Military Correspondence.



Jan 24th.—A beautiful frosty morning; marched at day-light; passed an old castle, consisting of several round towers, about a mile to the left. At about a league from Hexadas came within sight of Almeida, which appeared within a league, though three leagues off, and, with the fineness of the day, encouraged the men, or I should have had great difli. culty in getting them on to Almeida. Passed a village of some extent, but hardly one stone left upon another. It put me in mind of tombstoves in a church-yard the records of past greatness; in this instance, of French oppression. Within about two leagues of Almeida the country assumes a bolder aspect, and is peculiarly calculated for military operations.—Passed Castello Born, which appears a place of considerable strength and consequence. Just descending the side of a mountain, and my detachment ssraggling more than they had done during the day, I observed the approach of a general officer, with his orderly and retinue, and, to my great surprise, found that it was General Leith, the general of my own division, and of course, I fully expected to get goosed; but, with all the aflability and goodness that mark a really great man, after several enquiries, and my inforuning bim that I had divided a two days march into three, I was gratified by his expressing his approbation.-I must here indulge myself by digressing to mentiou an anecdote, communicated to me hy a serjeant of my detachment, relative to General Leitli :-that when a cadet (1 unfortunately forget in what regiment), and a very young man, le was employed against some island in India, where he was badly wounded, and indeed left for dead, on the party's retreating to their boats, but was observed by a soldier, who returned, and carried him to the shore, just as the last boat was pushing off, and possibly by this means saved his life. Several years afterwards, when the General commanded in Dublin, he saw a man in distressed circumstances, whose face he thought he recollected, and, on interrogating him, found it to be the same nian who had formerly saved his life; and humanity got the old veteran a pension, to which bis services had justly entitled hiin. With the 5th division the arrival of General Leith will be greeted as a most auspicious omen, as it may lead to their reaping some laurels in the ensuing campaign.

Every step here reminded me of some of the conflicts in which our troops have been engaged, particularly the light division; and it was not a little pleasing to hear the narratives of some of the men, who haol many of them been present on these occasions.-Crossed the Coa ou a wooden bridge : that river is here deep and rapid, and the banks craggy and difficult. As you approach Almeida the country becomes more Bountainous. The convent of St. Roque, about a mile from the city,

Military Correspondence.

forms a striking object, but has been completely Frenchified, that is to say, reduced to mere walls.-Ptached Almeida about four of clock; waited on General Leith for his orders, and to state that I was ordered to head-quarters, and from thence to the division. Though tired by my day's exercise, I could not sit down until I had been round the walls of Almeida. It stands on a very considerable eminence, particularly on the Portuguese side: ou the Spanish side are the celebrated plains of Almeida. The city is little better than one heap of ruins, and, with the exception of the town-house, near the main guard, a row of buildings on twenty arches, now used as a barrack, and some few houses round the market-place, there is hardly a remnant of a house standing. By engineers, I believe, Almeida is not considered to possess many natural advantages; but every thing that art can supply has been done, nor has any expence been spared. The works are pow nearly repaired, but it will take many years to restore the city. There are a thousand Portu-' guese peasants employed, besides a great many of the Portuguese soldiers, and a working party from each division of the English army. At present there are a part of the artillery, and four Portuguese regiments of anilizia, that for the only garrison. There is a tolerable market, but every thing is very dear; an onion a shilling, and potatoes six-pence per pound.- Almeida certainly gave me the notion of a place of great strength, particularly the parts immediately contiguous to the entrance.

05th.-Set out for Galegos, the head-quarters of the British army ; crossed tlie justly celebrated plains of Almeida, the weather delightfully fice and frosty, so as to make every part of the road good. Saw a vast number of dead animals, from the scarcity of forage in the front, more, indeed, than sually inark the advance or progress of an army. On these occasions the wolves and vultures even appear necessary evils, or contagion would ke more frequent. On these plains the largest arinies in the world might engage; there is fine scope for cavalry.-Came to the small village of Valla de Nula, where our regiment was for some months quartered while the French were in Almeida, and where they built a bridge over the small stream that separates the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. On the other side of the stream is Fort Conception, one of the most elaborate fortifications in Spain, but now a ruin. It seems to have been built to mark the boundaries, which are hardly discernable, and to kerp Almeida in check, which is but a league and a half from lience. I cannot pass the boundaries, without making a few remarks ou the natives: they understand one another, though the languages are, in inany instances, widely different, as well as the pronounciation. The paniards aspirate almost every word: Don Julian they pronounce Don Hoolja!ı; General, Heneral ; Celorico, Ilelorico, and so on; while the Portuguese is much more readily understood : the Spanish is the finer and more sonorous. They do not, therefore, in this respect, differ so Military Correspondence.


much the inhabitants of Cheshire and Flintshire, divided by the river Dee only, and who are altogether unintelligible to one another. Between the Spanish and Portuguese there is the most mortal hatred, such as, in former times, has led to a war of extermination on the frontier; and even now a Spaniard never mentions a Portuguese but with contempt, or a Portuguese a Spaniard, without adding, that they are muito falsa, very treacherous. They are as reconcilable as oil and water: the proud and unsubmitting disposition of the former has hitherto operated most forcibly to their prejudice, and prevented them being regularly disciplined, so as to be capable of meeting the veteran troops of France in the field; while the passive obedience and tractability of the latter have made them a military nation, capable of fighting by the side of our best troops, and, in my opinion, as troops equal to any in Europe. The Portuguese have one of the finest countries in the world for defence; and we have already done much for them, in inspiring the confidence that, if left entirely to themselves, they can defend Portugal against the French as well as the Spaniards. The Spaniards are excessively hardy: the peasantry in this part of Spain have no beds, but just sleep in any dry corner on the floor, wrapped up in their cascote, or a blauket, éven in the severest weather. They never take their clothes off until they are worn out, or until they marry, and invariably wear a broad leather belt round the loius, that would be no inconsiderable inconvenience to any other people. About a league from hence is the Spanish town of Alamada.—Passed the situation where the glorious battle of Fuentes d'Honore was fought ; nor could I contemplate this scene without grateful exultation. Our position certainly was the best of the two; they were only divided by a rivulet, and the heights on either side were sufficiently covered by the ever-green oak, to protect the skirmishing of light troops, while they were covered with the opposing armies. The French were greatly superior in numbers, so much so, that it is astonishing they did not provoke a general engagement. The British line ex, tended with its right beyond Fontes, and its left beyond Alamada : the French position was more concentrated. Reached the village of Alamada, a very pretty place, and appearing to great advantage after the general desolation which Portuguese towns have received. The church is very neat, and, on the top of the steeple, close by the bells, is a stork's nest, which I understand continued there, without interruption, during the heavy candonade at the battle of Fuentes. A league farther is Galegos, which is a most wretched hole for the head quarters of Lord Wellington. I saw his Lordship, with all bis attendants, just returned from the funeral of General Craufurd. I regret to say that his health appears to have suffered considerably since I saw him last. On reporting myself and party, I was not a little disgusted at the reception. I had just come off a march fatigued, with my blanket strapped behind me, and my canteen and haversack, and though accoutered like a soldier for service, TOL, IV, NO. 19.



Military Correspondence.

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certainly an unfit figure for a ball room, and not received by a young gentleman of the guards in such a way as I should not have received his servant. But verbum sapienti sat est. I can easily forgive these matters.

26th.-Set out early for Ciudad Rodrigo, a short two leagues and a half.—Here my curiosity was greatly raised, and the two leagues and a half would not have taken me more than as many hours if I had been alone. The city is very elevated, and may be plainly seen from Valla de Mula, and the high mountain beyond is covered with snow. Crossed a small branch of the Coa, and arrived at my destination in good time. Rodrigo, though not at any vast extent, has an air of magnificence, nor does it look as if it had so lately sustained a siege. Passed the Coa, on which it is situated, on a neat bridge of seven arches, and halted my men at the draw bridge, and after arranging them as well as I could, had the pleasure of marching into the Plaza Mayor, and meeting with the regiment and all my friends, and delivering up my charge. I afterwards walked round every part of the city, and had the honour of diving with our Colonel. The internal appearance of Rodrigo fully justified my expectations. The houses are generally well built, and the churches very magnificent. The principal church, though extremely close to the yreater breach, has suffered very little ; some few balls have grazed it, but it has experienced no serious injury. It is a superior specimen of the Gothic, and the ornaments superh, compared to the profuse gilding and ginger-bread work of the Portuguese. About the greater breach seems to have been the great tug of war;" and especially near the magazine which was blown up, and occasioned the death of General M Kinnon, and so many of our countrymen. Here had indeed been hot work, as the blood and mangled remaius of bodies sufficiently evinced. I counted above seventy French caps of the infantry in less than fifty yards. This breach, though reported practicable by the French engineers, two or three days previous to the assault, had many obstacles that were unforeseen, and many of our meu fell on the bayonets of their comrades. The Gazette, however, will give a far better detail of the siege than I can possibly assume, and therefore I shall cut this matter short. General M Kinnon was above the magazine, and seeing the enemy retire with the greatest precipitation, was encouraging his men to the pursuit, unaware that the enemy were flying to avoid the blowing up of the magazine which they had fired, when his Jamented death took place. The lesser breach is a very short distance from the greater, and their loss, with the exception of General Craufurd, was not so considerable. The inhabitants took a very active part, and deserve to have suffered more severely. The 3d division, with the 920 and 21st Portuguese, stormed the greater breach, and the light division the lesser. There were a regiment of Germans, and one of Italians, in Rodrigo, besides the French. The two divisions that

Military Correspondence.

stormed made some little plunder, but nothing compared to the riches of the place. Rodrigo is commanded by a height within a few hundred yards, and where the French had erected a fort, they called Fort Francisco, at the taking of which there was very smart work. We are now erecting a redoubt on the spot where the fort' stood, and another small one nearer the city, and which will command the valley between this city and the upper redoubt. Rodrigo took the French fourteen weeks siege, whilst in this instance it did not hold out more than eleven days. There were by no means so many lives lost in the trenches as might have been expected from the activity used by the garrison ; and indeed it is astonishing to see the manner in which the ground is ploughed up by shot and shells in every direction. About the walls of our positions, you might bury a dozen of men in some of the holes made by the shells. It may, however, be conceived that there was no fool's play, when it is known that in the eleven days the garrison fired considerably above 10,000 shells, and above 13,000 round shot, besides canister, grape, &c. This I heard from a French officer who was wounded. As I have before said, it is extraordinary indeed how little the city has suffered, and which must have arisen from my Lord Wellington's wish to save the Spaniards, and ordering us therefore merely to batter in the breach. Even the suburbs has hardly the appearance of having been stormed. There was vast quantities of military stores, and wood for gun carriages, &c. found in the place, and some of the finest brass mortars and canon I ever beheld, both Spanish and French, of every calibre. The upper redoubt, when completed, may be sufficient for the protection to the height commanding the city, but in my humble opinion, a myrtella tower could no where be more advantagçously erected or used, than on this height, and another on the angle near the large breach : this might be effected at little expence, as there is abundance of granite, and all the materials on the spot. Ciudad Rodrigo boasts great antiquity; against the priucipal church there are three pillars, in good preservation, which were erected in the time of Augustus Cæsar; they support a cornice, on which there is an inscription, of which I could have given a copy, if I could have procured a ladder. They appear to have formed part of the vestibule of a temple of some of the Roman Divinities. There were a few houses burnt by accident after our troops entered, and among the rest the house of assembly of the Cortes of the kingdom of Leon. All the other damage will be very speedily repaired. This place has been dearly bought; but, in a political point of view, the advantage resulting may be incalculable; it has now, for a great length of time been the immediate bone of contention. The French afterwards relieved it in spite of us; it was therefore high time to shew the Spaniards and the Portuguese what we could do if we were in earnest; and it must be confessed the frost and the weather were most peculiarly propitions. It was inoreover necessary to convince the Spaniards that we engage in their battles disinterestedly

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