« ForrigeFortsett »
portance of this place to his future to assail the ravelin of St Rocque. operations ; and although he was sen- Major General Colville, with the resible that the resistance of a numerous mainder of the fourth, and the light garrison, commanded by one of the division, was to attack the bastions of most able engineers in the French ser. La Trinedad and Santa Martha. The vice, and entrenched behind works conduct of a false attack was commit. which his skill had contrived, threat. ted to Lieutenant-General Leith, with ened a severe loss to the assailants, he instructions to turn it into a real one wisely reflected that this loss would should circumstances prove favoura. still be inferior to that which his ar ble. my must sustain in conducting the About ten o'clock in the evening of siege and fighting a general battle at the 6th of April, Lieutenant-Genethe same time. The event amply ral Picton set out on his arduous enproved the sagacity which guided his' terprise. He crossed the river after determination.
some resistance, and in the short space He directed the operations of the of an hour and a half was master of siege in person. By the middle of the castle of Badajoz. Major Wilson, March, Badajoz was completely in- with 200 men, carried the ravelin of vested, the first parallel having been St Rocque ; but the resistance which formed within 200 yards of the out the light division met with was more work called La Picorina. General Sir serious They advanced to the coverThomas Graham moved Santa ed way, descended into the ditch, and Martha ; Sir Rowland Hill proceed- proceeded to storm the breaches ; but ed to Merida, and compelled Drouet such were the obstacles of all kinds to retire. Generals Graham and Hill which the contrivance of the enemy were without interruption allowed to had thrown in the way, that although occupy the whole line formerly held the assault was often resumed, they by Drouet, and thus effectually to were unable to establish themselves in separate Marmont and Soult for the the place. The false attack, however, present. On the 19th of March the under General Leith, was converted garrison made a sortie against the into a real one ; and the besiegers haright of the British works, but were ving entirely succeeded at all other instantly repulsed with considerable points, the light division was drawn loss by Major General Bowes. On off. Both the castle and the town the 25th the besiegers fired into the , were in possession of the British. The place at a distance of about 200 yards; French governor, with his staff, retired and on the very same day carried into Fort St Christoval, and surrenderFort Picorina by storm, and put the ed on the following day. The garrigarrison to the sword.— The progress son, which amounted originally to which had thus been made was unex- 5000 men, had lost 1200 killed and ampled in the history of sieges. By wounded in the previous operations, the 6th of April no less than three besides those who perished in the as. breaches had been made, which were sault. The British and Portugueze considered practicable; and the storm- sustained a loss of about 809 killed ing of the place was immediately de. and 2000 wounded ; a loss which termined on. Lieutenant-General Pic. might be thought considerable, if the ton, with the third division, was or- value of the service, and the rapidity dered to attack the castle of Badajoz of the operations, were not fairly esby escalade. Major Wilson, with a de. timated. —Thus had the British army, tachment from the fourth division, was in the short space of one month, re
duced a great fortress, improved by besieged by the English, Dutch, and all the resources of art, and defended Portuguese troops, under the comby a strong garrison. The French, mand of an ancestor of a noble lord with great difficulty, wrested it from whom he had in his eye. A most galthe Spaniards even when nothing hadlant effort was made on that occasion ; been done to strengthen the works, and had it not been for particular cirand when the besieged were under the cumstances, it would in all probabiliguidance of a man remarkable both ty have been successful ; but in fourfor his folly and cowardice.
teen days from the opening of the This astonishing exploit was, like trenches, the attempt was unavoidably the former, rewarded by the thanks given up as hopeless. In the course of parliament. The able and perspic of the present war in the peninsula, cuous oration of the Earl of Liver. also, Badajoz had been considered as pool, on moving a vote of thanks in an object of the greatest military imthe House of Peers, deserves to be re- portance. Their lordships might recorded as an admirable comment on member, that in the early part of the this great achievement.
last year, the place was attacked by The Earl of Liverpool, in calling the French under the command of their lordships' attention to this gal. Marshal Soult. They broke ground lant exploit, said, “ It was hardly ne- on the 3d February, and met with a cessary for him to observe, that the most gallant resistance on the part of operation combined in itself the two the governor and the troops under his circumstances which had always been
The resistance would, in considered as constituting the best ti. all probability, have been effectual, or tle to the honour of their lordships' the capture of the place would have at thanks,-first, the importance of the least been so long delayed, as to have object, and next, the magnitude of the contributed essentially to ultimate suceffort. If they looked at the military cess in the contest, had not the
gohistory of Badajoz in this as well as vernor most unfortunately died early in former wars in the peninsula, they in the month of March; and whether would find, that, situated on the south from the misconduct of his successor, west frontier of Spain, this fortress or from some more serious cause, on had always been regarded as an object the 11th of March the fortress capiof primary importance. In former tulated. But even here it was to be wars it had stood many severe sieges ; observed, that the French under the and it was somewhat singular, that the able, experienced leader whom he had efforts then made to reduce it had ne- mentioned, had not made themselves ver been successful. In the 1658, masters of the place till after a siege when the struggle for Portuguese in of thirty-six days. At a subsequent dependence took place, this fortress period, their lordships knew Badajoz was deemed an important object for had been attacked by Lord Wellingthe Portugueze, and it was according- ton when the French collected their ly attacked with vigour. The Portu. troops from all quarters of the peninguese were more than four months in sula. Their northern army, which prosecuting the siege—they lost half they called the army of Portugal, the their army, and, after all, the at. southern army, the troops employed tempt proved unavailing, and the en- in the eastern parts of the peninsula, terprise was abandoned. In the war and detachments from the garrison of of 1705, generally known by the name Madrid, all assembled to force the alof the Succession War, Badajoz was lied army to raise the siege, or risk a
general battle for the protection of its noble effort, it was impossible for any operations. With such a force ad. heart not to feel a glow of admiration vancing against him, Lord Wellington at the skill and decision of the comdid not feel it prudent to continue the mander, and the gallantry of the offi. siege and give battle to the enemy at cers and troops. The conduct of Ge. the same time ; and therefore, with the neral Picton had inspired a confidence greatest judgment and propriety, re- in the army, and exhibited an example solved to abandon the place. The of science and bravery, which had been siege could not then have been renew- surpassed by no other officer. His ex. ed till the month of June, a season of ertions in the attack on the 6th could the year when, from the unhealthiness not fail to excite the most lively feel. of that part of the country, the ope. ings of admiration. It appeared that rations could not have been carried on three practicable breaches had been without great loss.
made, that the enemy had expected “ In the present year, after the cap- the attack to be made by these ture of Ciudad Rodrigo, Lord Wel. breaches, and had employed everv im. lington determined with the first op. aginable means for effectual resistance. portunity to direct his efforis against That resistance (he had this from an Badajoz. It was fairly to be contem- eye-witness) was one of the most forplated, that the French would do every midable efforts that had perhaps ever thing in their power to obstruct these been made in any war. Their lord. sieges; and, therefore, it was an ob- ships, indeed, might judge of the naject of the utmost importance to get ture of that effort, when they consipossession of the fortresses in as short dered its effect upon troops certainly a time as possible from the commence- not liable to be deterred by difficulties ment of the operations. Their lord. in the execution of hazardous en ships had already had an opportunity terprize, whatever might be the obstaof expressing their opinion upon the cles to be surmounted. On the one siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. That place hand, General Picton, and on the other had been taken with a rapidity altoge. General Walker, had succeeded by ther unparalleled, and utterly astonish- escalade, at the extremities of the ing even to the enemy, whose com- place. It was impossible to contemmander had calculated that he would plate without admiration, the conduct have been in time enough for its relief, of the latter attack, which was only if he arrived there at a period, which designed as a feint at first, to be turnturned out to be nine or ten days sub- ed into a real attack afterwards, if cir. sequent to the date of its capture. cumstances should allow. That divi. The exertions made in the siege of sion had got into the fortress by escaBadajoz were not less extraordinary lade, where there was no breach, and than those which distinguished the at- in the face of a strong bastion. It was tacks upon Ciudad Rodrigo. Their impossible to contemplate this occur. lordships had seen the proofs of the rence without feeling it due to Genestrenuous resistance made on that oc. ral Walker to say,and a higher casion, of the difficulties encounter- praise could not well be bestowed, ed in the course of the siege ; but,
that his conduct had sustained the renotwithstanding every opposition, in putation which he had acquired on twelve days from the opening of the former occasions. He hoped he would trenches, the place was in the posses- live to give his country the benefit of sion of the British army. In looking
those farther services which he had at the circumstances attending this proved himself so capable of render
ing. This was the officer who had the race of
officers that were distinguished himself so highly at the rising under the auspices and Command battle of Vimiera, where he command of the distinguished leader of the comed the 50th regiment, and maneuvred bined armies. Here was a body of it in such a manner as to defeat the officers forming under Lord Welling, efforts of a body of the enemy five ton, which would constitute a shield times the number of his own troops. of strength, such as had, perhaps, neSo conspicuous had been his merit on ver before existed in
other counthat occasion, that the French general try, or indeed in this, on any former who was then taken, without know. occasion. Having said thus much of ing who General Walker was, earnest- the gallant exploit for which he called ly desired to be introduced to him, for their lordships' thanks, and of the stating that he had done what he had merits of those concerned in it, he felt never seen done before in any battle. it impossible not to touch on the loss He thought it due to General Walker' which our army had sustained. On to advert to this circumstance, and he that subject there could be but one, had only farther to say, that the vi- feeling in the House, and in the coun. gour, promptitude, and spirit, which' try at large. But he hoped the friends this excellent officer had displayed at and relatives of those who so gloriousVimiera, were at least equalled by his ly fell would derive consolation from conduct in the attack of Badajoz. It the fame of the illustrious dead; from would be in vain to attempt to parti- the reflection that they had had percularize the conduct of other officers formed the most eminent service to where all had so eminently distinguish their country, and that if they had ed themselves. The public dispatches fallen, they fell not in vain. They had must have apprised their lordships of died in a glorious cause, under a comthe gallant conduct of Generals Col. mander who was regarded by the army ville, Kempt, Bowes, and the other with the most enthusiastic admiration, officers concerned in this gallant en- and in the discharge of a duty the most terprize. There was one circumstance, essential for promoting the farther however, which he must not omit to success of the war. In looking at this mention, as it was worthy of particu- part of the subject as a parliament and lar observation. It happened, that, a nation, they must have observed, that owing to the indisposition of some there was no point of Lord Wellingother officers, the command of a most ton's conduct more remarkable than important division of the troops, the his anxiety on all occasions to spare light division, fell upon a young officer, the lives of the men under his comnot above the rank of lieutenant colo- mand as much as possible. He had nel. This was Colonel Barnard, whose had an opportunity of knowing more conduct had been spoken of with the fully than most others, that it was the admiration which it deserved. He was ruling principle of his conduct, never induced by several considerations to to endeavour to gain by a battle that advert to this circumstance. He men- which he could gain without it. This tioned it because he had the honour to was a proper principle on all occasions, know this gallant officer, and was and under all circumstances; but more proud that he had had an opportunity particularly with regard to this counof so highly distinguishing himself. try. Their fordships had seen how But he mentioned it chiefly with ano- perseveringły Lord Wellington had ther and more important view,—that acted on this principle in the operaof calling their lordships' attention to tions at Torres Vedras. His language
then was this," I have an opportu- order to be secure, must combine with nity of attacking the enemy with a that strength all the advantages of art full confidence of success ; but I think and science The operation now under I can accomplish my purpose without consideration could not fail to suggest it, and therefore I shall not expose the the remarks which he had just made. lives of my men to unnecessary ha. On all occasions, indeed, British troops zard.” On other occasions Lord'Wel- had shewn the most distinguished and lington had acted on the same princi- pre-eminent valour in the field, but in ple. The attainment of the present the course of the last century they had object had been indeed attended with been but little accustomed to the scigreat loss to the British army; but it ence of attack upon fortified places. ought to be recollected, that nothing If they had still been defective in that was more to be avoided than a pro species of warfare therefore, we ought tracted operation; and even with a not to have been disheartened, we view to the preservation of the lives of ought to have known that our soldiers the soldiers, as well as to the ultimate would, from experience, acquire this success of the war, the attack upon art if essentially necessary; but we had Badajoz ought to be considered as a the satisfaction to find, from the atmost judicious enterprize. The loss tacks upon Ciudad Rodrigo and Baought to be compared with the mag- dajoz, that if our troops were the best nitude of the object ; and in this view in Europe in the field, which he supit would be found to be less in the pre. posed none would dispute with us, sent instance than in many operations they were also not less formidable in at the most distinguished period of our attacks
It was military history. If their lordships well known what resistance these would look at the operations under places were capable of making, and the Duke of Marlborough, they would had made, against other forces; and it find that at the siege of Lisle the al- was known, also, that before the Bri, lied armies had lost 12,000 men ; at tish army, under Lord Wellington, the siege of Douay, 8000; at the siege Ciudad Rodrigo had fallen in eleven of Aire, 7000 men; and at the siege days, and Badajoz in twenty. All this of Toulon, where they failed, 13,000 must afford peculiar satisfaction to The loss in an attack such as those who looked
course of that on Badajoz might indeed be se- the war in the peninsula as affording vere ; but, however much to be re- the best hopes of ultimate success in gretted, it must be regarded as in all the contest. They must feel the high probability less than that of a pro- importance of this operation : and even tracted siege. There was one other to those who doubted, or thought difpoint to which he was desirous of call. ferently, if any now did so, it must ing their lordships' attention before appear a great advantage. They could he concluded. Their lordships must not but see what strength it afforded have observed with peculiar satisface for the defence of the country, if the tion, that the military operations of battle were to be fought on our own this country had, within these few ground, in the discipline and skill years, assumed an entirely new charac- which must be acquired in the course
This he said without by any of these operations, by such a British means undervaluing its efforts in for- army, under such a leader.” He conmer wars; but such was now the state cluded by moving, “ The Thanks of of the world, that in addition to the House to the general, the officers, strength and resources, a nation, in and troops, in the usual manner.”