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dered useless, by the peevish and obstinate folly of a Spanish general; that the plans of the campaign were thus deranged by -his frowardness; that time was afforded to the French to rally, and come down on the allies in numbers, which rendered success for the present wholly unattainable, will think, perhaps, that the punishment of Ballasteros did not equal his offence; and how much soever they may commiserate his folly, they cannot surely regret his fate. In consequence of these untoward accidents, the inaction of the AngloSicilian expedition, the inefficiency of the Spanish army of Gallicia, and the insanity of General Ballasteros, Lord Wellington found his situation very different from what he had been led to expect. The French army of Portugal, greatly reinforced, was advancing under Souham, who had now taken the command, with the view of either raising the siege of Burgos, or forcing the British to fight at disadvantage. On the 15th of October they attacked the British outposts, but were repulsed with great spirit; and on the 19th, their whole force had approached the vicinity of Burgos. The movements of Souham and Soult were nearly simultaneous, and formed part of the same plan which the latter general had adopted for recovering Madrid. On the 21st, Lord Wellington received information that the whole French forces under Soult, Suchet, and Joseph Buonaparte, amounting to 70,000 men, were fast approaching the passes, and threatened General Hill, who had no adequate force to oppose to them. This intelligence determined Lord Wellington to raise the siege of Burgos, and to march to the support of the allied army in Madrid; and he accordingly retired towards the Douro, closely followed by the French under Souham. On the 23d, the British
approached Valladolid, and a sharp affair occurred at Torquemada, which ended in the repulse of the enemy. It would be difficult to describe the feelings of the British people when they were first informed of these events— when they learned that the Spanish capital was again in possession of the enemy, and that the siege of Burgos had been raised by an army which had so lately been broken and dispersed by the besiegers. The most violent indignation was expressed; reproaches were cast on the ministry, and even upon Lord Wellington himself. . A few profligate persons treated with derision all the hopes which had been raised as to the ultimate issue of the contest, while good men of all parties felt the deepest regret at the unexpected turn which affairs had taken, and which threatened to deprive the allies of the fruits of so many great achievements. The ministers were loudly censured for “starving the war in Spain,” (to use the very classical form of expression which was current at this time,) for sending out reinforcements in numbers so small, and at seasons so unsuitable, that they were of no real service to the cause of Spain. It was forgotten that England was not the principal in the Spanish war, and that her whole resources could not, with any regard to prudence, have been hastily directed to this object alone. Those who disliked Lord Wellington, because his victories had thwarted their narrow views, cast many reflections on his rashness in advancing so far into Spain, without providing for the security of his previous acquisitions, and the safety of his retreat; they predicted the most disastrous consequences to the Spanish cause from the dejection into which the minds of the people would be suddenly precipitated from that height of confidence to which they had been raised, and they prophésied the ruin of the army from a retreat, which is always so repugnant to the feelings of British soldiers, and so destructive of their discipline. They forgot the unexpected disappointments which Lord Wellington had suffered, and described that conduct as the offspring of a wild temerity, which in other circumstances would have been applauded as a master-piece of wise and prudent daring.—Lord Wellington was also censured for remaining inactive at Madrid by those who thought not of the fatigues which the army had already undergone, or the necessity of ascertaining the real extent of the co-operation which was to be received from the Spaniards, before the ulterior movements were determined upon. He was charged also with having undertaken the siege of Burgos, when his means were wholly inadequate to such an enterprise, and with trusting too much to the bravery of his troops, at the hazard of sacrificing many valuable lives. Yet was it manifest to any person capable of a moment’s reflection, that without the reduction of this fortress, nothing farther could have been done in the campaign; that the ultimate success of the siege would have been assured, if circumstances, beyond the control of the British general, had proved favourable ; and that, as in the cases of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo, an immediate sacrifice of the soldiers to a certain extent, becomes, in truth, a sacrifice to humanity, and saves the lives of thousands who must perish in the course of protracted operations. It may seem unfeeling in military men thus to make the lives of their fellow creatures an affair of dry calculation : it must be remembered, however, that war cannot be conducted at all without such sacrifices, and that when a government and people resolve on hostilities, the military leader to whom they entrust the execution of their counsels, cannot be charged with in
difference to human suffering when he uses his best efforts to execute their designs. It was for such reasons that Lord Wellington carried Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz by storm; and, influenced by the same motives, he commenced the siege of Burgos, and would have brought it to a conclusion no less fortunate, had he not been called by other events to change for a season the whole plan of his operations. The British army, threatened as itnow was by the united forces of the enemy, began its retreat. Lord Wellington knew well what a scene an army presents on such an occasion, and how much the talents of a consummate officer are required to maintain discipline and subordination. Arduous and delicate in the highest degree, therefore, was the task which he had to perform ; and nothing could have animated him in the execution of it but the hope that he might again be able to turn upon the enemy, and, profiting by their errors, give full scope to the bravery of his soldiers. The late Sir John Moore, who had experienced all the difficulties of a situation similar in some respects to that in which Lord Wellington was now placed, had remarked of his army, that he had nothing to say in its praise, unless when a chance of meeting the enemy presented itself; and the great secret, therefore, in conducting the retreat, was to profit by such chances as might occur, and to encourage in the minds of the soldiers the hope that they were retiring only to fight at greater advantage. During the whole retreat, the British army displayed, under its illustrious leader, its wonted steadiness and bravery ; and, although closely pressed at different points by very superior numbers, retired in the finest order. On one occasion, indeed, the French overtook a part of the retreating army with so very superior a force, that they compelled it to change its
route, which was accomplished without loss or confusion.—On the 27th of October the allies were posted on the left of the Pisuerga. The French crossed the river on the same day, and formed on the heights opposite to the British position. The next day the enemy attempted to gain possession of the bridges, and came down in such force that it was deemed expedient to blow up one of them ; to abandon the Pisuerga and cross the Douro, a movement which was effected without loss.—The French, however, still continued to press hard on the retreating army; they dislodged a German regiment which was posted on the ruins of the bridge of Tordesillas, and advanced with their whole force upon the city. No time was to be lost; and it became necessary that Lord Wellington should either secure for himself a position, in which he could give battle to the enemy, or hasten his retreat. He of course preferred the first of these alternatives, and resolved to occupy some heights between Rueda and Tordesillas, opposite the ruins of the bridge. While these movements were executed by that part of the army under the immediate command of their great leader, orders were dispatched to General Hill to break up from his position on the Jacuma, and to reach the Aduga by the 3d or 4th of November. These orders were strictly obeyed, and by
the 3d of that month the whole Bri
tish army was once more united.—The French under Soult and Souham had also an opportunity of joining. Soult had already abandoned Madrid with a determination to employ the whole French forces in driving the British back to Portugal. The enemy endeavoured to turn the flanks of the retiring army; their main body advanced to Toro and Zamora to threaten its left, and Soult marched on Avila, in hopes of turning the right. Lord
Wellington immediately put his whole forces in motion, and retired on Salamanca, where he hoped to be able to establish himself, and to maintain the heights of St Chrystoval in front of the city. But the united forces of the enemy were too numerous and powerful, and he was obliged to evacuate this city, and continue his retreat.
As he did not, however, despair of finding a favourable opportunity for bringing the French to action, he carefully watehed all their movements. They had taken post at Alba; and he believed for a moment that here he should at last be enabled to inflict that chastisement which he had so long meditated. He reconnoitred their position with great care, but he found it so strong both by nature and art, that it would have indicated the greatest temerity to attack it. The French, in the meantime, had moved their cavalry forward in such a direction as to threaten the British communications with the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. Lord Wellington, however, disconcerted their plans, and effected his own retreat without material loss, if we except one singular casualty which heppened about this period. Sir Edward Paget, a brave and able officer, commanded the centre columns during the movement which has just been described; the roads had become so bad by the heavy and incessant rains, that an interval occurred betwixt the fifth and seventh divisions of infantry, and Sir Edward rode alone to the rear to discover the cause why the latter division had not come up. He missed his way, and fell into the hands of the enemy. The accident was somewhat singular, but was of no other importance than as it deprived the service for a time of the aid of a distinguished soldier, and gave the French an opportunity of boasting that they had made prisoner a British officer of such rank and consequence,—The allies, in the meantime, continued their retreat with scarcely any other inconvenience than what was experienced from the badness of the roads, till they reached the Portugueze frontier, where they were distributed in extensive cantonments; and as the season of the year no longer admitted of military movements, the conquerors of Salamanca were allowed to enjoy the repose necessary to prepare them for the toils of another campaign, which was to be scarcely more glorious, but far more decisive. This memorable retreat, which disappointed so much the hopes and expectations of the British nation, was distinguished by circumstances peculiarly honourable to the British arms. The first circumstance of this kind which demands attention, is the comparative numbers of the forces on each side ; and it is fortunate, that, in this instance, we have the means of ascertaining the strength of the allies and of the enemy with more than ordinary precision. The whole of the allied forces in the peninsula, British, Portugueze, and Germans, did not exceed in number 66,000 men, who were thus distributed :-Lord Wellington and General Hill had under them 31,000 British and Germans, of whom 27,000 were infantry and 4000 cavalry; and, in addition to these, they had 21,000 Portugueze, who had become, under British officers, nearly equal to the troops by whose side they had so often fought. The expedition which had been sent to Alicant consisted of a considerable body of British and Sicilians; a Spanish army of 12,000 or 15,000 was expected to join it, but had been dispersed by the enemy before the junction became practicable. At the close of the campaign, however, 8000 British troops were on their way to join the grand army; but the fate of Spain, for the present year at least, had been decided before it was possible for them to reach head
quarters. The whole allied force, therefore, which could be rendered ef. fective, did not at the period of this retreat exceed 52,000, exclusive of the reinforcement latterly sent out, and the Alicant expedition, so that the means at Lord Wellington's disposal, although undoubtedly sufficient for the great objects in view, had the Spaniards done their duty to their country, were still very limited.—Let us now enquire what the French had to oppose to this force, according to the statements which were given by themselves. They had, first of all, very consi. derable detachments under Caffarelli, Decaen, and others, who were occupied with the irregular warfare maintained by the Spaniards in Navarre, Arragon, Biscay, and Catalonia; but as these troops were not at present employed against the regular armies of the allies, we shall leave them wholly out of account. But the French forces opposed to the armies under Lord Wellington were numerous and well appointed; and nothing can tend more to illustrate the talents of this great officer than a faithful display of the numbers of the hosts which, with the comparatively small force above described, he contrived to set at defiance. Soult alone, who had now assumed the chief command of the armies of Souham and Joseph Buonaparte, had under him no less than 75,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, making in all a force of 87,000 men, that is, almost double the numbers of his antagonist, In addition to these, Suchet still had in the east of Spain about 20,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry, thus raising the whole disposable French force employed in the peninsula against the British armies alone, to 112,000 men, well equipped and in the highest state of discipline. In the number of his cavalry in particular, the enemy was very superior; but in its quality it could bear no sort of comparison with the British. In artillery, the French were very powerful. Soult alone carried with him about 200 pieces of cannon; and in this manner had greatly the advantage of his antagonist in the strength of onemighty arm, of which the English have never perhaps sufficiently availed themselves.
In another circumstance, and that not the least material to the efficiency of an army, the French, from a policy not very honourable, had many advantages, we allude at present to the commissariat. It is remarkable, that although the British entered Spain for the avowed purpose of saving it from the most cruel of all tyrannies, and although they had performed the most signal exploits to secure this great object, their armies never were so well supplied with provisions as those of the enemy. The Spaniards were willing enough that the English should fight for them, but they seem never to have been very willing to make any considerable sacrifice to the cause of national independence. The English were too honourable to take anything by violence, and they were therefore
ill supplied; but the French, who des
pised all scruples of this kind, seized without hesitation the property of the Spaniards. These circumstances, when duly considered, will convey some idea of the different situations of the contending armies, they will shew how inferior the resources of all kinds were with which the British general was called upon to resist the enemy, and will go farther to explain the obstacles which he surmounted, and the talents which he displayed in this retreat, than the most laboured panegyric. Let it be remembered, that with means so unequal he set the enemy at defiance, and conducted the retreat of his army in safety; that the French, with all their advantages, never ventured to attack him, and seldom took up a position which they were not careful to secure by all the resources of the military art. This was destined to be the last trial of that admirable self.command by which Lord Wellington kept the natural boldness of his character in subordination to the maxims of prudence; the remainder of his career in the peninsula was to be illuminated by one constant blaze of glory.