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Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
December 18. The brigade marched with 250 of the garrison, and took up a position on a rising ground in front of the opening, near the convent of La Luz. The hussars, 2d battalion King's German legion, commanded by Lieutenant Coque, the light company of the 95th, with the light companies of the 47th and 87th regiments, in reserve, under command of Colonel Skerrett, inarched towards Facinas, for the purpose of reconnoitring. The cavalry had some skirmishing with the enemy, whoin they met in the wood of Batine, near the broken bridge; but Colonel Skerrett having obtained all the information he could, sent Captain O'Donaho, 47th regiment, his aid-decamp, to retire the troops, and towards the evening returned to town.
Thursday, 19. At nine o'clock the enemy, to the amount of four thousand, marched through the pass of Port-llana, and remained on the hills, near the convent of La Luz. About fifteen hundred cavalry came into the plain, and pushed 20 forward to a small bridge, on the west, a short distance from the town; but seeing a strong picquet of the 87th regiment, posted on a rising ground, they retired rapidly to La Luz. Our cavalry being sent out to oppuse them, pursued them to the woods near La Luz, when much skirmishing took place.
Major King went out to inake a reconnoissance this morning, but General Copons, who commanded the cavalry, seeing the enemy in great force, withdrew the cavalry. One of our hussars was severely wounded, and two of the Spanish hussars killed.
The enemy took possession, towards evening, of the surrounding hills, and lighted above 150 fires, for the purpose, it is supposed, of misleading our gun-boats, who, under the command of Captain Carrol, royal navy, kept up a brisk fire of round shot and grape, at the pass of Lapena, and at the hills near the beach. Meantime a working party of the enemy were engaged in constructing a battery, en barbet, against our gun-boats, which, under the command of Lieutenants Rooke and Cobb, of the navy, much annoyed them, wbile endeavouring to clear away the blockade, at the pass of Lapena, and in forming a road for their ordnance.
Major King reinforced Santa Catalina with 50 men, a guard of 40 were placed over the guns, and the artillerymen were ordered to remain during the night with their guns. The piquets, both cavalry and infantry, were doubled, with orders to fall back as soon as necessary. Half the garrison, including the officers, were ordered to sleep dressed and accoutred. Captain Campbell, at the convent, was placed particularly on the alert. Seventy marines, under Captain Thompson, royal marines, landed from his Majesty's ship Stately, and were placed on the island, under the command of Major King.
Friday, 20. This morning, at day light, the company of the 95th, under Cautain Jenkins, the light companies of the 47th and 87th regiments, with the brigade of guns, under Captain Hughes, of the royal artillery, sallied, with the picquets in reserve, under command of Major Broad, 47tb regiment; and, notwithstanding a severe fire from the enemy's field pieces, kept them
Journal oj the Sirge of Tarija. in check, while our field artillery did great execution. Our troops retired gradually, pressed by superior numbers, the enemy moving forward in two columns; one column to the amount of three thousand, pursued the Algeziras road, extending their chasseurs as far as the sea, to the eastward of the town. Another column of about two thousand, extended to the westward. Our cavalry, riflemen, light companies, and artillery, were withdrawn gradually to the rising ground, to the north-east, when the two columns uniting to the north-west, and still advancing, the whole of our troops retired within the walls, with the exception of a few Spanish tirailleurs, who did great execution from behind the aloe hedges, below the walls. These also retired towards evening, on which the enemy's cavalry advanced with great boldness, but were suddenly put to flight by a volley of musketry from the piquets of the 47th regiment, under the command of Major Broad.
During all this manæuvring of the enemy, and as they continued to draw their line of circumvallation closer, they were much annoyed by the bursting of several shells, from two ten-inch mortars on the island, directed by Lieutenant Rube, royal artillery. These shells were seen to do terrible execution, and the enemy must bave suffered severely from theni, one of them having burst in the centre of a column.
The enemy had two howitzers, and one four pounder, which they placed behind a hedge; and, by the bursting of a shell from one of them, one artillery driver, and eight artillery horses were killed.
Captain Hughes, on his part, blew up an ammunition box, wbich slackened their fire for some time; but recovering from this shock, another shell from the enemy killed FOURTEEN Spaniards, who had formed in rear of our guns! The enemy exposed themselves very much towards evening, but seem. ed checked, and, as we afterwards learnt, were much astonished at our obstinacy and perseverance.
A retreat being ordered, the town was closely invested, as the night fell in. The enemy must, however, have suffered considerably from our guns, to which they were, in the course of this day, much exposed. The British lost ore killed, and thirty wounded, of which the 95th ride company lost the one killed, and twelve of the wounded. The Spaniards lost forty. The tirailleurs of the Spaniards were very much exposed, through the whole of the day, to the fire of the enemy's field pieces, and bebaved extremely well.
Saturday, December 21. The guards of the town were ordered to be taken regimentally, and the cominanding officers of each corps sere held responsible for that part of the wall, or works, where their guards were, which was to become their alarm posts.
• The cavalry and staff horses were sent to the island for the purpose of being embarked the first opportunity. At day-light, the company of the 95tb, and the flank companies of ihe 47th and 87th regiments sallied, and advan.' ced three hundred paces in front of ibe nortb-east side of the town, and drove in the advanced piquets of the enemy. Shortly after, they were ordered by
Journal of the Siege of Tarija. Colonel Sker rett to retire, which they effected without loss. The guns on the island played the whole day on the enemy's lines, and did great executivn; the men were busily employed in throwing up traverses, and also in making, on the east side of the island, beds for two ten-inch mortars, which had arrived from Gibraltar. Through the whole of this night, many shot and shells were throwo towards the enemy.
Sunday, 22. This morning, before day-break, by the direction of Major King, the light company of the 11th regiment, sallied froni its position at Santa Catalma, and dislodged a French piquet from a small house on the sea-beach to the westward. They killed 11 men of the 16th Legère, and took one serjeant prisoner. They had two men slighty wounded
This affair calling up the whole regiment of the 16th Legère, which kept the enemy's right flank, Captain Wren was obliged to retire. The advance of the Freuch regiment, in its turn, called out our flank companies, with one light six-pounder, under the command of Lieutenant Haines, royal artillery, and they advanced, and drove the French regiment from a strong position, which it had taken up in front of the convent, and tbreatened to take possession of the west hill, near the town. This movement brought out the whole of the enemy's line, who exposed themselves very much to the fire of our guns, which, directed by Captain Mitchell, royal artillery, did great execu“, tion. The gun-boats, at that moment lying off the western coast, must also have much annoyed them. We had one man killed, and three wounded. In this contest, Colonel Gough, of the 87th regiment, led on his flank companies.
The serjeant, prisoner, on beiug examined by Colonel Skerrett, gave the following intelligence: he said, the advance of the imperial army was commanded by General Leval, and consisted of the 16th, 27th, and 43d regiments of Legère, with a reserve of the 43d, 94th, and 96th regiments of the line : also the 16th, one squadron of the 21st, and one squadron of the 5th light dragoons. He said they had eleven thousand men, and 18 pieces of canvon, long 16-pounders, two of which had passed Lapena on the night of the 20th; also two bowitzers; the whole under the command of Marshal Victor.
The prisoner appeared well informed, and was a native of Toulouse; he intreated not to be given up to the Spaniards. Being asked if he thought bis countrymen would take the town, he replied coldly, “ 'Tis a positive order from Napoleon, our emperor, that we should do so; and he generally provides means adequate to the end." As he was slightly wounded in the head, he was taken to the hospital, and every possible attention paid him.
Monday, 23. Captain Searle, of the Druid, and Captain Carroll, royal navy, commanding the flotilla, surveyed the coast on the island, for the purpose of procuring a place for our embarkation, should we be obliged to
evacuate both town and island. We had good' information, that the depôt of mules, limbers, and heavy artillery of the enemy, were behind the pass of Lapena, not having been able to come through. A continual fire of shot VOL. IV, No. 22.
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa. and shell was therefore kept up from the island; and our guns, directed by Lieutenants Robe and Hodges, royal artillery, were well served, and were seen to do great execution. Towards evening, a few Spanish riflemen moved from the convent, and drove in enemy's advanced sentries, but retired at the close of day.
This night, at 10 o'clock, Colonel Skerrett having informed Major King that the enemy intended storming the island and town, made the following disposition. Captain Wren, 11th infantry, was placed on the alert, at Santa Cataliva, and reinforced with 50 inen; a piquet of one captain and fifty men was placed on the causeway, to communicate with Santa Catalina; Captain Carew, 82d regiment, was placed on the left flank of the island, it being cunsidered the most vulnerable point; and Captain Vavasour constructed a temporary work on the pier, and placed two loaded carronades at the entrance. The island, too, was reinforced by 86 men of the 47th regiment, who lined the parapet. The whole lay on their arms till broad day light, when ibe enemy not appearing, they were dismissed.
Tuesday 24th. At day break it was discovered that the enemy had made his approaches within 400 yards, and immediately opposite the north-east tower. A constant fire was kept up during the day, from the towers, and also from the 12-pounders, on the island, annoying their workmen considerably. Many were seen to be carried out of the enemy's trenches, killed or wounded.
Colonel Skerrett ordered the quarter-master to bring all his stores from the town to the island. He also directed the assistant-commissary, Mr. Dubre, to form his depot of provisions there. An express arrived this morning from Cadiz, which conveyed orders to Colonel Skerrett to embark his brigade; and had this order been carried into effect, it would have been a great blow to the united cause, and injurious to the British name and character !
During this night a council of war was held, when Major King, and Cartain Smith, were firm in the opinion, that the town should not be evacuated. A Paysano, who deserted from the enemy, declared that the shot and shells, which had been thrown from the island this day, had killed 200 of the enemy.
'In the course of this day, Colonel Skerrett went to the island, to look out a place of security on the west of it, for the purpose of embarking.
Wednesday, December 25. During the night, the enemy advanced their approaches into the valley, and also broke ground on the bill opposite the east tower, at four hundred yards distance.
An unremitted fire was kept up during the night, from four ten-inch mortars on the island; two baving been landed and placed on beds, in the course of the preceding day, notwithstanding it bad rained incessantly.
The enemy shewed, on the summit of a hill, at regulated distances, pyra. mids of sacks a terre, through which they fired musketry and wall pieces.
Bombardier William Doyle, of Captain Mitchel's company, royal artillery,
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
was wounded by a wall piece, in the left shoulder, and part of the back, and afterwards died of his wound. This man arrived from Cadiz but a few days before the investment, and bad been slightly wouuded at Tarifa the last time it was attacked, when lieutenant-colonel Brown commanded.
A French officer was killed by one of the 95th regiment, while in the act of reconnuitring.
Thursday, December 26. Last night the enemy strengthened his approaches at all points, and advanced 150 yards nearer to the east and north-east lowers. At both places they opened a fire froin a number of wall pieces, which they unreinittingly continued during the day, pouring their bullets over the town. They did little damage, Captain Smith having completely covered the nien from the fire.
At ten o'clock, a column of the enemy was seen moving down to the west Aank, when Colonel Skerrett immediately ordered all the men of the brigade, at work on the island, to return to the town, and also the 24-pounders, and the mortars to keep up a constant fire on the enemy's works; which order was so fully complied with, that Lieutenant Robe, royal artillery, found he had expended an immense quantity of shells, and had only 350 left. Note withstanding a continued heavy rain, the men went on cheerfully with their work, and strengthened greatly the left flank of the island.
Friday, December 27. The enemy continued working at their trenches, and were annoyed in the usual manner from the walls, the towers, and the island, both with cannon and musketry.
In the event of a retreat, the 471h regiment were ordered into the castle, to defend it. The Spanish troops were to form at the sea-gate, and the 87th and 95th, on the ground near their own quarter. The Spanish troops were to retire through the gate first, instantly followed by the 87th regiment; those corps were 10 forin between the sea and Santa Catalina, there to wait for the 47 th regiment, and to be particularly careful not to fire on the troops retiring by the streets. The convent truops, should they not have been retired before, were to join the 87th; or, should they meet with difficulty, were to follow up the troops retiring through the gates. The artillery, after destroying the guns, were to fall in with the 47th, which corps was to prolect their retreat. All the guards were to retreat, on their own corps, when ordered to do so. Major Broad was to have a strong guard, to shut and secure the gate.
The enemy this day rolled down several long 16-pounders from the hill, in front of Mr. Nunez' house.
Saturday, December 28. Notwithstanding a very rainy and tempestuous night, the enemny continued working at their trencbes, but were, as usual, annoyed by the continued fire from the town and island. They advanced their approaches considerably nearer to the east, and north-east towers, under cover of the night, and continued working during the day.
Sunday, December 29. At three o'clock, Captain Wren was directed, by