Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Memoir of the Operations in Estremadura, in 181).

short time kept pessession of it. The ladders, however, were again too short, the enemy having again cleared away the rubbish, upon which our men had expected to ascend. Captain Budd was wounded and taken prisoner with bis brave companions; and Major-General Houston, seeing how much they suffered, gave orders that they should retire, which they did in good order, but with the loss of their leader and several other officers.

No troops could behave with greater heroism than the Portuguese in both these attacks ; and the service of the batteries of the right bank of the Guadiana (the Elvas bank), was entirely conducted by their artillery, and with great success. Lord Wellington accordingly gave them great praise in his official reports. Major-General Hamilton, and the division under his orders, were mentioned with great distinction.

During these operations, Soult, who had retired to Seville, after the battle of Albuera, was busied in collecting, in the Estremadura, the whole French force in the centre and south of Spain.

Drouet's corps was brought from Toledo; Marmont was moved down from Castile, and several battalions drawn off from the blockade of Cadiz. Lord Wellington, therefore, turned the siege of Badajoz into a blockade, and took post, with the greater part of his army, at Albuera, ou the 13th of June. On the same day, the enemy's advanced guard, of about 10,000 men, arrived at Los Santos. On the 17th Lord Wellington quitted Albuera, crossed the Guadiana (raising the blockade of Budajoz), and took up a strong position between Elvas, Campo Major, and Arronches. As Marinont moved from Castile towards Estremadura, in order to form his junction with Soult, Sir Brent Spencer, who had been left on the Coa, also altered his position, and kept in a parallel direction with the Freuch columns. When the enemy crossed the Tagus at Almoraz, Sir Brent crossed to the same side with them at Villa Velha, and shortly afterwards joined Lord Wellington, as Marmont joined Soult.

On the ed of June the enemy advanced forty squadrons of his cavalry. and some field-pieces, for the purpose of making a reconnoisance; but although they carried off a piquet of the 11th Dragoons, commanded by Captain Lutyens, yet on the appearance of the British and Portuguese cavalry, the French retired without having seen the position of the Allied Ariny, the right of which rested upon Elvas, the line extending along a ridge, intersected by the sinall river Caya, towards the fortress of Campo Major, in which the 7th division of the army was quartered. The main body of the Allied Army was in huts.

Whilst Soult, however, was thus assembling the whole French force in Spain, to consolidate it against Lord Wellington, bis Lordship had prepared a plan upon his part, which now had its effect. It had been arranged by his Lordship, that as Sonlt advanced with this immense force upon the allied army, that Blake with his corps should avail biinself of the opportunity to endeavour to get rouud his flanks, and proceed with all dispatch for Seville, from which city Soult had drawn all the troops ; So well was this measure concerted, and in part executed, that Blake was at Castellegos before Soult was aware that he was in his rear. Soult now deemed it time to consider of his own safety, and had the Spaniards acted with more vigour, the success would have been undoubted. As it was, Soult seat a considerable detachment against them, and shortly afterwards followed himself..

In the beginning of July the consolidated French army separated as rapidly as they had assembled; they left 5000 men in Badajoz (the present garrison), and then went into cantonments ; Soult, to Seville ; Marmont, to Truxillo; and Regnier, in Merida.

Memoir of the Operations in Estremadura, in 1811.

The British and Portuguese aroy continued in camp till the 24th of July, and then moved into quarters; the Commander of the forces, and the heads of departments in Portalegre. In the beginning of August Marmont repassed the Tagus, and established himself in Placentia, upon which the British army, following him in a parallel direction, recrossed the river at Velha Villa, and Lord Wellington fixed his headquarters at Fueute Guinaldo, about seven miles from Ciudad Rodrigo ;, and here ceased the operations in Estremadura during the late campaigu. There is every appearance, however, that this province will be the main, if not the sole scene of the present campaign.

With respect to the siege of Badajoz, and the time and manner of its fall, the best inethod of enabling your readers to form a judgment will he by subjoining the usual routine of such sieges.—This routine is as follows:

Field-works of a Siege. Ist niglit.--Dig within 600 yards of the peak of the covered way, the first parallel with the lines of communication to the depôts; finish in the day the works of the night. This measure to be pursued during the whole of the siege.

2d night. -- Begin the ricochet batteries, and the lines of communication in advance of the first parallel : continue the work of the bat, teries.

sd night.-Push forward the trenches of the former night; finish the baiteries, and play them off by day.

4th night.–Establish the second parallel, at 300 yards from the place.

5th night.-Advance from the second parallel by zigzags, which are to be prolonged to within 150 yards of the covered way.

6th night.-Make three demi-places of arms, where are to be constructed the howitzer batteries agaiust the covered way.

7th night.-Commence the demi-places of arms by sap; fire off the howitzers by day.

8th night.-Push on the saps, and finish the zigzags by the beginning of the third parallel, within 60 yards of the covered way.

9th night.-Finish the third parallel at the flying sap, and proceed from it towards the covered way, in a double and straight sap..

10th night.-Construct by sap the cavalier trenches, within 30 yards of the covered way.

11th night.-Proceed from the cavaliers by sap, and crown the saliant angles of the covered way: commence the construction of the counterbatteries.

12th night.--Crown the salient angles of the re-entering places of arms of the covered way: work at the breach batteries.

13th night.-Descend into the covered way ; finish the counter and breach-batteries ; commence the descent of the ditch, and begin the breast-work against the fire of the flank of the opposite bastion : fire from all batteries by day.

15th night-Finish the passage of the ditch, and continue to fire, in order to render the breaches practicable.

16th night.-Recomotre the breaches hy intelligent sappers, after which continue firing during the whole night, to prevent the besieged from appearing there whilst the sappers are cleaning out the bottom of the breaches. At day-break assault all the breaches. Thus, the 16th day of open trenches, a place ought to be in the situation of being carried by storm, if the works of the siege are well directed and well executed. Badajoz therefore may be expected to fall about the 7th of this month (A prii), the treiches having been opened on the 20th of March.

Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.

OPERATIONS OF SIR DAVID BAIRD'S DIVISION,

IN THE CAMPAIGN OF 1808 AND 1809.

The following Narrative is composed from Letters written by Officers

employed in the Expedition to Spain, but principally from those of an Oficer on the Staff under Sir David Baird, to whose movements they principally refer; with a description of the conduct of the Spaniards in the advance and retreat of that division of the Army, and of the dress, customs, places, &c. in Galicia.

THE movements of the French Emperor in 1807, after having subjected for a time the principal part of the Continent of Europe, were directed to the subjugation of Portugal and Spain. A demand was made on the former, that she should relinquish the possession of her fleet, pay a contribution of four millions of crusades, and totally exclude from her ports British vessels and commerce. To these terms the Prince Regent of Portugal conceded. On the 22d of October, 1807, he proclaimed his union in the cause of Buonaparte, and on the 8th of the following month sequestered all British property. This weak con'duct and tame submission to the mandates of the Emperor were not sufficient, and from the advances which were made by the French army to the frontiers of Portugal, it became very apparent that his intention was to take possession of that country.

On the 18th of November, the French army entered Portugal, under the command of General Junot, which circumstance at length opened the eyes of the Prince Regent to the true state of his affairs. His wish was iminediately to gain the alliance of Great Britain, and a treaty of amity was signed by himself and Lord Strangford, our Minister in Portugal. On the preparations of the treaty being concluded, the Prince Regent determined to quit his kingdom; and having appointed a Regency, embarked on the 27th of November, 1807, for the Brazils.

Ou the 1st of February, 1808, General Junot assumed the government of Portugal, declaring at the same time by a decree, that the Prince Regent had renounced his sovereignty. Heavy taxes were immediately imposed, a great per centage on which became the property of the General. This measure, and the rapine which was universally practised, induced the Portuguese to revolt, and on the 18th of June they defeated the garrison of Oporto. At this critical period, Great Britain, whose object was to prevent an independent stats and free people from falling into the grasp of Buonaparte, dispatched an army under the command of Lord Wellington, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, to Portugal, who arrived at Figueras, in that country, early in August. A complete little army had been sent from England, under the command

YOL, IV. No, 19.

Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.

of Major-General Spencer; but whatever might have been its original destination, that General was directed to proceed to Cadiz, and from thence was ordered to join Sir Arthur Wellesley, which junction took place on the 7th of August. Major-General Anstruther was also sent from England with 5000 men, and reached Portugal in time to take part in the well-fought battle of Vimiera, on the 21st of August. Sir Harry Burrard arrived at the close of the battle, when the enemy were at all points defeated, and driven from the field, and superseded Sir Arthur in the command. He immediately ordered that the pursuit which had commenced should be discontinued, and thus prevented the complete surrender of the whole army. I conceive that this order arose from Sir Harry Burrard being ignorant that Sir Arthur had a reserve of 8000 British troops who had not been engaged, and which additional force, according to the opinion of some French Generals, would have been competent to cut off the retreat of the enemy, and obliged them to surrender at discretion. Soon after, General Kellerman came in with a flag of truce. Military operations were suspended ; negociations commenced. A convention was concluded on the 30th of August, and was ratified by Sir Hew Dalrymple, who had arrived as Commander-inChief on the 31st. This convention provided for the conveyance in British transports to the nearest French port, the French army, baggage, ammunition, arins, horses, artillery, &c. &c. So unprecedented a capitulation occasioned the recall of Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry Burrard, and Sir Arthur Wellesley, and the command of the army devolved on Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, who had been sent out as third in command, with an additional force, but who did not ara rive till after the battle of Vimiera,

The noble and glorious efforts at first made by the Spanish nation to get rid of French thraldom and the race of Corsicans, called forth the generosity and spirit of the British nation, aud the general sentiment was to give them every aid possible. Arms, ammunition, and money, were poured into Spain, and an offer of troops also made. To a people ignorant of warfare, and unprepared for attack, all were acceptable. Many thousand dollars were shipped off for Spain, and vessels freighted with cannon, ammunition, and arms. The Spanish military being undisciplined, and untutored in the art of war, doubts, founded upon the highest authorities, were entertained whether it could be ever brought to such a state of discipline, as to be depended upon in conjunction with British troops. Nevertheless, Great Britain determined on hecoming principals in the arduous contest; and Government having resolved on sending an expedition into Spain, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore was appointed to the command of it.

Another army was therefore assembled under the command of Sir David Baird at Cork, and joined a force collected at Falmouth, toge

Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.

ther about 12,000 men, with artillery, and on the 9th of October they set sail.

I must here remark, that ainongst the variety of difficulties which arise in dispatching an army on foreign service, one arose in that of Sir David Baird's, which certainly should in future be prevented. When this force was assembled, and according to all appearances ready to sail, no mode of conveyance was pointed out for the accommodation of Lieutenant-General Sir David Baird and the other General Officers. There were at this time two frigates and a sloop of war at anchor, as convoy to the fleet of transports, the Captains of which rather demurred to volunteer the accommodations they might have afforded, and certainly on a principle of justice to themselves ; for however well and amply Government provided for the comforts of those of their servants who are domestically employed, the Officers of the Navy and Army are much restrained in their stipends. Subsequently the Captains of the Navy had no objection to increase their own expences, by finding a table for six or eight additional visitors; but as the service certainly demanded that the General in Chief should be with the Commander of the Fleet, it was the duty of Government to have directed the naval Captains to receive the General Officers, and an ample allowance should have been made, to enable them to support the additional expence. At length an understanding took place, aud the General Officers, with the Staff Offcers, were accommodated to their mutual satisfaction. Favourable weather, and most praise-worthy attention from Captain Schomberg to his charge, brought the fleet to an anchor in the harbour of Corunna, on the inorning of the 14th of October. A few ships were missing, but those soon after came into the harbour where the Tonnant was at anchor, the ship of Rear-Admiral De Courcy.

It did not appear that the Junta of Curuuna was at all prepared for the arrival of this army. An express was sent off to Madrid, to the Supreme Junta, for directions ; and the Champion, one of the convoy, was dispatched to Sir John Moore, at Lisbon, for a similar purpose. The General Officers landed, and occupied apartments, which they obtained with some difficulty. Various were the reports circnlated respecting the destination and movements of this army. A few days produced an order for it to proceed eastward, but difficulties respecting the attainment of provisions and forage retarded the operation of landing; and the Commander found he had to do with a Junta who either could not or would not assist in facilitating the object of his wishes, a debarkation of the troops.

The Junta of Corunna* consists of representatives from the different towns in Galicia ; they compose the executive government of the pro

Corupna nearly embraces a most commodious and safe harbour, formed by a body of rock projecting to the bay, on which is a castle well supplied with cannon.

« ForrigeFortsett »