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Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
of Major-General Spencer; but whatever might have been its original destination, that General was directed to proceed to Cadiz, and from thence was ordered to join Sir Arthur Wellesley, which junction took place on the 7th of August. Major-General Avstruther was also sent from England with 5000 men, and reached Portugal in time to take part in the well-fought battle of Vimicra, on the 21st of August. Sir Harry Burrard arrived at the close of the battle, when the enemy were at all points defeated, and driven from the field, and superseded Sir Arthur in the command. He immediately ordered that the pursuit which had commenced should be discontinued, and thus prevented the complete surrender of the whole army. I conceive that this order arose from Sir Harry Burrard being ignorant that Sir Arthur had a reserve of 8000 British troops who had not been engaged, and which additional force, according to the opinion of some French Generals, would have been competent to cut off the retreat of the enemy, and obliged them to surrender at discretion. Soon after, General Kellerman came in with a flag of truce. Military operations were suspended ; negociations commenced. A convention was concluded on the 30th of August, and was ratified by Sir Hew Dalrymple, who had arrived as Commander-inChief on the 31st. This convention provided for the conveyance in British transports to the nearest French port, the French army, baggage, ammunition, arms, horses, artillery, &c. &c. So unprecedented a capitulation occasioned the recall of Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry Burrard, and Sir Arthur Wellesley, and the command of the army devolved on Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, who had been sent out as third in command, with an additional force, but who did not arrive till after the battle of Vimiera.
The noble and glorious efforts at first made by the Spanish nation to get rid of French thraldom and the race of Corsicans, called forth the generosity and spirit of the British nation, aud the general sentiment was to give them every aid possible. Arms, ammunition, and money, were poured into Spain, and an offer of troops also made. To a people ignorant of warfare, and unprepared for attack, all were acceptable. Many thousand dollars were shipped off for Spain, and vessels freighted with cannon, ammunition, and arıns. The Spanish military being, undisciplined, and untutored in the art of war, doubts, founded upon the highest authorities, were entertained whether it could be ever brought to such a state of discipline, as to be depended upon in conjunction with British troops, Nevertheless, Great Britain determined on becoming principals in the arduous contest; and Government having resolved on sending an expedition into Spain, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore was appointed to the command of it.
Another army was therefore assembled under the command of Sir David Baird at Cork, and joined a force collected at Falmouth, toge
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division. ther about 12,000 men, with artillery, and on the 9th of October they set sail.
I must here remark, that ainongst the variety of difficulties which arise in dispatching an army on foreign service, one arose in that of Sir David Baird's, which certainly should in future be prevented. When this force was assembled, and according to all appearances ready to sail, no mode of conveyance was pointed out for the accommodation of Lieutenant-General Sir David Baird and the other General Officers. There were at this time two frigates and a sloop of war at anchor, as convoy to the fleet of transports, the Captains of which rather demurred to volunteer the accommodations they might have utforded, and certainly on a principle of justice to themselves ; for however well and amply Government provided for the comforts of those of their servants who are domese tically, employed, the Officers of the Navy and Army are much restrained in their stipends. Subsequently the Captains of the Navy had no objection to increase their own expences, by finding a table for six or eight additional visitors; but as the service certainly demanded that the General in Chief should be with the Commander of the Fleet, it was the duty of Government to have directed the naval Captains to receive the General Officers, and an ample allowance should have been made, to enable them to support the additional expence. At length an understanding took place, and the General Officers, with the Staff Offcers, were accommodated to their mutual satisfaction. Favourable weather, and most praise-worthy attention from Captain Schomberg to his charge, brought the feet to an anchor in the harbour of Corunna, on the morning of the 14th of October. A few ships were missing, but those soon after came into the harbour where the Tonnant was at anchor, the ship of Rear-Admiral De Courcy.
It did not appear that the Junta of Curuņna was at all prepared for the arrival of this army. An express was sent off to Madrid, to the Supreme Junta, for directions ; and the Champion, one of the convoy, was dispatched to Sir John Moore, at Lisbon, for a similar purpose. The General Officers landed, and occupied apartments, which they obtained with some difficulty. Various were the reports circulated respecting the destination and morements of this army. A few days produced an order for it to proceed eastward, but difficulties respecting the attainment of provisions and forage retarded the operation of landing; and the Commander found he had to do with a Junta who either could not or would not assist in facilitating the object of his wishes, a debarkation of the troops.
The Junta of Corunna* consists of representatives from the different towns in Galicia ; they compose the executive government of the pro
Corunna nearly embraces a most commodious and safe harbour, formed by a body of rock projecting to the bay, on which is a castle well supplied with cannor.
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
vince, under the controul of the Supreme Junta at Madrid. It was therefore necessary,
before any steps could be taken, to wait the arrival of the courier from Madrid. The General Officers were now all on shore, and permission was given for a certain proportion of officers from each regiment to land during the day, and to return to their ships at night. But previously general orders were issued, representing the propriety of friendly conduct towards the Spaniards, and enforcing the most respectful attention to their religion and customs. This necessary caution was productive of the happiest effects. Much pleasant and agreeable intercourse took place between the officers and the families of 'the town. And as the opera was open every night, it was crowded with officers as well as ladies, who not only invited the English to take seats in their private boxes, but also to supper, &c. &c.
The enthusiasm displayed by the people at Corunna was at first
In coming into the bay from the north, the harbour of Ferrol and the arsenal are plainly to be observed.
It is curious to remark, but it has so appeared, that most of our unsuccessful attacks have been made against the Spaniards, Santa Cruz, Ferrol, and Buenos Ayres. That of Santa Cruz was unfortunate, not from want of ardour or beroism, for our ever to be lamented hero commanded. The account given by the Spaniards respecting the ill-fated attack upon Ferrol confirm tbe idea formed of it in England : they state, that when our troops landed, they the Spaniards were panic struck, the garrison was weak, aud not prepared for an attack; and although there were numerous bodies of troops within two days march, yet so torpid were the motions of the Spaniards, that we might have taken the place, destroyed the arsenal, effected every necessary purpose, and re-embarked before the Spaniards could have collected their force to have attacked us. The more recent catastrophe of Buenos Ayres closes the military exploits of Great Britain against the Spaniards. As things have turned out, perhaps it is for the best.
Corunna is strengthened by batteries and guns mounted at all points; the citadel is strongly fortified, as is the tuwn, but both are commanded by a hill within a short distance. The citade forms a small town, and contains the houses of the people of distinction, and one or two convents. It is composed of 'very narrow-streets, paved with rough flag stones : the houses are very large; the ground floors are used entirely for offices; the first foors are the rooms chiefly inhabited, with balconies and windows, which open like folding doors; the furniture is gaudy, but not elegant. There is little appearance of comfort within their houses, not even the sociable sight of a blazing fire; and although the weather, whilst the British troops were in Spain, would admit of some artificial heat, there was no such thing as a hearth in any of the rooms.
The Opera house is tolerably good. The sides are occupied by private boxes ; the pit is made very commodious, with rows of seats formed as chairs, with backs and arms; the gallery is specially set apart for females, no måle being admitted. Considering that the actors repeat verbally what the prompter reads, and that so loud, that it offends an English taste, being often louder than the actor, they get through their parts with much spirit. The music is pleasing, and they dance a sort of pas de deux, with castanets, called a bolera, and a fandango, with mach Exertion, but with very little grace. The women are not active; they make moro Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
astonishing, all ranks and descriptions presented themselves for service in the field to oppose the French, whom they universally appeared to hold in abhorrence and detestation. There were also at Corunna two regiments of patriots, who seemed particularly anxious in their desire to learn the military art.
At length, the Semiramis frigate arrived with Mr. Frere, the British Envoy to Madrid, and also the Marquis de la Romana, who was received by the Spaniards with firing of cannon, illuminations, feasts, and processions. Mr. Frere was equally welcome to his own country men. One cause of delay in disembarking Sir David Baird's army was the total want of money, now having been sent with the force, and the Junta of Corunna refusing to lend it. The arrival of Mr. Frere with 100,000i. which he was to take to Madrid, reliered this difficulty, as he advanced 20,0001. of it to Sir David Baird. That an army con
pleasing actions with their arıns and legs, occasioned by the castancts. The bolera music is simple and pretty.
The churches are good buildings, but the altar-pieces gaudy. The Virgin Mary and Iofant are in most churches, represented by figures three feet bigh, dressed with much heavy ornament an:1 rich lace, and are preserved in glass cuses; ile saints also are figures about four feet high, and fixed io viches. An officer, when, at Corunna, stated, that he bad not observed much external religious ceremony, uut even the usual observation of carrying the stool to the sick.
Noblemen and gentlemen dress much similar to the mode in England; only in the street you seldom perceive a man comme il faut, without his cloak, which in all seasons forms a material part of the dress. The ladies, when walking, wear over their gowos a black silk or stuff petticoat, and the greater part of them a mantua like the oblong shaw) worn by English ladies; and as they have no ornaments on their heads, it is brought close over their foreheads, and either made to hang loose in the front, or crossed once or twice, and the ends to lang behind. Some of the ladies wear tbis sort of cloak made of crape aud of fine lace, black or white. Tu their houses they are more frequently in black, though in the mornings they wear gowns of English manufacture. Their clothing is remarkably ueat about the fact and ancle, but the symmetry of their legs and feet is not beautiful. Their persons being in general short, it follows that their legs and feet are thick, yet many walk very, elegantly. In manners the ladies are remarkably affable and attractive. The hair, which is allowed to grow very loug, is twisted and tied up tight at the back of the head. During war, it is a custom with the nobility not to dress guily, but to appear poor. The lower orders are similar to the lower orders in this country, and equally as noisy, quarrelsome, and violent. There is evidently an indolence of disposition prevalent amongst them, which amounts to a disgrace. Men and wo-, men sit in the sun for hours during the day, amusing themselves with their thoughts, or else occupied with their fingers in the heads of incir neighbours, jeclined either on their lap or a stone for convenience. They certainly are not very cleanly either in their external or internal clothing, and generally are bare-footed as well as bare-headed.' The men are stout and well-proportioned, and accustom themselves to a prodigious extent of whiskers. The prevalence of their religious enthusiasm and observances are great obstructions to industry. There are so many Lajot-days and holidays, 60 many priests and churchmen, that little room is left
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division,
sisting of nearly 13,000 men should be sent on an expedition without money to pay them, would seem irreconcilable with common sense : such, however, is the fact. The cause I shall not endeavour to explain.
The allowance of bái and forage, which was the first money the Staff Officers received since their appointments, although they had to purchase horses and other things for to complete their equipuient, was subjected to a deduction of 10 per cent, income tax. The unjustice of deducting an income tax from an allowance which is uncertain, and cannot be considered as income, has been since seen in its proper light, and the money which was then deducted from the officers can be now recovered. This information may be useful to many who are ignorant thereof.
Arrangements were now made for the disembarkation of the brigades. Cantonments were allotted for the regiments. The Commissariat
for exertion. The holidays are observed with more external devotion than the Sundays. On the latter days dealing is continued, and except certain house-trades, has no interruption. On a holy or a saint-day it is quite the contrary; the shops are all shut up, and all appearance of trade removed. The mornings are devoted to prayers, and even the evenings are spent in a kind of religious pastime, for the higher orders of ladies, who dress themselves more than commonly elegant, wearing white or coloured sattin shoes and silk stockings, resort to every church in the whole town or ciladel, beginning at the most distant, and visit each, repeating certain prayers with much scéning devotion in all of them, and in this manner keep praying their way home, or take a walk on the road to St. Lucia, a small town immediately out of the gates of Corunna,
Smoking is a farourite amusement amongst all orders of men in Galicia. Exclusive of the luxury it affords, :hey esteem it a preventative from diseases arising out of colds and damps, from the quantity of rain which falls in that province.
On all occasions of public rejoicing, tlie Spaniards express their joy by firing cannon, rockets, illuminations, processions, and feasts.
Provisions at Corunna are a little cheaper than the general prices in England. There was some little trade during the time the British were there, in consequence of the port being open, but very trifling. Every article of Spanish manufactory is certainly two centuries behind ours, and not so low priced as in England. The shops are small, and ill provided. The mules are good, and the horses small; Indian cora, barley, straw, and grass, are the chief provender. The Spaniarde bare little idea of the utility of borses, except for parading; they accustom them to a lieavy, clumsy court bridle, which tbrows the horse on bis haunches, at the risk of a broken jaw and a broken neck. Io Galicia they are very small and cheap, but at the time the British troops were there they were otherwise, as the possessors were glad to take every advantage they could, and our necessities obliged us to purchase them at almost any price which should be required.
The soil around Corunna is thin, light, and of very little depth, there being a species of granite stone under; the roads are excellent; but such streets as are not great thoroughfares are ragged, and frequently not paved. They are swept by felons chained together.
The few trees seen about Corunna are apple, pear, chesnut, date, and plomb. There is plenty of game around, partridges, hares, snipes, woodcocks, and a few