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Examination for Commissions. tu Victoria and Tudela, there waiting, in security, for reinforcements; while, if Lord Wellmgton advances first on Madrid, Soult's forces, with those stationed in Valencia, will have no choice, but must retreat into Catalonia.
EXAMINATION FOR COMMISSIONS.
Woolwich, July 15.-SIR, Your correspondent, the non-commissioned officer, has niost completely mistaken the purport of my letter upon military knowledge, inserted in the Military Chronicl for April 1812.
That there is a great want of knowledge among the junior officers of our army is notorious; and it is likewise acknowledged by all, that something should, and that something can be done, to wipe off the reflection cast upon us by foreigners, “ that we have few officers who understand their profession, except those who have been educated in the French or German academies ;" and that, we pay more attention to the formation of good soldiers, than good officer's."
Under this impression it was, that I addressed you on the subject, and stated what my ideas were, expressing a wish that some of your correspondents would improve upon what I bad suggested; but, in the succeeding number of the Chronicle, though I found a letter in answer to mine, yet it was far from being such a letter as I sought for; for instead of improving, it merely found fault with my plan; acknowledging that something should be done, without stating what ought to be done.
Your correspondent begins his objections by a round assertion, that if my plan was carried into effect, a sufficient number of qualified persons would not be found 10 fill up the vacancies which occur in the army. This is an assertion without proof. It must be obvious to every clear-sighted person, that the reason of our not having a sufficient number of qualified candidates is, because there is no regulation in force, which says the applicant must be qualified in certain given points, before he can obtain a commission; and, notwithstanding all my antagonist's arguments, I am fully persuaded, ibat if even my very objectionable plan was carried into effect, government would be under no necessity of having recourse to unqualified persons to fill up the vacancies which would occur. in ne laiter part of his letter he agrees
“ that no person ought to be appointed to a situation in the army, beyond that of ensign, without his proving, to the satisfaction of persons appointed to examine him, that he possesses the necessary qualificaunus." May I be permitted to ask, what objection there can be to this examination taking place previous to any commission being granted at all? If there is any objection to the one, it must apply to the other.
Examination for Commissions. He observes, likewise, that the proposed rlan “ for ever closes the door of promotion upon the militia vilicer, and ibe non-commissioned officer of regulars.". With respect to the officers of iniliiia, I should like to be informied, in what respect the proposed plan is likely to prevent those gentlemen froin obtaining commissions? For my own part, I ani so dull that I cannot find out, and, like your correspondent, “ remain to be informed."
In the second page of your correspoudent's letter, he labours very hard to prove that non-commissioned officers are preferable to any other persons, to fill up the vacancies in the army, and adduces as a proof, Lord Wellington's having obtained a great number of commissions for the non-commissioned officers in his army. Here, in a great measure, I agree with him; in point of knowledge in the mana uvres, our pon.commissioned officers (generally speaking) excel those who bold commissions; and, as I should suppose ibeni to be as capable as any other description of persons, of obtaining a knowledge in field fortification, and the methods of forming roads, bridges, &r. I have yet to learn in what respect the proposed plan tends to their disadvantage.
Aly object in proposing the plan was, as I stated it to be, to exclude froin the army, a parcel of young men who enter it merely because they think that wearing a red coat, and carrying a sword, licenses ibein to behave always ridiculously, and too otten, in a most disgraceful manner. If your corresp ou dent had considered this, how could lie possilly suppose that my letter had any reference to non-commissioned officers? lle might have supposed that distinction was to be observed between the one who receives a commission as a reward for his goud conduct, and the olber who obtains it either by his money or interest.
In concluding bis letter, your correspondent observes, “ that by the king's regulation, a subaltern must serve three years before he is eligible to become a captain.” In answer to this, I beg to observe, that where one person obtains a captaincy in four years service, numbers are 12, 14, and 16 years obtaining the same rank: there are now lieutenants in the arıny, who have been such for these last 14 years. I cannot but think this extremely detriinental to the service.
As the plan i proposed in my last letter bas been olijected to, I have altered it, and now beg to present it to your readers. If there are any objections to it now, I should like to see them stated.
I have divided the examination into four parls; the first of which is to take place before the candidate receives his commission; the second before he obtains his lieutenancy; the third prior to his obtaining a captaincy, and the fourth, previous to a majority being granted: after that rank I do not conceive an examination to be necessary.
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
of armies.-General strategy, &c. I have only to add, that any improvement on the above will be a favour. I am, Sir, your very huinble servant,
JOURNAL OF THE SIEGE OF TARIFA.
TUE following journal is so honourable tv Colonel Skerrett and bis brigade*, that we have peculiar pleasure in giving it.
December 2, 1811.–The following order was this day issued :
commanding officer having received information that the enemy is about “ to attack this post, he desires that the detachment may be iu momentary “ readiness to turn out, and assemble at the alarm post, on the bugle sound
ing, turn out the whole."
" In case of alarm, the troops will form in the front of the convent door, in column of companies, left in front, three companies of the 47th regiment will remain to the garrison of the convent, the cavalry will form on the left of the infantry, the artillery on the road immediately on the outside of the town gate, the troops in the town, exclusive of the garrison in the street leading to the gate, will be under arms, and march at seven o'clock to-morrow morning, with their rations of bread.
“ The different marches and evolutions made by those brigades, while a part of the garrison accompanied them, retarding the works on the island, and Lieutenant-general Cainpbell foreseeing the necessity of strengthening the place, directed, that as the completion of the works on the island was of the first importance, the detachment under Major King, and that under Colonel Skerrett, should on no account be cinployed so as to interfere with this object; that men were to be employed from cach detachment, to carry on the works on the island, and in those parts of the town where the chief engineer may deem it necessary, the duty of reconnoissance to be perforu.ed by the cavalry alone, and in the most circumspect inanner, taking every preution to avoid ground from which they can be annoyed by infantry, the senior officers to apply to General Copons for a party of the guerillas, being Well adap ted for this service, from their knowledge of the country."
* Colonel Skerrett's brigade consisted as follows the 2d battalion of the 47th 'regiment, commanded by Major Broad, 570 men strong; the 2d buttalion of the 87th, under Colonel Gough, about 560 men; a brigade of six pounders, under Captain Hughs, of the royal artillery; a squadron of the 2d German hussars, (about 70 men) under Captain Wense; and a company of the 95th rifle regiment, Captain Jenkins.
Journal of the Siege of Tarisa.
Agreeably to the tenor of the above, Colonel Skerrett made the following disposals:
December 5. Captain Smith, royal engineers, was to attend to the construction of the traverses on the island, the redoubt near the sea-gate, and the covert-way on the postern, at Xarrier's gate.
Majo: King was to take on himself ibe command of the island, with three hundred British, and two hundred Spaniards, detaching one hundred (fifty of each) to Santa Catalina; one hundred of the 47th regiment, under Captain Campbell was ordered to garrison the convent. Captain Mitchell, of the royal artillery, took the command of the artillery in town, and detached one ofhcer to the island.
Captam liughes, royal artillery, took the command of bis guns. About this time general Copons demanded that the keys of the town should be given up lo him, and Colonel Skerrett nearly acceded to bis request; but it having been represented to him by Majur King, that Colonel Brown had always, during his command, kept possession of the keys; first, to guard against any treachery; secondly, as the brother of the governor was in the French service; and thirdly, as it was more conformable to the honour of the British nation. The keys remained, therefore, in the hands of the British officer commanding at the sea gate; and Colonel Skerrett issued the following older:
December 9. Brigade order—The keys of the town are to remain in possession of the British officer at the sea gate, until the final orders from his Excellency Lieutenant-general Campbell are received with respect to them. This officer is merely to keep charge of the keys for furni's sake; he is in every other respect under the order of the Spanish commandant of the guard, and of the Spanish general. The guns of the brigade were retired every night under the island, and the men were put uuder cover, as much as possible, the weather being extremely wet.
December 16. Intelligence having been received, that the enemy had broke up before Gibraltar, and narched upon Los Barrios and Port-llana, that sixteen pieces of cannon, sixteen pounders, had entered Vejir; that the eremy had collected at Meclina Sidonia large quantities of stóres, and a besinging train, and that French cavalry piquets, supported by chasseurs, had made their appearance at Reiena and La Luz, the following orders were
“ It is necessary to acquaint the garrison of Tarifa, that the enemy is ade
vancing to lay siege to this place; and that the governor of Gibraltar, and " the commander at Cadiz, have perfect confidence in the bravery and good “ conduct of the troops.
“ Colonel Skerrett has to direct, that each officer will exert himself to the “ utmost, so ibat the fatigues and duties of the soldiers may be rendered as “ light as possible. Colonel Skerrett is therefore satisfied they will be supo
ported with cheerfulness."
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, marched 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 thc troops, and towards the evening returned to towa.
Thursday, 19. At nine o'clock the enemy, to the amount of four thousand, marched through the pass of Port-llana, and remained un 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.
Majur King went out to inake a reconnoissance this morning, but General Copons, who commanded the caralry, seeing the enemy in great force, withdrew the cavalry. One of our hussars was severely wounded, and livo of the Spanish hussars killed.
The enemy took possession, towards evening, of the surrounding bills, and lighted above 150 fires, for the purpose, it is supposed, of misleading our guo-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 enenıy were engaged in constructing a battery, en barbet, against our god-boats, which, under the command of Lieutenants Rooke and Cobb, of the navy, much annoyed them, while endeavouring to clear away the blockade, at the pass of Lapeua, 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 Captain 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, 47th regiment; and, notwithstanding a severe fire from the enemy's field pieces, kept them