Panic-struck by this rapid attack, the garrison which occupied Fort Ragusa on the other side abandoned the place, and fled with the utmost precipitation to Naval Moral.

This preliminary operation having been accomplished, Lord Wellington moved forward, and crossing the Agueda on the 13th, encamped on the 16th of June within six miles of Salamanca, which the French evacuated that night, leaving a garrison of 800 men in a fort, and two redoubts formed from the walls and ruins of the convents and colleges of that ancient seat of Spanish literature; thirteen of the former and twenty two of the latter having been destroyed. These forts were immediately invested by the division of Lieutenant-General Clinton, and found to be more formidable than at first expected.

Salamanca was now occupied by the British for the second time, but under more favourable circumstances than on the former occasion by General Moore. At this period the British army was more numerous than that formerly under General Moore; the Portuguese were strong in numbers, and still more effective by the confidence and experience which they had acquired under British officers; the Spaniards also began to talk less of their invincibility, and to show by their actions, rather than by their words, that they could face an enemy. Buonaparte was fully occupied in Germany, and could now direct only a share of his attention to Spain. In addition to these, the unbounded confidence with which the ability of Lord Wellington had inspired his troops, and the victories he had achieved, gave a fair promise of future success, which was splendidly realized.

The attack on the forts continued till the 23d of June, when an assault was attempted, but without success, and with the loss of General Bowes and 120 men killed and wounded. However, on the 27th, after an excellent defence, which must from the first have been hopeless, and after some abortive attempts on the part of the French commander, to gain time by proposals of eventual surrender, one of the forts was attacked and carried by assault with a very inconsiderable loss on our part; and the French commander, seeing all further resistance vain, surrendered on such terms as Lord Wellington chose to prescribe.

During these operations, Marshal Marmont manoeuvred in the neighbourhood, in the hope of being able to relieve or draw off the garrison left in the forts; but seeing that this could not be accomplished, without bringing on a general action, for which he was not yet prepared, he retired across the Douro, followed by the allies, who took up a position on the 22d, from La Seca to Polios, both armies being separated by the river.

Important events were now approaching. General Bonnet, with 10,000 men from the Asturias, and 15,000 men from the army of the centre, had marched to reinforce Marmont, whose force was now nearly 60,000 men. Believing himself sufficiently strong, however, instead of waiting for the armies of the north and centre, which were hastening to his support, he determined to bring Lord Wellington to action, or compel him to retire towards Portugal, by threatening his communications with that country; and thus, by a combination with Soult, from the south, intercept his retreat, and overpower him entirely. To accomplish this important object, he commenced a series of masterly manoeuvres, in which all the resources of French tactics, improved by twenty years' experience, combined with great military talents, which had been so often and so successfully put in practice, were now exerted to the utmost. "There," says the Moniteur, "were seen those grand French military combinations, which command victory, and decide the fate of empires; that noble audacity which no reverse can shake, and which commands events."

A variety of brilliant movements ensued, in which the talents of the commanders were most eminently conspicuous, in the intense eagerness and penetration with which each foresaw, counteracted, and guarded against the attempts of the other, and during which the troops showed equal spirit and readiness to engage, when any encounter took place in the various changes of position. In these accidental skirmishes both sides sometimes lost a considerable number of men.

At length, on the night of the 19th, Lord Wellington crossed the Guarena, and on the morning of the 20th, drew up his army in order of battle, on the plains of Valisa; but Marmont was not yet ready, and refused the challenge. Accordingly, he manoeuvred to his left along the heights which border the Guarena, and crossing that river, encamped, with his left at Babila Fuentes, and his right at Villa-meda. When the nature of these movements was fully ascertained, the allies were put in motion to their right, marching in column along the plain in a parallel direction the enemy, who were on the heights of Cabeca Vilhosa.

In this series of manoeuvres, Marmont calculated on some mistake being committed by his antagonist, which would afford him an opportunity to attack with advantage. But in this expectation he was disappointed. His adversary was as prompt in counteracting, as he was quick in discerning the intended movements. This sagacity of the Commander-in-Chief appeared so remarkable to an honest Highlander, who had witnessed the whole, that he swore Lord Wellington must be gifted with the second sight; for he saw, and was prepared to meet, Marmont's intended changes of position before he commenced his movements.

I know not if the history of the world affords a more interesting military spectacle than that of two great men, each commanding a numerous and high-spirited army, anxious for an opportunity to engage, while they themselves are, as it were, playing a game of chess, intent and eager to take advantage of every false movement, oversight, or mistake. Such was the situation of the hostile armies on the morning of the 20th of July 1812, when at daybreak they saw each other drawn up, ready to decide the contest on the spot, or to continue the tactical game. The latter was not interrupted, and, after a momentary halt to view each other, the mutual march was resumed; and, while moving forward for several miles on open ground, within half cannon-shot of each other, it is remarkable that no accidental occurrence took place to hasten on the general attack. These movements brought the allied army to the ground which they had occupied near Salamanca, during the attack on the forts in the preceding month; but the enemy crossing the Tormes at Alba de Tormes, and appearing to threaten Ciudad Rodrigo, Lord Wellington made a corresponding movement, and, on the 21st, halted his army on the heights on the left bank. The enemy kept in movement during the night of this day, and got possession of the villages of Calvarasa de Ariba and the heights of Nuestra Senora de la Pena. In the course of this night, Lord Wellington received intelligence that General Clausel, with a large body of cavalry and artillery, had reached Polios, and would certainly join Marmont on the 23d, or 24th at farthest.

Such were the movements that immediately preceded the morning of the 22d, which was ushered in with a tremendous tempest and storm of thunder and lightning. The operations of this important day commenced soon after seven o'clock, in an attempt by the outposts of both armies to get possession of two hills, Los Arapiles, on the right of the position of the Allies. The superior numbers of the enemy enabled him to possess himself of the most distant of these lulls, which greatly strengthened his position, and increased his means of annoying the Allies. Several other movements followed, in all of which the French general exerted his tactical skill to the utmost, until two o'clock, when, believing that he had accomplished his intended purpose, and that he had brought the Allies within his reach, he opened a general fire from the artillery along his whole line, and threw out numerous bodies of sharpshooters both in front and flank, designed as a feint to cover an attempt to turn the position of the British, whose attention was to be occupied by this loud display of a supposed intention to attack in front. But the British Commander was not to be thrown off his guard. Acting on the defensive, only to become the assailant with the more effect, and comprehending, with one glance, the error of his antagonist in extending his line to the left, without strengthening his centre, which had now no second line to support it, he instantly made preparations for a general attack; and, with his characteristic energy, took advantage of that "unfortunate moment, which," as the French General observed, "destroyed the result of six weeks of wise combinations of methodical movements, the issue of which had hitherto appeared certain, and which every thing appeared to presage to us that we should enjoy the fruit of." [Marmont's Despatch.]

Major-General Pakenham, with the third division, was ordered to turn the left of the enemy, whilst it was attacked in front by the divisions of Generals Leith, Cole, Bradford, and Cotton, while Generals Clinton, Hope, and Don Carlos de Espana acted as a reserve; Generals Alexander Campbell and Alten forming the left of the line. During the progress of this formation, the enemy made no change in their position, but attempted, unsuccessfully, to get possession of the village of Arapiles, defended by a detachment of the Guards.

The moment was now arrived when the commander and the army were to be rewarded for the ability which had concerted, and the perseverance and gallantry which had accomplished, such complex and difficult movements. The attack began about four o'clock in the afternoon. The troops on the left, under General Pakenham, supported by the Portuguese cavalry, and by Colonel Harvey with some squadrons of the 14th dragoons, carried all their respective points of attack. In the centre, the divisions of Generals Cole, Leith, and Bradford, with Lieutenant-General Sir Stapleton Cotton's cavalry, were equally successful on "this post, which was otherwise well occupied and impregnable." [Marmont's Dispatch] These divisions drove the enemy from one height to another, till they were momentarily checked by a body of troops from the heights of Arapiles. The enemy had been attacked in that post by General Pack, with a Portuguese brigade; and, although this attempt failed in the first instance, it had the important effect of delaying the advance of the enemy on General Cole's division till the most arduous part of his attack had been accomplished.

At this point the struggle was most obstinate. The British, having descended from the heights which they occupied, dashed across the intervening valley, and ascended a high and most advantageous position, on which they found the enemy formed in solid squares, the front ranks kneeling, and supported by twenty pieces of cannon. When the British approached, they were received with a general discharge of cannon and musketry, which, instead of retarding, seemed to accelerate their progress. Having gained the brow of the hill, they instantly charged, and drove the enc-my before them; a body of whom attempting to rally, were thrown into irretrievable confusion by a second charge with the bayonet. The battle now became a general rout: nothing could be more complete than the victory which had crowned the gallant exertions of the great commander and his brave troops: the conquerors pursued the flying, enemy as long as any of them kept together, and the approach of nicht alone saved the French army from total destruction.

The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded has not been ascertained; but 7,000 prisoners and 11 pieces of artillery were taken, General Marmont was wounded, and many officers were either killed or disabled. The British loss gave full evidence of the spirit and energy with which they had charged the enemy, and of the terror these charges had inspired, by their rapid and irresistible advance, which appears to have enervated the visual powers of their opponents before their physical strength was touched. When the mind and the sight are affected, bodily resistance will be proportionably ineffectual. Hence a great, brave, and veteran army of France, accustomed to fight and to conquer, was completely overthrown, with a loss to the British of 335, to the Portuguese of 287, and to the Spaniards of 2 soldiers killed, while the sum-total of the wounded did not exceed 4,000 men.

The consequences of the battle of Salamanca were soon felt throughout all Spain; and the splendour of Lord Wellington's actions overcoming the punctilious jealousy of the Spaniards, he was appointed Generalissimo of the Spanish armies, and thus obtained the important object of directing the operations of our Spanish allies, the want of which had been so severely felt, and so bitterly complained of, by Sir John Moore. Even now, after all that had been done, the time of the Cortes seemed more occupied with political squabbles, and in the formation of what was called a constitution, than in calling forth the resources of the country to secure that independence, without which they could have neither constitution, liberty, nor country, and Spain, with the once proud and high-spirited Castilians, would become a province, and subjects of France.

After various movements and skirmishes, the Allied army entered Madrid on the 12th of August, and was received with transports by the inhabitants. "It is not in my power," says an eyewitness, "to give you an adequate idea of the enthusiasm with which we have been received. The whole population came out to meet us with tears of joy. Every individual embraced the first soldier or officer whom he could lay hold of, while we were marching." It would appear, however, that enthusiasm, gratitude, and patriotism, are warmest when they cost nothing, for, with the good people of Madrid, these feelings cooled very quickly when a loan of two millions of piastres was demanded, but not raised at the point of the bayonet, as their late masters, the French, were used to levy their contributions. But the principal advantage which Lord Wellington calculated to derive from Spain was the co-operation of the brave peasantry of the distant provinces, who, although badly organized, worse commanded, and often beaten and scattered, always collected and formed in some other position. Yet, certainly, more support than he ever received was necessary. Situated as he was, with a British and Portuguese force not exceeding 70,000 men in all parts of the kingdom, he had to oppose an enemy supposed to amount to 190,000, many of them veteran troops, commanded by able generals, and occupying several of the strongest stations in the country. But superiority of numbers, experienced generals, and all other advantages, were compelled to yield to transcendant military talents, professional skill, courage, and perseverance.

General Clausel, who had succeeded to the command after Marshal Marmont was wounded, having organized an army, and threatened some of our positions on the Douro, Lord Wellington left Madrid on the 1st of September, and marching northward, entered Valladolid on the 7th the enemy retiring as he advanced. After several other changes of position, he was joined at Pampliega, on the 16th, by the Spanish General, Castanos, with a body of infantry amounting to 12,000 men; and, on the 17th, the united force took up a position close to Burgos, through which the enemy retired, leaving a garrison of 2,500 men. On the day previous to the retreat, they had drawn up in order of battle. An opportunity was thus afforded of appreciating the important results of the battle of Salamanca, and of ascertaining their number, which was calculated at 22,000 men,—a number very inferior to that of the same army two months preceding, when it assumed so imposing an appearance, while manoeuvring under Marshal Marmont. But it was not so much from the actual loss of numbers, as the diminution of confidence on the one part, and the increase of it on the other, occasioned by the total rout of a powerful army, that this event is to be valued. Men may be recruited, and the ranks may be again filled; but to reanimate a dispirited army, once buoyant with the pride of frequent victory, and supposed invincibility, is a task not quite so easy.

The castle of Burgos was in ruins, but the strong thick walls of the ancient Keep were equal to the best casements. It is situated on a hill, commanding the river Arlanzon and the road to the town. Beyond the castle is Mount St Michael, on which a horn-work had been erected. A church had also been converted into a fort, and the whole included within three lines, so connected, that each could defend the other. The possession of the horn-work on St Michael's was a necessary preliminary to an attack on the castle. On the evening of the 19th, the light infantry of Colonel Stirling's brigade drove in the out-posts, and lodged themselves in the out-works close to the Mount. As soon as it was dark, the same troops, supported by the 42d, attacked the horn-work, and carried it by assault. The loss on this occasion, owing to some mistakes in consequence of the extreme darkness of the night, was considerable, amounting to 300 killed and wounded.

Batteries were now erected, but the want of heavy artillery rendered all the operations and approaches more difficult and destructive to the besiegers. On the night of the 22d, an attempt was made to storm the exterior line of the enemy's defence. Major Lawrie of the 79th Highlanders, a gallant young officer, who commanded the party directed to scale the walls in front, was killed; and after every exertion, the object was found impracticable, and the troops were forced to retire.

The deficiency of artillery (which, owing to the great distance from Lisbon, could not be brought forward in time) leaving no hope of battering in breach, an attempt was made, on the 29th, to spring a mine under the works. A party was ready to storm the breach expected to be made by the explosion; but, from the extreme darkness of the night, they mistook the point of attack, and were forced to retire without accomplishing their object: And, in the meantime, so great were the exertions of the enemy, that the damage done to the walls was in a few hours repaired.

On the 4th of October, another mine was exploded with better effect; and the second battalion of the 24th regiment being in readiness, instantly assaulted the works, and established themselves within the exterior line of the castle, but were unable to maintain themselves in the position they had gained. The enemy, persevering in their resolute defence, made two vigorous sorties on the 8th, forcing back the covering parties, and damaging the works of the Allies, before they could be repulsed. In this affair the loss was considerable. Another mine was exploded on the 18th, when the troops attempted an assault, but without success. The siege had now lasted thirty days, in the course of which the enemy showed how much could be effected by brave and resolute men, even without the advantage of a regularly fortified garrison. When it was announced to the army on the 20th that the siege was to be raised, the disappointment was excessive, being alleviated only by the conviction that the failure was solely to be ascribed to the want of a battering train, which could not, in the circumstances of the case, be brought forward in sufficient time.

Every praise is due to the enemy for the ability and skill with which the place was put in such a state of defence, and the determined courage with which every attack was resisted. The last attack, on the 18th, was particularly desperate. [The loss of the army and of the Highland regiments will be seen in the Appendix.]

During the period of these transactions, the enemy were occupied in concentrating their forces; and on the 30th Lord Wellington received intelligence that Joseph, the temporary King of Spain, Marshals Jourdan and Soult, and General Souham, with 80,000 men, were on their march; Souham with the intention of raising the siege of Burgos; and King Joseph with the design of cutting off Lord Wellington's communication with General Hill's division, between Aranjuez and Toledo. The siege was therefore raised on the 21st, and the army marched, after nightfall, unperceived by General Souham, who followed with a superior force, but did not overtake them till the evening of the 23d. A good deal of skirmishing then ensued between the cavalry on both sides, while the army continued its march to form a junction with General Hill, and oppose the united force of the enemy, now collected from different parts of the kingdom. During the march, the enemy, being very superior in cavalry, pressed on the rear of the army, and brought on several skirmishes, in which our cavalry displayed their usual spirited gallantry. The troops suffered much from the inclemency of the weather, from bad roads, and, still more, from the want of a regular supply of provisions.

This retrograde movement exhibited another instance of the impatience with which a British soldier bears a retreat, how quickly he loses his usual sense of duty and discipline, when he thinks he is not considered capable of meeting an enemy, and how readily he is animated and restored to duty and discipline when he perceives that confidence is again reposed in him, and that he is to have an opportunity of turning upon his foe. It has been seen in what manner the hurried retreat to Corunna disorganized the fine army under Sir John Moore, and how instantaneously order and animation were restored during the greatest despondency, and the utter absence of all discipline, whenever the sound of the order to battle reached the ears of the troops. Harassed and half famished, they met the enemy with a spirit which was fully manifested by the result.

On the retreat in question, which wag short in comparison with that of Corunna, and during which the weather, although rainy, was not so unsupportable or destructive as the snowy tempests on the mountains of Gallicia; much of the same disorganization was exhibited, and intermingled with the same display of spirited gallantry, whenever the soldiers faced about, and fronted the enemy. Similar causes produced similar effects in the division commanded by General Hill, who was also hard pressed by Marshal Soult. Both armies indulged in a laxity of discipline to a greater degree, according to the words of Lord Wellington, "than any army with which he had ever served, or of which he had ever read," and, he continues, "it must be obvious to every officer that, from the time the troops commenced their retreat from Burgos, on the one hand, and from Madrid on the other, the officers lost all command over their men. Irregularities and outrages of every description were committed with impunity." [General Orders.] Notwithstanding all this, whenever the enemy appeared in sight, however harassing the fatigues, and however much the soldiers had suffered from hunger or thirst, all was forgotten and lost in the hope of victory, which renovated their spirits, and invigorated their strength. In the numberless rencounters and skirmishes, which were daily occurring during the retreat, and the various manoeuvres and changes of position from Burgos and Madrid to Salamanca, and from thence to the winter quarters at Frenada and Corea, the same spirit and energy were uniformly exhibited: every advance of the enemy was repulsed with such celerity, that the loss from the commencement of the retreat on the 22d of October to the 17th of November, when all hostilities for the winter ceased, was only 7 officers, 16 sergeants, and 81 rank and file, killed ; 47 officers, 46 sergeants, 5 drummers, and 640 rank and file, wounded. The number of those who dropped behind from disease, or fatigue, or were taken by the enemy, has not been stated, although it must have been great.

After this masterly retreat, before a superior army, which found itself unable to make any impression beyond the rearguard, the Commander-in-Chief allowed his army that rest now rendered so necessary by a constant succession of marches, counter-marches, battles, and sieges, from January to November, and accordingly placed them in winter quarters on the frontiers of Portugal.. The enemy followed the example, apparently "unable to advance, unwilling to retire, and renouncing the hope of victory." This opinion, expressed at the time, was proved by subsequent events to be just; for, after the campaign of 1812, every movement of the enemy was retrograde, every battle a defeat.

[While the 42d regiment lay in winter quarters, a melancholy instance occurred of the force of unbridled passion. Lieutenant Dickenson was quartered in the small village of Villatora, a short distance from the regiment. He had sent a Corporal of the name of Macmoran, one of the recruits from the Irish militia, on some duty in the neighbourhood. The man returned before evening parade, but did not attend, imagining, that, as he had been on another duty, he was not called upon to be present. The officer sent for him, and, after a sharp reprimand, ordered him to get his arms and accoutrements. He accordingly went for his arms, and returned to the officer, who stood waiting for him. When the corporal reached within two yards of the lieutenant, he presented his piece, and shot him through the heart. He had loaded his musket for the purpose, and fixed his bayonet, in case, as he said afterwards, that, if he missed his aim, he might run Mr Dickenson through with his bayonet. They had had no previous difference, nor had the corporal the least apparent cause, except the affront of being ordered to parade by himself; and being both from the same county in Ireland, the circumstance excited the greater surprise among the Highlanders, whose affection for their fellow-countrymen is almost proverbial. The man was tried and executed.]


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