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Operations of General Baird's Division.
than the barley, and the contract was for the latter, if it could be procured. A pretence was very soon made that it could not be obtained, and many horses died from the want of it.
The Guards and another brigade had now marched for St. Jago. It seems they were to make three stages of this route, resting one night at Carrol, a very blthy and small village; the second night at Ordenes, consisting of a church and three wretched farm-houses. These stages were about ten miles each; the third, to St. Jago, is about eighteen English miles. The conduct of the officers and soldiers of the Guards was highly to their credit from the time they disembarked; fewer excesses were committed by those men than in any regiment of similar numbers, and their officers preferred sharing with them their quarters, than profiting by the billets offered them. Out of 2,500 men, when they
produces cabbages, and the paddock a kind of pasturage, but the church seems to occupy all their attention; in fact the rapacious jaws of the church devour every thing, and paralize all efforts of industry, whether manufactures or agriculture.
Leaving Sobradlo, the country still continues to have a dreary aspect, till you reach Faodi, a miserable village half way to Lugo. Some officers were quartered at the only house, that had the appearance of a room, and that inhabited by people, mules, figs, and poultry, filthy and smoaky. The entrance to this room is through a hay-loft, and bad but one window with shutters, glass being a stranger to country houses. The owner was a lawyer, or scrivener, and the only man who could write. Like the country towns and villages in Great Britain, this limb of the law occupied the best house of the place ; nor was he at all behind hand in his charges. In short, the lawyer of Favoli is the lawyer of the world; oniy with one difference, this Mount-scrivener had neither pen, ink, or paper in bis house.
On quitting this place, the road continues as bad as heretofore, with the addition of some rocks and stores, which frequeutly oblige the horses to proceed with great caution. In approaching Lugu the country begins to assume a more fertile aspect, and presents a view of a fine river, whose banks are shaded with oak and chesnui. The oak trees in this part of the country are more numerous, and of a larger size, than those before mentioned. Several farın bouses and home-stails, with plenty of cattle, agreeably surprised the troops.
Lugo is a town situated similarly to St. Albans, and about the same size. It is oppressed by having a great number of religious houses; there is a square, two sides of which have piazzas, and a cathedral, but if we except a sort of altar in the centre of a square place, over which is a dome, and a profusion of silver, there is nothiog particularly striking; there are hot baths to 100 degrees of heat, built by the Romans, and which are effectuel remedies for the rheumatism. Lugo is surrounded by a wall, said to have been built 300 years before Christ. It withstocd all the attacks of the Moors, never having been taken by them. At present a small battery would soon shake it to pieces. The country from Lugo is bill and dale, some parts cultivated, but in general barren heath, and a few scattered houses. Half way to Villa França is a small village called Constantine, of the same description as those already mentioved. Villa Frauça is a towo less than Lugn, and contains little worthy of mention. The road from it to Bunbetri is very good, and the country exhibits variety of vine-yards, mountains, woods, valleys and water. On the right of the road, about three leagues over a plain, and passing two villages with Foods of oak, the land fertile, but covered with numerous large stones, is Pontelerado, a better built town than Villa França, but not quite so large; it is dirty and VOL. IV. No. 19.
Operations of General Baird's Division.
were put in motion, they only left twenty sick at Coruuna. Other regiments, not half their numbers, left twice as many.
Whilst on their march, the inclemency of the weather obliged the troops to seek for shelter, and to effect this, many were obliged to proceed four and five miles further, with a miserable prospect of obtaining some kind of covering during a tempestuous night, and then not one thing prepared for them to eat or drink. The other' regiments of the column suffered like distresses, which were certainly brought upon them from negligent conduct somewhere. The words of a distinguished Officer on this subject were as follows:-“I am not willing to fix blame so, atrocious on any particular person. As far as one is able to judge, no blame can attach to the Lieutenant-General commauding, but, I beg to be silent respecting the heads of departments of the staff under his com
ill paved; the inhabitants like those of the other places. Whilst our troops were there, snow covered the tops of the mountains, and altogether exhibited a fine winter season. The river is shallow, but rapid, and runs on a rocky bed. From thence to Astorga the road is partly on the side of mountains. Astorga is a small clay built town, at the commencement of a plain, measurable with the eye. It is alike miserably poor; the inhabitants burn dung for fuel, and the country around, during the time the troops were there, was covered with fog.
The mode of living in Spain is certainly not congenial to that in this country. The first orders take in the morning, either in bed, or soon after they rise, chocolate, with cakes or bread, having first drank some cold water, which is always brought with the chocolate. They dine from eleven to two o'clock, seldom later. The dinner tables are about eight feet wide, and ten long, covered with one large table cloth, and a plateau is generally placed in the centre with figures in wax, and bottles of wine corked, placed round the brim of it. Bread covered with a napkin denotes the place of each of the party. The dinners consist of soups and a variety of dishes, which eucircle the plateau. Each person sitting opposite to a dislı, wbether of meat, fish or vegetable, fills his own plate, carves the contents, and hands it round; so that during the whole time of dinner, if a large party, they are continually pass. ing and repassing plates of different meats, &c. The Spaniards, who are great eaters, fill their plates with something of every sort which passcs. Some of the dishes are palateable to Englishmen, but their meats are covered with oil and garlick. Their soups are good. The meat is generally boiled in large unshapen junks, or in pieces, and mixed with potatoes mished with oil. The Spaniards rarely eat salt or pepper. They seldom use a knife, except in cutting up the contents of the dish next to them. A piece of bread and a fork answers their purpose as to what is in their owo plates. The pastry is particularly good; the fish is a side dish. Generally after the soup are two dishes, one of meat boiled, and boiled fowls together, and the other a sort of stew with sausages, of which garlick is a material ingredient; the vegetables are frequently mixed together.
Strangers eat and drink as they please ; no healths drank, &c. The deserts con. sist of apples, pears, chesnuts, walnuts, dates, prunes and olives. The cloth remains, but napkins on each side of the plateau are taken off, before the desert is introduced.
There is not that reserve or respect observed by the servants who attend the table as in England. They laugh at a joke, set you right where they think you wrong, &c. &c. Both men and maid servants are dirty, slovenly, and awkward.
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
mand. Should this fine army, by the time of its arrival on the scene of action be reduced to one-fourth of its numbers, the system of employing boys at the heads of departments or regiments will be proved, and for which no excuse can be made. For my own part, I consider the life of our brave soldiers of too great an importance to be frittered away by youth, interest, ignorance, or folly.”
The troops were quartered at St. Jago, generally in convents, the officers billetted on private families. The novelty, or possibly a more honourable sentiment, induced the superior orders of the inhabitants to treat the strangers with great hospitality and kindness, loaded them sumptuously, and were disappointed when they found that delicacy prevented the officers living entirely with them. The lower orders, having a different conception of things, would have put two officers in one miserable bed in garrets, but a remedy was effected by a palace belonging to the Duke of -, being opened for their convenience, and a suit of rooms unfurnished were allotted for the reception of officers, who gladly made their beds in their commodious apartments. The stables, which in England would be the cellars, were given up for the horses. A handsome saloon for a dress-room, &c. &c. The soldiers were lodged in the apartme:Its of the convents of different orders of friars. Monks and military jumbled together, cordiality was maintained, and all seemed satisfied with their accommodations.
With much difficulty, patience, and perseverance, the men got provisions and the horses provender, after remaining without almost one whole day; the men had then to dress their meat, and the wood supplied was old trunks of trees, wet and hard. Good humour overcame all those difficulties, and in this early stage of the campaign, a good lesson was learned, viz. for every one to be at all times prepared, if possible, with twenty-four hours provision in their bags.
An order now arrived for the column to march to Lugo. It appeured stroge to many that they should have been obliged to make two sides of the triangle, when one would have placed them at Lugo from Corunna. A report prevailed that the army should march in two columns, the one with artillery by Lugo to Astorga, the other by St. Jago to Orreusa; but a change was made, and the whole column was to march through Lugo.
On the 7th of November the right wing of the 1st battalion of the 1st regimeut of Guards marched for St. Gregorio, the weather extremely wet. The rest of this column followed the same route successively. At St. Gregorio the troops were obliged to encamp, there being no other . mode of sheltering them for the night. It appears extraordinary, but such was the confused state of Spanish government at that period, that no regularity existed for the means of supplying the troops with provisions. Whether this arose from the Spaniards being averse to supply us, or from their natural indolence, or from what cause soever, the
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
allowances were obtained with tbe greatest difficulty. Different reasons were assigned for the tardiness in granting the supplies; some reported that our Spaniards did not want British infantry, only the cavalry, but that our government objected to send the latter alone. Others reported, that the Spaniards never required any military aid from us of men ; others, that Sir Thomas Dyer was told by the Junta of Oviedo to seud them men; but as there did not then exist any Supreme Junta, the other Juntas were not consulted, and a British army was in the country perfectly unknown to them, and totally unexpected.
The army with Sir David Baird reached Lugo on the 15th of November, after a tedious march of four days, and then continued moving forward to Astorga, which was considered as the advanced post. Lord Paget and the cavalry had also arrived at Corunna, and were proceeding to the body of the army; the different columns passed Lugo, and the cavalry and artillery were on the way to it. At this time there was no spare ammunition with the advanced corps, a most unpardonable negligence. Sir John Moore had reached Salamanca with his advanced guard on the 13th of November, and by occupying Zamora, approached the Coruuna army.
The road from Lugo was the great line of communication to Madrid, and of course generally good. Difficulties, however, increased. The English horses, from bad management, or some other cause, were unable to drag the waggons over the roads, and dead horses continually presented themselves on the road side. On commenciug these remarks, I had determined to have avoided entering into circumstances which might attach blame to any particular individpals, but I really should consider myself an unfaithful narrator if I omitted the following observation, which was made by a Staff Officer on his march from Lugo to Villa Frauca. “As our army advanced towards the enemy, it was essentially vecessary there should be abundance of ammuuition. This was neglected, and the officer under whose cognizance this duty was placed, in an explanation, stated that he thought the ammunition had been pushed forward long since; he had been told so, but they deceived him. The insufficiency of the Commissariat Department in the march from Lugo was most conspicuous: Lugo was, on account of its situation and size, fixed upon as a depôt for horses, and a halting place for troops to recover themselves from the fatigues of a march. This depôt was left without a regular Commissary, without any, except Medical, Staff Officer, either to direct in quartering the troops, or to find them provision. Early after, part of the army landed at Corunna ; officers who could speak the Spanish language were appointed as interpreters to the Commissaries. An Officer, a Captain of grenadiers, was pnt in orders, and hurried away by the Assistant-Commissary-General to St. Jago with vagne instructions. On his arrival at St. Jago he was ordered across the country to Lugo, and this gentleman continued at Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
that place, and was the only person who directed the issue of provisions and forage, and the quartering of the troops; fortunately he was an active intelligent Officer, and acyuitted himself highly to his credit; but although he effected improbabilities, much was left undone. I am not willing to accuse any body individually for the misconduct, ignorance, and imbecility of a part; but the Commissariat Department was certainly ill managed. At the halting places, where the wearied soldier expected to find some little comfort, some provision ready on his arrival after a long march, was obliged frequently to go without, and lay himself down any where. If arrangements had been made, no one was present to see them executed. All was left to the alcade,—the furnishing provisions to hungry soldiers, the forage for the cattle,—all was left to a slothful, ignorant, and frequently knavish Spaniard. It appears to me that they have acted on theoretic knowledge."
Part of the road from Lugo to Villa Franca is hilly. On leaving Coustantine, a small village about half way, the troops had to ascend a hill, at least four miles in length, and generally steep. Eight horses were obliged to be yoked to each artillery and ammunition waggon, and, by dint of exertion and time, contrived to reach Herrereas, a small village, four leagues distant from Constantine.
About the 18th of November the position of the army, with the advance somewhat beyond Astorga, and a tail of troops reaching to Corunda (upwards of one hundred miles), became a matter of serious moment. No accounts had for some time been received from Cieneral Blake ; and the British army had reason to expect he would not merely maintain his situation, having got Burgos and Billoa, but act offensively against the French army. On this day an express arrived from the advanced post, with information that the French, with 23,000 infantry, and 2,000 cavalry, had, by a forced march, attacked Blake, and completely defeated him, dispersed his army, and were in possession both of Burgos and Bilboa, and that the French were pushing for Valladolid, seventy miles from Salamanca. On the 13th Sir John Moore was informed that the French had possession of the last-mentioned city; on the 15th he had learnt the defeat of Count Belvedera's army, amounting to upwards of 12,000 meu ; on the 16th th-.t of General Blake, and on the 21st the remaining Spanish army under General Castanos was routed at Tudela. The French forces in Spain, at this period, amounted to 73,000 men, and great reinforcements were expected.
About the 24th, a sudden change took place ; tlie retreat of Sir David Baird's army was hastily formed from Astorga. The next day all description of troops and stores were halted, and directed to continue in statu quo; another twenty-four hours brought directions for the cavalry to advance, and take up, by forced marches, their original route. Sir John Moore had received intelligence that the French were advancing on Madrid, and that the capital had taken up arms, and refused to capi