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these lines had been altogether abandoned, as the position was too extensive, and capable of being turned. The French about this time made various demonstrations against Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos. Upon the side of Alentejo, whenever the enemy moved down from Merida, and showed the heads of their columns, Hill, in pursuance of his instructions, put himself in motion, and marched a little forward; but, in Beira, Lord Wellington never moved at all ; nor could they ever tempt him to betray his dispositions, or disconnect his divisions; and these he had so posted that he knew they could not be troubled or disturbed in that stage of the campaign. Meanwhile the guerillas of Navarre and Biscay, sent reports of the entry of large reinforcements from France ; and, as the spring advanced, the plot, as had been expected, thickened. During this period, Lord Wellington was much and closely occupied in his bureau. There he worked alone, with the simplicity, and common secresy of reserve ; but without the slightest ostentation ; no solemn mystery, no pomp of concealment, and never one look of importance. He commanded the corps of Hill, with as much minute attention to the detail of its movements, as if it had been under his own eye, though it operated far away from him in the south. In like manner he directed every movement throughout the land ; looking upon every road, every stream, and every strong Sierra, from the still observatory of his own mind ; while, as he bent over his maps and plans, he considered the correspondence and reports submitted to him. He answered all important communications with his own hand, and conveyed his instructions with that minute clearness, which precluded the possibility of his being misunderstood. In the month of March, 1810, the British troops effective in the field, did not amount to 22,000 combatants."*
In March, the French under Junot advanced upon Astorga with 12,000 men, they were at first repulsed with the loss of 2,500 troops, but the garrison afterwards capitulated. Junot then marched upon old Castile, and joined the corps which had already commenced operations against the frontier of Portugal. In expectation of a siege, Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida were put in a state of defence, a British Colonel, with 5,000 Portuguese, being appointed governor of the latter. In May, three corps d'armée, called the army of Portugal, had been put uuder Massena, who had acquired the title of the Child of victory;" and it was expected by Napoleon, that his military talents would succeed in subduing the country, and placing it finally under the French yoke. It was said that the crown had been promised him in the event of success. He was followed by 70,000 of the best warriors of France. But among the hills lay the British army, strong in valour and determination, and presided over by the bold and sagacious Wellington. “The British lion was indeed in the way." Massena, in the full expectation that the British would fly before him, ordered his soldiers to carry food with them for 17 days, confidently hoping that by that time Lisbon would be in his possession. When he saw Wellington's army posted on the Sierra de Busaco, and meaning resistance, he said to one of his generals, “I cannot persuade myself that Lord Wellington will risk the loss of his reputation ; but if he does I have him ; to-morrow we shall complete the conquest of Portugal, and in a few days more,
* Sherer's Military Memoirs of the Duke of Wellington.
I shall drown the Leopard.” His rash boasting was soon at an end; he left 5,000 men killed or wounded upon the mountains, and as many more were left disabled at Coimbra. By some mistake, Colonel Trant could not occupy soon enough a circuitous and difficult road by which Massena, after his defeat, was enabled to turn the left of the English position; but entering Coimbra after the French had left it, this officer was enabled to capture the wounded, and hospital stores, and cut off the French supplies.
It is almost incredible, that at this period when Lord Wellington in his difficult position, with a host of enemies to struggle with, should not only have been inadequately supported by the Government at home, but likewise exposed to the mad violence of party-spirit from the opposition. The heart of the nation, however, was still true ; though there were not wanting individuals who said, in their place in Parliament, that the contest was hopeless and should be abandoned, and who seemed to do all they could to weaken the hands of our commander by endeavouring to make it appear that they had lost the confidence of the country. The arguments of Government however triumphed, and measures were taken for strengthening the British army. We have alluded thus briefly and cursorily to this subject, and shall not probably recur to it again ; indeed the same remarks apply to other periods of the contest ; and there can be no doubt that these ebullitions of partizanship had, whenever they occurred unfavourable results; they added confidence to the common enemy, by seeming to indicate a divided people ; they were eagerly taken hold of by Napoleon and exhibited to the French in his mendacious bulletins ; but over all these attacks Wel.
lington triumphed—they only exhibited his great achievements in stronger and brighter relief,—and at the close of the long and brilliant contest he shewed the folly of such real or professed fears, by pointing to the issue of the whole, the honour of Britain unscathed, the Peninsula liberated, and the Corsican despot chained to his solitary rock.
Lord Wellington had foreseen the route the enemy would take, and made his dispositions accordingly. He had taken up his position on the frontier mountains of Beira, in the form of the segment of a circle, of wbich the convex part was presented to the quarter from whence the enemy must approach. The defensive line was nearly thirty miles in extent, but it had this advantage from its circular form, that its several points were distant from each other in proportion to the length of its circumference. Besides, the several posts were very strongly secured by the nature of the ground; and the Coa, with its tributary streams, flowed along the front of the line throughout the greater part of its extent.
Ciudad Rodrigo surrendered after a brief defence, during which the besiegers lost 9,000 men; although the siege went on very near the British arny, Lord Wellington, conscious of the hazard with so large a proportion of his troops half-disciplined and untried, could not yet venture to assume the offensive, and attack an enemy so greatly superior in rombers. He felt how unwise it would be to risk everything for the sake of a temporary triumph ; he had already laid down a plan whereby eventually to rescue Portugal, and however painful the course might be to his own feelings, or likely in the eyes of some to cast a shade over his reputation, he could not feel himself justified in departing from it. Almeiva was the next object of the French ; it was expected
to resist long, as it was well garrisoned and provided; but on the second day the powder magazine blew up, and it was no longer tenable. As Dr. Southey well remarks, “ Throughout the whole of Lord Wellington's career in the Peninsula, the accidents of war have been uniformly against him ; nothing therefore is to be detracted from his merits and carried to the score of fortune."
These successes raised the spirits of the French. Agitation and alarm were likewise felt at home ; Lord Wellington had no precise course marked out for him ; his instructions enjoined caution and defensive operations. Nevertheless with that firmness and confidence which well became him, he hesitated not to take upon himself the responsibility, which the Government had taken care should not, in case of disaster, press upon themselves. Weakness and vaccillation were never discernible in his conduct. : He was ever firm and collected, resolute in purpose, though even those around him might be fainthearted.
The French in their advance carried on that system of cruelty and plunder, which had disgraced their armies in the Peninsula. The most infamous excesses were committed throughout the country. Lord Wellington issued the following proclamation. —“The Portuguese must now perceive that no other means remain to avoid the evils with which they are threatened, but a determined and vigorous resistance, and a firm resolution to obstruct as much as possible, the advance of the enemy into the interior of the kingdom, by removing out of his reach everything that may contribute to his subsistence, or facilitate his progress. The army under my command will protect as large a portion of the country as is possible : but it is obvious that the