'In the garh of old Gaul,
with the fire of old Rome,
From the heath-covered mountains of Scotia we come;
Our loud-sounding pipes breathes the true martial strain,
And our hearts still the old Scottish valour retain.'
Notwithstanding so many
able military narratives have of late years issued from the press relative
to the glorious operations of the British Army, for rescuing Portugal and
Spain from the grasp of the invader, the Author believes that the present
work is the first which has been almost exclusively dedicated to the
Adventures of a Highland regiment during the last war; and he flatters
himself that it will not be found deficient in novelty and interest. He
acknowledges that, according to precedent, scenes and incidents have been
introduced into it which are purely imaginary, and whether he ought to
apologize. for these, or to make a merit of them, he must leave his
readers to decide, according to their individual tastes and predilections.
It will need no great
sagacity to discriminate between this portion and the veritable historical
and military details, the result of the experience of one who had the
honour of serving in that gallant corps to which this volume more
especially relates, during the whole of its brilliant course of service in
the Peninsula, and who participated in all the proud feelings which arose
when contemplating the triumphant career of an army, whose deeds and
victories are unsurpassed in the annals of war.
Most of the military
operations, and many of the characters, will be familiar to the survivors
of the second division, and brother-officers will recognise many old
associates in the convivialities of the mess-table, and in the perils of
the battle-field. The names of others belong to history, and with them the
political or military reader will be already acquainted.
Few — few indeed of the old
corps are now alive; yet these all remember, with equal pride and sorrow,
'How, upon bloody Quatre
Brave Cameron heard the wild hurrah
Of conquest as he fell.'
and, lest any reader may
suppose that in these volumes the national enthusiasm of the Highlanders
has been overdrawn, I shall state one striking incident which occurred at
On the advance of a heavy
column of French infantry, to attack La Haye Sainte, a number of the
Highlanders sang the stirring verses of 'Bruce's Address to his Army,'
which, at such a time, had a most powerful effect on their comrades; and
long may such sentiments animate their representatives, as they are the
best incentives to heroism and to honest emulation!
It is impossible for a
writer to speak of his own production without exposing himself to
imputations of either egotism or affected modesty; the Author therefore
will merely add, that he trusts that most readers may discover something
to attract in these volumes, which depict from the life the stirring
events and all the romance of warfare, with the various lights and shades
of military service, the principal characters being members of one of
those brave regiments which, from their striking garb, national feelings,
romantic sentiments, and esprit de corps, are essentially different from
the generality of our troops of the line.