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Journal af the Campaign in 1809.
main body, was in Oporto, and his advanced guard uuder General Franchesi on the north side of the Vouga. The Vouga is a river which crosses the road from Coimbra to Oporto, and about half way
between the two cities; it flows east and west. The total number of Marshal Soult's army was estimated at 24,000, but at this period they were very much scattered, inasmuch as they occupied Viana on the Lima river, and Fueg, on the Minho. The latter was a very important post, being the ferry which communicates with Galicia. Victor's army was in the neighbourhood of Badajoz. Major-General Mackenzie's brigade was stationed in Abrantes ; and the Lusitanian legion, under Colonel Payne, as a corps of observation, at Alcantara. Colonel Trant, with about two thousand Portuguese, was in operation on the enemy's left on the Vouga, watching their movements, and now and then brushing them up. Sir Robert Wilson was co-operating in the same kind of service at Vizeu. Such were the general positions, wbilst the army was on its march for Oporto to dislodge Soult.
May 9th.-The brigade of guards, with those of Brigadier-Generals Sontag, A. Campbell, and Cameron, moved from Coimbra with the whole of the artillery and stores attached to them. Brigadier General Cameron took the road of Aveero. They halted about three o'clock at Mealhada.
May 10th.—The march of the troops was resumed at day-light, and at two o'clock the head of the column arrived upon the bridge over the Vouga. The distance from Coimbra to Oporto, by the ligh road, is about 74 British iniles. The Vouga crosses the bigh road about the
Generals Payne and Cotton, with the cavalry, and Colonel Trant, with the Portuguese under his command, had passed the river in advance ou the preceding evening, and early this morning drove in the advanced posts of the enemy, who, after making a short resistance, retreated on the road to Oporto, pursued by the British. The guards halted at six o'clock in the village of Albergara Nova, exactly half way between Coimbra and Oporto.
May 11th.-As every thing depended on the rapidity of movements, the Guards were again under arms at an early hour, and about five in the evening they arrived at Lo Antonia d'Arifana, the head quarters of the reserve, for the night, about 20 miles from Oporto. The pursuit of the enemy had been continued by General Payne to a position on the heights of Grison, about 10 miles from Oporto, whence a reinforcement was sent by Marshal Soult, making their numbers amount to nearly 5,000 men.
Upon this body a spirited attack was made by General Stewart; and that General Murray, hy a well conducted movement of a brigade of the King's German Legion, turned the left flavk of the enemy, who, in retreating, was very ably charged by five squadrons of the 16th and 20th dragoons. The advance of the British took up
the position on the hill beyond Casralnos, within six miles of Oporto.
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
May 12.—The arıny quitted their cantonments with the first dawn of day. The intelligence of the preceding day had led the troops to expect an immediate surrender with the enemy; but it was now learned that he had retired with considerable precipitation during the night, and destroyed the bridge of boats across th:e Douro. The troops continued to advance, and a part of the men shortly crossed the Douro, and came into immediate contact with the enemy on the opposite side. From an eminence on the Coimbra side of the Douro Sir Arthur Wellesley observed the French retiring to an height immediately above Oporto, on the other side of the river. With the intention of cutting off their rearguard, he instantly pushed three companies of the buffs across the river, under Lieutenant-General Paget, who was directed, in the event of being pressed, to throw himself into a convent, the command of which Sir Arthur Wellesley had previously taken care to procure, so that the enemy would suffer if they approached it. The result happened as Sir Arthur had foreseen. The enemy's columns, on observing the movements of the British, descended from the height to reenter Oporto; but by this time Major-General Hill had crossed the river, in which service the Portuguese assisted the troops with great alacrity. Nearly at the same moment a squadron of the 14th light dragoons, under Major Hervey, and two pieces of artillery, were likewise got over, and Major-General Murray, who had passed the river a few miles on the right, with a battalion of the King's German Legion, appeared on the left fiauk of the enemy. The latter was thus compelled to retire, but took up a more advantageous position, where he seemed determined to make his stand. The Guards now received orders to ad vance, and were embarked as they reached the Douro. Upon reaching the opposite shore, forgetful of their long barch, 75 miles in four days, the whole began to run up the steep streets of Oporto, and continued their exertions till the head of the colimu was ordered to halt. In passing along, the brigade was cheered with the repeated welcoming acclamations of the inhabitants. The joy of the poor Portuguese appealed very forcibly to the feelings. With one voice, with alternate laughter and tears of joy, they hailed the British army as their deliverers, and seemed to think that their troubles were now all over. The way was somewhat obstructed by the artillery and wagirons of ammunition, which the enemy lad abandoned in his retreat. Amidst these lay the bodies of the dead and wounded Frenchmen, alreadly stripped by the Portuguese, und exhibiting a very painful siglıt.
The brigade had only halted a few minutes, when a considerable number of prisoners were brought in; and the enemy, wło at first made a shew of maintaining his position, finding himself pressed on both flanks, retired in great confusion, after a spirited charge of the 14th dragoons, by Major Hervey, towards the hill of Valongo, about a league in front; and here Sir Arthur resolved to leave lim in quiet for the Journal of the Compaign in 1809.
night. The French suffered very considerably in their skiriaishes; but on the side of the British the loss was very trising, compared with the importance of having gained possession of Oporto, the second city in the kingdom.
There cannot be a donbt, but that Marshal Soult was completely taken by surprise in this attack upon him in Oporto. It was eertainly, however, previously in his contemplation to evacuate Portugal, his army having been so much diminished by sickness; but this he intended to execute at his leisure, conceiving himself perfectly secure by the destruction of the bridge; and Loisoa had been detached towards Amarante to oppose the progress of Marshal Beresford in that quarter; from whom, indeed, he had little to fear, as long as his front was safe. ' Noa thing could exceed the embarrassment of the French Chief, upon finaling that the British had actnally effected their passage across the river, and that the destruction of the bridge had not produced the expected impediment.
May 13th.-It must ever be a subject of regiet, ti at the British arny was not able to follow up its success on the preceding day, and, by harca ing advanced after the action of the 12:h, huve availed itself of the panic and surprize of the enemy; and Marshal Soult might have thus been effectually cut off. It was found impossible, lowever, to move the ariny forwards on this day; it was without supplies of every description, the rapidity of the advance from Coimbra laving out stripped the inost active esertions of the Commissariat. It was only owing to thise circumstances that Soult was enabled to efect lise.care.
May 14th. --The 16th light dragoolis, the brigade o guards, and Drigalier-General Cameron's brigade, advanceito pina lov de Famileoa, on the road to Biaga, with the intentiva ofaatuine off Alarzbel Soult's retreat, by that direction into Spain. On the rurch it was understood that the commander of the forces liad received inforuation from Marshal Beresford, of lis having defeated General Loison, near the bridge of Amarante, and that he was pursuing the fugitives toward's Chaves.
May 15th. -The column reachel Braga abont on this day. They found that Marshal Soult had tüken up a porition at the distance of about five miles, and was supposed to meditute an attempt at pushing through the city in the night, with a view ogetting into the high road to Tuy and Valence. About two o'clock in the morning the liench made a feint of this kind, by driving in our picquets, bet imunediately afterwards continued their march to the frontiers.
May 16th. - The column, having been thus brusled up by the afair of the piquets, marched by four in the morning; and although the rain, on this and the two preceding days, was nearly incessant, yet te spirits of the troops were kept up by the hope of overtaking the dying from. This hope was partly realized; for about six in the evening the eneniy was discovered by the advance, posted in the village and artjacent les sis of
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
Salamonde. Lieutenant Colovel Fuller, of the Coldstream Guards, commenced the attack with the liglit infantry of brigade, which would have been followed up by the wbole division, but that, on the approach of night, the French fled, after sustaining a trifling loss. As it continued to rain during the night, and no cover could be obtained, the troops were in a most uncomfortable situation, only to be equalled by that of the enemy.
May 17th.-Several prisoners were taken in the woods this morning, and a considerable quantity of baggage, thrown away by the enemy, was found and pikced up by our men.
now discovered that the French had been enabled to retire by the river, over a small bridge, which only adınitted the passage of one at a tiine. The arined peasantry had been directed to oppose the enemy at this point; but, unfortunately, some Swiss troops, cloathed in red, under the command of General Reynaud, being mistaken for British, were permitted to pass, and, by the dispersion of the Portuguese, enabled their companions to follow. The darkness of the night, however, was fatal to many of them, who fell over the precipices, and were drowned in the river Cavedo, now excessively swelled by the rains. About woon the column moved forwards, and at dusk halted in the village of Rovaens, without seeing any thing of the enemy.
May 18th.— The army marched at day-break, and, in the course of a few hours, the British found themselves again in the track of the enemy, who had burned several villages in bis retreat : a number of men and horses lay dead in the woods. At three. in the afternoon the column, consisting of a brigade of artillery, the 16th light dragoons, the guards, a brigade of the K.'s G. Legion, and Brigadier-General Cameron's, halted for about an hour, within two leagues of Montalegre, the frontier town of Portugal. The several corps were then cantoned in the adjoining villages, which they found deserted by the inhabitants. Strong parties of French cavalry had visited them, aud carried off all the bread and wine they could find.
May 19th. This morning the British remained in their quarters, it being ascertained that Marshal Soult bad entered Galicia with the remains of his army. Major-General Murray, with his aid-de-camp, witnessed the retreat of the enemy from Montalegre; his columns marched slowly, and appeared to be in great distress.
In this inanner, therefore, terminated the escape of the enemy, a nd the pursuit of the British, and what may be termed the first part of the campaign in 1809, i. e. the expulsion of the French from Oporto. The British army now returned to Oporto, which it re-entered May 24th, and was received with the applause and distinction which it had so well earned.
May 28th.—The army, smon after day-break of this day, began to march from Oporto for the South of Portugal, for Punlete, on the
Journal of the Campaign in 1809.
Zezere and Tagus. There were three very sufficievt reasons for this Dovement : in the first place, it was nearer the supplies from England; it was a better point of observation; and, thirdly, the line of the Tagus was the intended line of future operations. The ariny therefore marched at its leisure to this point, and on the 11th of June it was all assembled in Punbete and its neighbourhood. Puuhete is most delightiully situated at the confluence of the Zezere with the Tagus. A bridge of boats was across the Zezere. The several brigades of infantry were here formed into four divisions under the command of the senior general officers with each. The divisions were composed as
First division-Lieutenant-Gen. Sherbrook. The brigade of Guards, General Cameron's brigades, and King's German Legion.
Second division-Major-General Kell; Brigadier-Gen. K. Stewait.
June 28th.—The army having been by this time duly refreshed, and some reinforcements having been received, Sir A. Wellesley, moreover, having ascertained that the Frenchi were assembled higher up the river, the army began its march this day for Spain. It was compelled to move ja several divisions, and by different routes, the roads and supplies being upsuitable to the movements of large bodies. The second division, uuder the orders of Major-General Hill, and the German Legion, on successive days, with the artillery, marehed along the south bank of the Tagus, which they crossed at Villa Vella, by a bridge of boats. Brigadier-Geperal A. Campbell's route was on the north side ; and the march of the Guards and General Cameron's brigade, forming part of General Sherbrook's division, was on the direct road to the frontier. The Guards marched from Punhete June 27th, and reached Abrantes (distant only nine miles) the same day. At one this morning (the 28th}, the generale beat, and by three the column was formed on the road leading to Castel Branco. At nine the troops halted, and hutted in a wood of pipes, near the village of St. Domingo.
June 19th.--Tbe troops began their march at the same early hour as the preceding day, and about four halted in the little town of Costisadla. This day's march was twenty miles, the road very hilly, and the troops, in consequence, very much fatigued. The Coldstream, and General Cameron's brigade, halted at Cardagos, seven miles in the rear.
June 30th.-The column advanced to Sazadas, and defiled through the strong pass of Monte Gordo, defended by several redoubts; continued their march the next and following day, and reached Castel Branco July 2d. The report current in this town was, that the French had concentrated their forces, to the amount of 45,000 men, at Talavera, pod that Joseph Buonaparte had joined them with 6,000 from Madrid.