« ForrigeFortsett »
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa. in check, while our field artillery did great execution. Our troops retired gradually, pressed by superior numbers, the enemy moving forward in two columns; one column to the amount of three thousand, pursued the Algeziras road, extending their chasseurs as far as the sea, to the eastward of the town. Another column of about two thousand, extended to the westward. Our cavalry, riflemen, light companies, and artillery, were withdrawn gradually to the rising ground, to the north-east, when the two columns uniting to the north-west, and still advancing, the whole of our troops retired within the walls, with the exception of a few Spanish tirailleurs, who did great execution from behind the aloe hedges, below the walls. These also retired towards evening, on which the enemy's cavalry advanced with great boldness, but were suddenly put to flight by a volley of musketry from the piquets of the 47th regiment, under the command of Major Broad.
During all this manæuvring of the enemy, and as they continued to draw their line of circumvallation closer, they were much annoyed by the bursting of several shells, from two ten-inch mortars on the island, directed by Lieutenant Rube, royal artillery. These shells were seen to do terrible execution, and the enemy must bave suffered severely from them, one of them leaving burst in the centre of a column.
The enemy had two howitzers, and one four pounder, which they placed behind a bedge; and, by the bursting of a shell from one of them, one artillery driver, and eight artillery horses were killed.
Captain Hughes, on his part, blew up an ammunition box, which slackened their fire for some time; but recovering from this shock, another shell from the enemy killed FOURTEEN Spaniards, who had forined in rear of our guns! The enemy exposed themselves very much towards evening, but seenied checked, and, as we afterwards learnt, were much astonished at our obstinacy and perseverance.
A retreat being ordered, the town was closely invested, as the night fell in. The enemy must, however, have suffered considerably from our guns, to wlrich they were, in the course of this day, much exposed. The British lost one killed, and thirty wounded, of which the 95th rifle company lost the one killed, and twelve of the wounded. "The Spaniards lost forty. The tirailleurs of the Spaniards were very much exposed, through the whole of the day, to the fire of the enemy's field pieces, and behaved extremely well.
Saturday, December 21. The guards of the town were ordered to be taken reginientally, and the commanding officers of each corps were held responsible for that part of the wall, or works, where their guards were, which was to become their alarm posts,
The cavalry and staff horses were sent to the island for the purpose of being embarked the first opportunity At day-light, the company of the 95th, and the flank companies of the 47th and 87th regiinents sallied, and advanced three hundred paces in front of the nörth-east side of the town, and drove in the advanced piquets of the enemy. Shortly after, they were ordered by Journal of the Siege of Tarita. Colonel Skerrelt to relire, which they effected without loss. The guns on the island played the whole day on the enemy's lines, and did great execu• tivn; the men were busily employed in throwing up traverses, and also in making, on the east side of the island, beds for ewo ten-inch mortarš, which had arrived from Gybraltar. Through the whole of this night, many shot and shells were thrown towards the enemy.
Sunday, 22. This morning, before day-break, by the direction of Major King, the light company of the 11th regiment, sallied from its position at Santa Catalma, and dislodged a French piquet froin a small house on the sea-beach to the westward. They killed 11 men of the 16th Legère, and touk one serjeant prisoner. They bad two men slighty wounded
This affair calling up the whole regiment of the 16th Legère, wbich kept the enemy's right fank, Captain Wren was obliged to retire. The advance of the Freuch regiment; in its turn, called out our flank companies, with one light six-pounder, under the command of Lieutenant Haines, royal artillery; and they advanced, and drove the French regiment from a strong position, wbich it had taken up in front of the convent, and threatened to take possession of the west hill, near the town. This movement brought out the whole of the enemy's line, who exposed themselves very much to the fire of onr guns, which, directed by Captain Mitchell, royal artillery, did great execution. The gun-boats, at that moment lying off the western coast, must also have much annoyed them. We had one man killed, and three wounded. In this contest, Colonel Gough, of the 87th regiment, led on his flank companies.
The serjeant, prisoner, on being examined by Colonel Skerrett, gave the following intelligence: he said, the advance of the imperial army was commanded by General Leval, and consisted of the 16th, 27th, and 43d regiments of Legère, with a reserve of the 43d, 94th, and 96th regiments of the line: also the 16th, one squadron of the 21st, and one squadron of the 5th light dragoons. He said they had eleven thousand men, and 18 pieces of cannon, long 16-pounders, two of which bad passed Lapena on the night of the 20th; also two howitzers; the whole under the command of Marshal Victor.
The prisoner appeared well informed, and was a native of Toulouse; he intreated not to be given up to the Spaniards. Being asked if he thought his countrymen would take the town, he replied coldly, “ 'Tis a positive order from Napoleon, our emperor, that we should do so; and he generally provides means adequale to the end.” As he was slightly wounded in the bead, he was taken to the hospital, and every possible attention paid him.
Monday, 23. Captain Searle, of the Druid, and Captain Carroll, royal navy, commanding the flotilla, surveyed the coast on the island, for the purpose of procuring a place for our embarkation, should we be obliged to evacuate both town and island. We had good information, that the depot of mules, limbers, and heavy artillery of the enemy, were behind the pass of Lapena, not having been able to come through. A continual fire of sbor VOL. IV, No. 22,
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa. and shell was therefore kept up from the island; and our guns, directed by Lieutenants Robe and Hodges, royal artillery, were well served, and were seen to do great execution. Towards evening, a few Spanish riflemen nioved from the convent, and drove in the enemy's advanced sentries, but retired at the close of day.
This night, at '10 o'clock, Colonel Skerrett having informed Major King that the enemy intended storming the island and town, made the following disposition. Captain Wren, 11th infantry, was placed on the alert, at Santa Cataliua, and reinforced with 50 inen; a piquet of one captain and fifty men was placed on the causeway, to communicate with Santa Catalina; Captain Carew, 82d regiment, was placed on the left flank of the island, it being considered the most vulnerable point; and Captain Vavasour constructed a temporary work on the pier, and placed two loaded carronades at the entrance. The island, too, was reinforced by 86 men of the 47th regiment, who lined the parapet. The whole lay on their arms till broad day light, when the enemy not appearing, they were dismissed.
Tuesday 24th. At day break it was discovered that the enemy had made his approaches within 400 yards, and immediately opposite the north-east tower. A constant fire was kept up during the day, from the towers, and also from the 12-pounders, on the island, annoying their workmien considerably. Many were seen to be carried out of the enemy's trenches, killed or wounded.
Colonel Skerrett ordered the quarter-master to bring all his stores from the town to the island. He also directed the assistant-commissary, Mr. Dubre, to form his depot of provisions there. An express arrived this morning from Cadiz, which conveyed orders to Colonel Skerrett to embark his brigade; and had this order been carried into effect, it would have been a great blow to the united cause, and injurious to the British name and character !
During this night a council of war was held, when Major King, and Captain Smith, were firm in the opinion, that the town should not be evacuated. A Paysano, who deserted from the enemy, declared that the shot and shells, which had been thrown from the island this day, had killed 200 of the enemy:
In the course of this day, Colonel Skerrett went to the island, to look out a place of security on the west of it, for the purpose of embarking.
Wednesday, December 25. During the night, the enemy advanced their approaches into the valley, and also broke ground on the bill opposite the east tower, at four hundred yards distance.
An unremitted fire was kept up during the night, from four ten-inch mortars on the island; two having been landed and placed on beds, in the course of the preceding day, notwithstanding it had rained incessantly.
The enemy shewed, on the summit of a hill, at regulated distances, pyramids of sacks a terre, through which they fired musketry and wall pieces.
Bombardier William Doyle, of Captain Mitchel's company, royal artillery,
Journal of the Siege of Tarija.
was wounded by a wall piece, in the left shoulder, and part of the back, and . afterwards died of his wounú. This man arrived from Cadiz but a few days before the investment, and had been slightly wouuded at Tarifa the last time it was attacked, when lieutenant-colonel Brown commanded.
A French officer was killed by one of the 95th regiment, while in the act of reconnoitring.
Thursday, December 26. Last night the enemy strengthened his approaches at all points, and advanced 150 yards nearer to the east and north-east towers. At both places they opened a fire from a number of wall pieces, wbich they unreinittingly continued during the day, pouring their bullets over the town. They did little damage, Captain Smith having completely covered the nien from the fire.
At ten o'clock, a column of the enemy was seen moving down to the west flank, when Colonel Skerrett immediately ordered all the men of the brigade, at work on the island, to return to the town, and also the 24-pounders, and the mortars to keep up a constant fire on the enemy's works; which order was so fully complied with, that Lieutenant Robe, royal artillery, found he had expended an immense quantity of shells, and had only 350 left. Noiwithstanding a continued heavy rain, the men went on cheerfully with their work, and strengthened greatly the left flank of the island.
Friday, December 27. The enemy continued working at their trenches, and were annoyed in the usual inanner from the walls, the towers, and the island, both with cannon and musketry.
In the event of a retreat, the 47th regiment were ordered into the castle, to defend it. The Spanish troops were to form at the sea-gate, and the 87th and 95th, on the ground near their own quarter. The Spanish troops were to retire through the gate first, instantly followed by the 871h regiment; those corps were to form between the sea and Santa Catalina, there to wait for the 47th regiment, and to be particularly careful not to tire on the troops retiring by the streets. The convent troops, should they not have been retired before, were to join the 87th; or, should they meet with difficulty, were to follow up the troops retiring through the gates. The artillery, after destroying the guns, were to fall in with the 47th, which corps was to protect their retreat. All the guards were to retreat, on their own corps, when ordered to do so. Major Broad was to have a strong guard, to shut and secure the gate.
The enemy this day rolled down several long 16-pounders from the hill, in front of Mr. Nunez' house.
Saturday, December 28. Notwithstanding a very rainy and tempestuous night, the enemy continued working at their trenches, but were, as usual, annoyed by the continued fire from the town and island. They advanced their approaches considerably nearer to the east, and north-east towers, under cover of the night, and continued working during the day.
Sunday, December 29. At three o'clock, Captain Wren was directed, by
Journal oi the Siege of Tarifa. Major King, in surprise a piquet of the enemy, which lay on a rising ground near the western shore. He was to march an hour before day-light. Captain Wren, with his light company, accordingly sallied out, on the morning of the 29th, but it being bright moon-light, a French sentinel saw him, and, having fired, gave the alarm, which turned out their whole line. The senti. nel was immediately killed, and several of the enemy shared his fate, Captain Wren being well supported by Lieutenant Davenport, 82d regiment, who volunteered on that occasion, and Lieutenant Welstead, with fifty of the 820 regiment. The enemy, advancing under the range of the guns, suffered severely from a well-directed fire from the east tower, under Captain Mitchell, which covered the retreat of Captain Wren, to Santa Catalina. Lieutenant Guantee, assistant.quarter-master-general, was badly wounded; his loss was felt severely, being a most useful and accomplished officer; Lieutenant Stan. ton, 11th infantry, was slightly wounded, with one serjeant and five privates of the same corps, dangerously. This was the whole of our loss in this brilliant affair.
At ten o'clock, the enemy opened a fire from two batteries; the one, intended for breaching, consisted of four sixteen, and two twelve-pounders, situated in the valley, and nearly opposite the Retiro tower, at the distance of three hundred yards; and the other, about one hundred yards in rear of the first, consisted of two eight-inch howitzers, and one twelve pounder. The latter commenced its fire against the boats at anchor in the eastern bay, (the wind then blowing westerly) and they were soon obliged to cut their cables, and put 10 sea.
It then threw shot and shells to almost every part of the island, but the men being at work at the traverses, received but little damage. Two of the female inhabitants, who had taken refuge on the island, were wounded, and one of them lost a leg. Several horses and mules were also destroyed on the island, by the bursting of shells.
A heavy firing was kept up by these two batteries till evening, when the enemy established a breach in the wall, to the right of the Retiro tower, about five feet wide; but Captain Smith, of the royal engineers, had taken bis measures so effectually, that the front of the breach was the least practicable part; an enemy, having on entering, to descend fourteen feet into a narrow street, barricaded on each side, well flanked, and armed with lemporary chevaur de frize, made of the iron-balconies, which, according to the custom of Spain, fortunately happened to be numerous in the town, and answered admirably for the purpose.
The eastern tower was yet untouched, but the enemy approached it by sap, within at least fifty yards. During all this day, the men being ordered to keep under cover, both at the town and the island, our loss was trifling. Sone of the inhabitants, however, in their retreat to the island, were killed and wounded, by the bursting of the enemy's shells.
The sixteen pounder, on Gusman's tower, and a thirty-two pound carronade, were spiked by Captain Hughes, of the royal artillery; a circumstance