Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.

The mode of marching and quartering in the night may be fully understood, by the description of one night's distribution, after a march of five leagues, which is equal to twenty-two and an half English miles. A party, consisting of a General, his Major of Brigade, and his Aide-decamp, came to a miserable possada, or inn. Fortunately the Major of Brigade had gone forward, ana, by dint of money and perseverance, contrived to have on the fire, in a large kettle, suspended by a chain from an immense beam, a sort of cauldron, filled with pieces of beef, onions, turnips, and potatoes. After this was safely suspended by the iron hook, and a place provided for the horses, a chamber was prepared for the General and suite. This room was the receptacle of all kinds of animals, and, amongst others, the old grand-father of the family, who, though not seventy years of age, exhibited Shakespear's last stage, sans teeth, &c. &c. exposed to the hungry appetites of myriads of fleas, and entertained all night with grunting of pigs, squalling of cats, coughings of the old people, braying of mules, squalling of children, &c. &c. In short, it beggars all attempt at description.

I forgot to mention, in my last letter, that on the 17th of January, 1809, the French attacked the left wing of Sir John Moore's army, on the heights of Lugo. A body of men had penetrated up a lane, driven our light troops before them, and turned the flank of the picquet of the 92d regiment. Sir John Moore, who was on the left, rallied, and rated a few men of the 51st and 76th regiments, for retreating, and led them a few paces back. An officer on the staff of the brigade to which the 51st belonged (Brigade Major David Roberts), esteeming it his duty, passed Sir John Moore, huzzaed the men forward, and charged the French, himself shooting one man. He then rode into the field on their flank, and, having gained their front, ordered the officer to lay down his arms, who resisted, and directed his men to fire, which they did, but missed Major Roberts,' who then fired, and shot the officer. He was then tired at, and'two bullets passed through his right hand, whilst returning R pistol he had discharged to its holster-case; two more also passed through his cloak, and another cut in two his horse's bridle. Major Roberts's shattered hand was amputated on the field of action, and he proceeded with the army to Corunna. In this skirmish the French had 83 killed and wounded, and 125 were made prisoners; the British, one officer, Major Roberts, wounded, and two privates killed. A work published in 1809, entitled, "Letters from Portugal and Spain," &c, gives the following description of this affair:—" In this encounter we took a considerable number of prisoners, and killed many of the enemy. One only of our officers was wounded, Brigade Major Roberts, a brave veteran, whose right hand was carried away by a shot, but not until he had gallantly buried the point which it held repeatedly in the hearts of those whose bayonets threatened him on all sides."

'S 2

Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.

On the army arriving at St. Jago, in full retreat, whirl town is th< seat of learning, yet the monastic members of every university, however they may be learned in books, are certainly not adepts in attention to the higher decorums of fine manners. We were therefore not surprized at certain want of attention, but, in this instance, we experienced a most astonishing reverse to that we received in advancing. However, we caused the game guarded attention to their worldly effects to be observed, and sentries were posted over every moveable that was likely to attract the attention of the soldiery, who at meal times were not particularly inclined to respect the goods of others, which were every way likely to add to their own comforts. Misjudging Spaniards, when driven to your doors, after sustaining every species of distress that bad arrangements, and rapid marches over barren heaths, and through rugged paths,—when the men, whom a generous nation had transported to your shores, to combat with an enemy ready and resolved to overwhelm you, was it for you to implant in their breasts, by your cruel and inhospitable conduct, a hatred to your country, and contempt for yourselves, and you the self-assumed servants of a merciful God? Was it irorn you the languid, wearied soldier was to receive insolence and contempt, neglect and scorn? Can we lament, can we pity such a set of men, if rapacity, if the ravages of war haunt your monastic walls, stored with every luxury that can be exacted from the half-starved, bigotted peasantry? When the sanguinary revolution of France drove to Great Britain's hospitable shores hundreds of famished Frenchmen, were they not received with open arms? Was not every idea banished from the hearts of those hospitable islanders but sympathy for their sufferings? Were they not fed, cloathed and cherished? Reflect, shrink within your cowls, and beseech that Omnipotent Father of all to grant you that blessed reflection that the good Samaritan so happily felt. The eyes of the Spaniards seem now to be opened to the true state of affairs, and to the honour and disinterested motives which compelled Great Britain to send her veterans to protect their country against the seizure of Bonaparte. The bigotry which cast a veil over the people is removed, and priests and citizens must ever bless the name of Briton, whether in the end the contest shall terminate favourably or otherwise.

J. P

Mount-Street, Grosrenor-Square,

May 8, 18)2. <

Journal of the Eighty-third Regiment.

JOURNAL OF THE EIGHTY-THIRD REGIMENT.

(Continued from page 4\8.J

"Art. 6th.—When circumstances oblige any battalion, in rear of a column, to halt, the head of such column must not do so, without the special order of the officer commanding, who will judge whether there is a necessity forit, considering always the magnitude ofthe interval which will thereby be occasioned in his column, the necessity there is that the column be well closed up, and the probability that, from the nature of the road, the head will soon meet with an impediment, and give time for the rear to close up.

"Coimbra, 4th May.—Art. 1st.—The army will be brigaded, and will stand in line, as follows, until further orders :—

Cavalry- Major-General Cotton, 14th, 20th (K. G. L), and l6tU Light Dragoons.

Foot Guards.—Brigadier-General H. Campbell, two battalions, and one company 5th battalion 60th regiment (rifles).

Infantry of the Line.— 1st BrigadeiVajor-General Hill, 1st battalion 3d regiment, 2d battalion 66th regiment, 2d Battalion 48th regiment,' and one company 5th battalion 6"0th regiment (rifles).

Do.—3d Brigade-Major-General Tilson, five companies, 5th battalion 60th regiment (rifles), 1st battalion 88th regiment, 1st battalion 4th Portuguese regiment (grenadiers), and 2d battalion 87th regiment.

Do.—5th Brigade, Brigadier-General A. Campbell, 2d battalion 7th Fuzileers, 1st battalion 10th Portuguese regiment, 2d battalion 53d regiment, and one company 5th battalion 60th regiment (rifles).

Do.—7th Brigade, Brigadier-General Cameron, 2d battalion 9th regiment, 2d battalion 10th Portuguese regiment, 2d battalion 83d regiment, and one company 5th battalion 60th regiment.

Do.—6th Brigade, Brigadier-General A. Stewart, 1st battalion of detachments, 1st battalion, lCth Portuguese regiment, and 29th regiment.

Do.—4th Brigade, Brigadier-General Sonntag, 2d battalion of detachments, 2d battalion l6th Portuguese regiment and 97th regiment, and one company 5th battalion 60th regiment (rifles).

Do. 2d Brigade, Major-General McKenzie, 3d battalion 27th regiment, 1st battalion 45th regiment, and 2d battalion 31st regiment.

King's German Legion, under Major-General Murray.—BrigadierGeneral Langworth, 1st and 7th battalions of the Line. Brigadier-General Drieberg, 2d and 5th ditto.

"Art. ed. —Although the preceding regulation is to be understood as the ordinary line of battle, circumstances of ground and situation may render some deviation from it necessary.

Journal of the Eighty-third Regiment.

"Art. 3d.—The light infantry companies belonging, and riflemen attached to each brigade of infantry, are to be formed together on the left of the brigade, under the command of a field-officer or captain of light infantry in the brigade, whom the general commanding will fix upon for that purpose. On all occasions in which the brigade may be formed in line or in column, for the purpose of opposing the enemy, the light infantry companies and riflemen will, of course, be in froot, flanks, or rear, according to the nature of the ground and of the occasion.

"Art. 4th.—No requisitions are to be made on the country but by the Commissary-General, his deputies, or his assistants, unless in cases of absolute necessity, and in which small bodies of troops are on the march unattended by a commissary, and even then the indispensiWeness must always be clearly made out for the Commander of the Forces' satisfaction.

"Art. No. 5.—All requisitions made contrary to this order will be paid for by the Commissary, and the amount charged against the officer who signed them. „ •

"Art. No. 6.—Officers must have observed the scarcity there is in Portugal of thesupp'ies necessary for our army, and how essentially the discipline and*comfort of the troops depend upon a regular distribution. The Commander of the forces therefore trusts that generals of brigades, and commanding-officers of regiments, particularly those who may be detached, will constantly communicate with the officer of the commissariate department attached to their respective corps, and also advise and assist them, as far as may be possible, in their endeavours to procure supplies for the troops.

"Art. No. 15.—The lfith Light Dragoons will march into Coimbra to-morrow, and take up the quarters now occupied by the 14th regiment of Light Dragoons, who will move out to those villages in front of the town which have been allotted for their reception.

«' Coimbra, 5th May, 1809, Art. No. 2.—Whenever an order is given for troops to march on the following day, the commissioners attached to these troops will issue them one day's meat, which must be cooked the same night, and reserved for the following day, in order that the soldiers, on arriving at their new ground, may be sure of having some refreshment.

"Art. No. 7.—His Excellency the Commander of the Forces will set the troops under arms at seven o'clock to-morrow morning, in complete marching order. The Quarter-Mastei-General will point out the ground.

"Art. No. 10.—Majors of brigade, and adjutants of regiments, are desired to assemble at the main guard by five o'clock this evening, to receive orders from I ieuteuant-General Sherbrooke; each adjutant must be provided with a field-return, specifying the probable number of Journal of' the Eighty-third Regiment.

men which his battalion will have under arms to-morrow; This order likewise applies to the artillery, the cavalry, and the Portuguese.

"Art. No. 12.—Such horses of the dragoons and artillery as will eat the country forage are to be fed in toto with it. Commanding officers of dragoons and artillery corps will give directions to have all their horses accustomed to the native corn and forage, by feeding them first with half English and half Portuguese, then with two-thirds Portuguese, and the remaing third English; and lastly with indigenous food only. The Commissary-General will make arrangements accordingly, both for the cavalry and the artillery.

"Art. No. 13.->-The Commander of the Forces begs to call the attention of all general, field, and staff officers, to the foregoing order. It is very desireable that all horses should feed upon the forage afforded by the country, which none will, unless brought to it by degrees. He therefore recommends to have all horses with the army fed in the proportions above stated. The Commissary-General will, however, as far as his stores allow, be pleased to attend to the requisition of any general, field, or staff officer, who may require a larger proportion of English forage for any particular horse." ,

May 6th.—Agreeable to the general orders of yesterday the review and muster of the troops took place on the sands (without Coimbra), which stretch from the river to the skirts of the high-road leading to Oporto. The strength of the British army in Portugal then appeared as follows :—

Present in the Field,—Artillery, - 438 effective rank ank file.
Cavalry, - 1,347 do. do.

Infantry, l6,l6l do. do.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Of these General M'Kenzie's brigade was stationed at Abrantes, with advanced parties on the eastern frontier, and are there returned on command. Major-General Tilsou's brigade, accompanied by one squadron of the 14th regiment of light dragoons, and another of the 3d K. G. Legion, were attached to the Portuguese army under Marshal Beresford, but are included in the above amount of effectives, as they were on their review ground. Independent of those troops of the Portuguese army which General Silveira had under him, in Tras os Montes, and of the regiments Marshal Beresford had organized at Tromar, and sent northwards to co-operate with the British, should be mentioned the gallant Loyal Lusitanian Legion, which, under Colonel Payne, kept in check a strong division of Marshal Victor's army, and defended the bridge of

« ForrigeFortsett »