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Journal of the Cainpaign in 1809.
July 5th.--The column, having continued its march the 3d and 4th, passed Salvatierra, the frontier town, this day. It soon after forded the small river Elja, which here forins the boundary of the two kingrloms; and, proceeding over an uncultivated plain, arrived at Larga Major, three miles froin the river, and the first town in Spain on this road. The troopis went into luts, which had been constructed by Major-General Blackenzie's division, a league beyond the town. The column halted in this position till the 9th.
July 7ih.-The division began its march about two o'clock; at ten it halted, and hutted within a mile of the town of Montalegar, situated on the banks of the Allagon, over which there is a good bridge, of seven arches,
July sth.--- At one this morning the column advanced, and, about cight o'clock, passed through Coria, a town of some note, aud butted for the night in a wood, about a mile bıyord. A column of dust on the road io Flacentia marked the route of General Ilill's division.
July 12th. --The division entered the ancient and pleasing town of Placentia. The whole of the infantry, except Major-General Mackenzie's divi-ion, which continued to form the advance, was now assembled here, and butted in a wood in the neighbourhood.
July 17th.--- Thc army gained Placentia an hour before day-light this day; anid, afier a march of two leagues, the infantry halted near Malpartida de Placentra, on a plain where there was not a single hut to shelter the troops froin the scorching heat of the sun. Brigadier-General Fane, with the brigade of heavy cavalry, advanced sixty miles in front.
July 18th.---The army moved from their ground at half past three in the morning, and in four hours reached Tietar, which was crossed by a temporary bridge. At two P. NI. the troops halted, and hutted close to the river. General Cuesta's army crossed the Tagus this morning at Almaraz, a few miles on our right flank, in order that he may march to Oropesa, the appointed place of the junction of the British and Spanish armies. Sr Robert Wilson, whose corps had hitherto preceeded the advance of the Britisli, now inoved by a road to the left, after passing the Tietar.
July 1941.---The army was again in motion before day-light, anel proceedel, until noon, along the banks of the Tietar, in a line paralel with the march of the Spanish army. After a march of twelve hours, halted in a beautui wood, near the village of Centinello. It was generally understood that the Freuch eut-posts were at the distance of only nine miles from: the advance of the British under Major-General Mackenzie. who, supported by General Fane's brigade of heavy cavalry, was about three miles in front of the main body.
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
The following is stated to be the disposition of Victor's army, amounting to about 30,000 men :
His advanced guard of cavalry occupies the city of Talavera ; his main body, flanked by a rising ground, and secured by heavy artillery, rests upon the Alberche, which protects his front, his line being extended along the banks of that river, to the Tagus; Toledo is on his rear, and on the other side of the Tagus; and General Cuesta, it is said, has detached General Venegas, with 18,000 men, to brush him up in that quarter.
The general plan of the attack intended by the allies was formed upon this information. It was resolved, that General Cuesta's army, supported by the British cavalry, should force the bridge over the Alberche, and attack the left, whilst the British infantry should deal with his right. In the mean time General Venegas, after gaining possession of Toledo, in which the enemy was supposed to have a very inconsiderable force, was to pass the Tagus, and to place himself between Madrid and the rear of the French army, co-operating, if possible, with Sir Robert Wilson, who had been for some days at Escalona, with the Lusatanian legion, consisting of 2000 infantry, 500 cavalry, and a few field pieces. Sir Robert, it was understood, had succeeded in opening a coma munication with the capital,
July 20th.— The army moved forwards at three in the morning, and on leaving the wood entered a long extensive plain, which reached to Oropesa, 20 miles distant. They reached it at four o'clock, and there formed a junction with Cuesta's arıny, which arrived at Oropesa the same time.
July 21st.–The British army suspended its march to give the Spanish time to take a position in front of the British. This was accordingly done, and the two armies reviewed by Sir A. Wellesley and General Cuesta. The Spanish army amounted te about 35,000 meu, including 700 cavalry, all strong, able-bodied men, and who had behaved so well in the battle of Medellin. General Cuesta is an infirm old man, incapable of mounting his horse.
July 22d.-The army was in motion before day-break, and advanced along the extensive plain towards Talavera. It was a noble spectacle to see such a body of armed men in motion, their arms and colours glittering under a summer sun. A heavy cannonade commenced in front, aud was continued till three o'clock in the afternoon; a little before which the combined army advanced within a mile and a half of Tala, vera, whence the enemy had been dislodged in the course of the morning by the advance of the British and Spaniards. The French cavalry retreated over the Alberche. The Alberche is a small river which flows from the banks of the Tagus into the country, and crossed the road of march of the combined army, the enemy being behind it. VOL. IV. No. 19,
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
July 29th.—The several divisions of the army were put in motion, and moved out of the wood in which they had reposed during the night, with the first break of day, but were halted immediately afterwards. At eight o'clock the army again advanced, and about noon arrived near the ruins of an old convent, within two miles of the Alberche, on the opposite banks of which the enemy was posted in force, when an order was given, to the astonishment of the whole army, that the British should returu to their old ground. This event created equal surprise and rumours. By some is was said that Sir Arthur Wellesley and. Cuesta had disagreed, and that the Spaniards were averse to fighting upon a Sunday; others asserted, that the preparations of the latter were not completed; that he waited for ammunition. It was generally understood, however, that the position of the French was to be attacked on the following morning.
July 24th. An hour after midnight the army assembled without beat of drum, and advanced left in front, in profound silence, and with the most perfectly regularity, to the expected attack. About six in the morning (24th) the guards arrived within sight of the Alberche, when they perceived, with surprise, that the enemy bad abandoned his position, and was in full retreat. Sir A. Wellesley and Lieut-Gen. Sherbrook had passed the Alberche with a considerable body of cavalry, and Major General Makeuzie's division of infantry, and hung on the rear of the enemy's returning columns. The advance of the British halted at the village of Cazelegas, one league beyond the Alberche. Cuesta pushed forwards his outposts two leagues further, to Santa Celalla, late the head quarters of Marshal Victor. The army returned to its former position in the wood of olives.
July 26th.-A very heavy cannonade commenced soon after day-light, and continued until four in the afternoon. The action was between the advance of the two arnties.
July 27th.-The cannonade was renewed this day, and the Spaniards, covered by the British cavalry; and Major-General Mackenzie's division of infantry, continued to retire upon the town. As the day advanced, it became evident that the enemy was resolved to try the issue of a general battle. About three p. m. he pushed his columns across the Alberche, and moved rapidly within six miles of Talavera. Sir Arthur Wellesley seeing this, immediately ordered the divisions into the several positions, which he had previously chosen as those in which he would gire battle. These positions were as follow :
b. G. Alexander Campbell, with two brigades of infantry, was posted on the right near an unfinished redoubt. The guards, General Cameron's brigade, and the 1st German legion, formed the centre under Lieut.-Gen. Sherbrooke, and Major-General Hill's division extended along the rising grounds on the left, flanked by a heavy battery. MajorJournal of the Campaign in 1809.
General Mackenzie being called in from the advance, formed a second line in rear of the centre.
The cavalry was commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Payne. Major-General Cotton's light brigade supported the right and centre; Brigadier-General Anson's, and the heavy brigade under General Fane, were on the left. Brigadier-General Howarth commanded the royal artillery, and the sea. veral batteries were under the superinteadance of Lieut.-Col. Rube, and Framlingham.
The ground in front of the British was principally open, but intersected with roads leading to the town, and the bed of a snall river, which had been formed by the winter torrents, and was at present dry.
The Spanish infantry formed in two lines, and supported by the King's regiment of cavalry, were posted behind the mud enclosures of the olive grounds and viue-yards, extending from the right of General A. Campbell's position to the suburbs and town of Talavera, which they also occupied, having their right flanked by the Tagus.
The Duke of Albuquerque was in the rear of the left of the whole line, with the main body of the Spanish cavalry; and Lieut.-Gen. Don Louis Bassecourt was subsequently placed with about three thousand light troops in the valley below the left of the British, to keep in check a body of the enemy, who appeared in the mountains beyond, but which was at too great a distance to have any
upon the impending contest.
The Spanish army was commanded by Cuesta, General-in-Chief, and the several divisions of infantry were under orders of Lieut.-Gen. D'Eguia, and the Marquis Del Partago.
The French army, in number nearly 50,000 strong, was command by Marshal Victor, assisted by Marshal Jourdan, and General Sebastiani, and under the direction of Joseph Bounaparte in person.
About half past six o'clock the enemy appeared in considerable force on the heights, opposite the centre of the British line, and opened a heavy cannonade of shot and shells, which was instantaneously returned from the principal battery placed on a commanding eminence in the rear of General Hill's division. At the same time the French made a vigorous attack on the left, when, after a most obstinate conflict, they were completely repulsed at the point of the bayonet. The enemy also pushed forward several corps of infantry, supported by a strong division of cavalry, on the right, with a view of carrying the town of Talavera, in which object he failed, and was driven back by the fire from the Spanish batteries. The cannonade continued on both sides until dark.
In the course of the night the enemy made a second assault upon the height, from whence, after gaining a momentary possession, he was dislodged by General Hill, with prodigious slaughter. July 28th.-At two in the morning the Spanish line was alarmed at all
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
points by the approach of the enemy's light troops, who were received with a brisk discharge of musketry, which ceased in about ten minutes, when the silence of night again prevailed on the field of battle.
At length day-light broke upon the contending armies, who were drawu up opposite to each other on the positions they respectively occupied at the beginning of the action on the preceding evening. About six the engagement was renewed, and continued without intermission nutil eleven o'clock, when the firing ceased, as if by mutual consent, for nearly three hours, during which interval, the French appeared to be employed in cooking, and the British army reposed on the ground, seemingly regardless of the enerdy's presence. It was at this time also the wounded were carried off to the rear, and while engaged in this painful duty, the British and French soldiers shook hands with each other, and expressed their admiration of the gallantry displayed by the troops of both nations. The principal efforts of the French throughout the morning were again directed upon the left, but Major-General Hill successively repulsed every attempt to turn his position, and obliged the enemy to retire with considerable loss.
Sir A. Wellesley, with his Staff, observed the progress of the battle on a height to the left of the British line. From this point he witnessed every movement that was made, and issued all the necessary orders. Two of bis Aid-de-Camps, Captains Bouverie and Burgh, were wounded by his side.
At one P. M. the enemy was observed bringing up fresh troops, and forming his columns apparently for the purpose of renewing the action; and in fact, about two o'clock the French again advanced under a heavy cannonade, and made a general attack upon the whole of the position occupied by the British. The enemy's attacking columns on the right had arrived within a short distance of the unfinished redoubt, when General A. Campbell made a vigorous charge upon thein, and drove them back with the loss of their artillery.
The efforts of the enemy on the left were equally unsuccessful. Brig. Gen. Anson charged a solid column of their infantry with the 230 Light Dragoons and German Hussars; and though the 23d suffered very considerably, the enemy were effectually pushed back.
Meanwhile the centre was warmly engaged. Exactly at three o'clock several heavy columns advanced upon this front, and deployed with the utmost precision into line as they entered the plain, which lay betwixt the heights occupied by the hostile armies. This was the grand attack, and on the first indication of the enemy's intention, General Sherbroke gave directions that his division should prepare for the charge. At this awful moment all was silent, except a few guns of the enemy answered by the British artillery on the hill. The French came on over the rough and broken ground in the valley in the most imposing manner, and with great resolution, and were met by the British with their usual firmness,