« ForrigeFortsett »
cuted. The British army occupied a centre, and drove it from the hill with species of peninsula formed by the ri- precipitation. Generals Beresford and ver; and Marmont seems to have in- Leith were wounded about this time ; dulged the chimerical hope of inclosing but these unlucky accidents' did not them in this position, and entirely cut. abate the ardour of the troops. The ting off their retreat. During the 22d enemy's right, which had been joined and 23d, he executed a variety of by the fugitives from the other wing, movements, with the view of distract- still maintained a shew of resistance ; ing the attention of the British gene. it was at once attacked in front and ral, and concealing from him his real on its flanks, and driven in confusion plans. For a while he threatened the from the field. Thus had the French British left ; but although Lord Wel. received a total defeat throughout lington had provided for the defence their line ; and nothing but the dark
of this wing of his army, he still sus. ness of the night saved them from de- pected that Marmont had designs up struction. The pursuit was renewed
on the other flank, which he was there. next morning ; the French rear-guard fore very careful to support. The was overtaken, attacked, and put to French marshal was ambitious of do. flight, the cavalry leaving the infantry ing too much ; he wished to sur to its fate, Three whole battalions round the British army, and he ex surrendered.-Never was victory more tended and weakened his own line. decisive ; never did a beaten army exLord Wellington at once perceived hibit greater marks of consternation ; this fatal mistake, and saw that the stores, baggage, and ammunition, eve. moment was at last arrived which put ry thing, in short, which could impede the enemy in his
power. He had been their flight, was left to the conquerors, long anxious to give them battle, and The carnage on the field of battle, and to punish their temerity; they had in the pursuit, was prodigious ; and now afforded him a finer opportunity the trophies of the victory correspondthan he could have anticipated. Ar. ed to its importance. Eleven pieces rangements were soon made for the of cannon, two eagles, and six colours, attack; the singular conjuncture ad. were taken ; 5 generals, 3 colonels, 3 mitted of no delay.--Major-General lieutenant-colonels, 130 officers of dif. Pakenham, with the third division, be- ferent ranks, and upwards of 7000 gan a furious assault on the fianks of soldiers, were made prisoners. Mar. the enemy's left, in which he was sup- mont and Bonnet, the first and second ported by Brigadier General Brad- in command, were wounded, and the ford's brigade, by the fourth and fifth command of the fugitive army devol-divisions, and the cavalry under Sir ved upon General Clausel.—The loss Stapleton Cotton in front. The of the allies was small in proportion to French, although finely posted, and the greatness of the success; about supported by cannon,were overthrown. 700 were killed, and upwards of 4000 Already the victory was decided. Ge- wounded. Major-General Le Marchneral Pack was at first unsuccessful ant, a brave and skilful officer, was in his attempt to drive the enemy's killed; Lieutenant-Generals Leith and centre from the hill of the Arapiles ; Cole, and Major-General Alten, were but the victorious fifth division, which wounded. Sir Stapleton Cotton, a had already contributed so much to very distinguished officer, was singuthe rout of the enemy's left, having larly unfortunate ; he was wounded in changed its front, bore down on the the darkness of the night by a British
soldier, who mistook him for an ene from Madrid to join Marmont before my. Happily for his country the the battle, had the mortification to wound did not prove.
find their comrades retreating in disThus terminated the battle of Sala. order.-Nothing could oppose the manca, which will always be referred progress of the allied army; the French to in history as one of the most bril no longer attempted 1o defend the liant achievements of modern times, passage of the Douro ; and Lord Wel. whether the matchless talents display: lington having crossed at Trudella, ed by the British general--the admi. entered Valladolid on the 4th of Aurable courage of the troops or the gust. He had always attached great splendid consequences which followed
importance to the fortress of Burgos, such a combination of heroism and ge. and would, in all probability, have nius, are considered. Let it be re- proceeded immediately to reduce it, membered, that when the battle was had he been enabled to bring up his fought, the French were unquestion. artillery. The rapid movements of the ably superior in numbers to their ene army, however, had rendered this im. mies; that they were under the gui. possible ; and
he foresaw the great dance of one of the first of their mar- effect, in a moral and political point of shals, who shewed a splendid genius view, which might be produced by his even amid his misfortunes; and that in advance to Madrid, he determined to the utmost confidence of victory, should move a part of the army in this directhey be able to bring the British to tion. His conduct on this, as on other an engagement, they were acting up occasions, evinced a rare sagacity, and on the offensive, and
pur was fully justified by the circumstansuit. It has been thought very high ces in which he was placed. Of these merit in some of the most distin circumstances, which encouraged the guished generals, that they have been hope at this time entertained, that the able to manage the retreat of a great close of the Spanish war was approacharmy without material loss, and have
proper to give some conducted themselves so well as to account in this place, that the merits turn upon and chastise their pursuers. of Lord Wellington's conduct, and It is the peculiar glory of the British the objects of his movements, may be commander that he did more than this ; more accurately appreciated. that he not only conducted the retreat The battle of Salamanca was disof a large army without loss, but foil- tinguished from all the other battles ed his able antagonist at all points ; hitherto fought in the peninsula, by that, not satisfied with turning to several important circumstances ; it chastise him, he was able, in circum was more masterly in the design, more stances unexpected and disastrous, to brilliant in the execution, and followed obtain a most signal and decisive vic by consequences of far greater importtory, and to drive his pursuers before ance, than any of its predecessors. him in disorder and consternation. If By the movements and operations of such talents as were here displayed do the British at the opening of the camnot constitute the perfection of mili- paign ; by the reduction of the strong tary genius, we may reasonably ask, fortresses, and the separation of the in what does this quality consist, and French armies, the contending parties where is it to be found in the records were placed in an attitude towards each of battles, or the history of the world ? other, very different indeed from that
The army of the centre, under Jo in which they formerly stood, and inseph Buonaparte, which had advanced comparably more favourable to the
allies. In the former battles, they air of triumph, that, for their parts, had acted in a great measure upon the they were mere matter-of-fact-men, and defensive, and by the display of the could not follow the flights of those greatest bravery, had in very unfa- who still refused to despair of the for. vourable circumstances repulsed the tunes of their country. They assumed enemy, when he ventured to come to it as a principle, that nothing could blows;
but here the value of their compensate to the British, that irreformer triumphs may be said to have mediable disadvantage as to numbers ended. Limited as to the resources at under which they must always meet his disposal, the British general seldom their enemies on the continent; and could follow up the advantages which this maxim being once established, he gained ; while the enemy with a every other evil followed of course. rapidity which denoted the extent of When their gloomy predictions were his means, and the vigour with which first disappointed at Vimiera, Tala. they were conducted, soon repaired vera, and Albuhera, they demanded his losses and resumed his former atti. of their antagonists to point out with tude. If the French were beaten in precision the benefits which were dethe field and compelled to retire, they rived from these victories.
They diswere enabled to effect their retreat in avowed all sympathy with the generous such order, and quietly to take up so feelings of the nation ; they cared not fine a position, that except the glory for the triumphs of the British are of the achievement, their enemies had mies; the unfading laurels which had little more to boast of. Our armies, been won were purchased at too great indeed, were fast acquiring discipline an expence for these economical poli. and experience; and a school was ticians, and the whole business of war formed for the education of British was, according to their sordid notions, officers, from which many illustrious reduced to a matter of mere vulgar pupils have since issued; but these calculation. Their only question on were benefits which were to be after such occasions was, what has been the wards reaped, when circumstances expence, and what the gain : how much should be more propitious to the ope. has been thrown away in pounds, rations of the British army. In the shillings, and pence, and how much mean time, however, many vulgar cri- territory has been acquired in reimtics who judged of all things by nar bursement ? They were busy in castlow maxims ; who thought that vic. ing up such accounts about the Spatories could not have been won, be. nish war, and in uttering from their cause much ground had not been gain- obscene temples the oracles of despair, ed; who could not anticipate what when all their hopes were dissipated might in future be done by that resist. by the intelligence of the battle of less enthusiasm, which a feeling of su Salamanca. A battle had now been periority was imparting to the British fought which united at once all that soldier; and who could see in Wel was brilliant and useful ; which had lington no traits but those of an ordi- secured advantages to satisfy all classes nary mind ; laughed at him when he of expectants ; and while it was as rich claimed the honours of victory, and in honour as the most generous could called upon him to point out the signs desire, had profit also in abundance to and consequences of it.
meet the wishes even of the most sorof the state of Spain and the pro- did politician. While one of the spects of Europe was a very homely mightiest hosts of the enemy had been and simple one ; they avowed with an dispersed, his other armies of the
north, the south, and the centre were forts had been nobly seconded by the disjoined ; a large portion of Spain generosity of the British nation; and was recovered ; and an opportunity puny as all their subsequent exertions was afforded to the Spaniards them- had been, the ardour of their allies selves to come forward and seal the had never abated. Great allowance deliverance of their country. In its was made for the unhappy condition consequences, therefore, the victory of of Spain at the moment when her in. Salamanca was pre-eminently distin- dependence was assailed by the most guished from all the former achieve- treacherous of enemies ; and England, ments of the British arms in Spain ; while she generously lent her aid to even the most obstinate of the unbelie- the almost despairing Spaniards, gave vers began to shew some symptoms of them credit for virtues which they amendment, and to doubt the sound- have never discovered. It was sup. ness of their views ; while those who posed that the ardent love of indehad from the beginning taken the pendence, which was said to charac. more generous and high-minded side terise the Spanish nation, and the unin this great cause, were filled with extinguishable hatred which they enhope and joy.
tertained towards the intruders, would Lord Wellington having left a force have raised them to deeds worthy of under General Paget to watch the mo a great people ; but these most reations of the enemy, advanced with the sonable hopes were greatly disapmain body of his army to the Spanish pointed. If the Spaniards loved the capital. Joseph Buonaparte had un-' independence of their country much, der his command 20,000 men ; but they loved their own ease still more ; on the approach of the British, he if they hated the French, they had no hastily evacuated Madrid, and retreat other way of shewing their hatred, but ed to Almanza on the frontiers of in an irregular and petty warfare, Murcia and Valencia ; a position from which was marked, indeed, with a fewhich he could communicate either rocity justifiable only against their with Soult or with Suchet. On the present enemies. The moment had 12th August, the allied army entered at length arrived, however, when, if the capital ; the Retiro garrisoned by there existed a single spark of genuine 1500 men immediately surrendered; patriotism in Spain, it should have while Guadalaxara was at the same been struck out; and when by one time taken by the Empicenado. In- grand and unanimous effort the whole telligence was also received that an Spanish nation might have been exarmy of about 16,000 men, consisting pected once for all to have avenged of British and Neapolitan troops from themselves on their oppressors. The Sicily, with some Spaniards from Ma- joy which the people discovered when jorca, the whole commanded by a the British army entered Madrid, is British officer, had reached Alicant; thus described by Lord Wellington, so that every thing seemed to promise on whose sober account even the most a vigorous prosecution of hostilities, suspicious will rely. “ It is impossiand a glorious termination of the cam- hle," says his lordship, " to describe paign.
the joy manifested by the inhabitants The Earl of Wellington naturally of Madrid upon our arrival ; and I believed that the Spaniards would hope that the prevalence of the same have availed themselves of this propiti- sentiments of detestation of the French ous opportunity to rescue their country yoke, and of a strong desire to secure from a foreign yoke. Their first ef. the independence of their country,
which first induced them to set the to attach so much importance to the example of resistance to the usurper, possession of Burgos; that this single will induce them to make exertions in fortress could never have enabled the the cause of their country, which will beaten enemy to keep the field ; nor be more efficacious than those formerly could it, even in the most unfavourable made.” Had the Spaniards acted event for the British army,
prethus, the independence of their coun- sented any serious obstacle to a retreat. try might have been established in the That, in point of fact, the plan purcourse even of this single campaign, sued by Lord Wellington was atwhich had already become so glorious ; tended with this consequence,—that the British armies might have won Soult, Suchet, and Joseph Buonaelsewhere those laurels which they parte were enabled to unite their arwere still destined to gather in Spain ; mies, and with the remains of Marthe sufferings of humanity might have mont's force, to compel the British, been abridged, and the destinies of the whom they far outnumbered, to reworld more easily fixed and secured. tire.--Such are the opinions which It will be a painful task to record, have been professed by some judges how far the Spanish nation was from not wholly incompetent; but there fulfilling these expectations.
are others who have taken a different Doubts have been entertained by and apparently a juster view of the some persons, whether the plan formed conduct of the British commander. by Lord Wellington at this great con It was expected that the strong exjuncture, was quite conformable to the pedition under General Maitland, by wisdom which generally marked his uniting with the Spanish troops in operations. It has been said, that it that quarter, would have been able to should have been the great object of co-operate in another and a more bethe British general to have united the neficial way with the grand army, whole of the allied forces in the pe. The presence of so strong an army in ninsula, and completed the separation that part of Spain, it was supposed, of the different corps of the enemy; would have operated as a check upon that, with this view, leaving a body Soult and Suchet, and prevented them of troops to prevent the passage of the from attempting any thing, while Douro, he should have marched direct. Lord Wellington was completing his ly upon Alicant, threatened the armies plan of operations in the north ; but of Suchet and Joseph Buonaparte, pre- these well-founded expectations were vented their junction with Soult, and entirely disappointed by a series of established his own communications accidents, which could not have enwith General Maitland ; that thus uni- tered into the contemplation of the ted the allied army would have had no British chief. The expedition un. difficulty in accomplishing any object der General Maitland was inadequate to which it might have been directed; to any active operations without the while the enemy's forces, so widely aid of the Spaniards ; and it unfortuseparated, must have been incapable nately happened, that, just about the of attempting any operation of im- time when the expedition was disemportance. The capital after this barked at Alicant, the Spaniards commight easily have been preserved ; and manded by General O'Donnell were the unexpected disasters which follow. defeated by the French under Harispe, ed might have been avoided. That it and the plan of the campaign was thus is not easy to discover the reasons in a great measure deranged. General which induced the British commander Maitland was unavoidably cooped up
VOL. V. PART I.