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State of French and Spanish Armies. ven in confusion into the defiles of those mountains, and incumbered by its baggage, artillery, &c. would not be in a condition of making any resistance to a superior force pursuing. At any rate, all the artillery, baggage, and wounded, must be left to the mercy of the conqueror.
The British force in Portugal, in the field, is not short of 45,000 men. The Portuguese bring nearly 35,000 into the field. The Spanish force in Murcia is near 10 or 12,000 strong. Ballasteros commands about 5000. Cadiz contains ncar 7000 British and Spanish. in Catalonia, upwards of 20,000 men appear in arms, some of which are tolerably disciplined. Under the orders of Villamur, Sanchez, &c. 7 or 8000 Spaniards are acting in con.' junction with Lord W's army. The Spanish troops in Galicia have been stated at different times froin 15 to 20,000 strong. The Guerilla parties under Mina, Empicinado, &c. are strong in numbers, and well trained to arms. From this statement (which from the sources I derive it, I have reason to think is not very incorrect) there appear to be nearly 150,000 men acting against the French, besides many small partizan corps which keep moving in every direction., Unless Buonaparte speedily recruits bis exhausted armies in Spain, we may confidently expect, ibat before next year, the French in Spain will be confined behind the Ebro.
I will now venture to give an opinion upon the operations likely to take place. It is confidently stated that Lord Wellington will shortly enter Anda. lusia with his army: I presume his lordship's motives are good for so doing, yet I cannot but think, that a movement upou Madrid would be inore advi. sable. According to the last accounts, General Will has taken possession of Almaraz, which is 120 miles from Madrid. If Lord W. advances upon Madrid, Marniont will be under the necessity of leaving Salamanca, with every man under his orders, and marching by Avila towards Toledo, (a disa tance of 160 miles) in order to place biniself between Lord W. and Sladrid, and even then without being certain of having preserved the place; for, before Soult could reinforce him by any considerable force, Marmont might be attacked by very superior numbers, and driven entirely from that part of Spain.
There is another season that renders an attack upou Madrid desirable. Every body knows the importance it would be of, both in a military a'nd political view, to date even a single dispatch from Madrid. The effect it would have upou the Spaniards is incalculable; it might occasion a general rising against the French throughout the peninsula.
By the capture of Madrid, Soult's army would be obliged to effect its retreat to the Ebro, by the province of Valencia, without having the power of chusing any other line of march; whereas, if Lord W. advances into Andalusia, and compels Soult to retreat upon Madrid, the French generals will then be at liberty to send whatever troops to Catalonia they may think proper, taking up, with the remainder, the same position that was held by them in 1808, after the defeat of Dupont, viz, in the strong country extending from Bilbos Eramination for Commissions. to Victoria and Tudela, there waiting, in security, for reinforcements; while, if Lord Wellington advances first on Madrid, Soult's forces, with those stationed in Valencia, will have no choice, but must retreat into Catalonia.
EXAMINATION FOR COMMISSIONS.
Woolwich, July 15.-SIR, YOUR correspondent, the non-commissioned officer, has most completely inistaken the purport of my letter upon military knowledge, inserted in the Military Chronicle for April 1812.
That there is a great want of knowledge among the junior officers of our army is notorious; and it is likewise acknowledged by all, that something should, and that sometbing can be done, to wipe off the reflection cast upon us by foreigners," that we have few officers who understand their profession, except those who have been educated in the French or German academies;" and that, “ we pay more attention to the formation of good soldiers, than good officers."
Under this impression it was, that I addressed you on the subject, and stated what my ideas were, expressing a wish that some of your correspondents would improve upon what I had suggested; but, in the succeeding number of the Chronicle, though I found a letter in answer to mine, yet it was far from being such a letter as I sought for; for instead of improving, it merely found fault with my plan; acknowledging that something should be done, without stating what ought to be done.
Your correspondent begins his objections by a round assertion, that if my plan was carried into effect, a sufficient number of qualified persons would not be found to fill up the vacancies which occur in the army. This is an assertion without proof. It must be obvious to every clear-sighted person, that the reason of our not having a sufficient number of qualified candidates is, because there is no regulation in force, which says the applicant must be qualified in certain given points, before he can obtain a commission; and, notwithstanding all my antagonist's arguments, I am fully persuaded, that if even my very objectionable plan was carried into effect, government would be under no necessity of having recourse to unqualified persons to fill up the vacancies which would occur.
In the latter part of his letter he agrees with me, "'that no person ought to be appointed to a situation in the arıny, beyond that of ensign, without his proving, to the satisfaction of persons appointed to examine him, that he possesses the necessary qualifications.” May I be permitted to ask, what objection there can be to this examination takiog place previous to any commission being granted at all? If there is any objection to the one, it must apply to the other.
Examination for Commissions. He observes, likewise, that the proposed plan" for ever closes the door of promotion upon the militia officer, and the non-commissioned officer of regulars.” With respect to the officers of uililia, I should like to be informed, in what respect the proposed plan is likely to prevent those gentlemen from obtaining commissions? For my own part, I an, so dull thai I canuot find out, and, like your correspondent, “remain to be informed."
In the second page of your correspondent's letter, he labours very hard to prove that non-commissioved officers are preserable to any other persons, to fill up the vacancies in the army, and adduces as a proof, Lord Wellington's having obtained a great number of commissions for the non-commissioned officers in bis army. Here, in a great measure, I agree with him; in point of knowledge in the manæuvies, our non-commissioned officers (geverally speaking) excel those who boid commissions; and, as I should suppose theni to be as capable as any other description of persons, of obtaining a knowledge in field fortification, and the methods of forming roads, bridges, &c. I have yet to learn in what respect the proposed plan tends to their disadvantage.
My object in proposing the plan was, as I stated it to be, to exclude from the army, a parcel of young men who enter it merely because they think that wearing a red coat, and carrying a sword, licenses them to behave always ridiculously, and too often, in a most disgraceful manner. If your correspon dent had considered this, how could he possibly suppose that
letter bal any reference to non-commissioned officers? lle might have supposed that a distinction was to be observed between the one who receives a commission as a reward for his good conduct, and the other who obtains it either by bis money or interest.
In concluding his letter, your correspondent observes, “ that by the king's regulation, a subaltern must serve three years before be is eligible to become a captain.” In answer to this, I bey to observe, that where one person obtains a captaincy in four years service, numbers are 12, 14, and 16 years obtaining the same rank: there are now lieutenants in the army, who have been such for these last 14 years. I cannot but think this extremely derrimental to the service.
As the plan i proposed in my last letter has been objected to, I have altered it, and now beg 10 present it to your readers. If there are any objections to it now, I should like to see them stated.
I have divided the examination into four parts; the first of which is to take place before the candidate receives his coinmission; the second before he obtains his lieutenancy; the third prior to his obtaining a captaincy, and the fourth, previous to a majority being granted: after that rank I do not conceive an examination to be necessary.
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
of armies.-General strategy, &c.
JOURNAL OF THE SIEGE OF TARIFA.
THE following journal is so honourable to Colonel Skerrett and his bri. gade', that we have peculiar pleasure in giving it.
December 2, 1811.--The following order was this day issued: “ The “ commanding officer having received information that the enemy is about
to attack this post, he desires that the detachment may be in monentary “ readiness to turn out, and assemble at the alarm post, on the bugle sound" ing, turn out the whole.”
In case of alarm, lhe troops will form in the front of the convent door, in column of companies, left in front, three companies of the 47th regiment will remain to the garrison of the convent, the cavalry will form on the left of the infantry, the artillery on the road immediately on the outside of the town gate, the troops in the town, exclusive of the garrison in the street leading to the gate, will be under arms, and march at seven o'clock to-morrow morning, with their rations of bread.
“ The different marches and evolutions made by those brigades, while a part of the garrison accompanied them, retarding the works on the island, and Lieutenant-general Campbell foreseeing the necessity of strengthening
the place, directed, that as the completion of the works on the islaud was of : the first importance, the detachment under Major King, and that under
Colonel Skerrett, should on no account be employed so as to interfere with this object; that men were to be employed from each detachment, to carry. on the works on the island, and in those parts of the town where the chief engineer may deem it necessary, the duty of reconnoissance to be performed by the cavalry alone, and in the most circumspect manner, taking every precaution to avoid ground from which they can be annoyed by intantry, the senior officers to apply to General Copons for a party of the guerillas, being Well adapted for this service, from their knowledge of the country.”
* Colonel Skerrett's brigade consisted as follows-the 2d battalion of the 47th regi. ment, comnianded by Major Broad, 570 men strong; the 2d battalion of the 87th, under Colonel Gough, about 560 men; à brigade of six pounders, under Captain Hughs, of the royal artillery; a squadron of the 2d German hussars, (about 70 men) under Captain Wense; and a company of the 95th rifle regiment, Captain Jenkins,
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
Agreeably to the tenor of the above, Colonel Skerrett made the following disposals:
December 5. Captain Smith, royal engineers, was to attend to the construction of the traverses on the island, the redoubt near the sea-gate, and the covert-way on the postern, at Xarrier's gate.
Major King was to take on bimself the command of the island, with three hundred British, and two hundred Spaniards, detaching one hundred (fifty of each) io Santa Catalina; one hundred of the 471b regiment, under Captain Campbell was ordered to garrison the convent. Captain Mitchell, of the royal artillery, took the command of the artillery in town, and detached one officer to the island.
Captain Hughes, royal artillery, took the cominand of his guns. About this time general Copons demanded that the keys of the town should be given up to bim, and Colonel Skerrett nearly acceded to his request; but it having been represented to him by Majur King, that Colonel Brown had always, during his command, kept possession of the keys; first, to guard against any treachery; secondly, as the brother of the governor was in the Freneb ser. vice; and thirdly, as it was more conformable to the honour of the British nation. The keys remained, therefore, in the hands of the British officer commanding at the sea gate; and Colonel Skerrett issued the following order:
December 9. Brigade order— The keys of the town are to remain in possession of the British officer at the sea gate, until the final orders from his Excellency Lieutenant-general Campbell are received with respect to them. This officer is merely to keep charge of the keys for forni's sake; he is in every oiher respect under the order of the Spanish commandant of the guard, and of the Spanish general. The gups of the brigade were retired every night under the island, and the men were put uuder cover, as much as possible, the weather being extremely wet.
December 16. Intelligence having been received, that the enemy had broke up before Gibraltar, and niarched upon Los Barrios and Port-llana, that sixteen pieces of cannoni, sixteen pounders, bad entered Vejir; that the eneniy had collected at Medina Sidonia large quantities of stores, and a besieging train, and that French cavalry piquets, supported by chasseurs, bad made their appearance at Retena and La Luz, the following orders were
" It is necessary to acquaint the garrison of Tarifa, that the enemy is ad
vancing to lay siege to this place; and that the governor of Gibraltar, and " the commander at Cadiz, have perfect confidence in the bravery aud good “ conduct of the troops.
“ Colonel Skerrett has to direct, that each officer will exert himself to the “ utmost, so that the fatigues and duties of the soldiers may be rendered as
light as possible. Colonel Skerrett is therefore satisfied they will be supported with cheerfulness."