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Journal of the Siege of Tarifa.
which, being whispered among our troops, they were filled with indignation, and expressed much apprehension and discontent, test they should be ordered to abandon the town, without having a fair set-to with the enemy. Whence the order proceeded, is unknown, but General Copens appeared bighly enraged when he was informed of it.
Monday, December 30. All this morning the enemy continued firing from both his batteries; and by ten o'clock had enlarged the breach tu twentythree yards.
About noon a large column of the enemy moved to the rear of the suburbs, and seeined to threaten Santa Catalina and the island. Lieutenant Robe, royal artillery, therefore kept up a heavy fire, as usual; but by some accident one of the twenty-four pounders recoiled from its' frame, and was disabled for that day.
About half past twelve, a flag of truce was discovered, with difficulty, for the atmosphere was extremely foggy and thick. It brought the following summons from General Leval.
Summons from General Lecal to the fortress of Tarifa; and the answer to the
same, from Camp-marshal Copens. CAMP BEFORE TARIFA, Dec. 30, 1811, The General of Division, Baron of the Empire, Superior Officer of the Legion of Honour, Grand Cross of the Order of Charles Frederic, commanding the troops besieging Tarifa
To the Governor of that Fortress. Sir -The defence made by the fortress under your command has suficiently established that fair name, which is the basis of military honour. I do not doubt, but that, convinced of the uselessness of a longer resistance, you will endeavour to avert the fatal consequences with which your obstinacy nay be attended to the city and inhabitants of Tarifa.
A breach bas been opened since yesterday, and within a few hours it will be practicable; make then your choice, between an honourable capitulation, and the horrors of an impending assault. I flatter myself that you will admit my first proposition, if you reflect, that the same honour which prompts you to resistance, at the same time imposes it as a duty upon you to spare the lives of a whole population, whose fate is in your hands, rather than sce them buried amidst the ruins of their town. Be pleased, Sir, to accept the assurances of my highesi consideration. (Signed)
LEVAL. P.S. I beg leave to inform you, that I can give you but two hours, to send your answer.
Answer.To General Leval. Tarifa, Dec. 30, 1811, a quarter past two in the afternoon.—Sir, When you propose to the governor of this fortress, to admit a capitulation, because the breach will shortly be practicable, you certainly do uot know THAT I AM HERE.
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa. When the breach shall be absolutely practicable, you will find me upon it, at the head of my troops, to defend it;--then we will negotiate. I am your's,
FRANCISCA DE COPess.
P.S. Be pleased not to send any more flags of truce.
The truce lasted till three o'clock, when the enemy commenced Gring, at the breach, but did not enlarge it, most of the balls passing through into the houses which lay opposite.
Every preparation was made for defending it in case of attack. The 87th regiment, from the arrangements made on the 21st instant, had the charge of the eastern wall and Retiro gate, where the breach was; and on observing a great bustle in the enemy's lines, on the morning of the 31st, the following arrangements were made
Tuesday, December 31. The 87tb regiment flanked the breach to the north and south, leaving two companies in reserve, to bayonet the cnemy, should they have leaped the wall, wbich was fourteen feet lower on the inside, than the outside.
Captain Levesey, with 100 of the 47th, was posted on the east tower, completely flanking any advancing column. Thus they stood, and cool determiuation sat upon their countenances.
Thus prepared, and both sides big with expectation, at eight o'clock the enemy moved forward from their trenches in
direction. A party of 2,000 grenadiers and voltigeurs, the chosen troops of their army, moved by the bed of the river, in front of the breach.
When Colonel Gough saw them advancing, he drew his sword, and throwing away the scabbard, ordered his band, which was stationed in the rear, to strike up the favourite Irish air of Garry-one. The men immediately cheered, and poured a most galling and tremendous fire on the advancing column. They were well seconded by the 47th, who lined a wall descending from the south-east tower, and completely flanked the column. The
enemy halted for a moment, as if stunned by the fall of those around; then advanced with desperation, as if to escape the fire they were then receiving. They ran to the edge of the breach, but, finding it impracticable, they hurried off under the wall to the right, and made a dash at the portcullis. Those being well barricaded, the enemy were again deceived; and observing the dreadful fate of hundreds of their companions, they faced about, and fed with precipitation.
Seeing them ily, Colonel Gough (though slightly wounded) called out to his band, to “play Patrick's day," and this national air so inspirited his men, that it was scarcely possible to restrain them from following the routed French up to their
very trenches. The artillerymen placed in the houses poured vollies of hand grenades upon
Journal of the Siege of Tar: a.
those who turned to the right, and who, to retire in security, fled by the wall. A six pounder too, under the coinmand of Captain Mitchell, royal artillery, on the north-east tower, flanked the column, and throwing many rounds of case shot, added to the dismay and destruction of the enemy.
One of the 87th regiment, who was restrained with difficulty from pursuing the enemy, cried out, “ Colonel, I only want to tache'ern what it is to attack the aiglers !" (alluding to the badge of honour bis regiment obtained by taking an eagle from the 8th regiment of French grenadiers, at the battle of Barossa)" “ Well! I'll go in; but the next time they come, we'll give 'em Garry-one to glory, again.”.
The enemy being thus repulsed, and miserably routed, sent in a flag of truce, to obtain leave to bury their dead, which was granted. It was, indeed, a piteous sight, to see nearly 200 wounded men, crawling under the breach; 30 were brought into the town, as well as nine wounded officers, who had fallen immediately under the breach.
The two leading officers of the column, seeing it give way, remained under the wall, to the left, where they were taken prisoners, after the heat of the fire was over. They declared that they saw at least 500 men fall in the attack.
Our loss, considering the heavy fire we were exposed to, was not great. A Spanish lieutenant-colonel, two British officers, Lieutenant Langly, royal engineers, and Lieutenant Hall, 47th, and seven rank and file, were killed. Three officers, Lieutenant Hill, 47th, and Lieutenant M'Carroll, and Ensiga Waller, of the 87th, one gunner, and 13 rank and file were wounded.
Towards evening, Colonel Skerrett issued the following: “Colonel Skerrett e most sincerely congratulates the British garrison, on the glorious result of “ the affair of to-day. Two thousand of the enemy's best troops attacked “ the breach, and were totally defeated, with immense loss. On our side, « all bebaved nobly; but the conduct of Lieutenant-color:el Gough, and " the 871b, whose good fortune it was to defend the breach, surpasses all “ praise.”
Wednesday, January 1, 1812. The new year commenced with a dreadful storm, the wind blowing strong from the eastward; two Spanish gun-boats were wrecked, under the guns of the island, being full of male and female fugitives from the town, of whom 42 unhappily perished! Fifteen men were taken off a rộck, where the waves impetuously dashed over them, by the exertions of the officers and men stationed on the island, under the directions of Lieutenant Julian Rovary. On this occasion, John Layton, a private in the 82d regiment sprung off a rock, and saved the lives of two Spaniards, who were just perishing, at the risk of his own.
The unfortunate inhabitants, who had fled from the town at the approach of the enemy, being hutted on the eastern side of the island, were completely overwhelmed by the foaming surge. They lost the whole of their property, and many of them their lives. The rocks were strewed with their remains;
Journal of the Siege of Tarifa. and a scene of woe presented itself, that might have softened the heart even of the obdurate and relentless tyrant whose frantic ambition has been the sole cause of such a multiplicity of horrors and mischiefs!
The rain and the storm continuing with unremitted violence, the enemy made no further attempt on the breach. They poured a few dead shells into the town and island; which gave us reason to believe that their ammunision had suffered from the inclement weather.
Several Spaniards having been seen to desert this day, the officer at the convent Santa Catalina, and every other guard, were ordered to fire on all Spaniards attempting to pass towards the enemy's line.
Thursday, January 2. This day was ushered in by torrents of rain, which lulled the tempest, that, during the night, had blown up several of the tents on the island, and exposed both officers and men to the merciless storm.
did not make any further attempt on the breach, or move any of his guns, which we supposed he would have dope, in order to effect some other breach.
A Aag of truce came in during the day, for the purpose of bringing money and clothes to the wounded French officers. After one of them they made particular inquiry: be was said to be a person of distinction, and a page to the ci-devant Empress Josephine.
At four o'clock this day two regiments of infantry, and one of cavalry, were seen moving towards the pass of Lapena; their purpose supposed to be that of bringing up more ammunition.
Friday, January 3. Last night, at the convent, a company of the 47th regiment, under the command of Captain Campbell, sallied on that part of the enemy's trenches, near the north-east tower, and took away some intrenching tools. They found the lower trenches of the enemy so deluged, that they had been abandoned by their piquets. The weather cleared up, and thirteen deserters came in, wbo declared that the French force bad been 11,500; that Marshal Soult was at the convent of La Luz, having been sent for by Marshal Victor, in consequence of two regiments refusing again to storm; and of the dreadful state of the weather which had excited mutinous expressions among their allies.
Another Aag of truce came in, for leave to busy the dead, whieb was granted.
An officer arrived with intelligence that General Ballasteros had embarked the day before at Algeziras, for Tarifa, with 2000 of the choicest of his troops, but had been prevented from sailing, by the inclemency of the weather. Upon it being discovered that the enemy were removing their guns higher up, and it being supposed that it was for the purpose of making ano• ther breach, application was made to Lieutenant-general Campbell for a reinforcement, for the purpose of defending it.
About four o'clock, the flotilla of gun-boats arrived with the light compa. nies of the 9tb regiment on board, who were landed immediately.
Journal of the Siege of Tanta.
Captain Carroll, royal navy, took, on his passage from Gibraltar, titteen deserters on board, from off a cliff, near the bay of Warmersea; one of whom reported, that fifty poles, and an officer had deserted to Algeziras, having defeated a cavalry piquet that had been sent by the enemy to bring them back.
Two deserters came in this day, from whom we learnt, that General Leval had with him sixteen pieces of artillery, twelve of which are in battery. They represented the condition of the French to be deplorable. They said they had had but little bread issued since the 30th December; that they had one thousand sick in the convent of La Luz; that, from an apprehension of a mutiny, General Leval had sent for Marshal Soult to assist him; and that, from the swelling of the rivers, they had no chance either of receiving supplies, or of effecting their retreat.
January 4. The same party of the 47th regiment made another sally last night, and having found the trenches, as before, deserted, brought away some intrenching tools, and a wall piece.
In the course of the night arrived from Gibraltar, four Spanish gun-boats laden with ammunition, and bringing the light company of the 82d regiment, under command of Captain Vincent. They were landed about four in the morning of the 4th, and immediately inarched into town, where they were attached to the 47th regiment. About an hour after the 82d light company landed, there arose one of those dreadful hurricanes to which this part of the straits is subject. Three of the boats, laden with ammunition, were driven ashore, and great apprehensions were entertained for his majesty's ship Stately, which lay at anchor about two miles to the westward of the island. However, she rode it out.
One of those boats being cast on shore, a mile from the enemy's advanced piquet to the west, and they having been seen possessing themselves of another wreck higher up, apprehensions were entertained by Major King, that the ammunition might fall into the enemy's hands; be therefore dispatched Lieutenant Field, acting town adjutant, to order out the light company of the 11th, and fifty of the 82d, wbo were at that time at Santa Catalina, to march to the beach, and flank the wreck. This he did, and then reporting to Lord Pruby the circumstance, his lordship went to see the situation of the wreck, and ordered that the garrison of Santa Catalina should Aank the wreck, while the 82d light company should carry off, or destroy, the stores and ammunition. The boat having four carronades on board, they were spiked. The orders of his lordship were executed amidst torrents of rain, and the companies returned to their respective stations.
Towards evening, a column of the enemy were seen advancing from La Luz; and from a deserter, who came in about that time, we learned, that the enemy proposed attacking us at the three points at once, viz. the island, the town, and Santa Catalina; and, should they fail in this effort, they were then determined to retreat. VOL, IV.