The Battle of Dorking.
- Um Kopf und Kragen geredet..: Erfolgreiche Kommunikation mit Behörden und Gerichten (German Edition)!
- Daniel- Everymans Bible Commentary (Everymans Bible Commentaries).
- Social Media for Real Estate.
- Recollections of Sir George B. L’Estrange by Sir George B. L’Estrange on Apple Books!
- My First Years as a Frenchwoman, 1876-1879.
- Item Preview!
Journal of the Waterloo Campaign. A Soldier of the Legion. Eyewitness to the Peninsular War and the Battle of Waterloo. History of the Zulu War. Tales from the Rifle Brigade. A History of the British Army — Vol. Sir John William Fortescue. The Adventures of Thomas Williams of St. Three years with the Duke, or Wellington in private life. Lord William Pitt Lennox. The Private Journal of F. Memoirs of the Late War — Vol. Twenty-Five years in the Rifle Brigade. Adventures of a young rifleman in the French and English armies,.
Sir William Howard Russell.
Recollections of Sir George B. L’Estrange
In the Wake of War. Recollections of a Peninsula Veteran. The Siege of Lucknow. From Tolerance to Tyranny. Peninsular Sketches; by Actors on the Scene. Before and after Waterloo. Freiherr von Christian Ompteda. Narrative of a forced journey through Spain and France, as a prisoner of war, in the years to Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, formerly of the Grenadier Guards. Captain Rees Howell Gronow. Studies In The Napoleonic Wars.
The Avila of Saint Teresa. A Soldier of the Seventy-First. Twelve Years of a Soldier's Life in india: Sir William Hamilton Maxwell. With the Heart of a King. Colonel Samuel Rice C. The Victories of Wellington and the British Armies. The man naturally exaggerated the dangers and difficulties of the attempt, but at length con- sented to put him on board on payment of one thousand francs.
Edmund at length gave way, paid the fisherman the money in French notes, with which he had provided him- self at Verdun, and the fisherman took his departure to deposit, as he said, the money with his wife's brother. Whether the whole statement of the fisherman was a ruse to get this money and also the re- ward for the arrest of an English prisoner, or whether the brother, frightened at the risk to his sister, over-persuaded the fisherman to become traitor, suffice it to say, the man came back from the town, and within a few minutes afterwards a knocking was heard at the door, and the terrible words " Ouvrez au nom de la loi " struck the ears of poor Edmund ; he was received with scant ceremony by two gendarmes, and ordered to march to Furnes and thence to Yerdun, keeping his hand on the stirrup of one of them.
At the towns and villages on the road he was some- times the butt of insolent remarks ; sometimes, on the contrary, he became an object of com- miseration, particularly among the females. At length Verdun was reached and he was consigned to a cell in the fortress of Bitche, which was very damp and dark. The following day he was allowed to take a little air in the yard of the prison, when he found that his neighbour in the very next cell was his friend Beamish, who had been arrested about two miles from the frontier, and who complained that his cell was positively two or three inches deep in water.
Edmund though much beaten down was not entirely discouraged; he hoped to make his escape and join the English army, which he knew was in Portugal. Beamish also insisted on casting in his lot with his comrade Edmund. Their second escape was well contrived: Ed- mund had plenty of money, and this powerful element he brought into play in bribing a dirty little German Jew, who was in the habit of coming to the prison to buy trinkets or clothes which the prisoners frequently sold to purchase luxuries, which were not included in the prison fare.
This little scoundrel screwed a hundred pounds out of Edmund for procuring him the second- hand uniform of a French officer, and the uniform of a French fantassin, or infantry soldier, for Beamish. The uniforms once in the prison, they were soon donned, and Edmund marched boldly to the gate, followed by Beamish. After some consultation it was determined to take the road towards the south, the distance being very great, and persons proceeding in that direction could scarcely be suspected of being prisoners escaping from Bitche or from Verdun.
They once more adopted the plan of travelling at night and lying by in the day. I should mention that by an arrangement with the Jew, they re-exchanged their uniforms for their own clothes in a wood about four miles from their prison, where the Jew met them by ap- pointment. He had been given a suit of clothes for each of them when he left them the uniforms, and as he was in the habit of pur- chasing old clothes, he carried them away without suspicion, and knowing that the two prisoners would leave immediately they could dress them- selves, he started direct from the prison for the rendezvous, which by good fortune Edmund and Beamish were enabled to keep.
Of course a good deal of chaffing and joking took place on resigning the uniforms and retaking their own dresses and blouses. The little Jew became very much irritated at some of their observations, for he was asked from whom he had borrowed the uniforms, and he feared that the two gentlemen might take him by the throat and force him to disgorge a part of his ill-gotten gains, if they knew he had merely borrowed the dresses, when this searching question was asked in the merest joke, for the joker quite by accident had hit upon the truth ; the little Jew was perfectly astounded at their apparent knowledge of the fact of borrowing.
He then admitted that he had borrowed the uniforms from the wardrobe of a Captain who lodged in his house with his Brosseur, to which last he had given ten francs to lie in bed and pretend to be ill, so that he might lend the Jew his uniform for a few hours ; therefore the entire Z. The two friends met with no great dangers on their road until they had arrived within ten miles of Angouleme, on the road to Bordeaux, when they were met, just as they were creeping out of a wood, by a Garde-forestier or champetre. This worthy individual suspected them of being poachers and insisted on seeing their passports.
Here was a dilemma! Edmund then addressing the Garde-champetre, said to him in French, " Poaching is it you suspect us of? Well, if that is the case we will go home with you, and you can send to the Maire, and he will soon tell you who we are. After walking a few paces very peaceably, Beamish began to stagger and rolled against the Garde, who at first thought he was about to be attacked by his prisoners, and seized hold of the hilt of his short sabre ; but the next reel of Beamish brought Edmund to the ground, who, rising to his legs, immediately called on the Garde for aid, as his friend was so tipsy he could not walk.
Of course, Beamish never opened his mouth, but his friend Edmund began rating him severely in French for making too free with M. The Garde with open mouth and ears was taking in the title of Count and Countess, and at length said, " Ces Messieurs ont dine avec M. The news that the chateau where they had dined was between two and three miles distant was very consolatory to Edmund ; he began to see his way out of the dilemma.
Acceding to the kind offer, he pro- posed to aid Beamish to mount the shoulders of the stalwart Garde. After several attempts, during which Beamish and the Garde kissed the sod more than once, the gallant Beamish was mounted and the Garde prepared to start for the chateau. He had scarcely taken three steps when he was suddenly tripped up, Ed- mund, who was supposed to be supporting Beamish from behind, having placed his leg between those of the Garde, who with twelve stone on his withers once more rolled on the ground. The Garde thinking he had tripped up against the root of a tree, begged pardon for his false step, Beamish pretending by his Ah's and Oh's to be much hurt.
The Garde observed, " Oh, for Mdme. Valerie, sa fille, elle deteste les soulards. About five minutes' walk brought the party to a snug house situate on the borders of the forest, con- taining three rooms and what was called the gr enter, a large room in the roof, in which was a truckle-bed occupied occasionally by any friend who might stay drinking late with the Garde, and sometimes by an assistant or two when serious poaching was apprehended.
The Garde, who was a married man but without children, on entering said a few words to his wife: All this was put on the wood fire, when the Garde left the room and brought in two or three bottles of red vin du pays, one of which he uncorked and emptied about one-third of its contents into the pan.
In a few minutes the pan was taken from the fire, and the best pieces extracted from it with a fork were placed in the two gentlemen's plates; the gravy or sauce with the bacon and onions was in a manner pushed from the pan with a fork, the pan being canted sufficiently to dispense with the use of a spoon: Edmund told me the dish was excellent. Beamish after many ex- hortations was prevailed upon to sit upright and pick a little supper, the honest Garde telling him there was nothing like eating to set the stomach right.
I have given this little detail of the cooking of the rabbit, as I afterwards learnt this is the famous dish called Lapin a la Chasseur. After supper the Garde, who supped with his wife in the corner of the same principal room or kitchen, proposed to give up his bed to Edmund and his friend. Beamish was therefore relegated to the truckle-bed in the grenier, and Edmund, who had observed that the Garde's bed-room had no issue save through the kitchen, was at his request fur- nished with a mattress, pillow, and blanket, which he contrived to place close to the door of the bed-room, so that the Garde could not leave the house without his knowledge.
I omitted to say that Edmund had invented a very complicated story, how his friend Beamish had lost his vice from an accident ; that they had come from Bordeaux on a pedestrian ex- pedition, and were returning to that town ; that the loss of voice of Beamish was tem- porary ; that he could already pronounce several words, and Beamish was called upon in the morning at breakfast to show his powers of speech by pronouncing words after their very distinct pronunciation by Edmund.
I fear I have lingered too long at the Forest Garde's house. The goods forwarded that morning consisted of two fine buck chev- reuils or roe-deer , six or seven hares, and twenty or thirty rabbits, besides the Count de la Roche Guy on' s two friends, sitting on the back bench behind the driver, his wife, and little son. The two gentlemen wore blouses of a light grey colour over their clothes, as the custom then was, and which sensible custom has continued until within these few years, if not until the present day, for I saw blouses stripped off on descending from the Diligence at Macon, when there on my way to Switzer- land four or five years agone.
I knew the wearers to be gentlemen of rank. I mention the blouses, as they are useful in concealing difference of rank. All went well for two or three hours, when they suddenly stopped at the octroi-gate of Angouleme. Beamish, who did not understand the words spoken by a gentleman in uniform with a sword by his side, who, putting his foot on the step of the cart or carriole and looking under the tilt, said, "Avez-vous quelque chose a declarer, Mes- sieurs? They now entered the town; it was about eight o'clock a. Edmund and his friend preferred the cabaret, as they knew if any inquiries were made as to who they were, the driver would vouch for their being friends of the Count.
They therefore went to the cabaret and sat down, in the course of an hour, to an excellent fricandeau of veal, larded and garnished with spinach, the standing dish on market-days of every cabaret in the kingdom of France. After the dejeuner they once more mounted the carriole, when Beamish, who had been very silent, not even continuing the whis- pered conversation he had hitherto carried on with his friend Edmund, suddenly exclaimed, " My dear Edmund, we must separate. I have been very near ruining you twice in the last twenty-four hours. You cannot always expect to escape so well as we have done hitherto, and I shall leave you when we arrive at the end of our ride.
I shall pretend to be afflicted with stammering if any questions are asked, and with a few rolls and a pound of cheese I can subsist Certainly through the two or three days which my walk to Bordeaux to our rendezvous there will occupy. Waking early in the morning, Edmund was ' surprised to find Beamish already up, and his bed deserted. He thought he must be gone down to look after breakfast, and thought further how foolish he was. The note was short, but expressive: I could not continue to peril your chance.
We after- wards heard that he was once more taken ; but of this I am by no means certain. A few years later, I believe, he fell among the heroes who died on the field of Waterloo. Edmund once alone ran but little risk; he walked, and sometimes rode, from Montmoreau, where they parted, to Libourne ; here he rested a day or two, sending a letter to his country- woman, Madame Lynch, wife of the then Maire of Bordeaux.
Lynch, although born in France, was also of Irish descent. Madame Lynch informed him he might safely approach Bordeaux with the passport she sent him, which was that of a young man of the same age. Once arrived at Bordeaux he was most kindly received by M. The family kept him out of sight when any stranger called ; but in a short time a 'passport was procured for him under his own French sounding name, although there was no French blood in his veins, save the drop of pure Norman of the time of the Conqueror.
At all events the passport was very useful it pro- cured him a pass to amuse himself with a sailing-boat on the Garonne. One day he heard that a French fleet was lying off the coast, about three miles, and a day or two later that the fleet had left and that a small English fleet was lying at anchor on the very same spot. Edmund longed for a gale of wind off the coast and down the last reach of the Garonne. He was at length gratified: Edmund, however, soon quieted him, for drawing a pistol from his pocket and pointing it at his head at about three yards' distance, he told him to lie down, and that if he opened his mouth he was a dead man.
The nigger's voice had, however, reached the ears of the Douane, and Edmund saw four or five men hastily launching a boat about the size of his own. This did not greatly alarm him, for he had a spanking breeze and a good boat, and if nothing gave way, he felt sure he should be under the guns of the English ships before the Douaniers could get within shot of him. He was not disappointed. The black man was set free, and ordered to return to Bordeaux, when the wind had dropped the next morning.
Before returning to the narrative of my first march and first bivouac, I may as well mention that circumstances subsequently carried me to Bordeaux when the war was over, although peace had not been proclaimed. Lynch; and Madame Lynch told me the story of my cousin Edmund's visit and fortunate escape. CHAPTER " Last noon beheld them full of lusty life j Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay ; The midnight brought the signal sound of strife ; The morn the marshalling in arms the day Battle's magnificently stern array.
I MUST now return to my personal narrative. I fear I have nothing to tell so amusing as the escapes from Verdun ; but at all events I shall give a youngster's impression of war as pre- sented to me. My first bivouac after the first day's march can never be obliterated from my memory. The novelty, the excitement, the feeling that I was now really a soldier and no longer a " feather- bed hero," stirred up my energies.
The pitching the tents when evening came and the day's march was over, the cutting down of trees, the lopping of branches for fires for cooking our rations for our dinner or supper, reminded me of a gigantic picnic; the fine wild scenery around us, and later in the evening the loud buzzing of the insects and the deep-toned croaking of the frogs all these sounds so much louder than in our more temperate islands naturally caused a lasting impression ; and the novelty of sleeping, or rather attempting to sleep, for the first time under canvas, completely banished sleep from my eyes, until the mono- tonous tap!
I got off my camp-bed, but the sleepless night and excitement had their effect. I felt heavy and sick, but I soon shook off the temporary indisposition. I am happy to say I never suffered an hour's illness during the war. Being attached to the Light Infantry Company, I was relieved from baggage guard ; so, mounting my pony, I proceeded with the army in the direction of Talavera. After a few days' march we were halted under the walls of that beautiful town, and visited the field where that great and bloody battle of Talavera had been so lately fought.
Perhaps the open shops and the general feeling of gaiety and security presented in the appearance of the in- habitants, things which we had not yet seen in Spain, may have, induced me to see the town " en couleur de rose. The very next morning we heard that our cavalry had had a slight brush with the cavalry of the enemy, who had re- treated behind the Tormes, blowing up the bridge behind them.
The bridge was quickly repaired, but in a very partial manner, so that we had great difficulty in persuading our horses to cross. However, we got over in safety. I now began to think I smelt powder, and that I was about to experience that curious sensation felt when for the first time bullets are heard whistling about our juvenile ears. I was about to receive what the French have so aptly named " Le bapteme de feu.
We left Valladolid in view on our right, many of us very much de- siring to see the inside, as well as the outside of its walls, but we were disappointed. We neither saw Valladolid nor Madrid. Every morning, for we were now in June, the tap! But we forgot all our fatigue and marched briskly on our way witli the earnest desire of overtaking the retreating French army. We were, however, halted for three days at Urbado, from whence the now to us familiar name of Urbado Camp. On the third day we continued our march ; the troops were in splendid condition, both as regards health and discipline, and we well knew that a great battle was imminent ; which proved to be a well-founded belief, for our march eventually terminated at Yittoria, where that great and glorious battle was fought which put an end to the French power in Spain.
I shall now take the liberty of saying a few words respecting our enemies the French. There seemed to be a national antipathy between the French and the Spaniards, and as pleasant and gentlemanly a feeling between the English and the French. I may mention, as an example of this feeling, a circumstance which occurred, I may almost say to myself, at all events within my immediate knowledge.
We occupied a sort of farm-house, called a " Quinta," about a mile from the French lines: Jean Pied du Port. It was well known to the French that we were at the Quinta, for the scouts came close to us several times, but we were there three days unmo- lested. They knew from their scouts also when we were relieved by a party of General Morillo's Spanish soldiers. The same night they relieved us, they were attacked and all taken prisoners. It was evident enough they did not want us. We fre- quently found a French soldier, and sometimes a French officer, at a spring, a quarter of a mile in our front I mean in front of the Quinta.
There was always an exchange of civilities be- tween the Red and Blue, but I well know that a Spaniard would have been fired on without remorse, and vice versa. At all times when we were in a country which looked like sporting, we got out our shot-guns, for I must, as we are talking of campaigning, explain that we did not get out our rifles or old Brown Besses, and being, as I have just said, on a gentlemanly footing with the enemy, we made many sporting excursions with more or less success. The most remarkable one I re- collect, both from the extraordinary quantity and quality of the game met with and the empty bags which went home, induces me to mention it.
While at the Urbado Camp, which lies in a fine, flat agricultural-looking plain of many miles in extent, we heard that the plain abounded with game, particularly with bustards. A party was therefore formed to circumvent these splendid birds. A number of soldiers offered their services as beaters, and a keen sportsman, Captain Blomer, Colonels Leith, Mcolls, and Knox, with the young subaltern, myself, formed the party.
It was, as I have before observed, the month of June, not a very sporting season of the year ; but as the hen bustards were sitting closely, it was not likely we should fall in with more than one or two, perhaps by stumbling over their nests. But the cock bustard was our quarry, these fine birds being in the habit of assembling on an open space on the plain, and strutting about with their wings scraping the ground like a village-gobbler, as they say in America, or turkey-cock.
It was not long be- fore the keen eye of Blomer detected the birds going through their morning performance of strutting and blowing. Blomer, with his beaters, took a long detour, and throw- ing his right and left wings forward, he advanced slowly on the birds, with the view of driving them to pass over our heads. I could hear my own heart beat so loud that I was almost afraid the birds would hear it. Some flew right over my head, and over the heads of my brother sportsmen ; some flew to the right or left of us ; they certainly were long shots, but after a general discharge not a bird fell.
Without boasting of myself I may say we were all good game shots ; but whether it was the excitement caused by the novelty and size of the game, or whether it was the poor quality of our ammuni- tion, of which I spoke before, not a feather did I see fall. We only brought home empty bags and most formidable appetites. Once more I must return to our march, for I left our troops some miles in advance. We had now got into a hilly country.
Catalog Record: Recollections of Sir George B. L'Estrange, | Hathi Trust Digital Library
A spur from the mountains ran down to the river. The high road a good and wide one ran between the spur of the hill and the river. We followed the road, and suddenly turning the hip or spur of the hill or mountain, we saw before us the great plain of Vittoria, with the whole French army in position. I will now give my impressions of a great battle. I do not pretend, as a subaltern, to give a strategic account of this great battle.
I shall confine myself to an outline of the scene, the movement, the smoke, the din, and the carnage. I shall endeavour to describe my own feelings and doings in this my first engagement. As, however, these events happened more than half a century since, I may remind my readers that our army on the field of Yittoria was com- manded in chief by Lord Wellesley, the corps d'armee in which I was a subaltern by Sir Rowland Hill. The Spaniards under Morillo were attached to our corps, and the Portuguese were under General Buchan. The troops were confident in their generals, and of victory.
It was about eight o'clock in the morning ; the sun was now well above the horizon, and assumed the shape of a huge crimson ball ; it was the early sun of the 21st of June, the longest day in the year, now about to be the witness of a great, glorious, though bloody battle. The French army, although they had been retreating, were encumbered with plunder, which they were endeavouring to carry off into France ; but we saved them further trouble on this score.
The sight of this great army of enemies made a deep impression on the mind of so young a soldier. The town of Yittoria, about three miles to our left, was indistinctly visible. The moment was a most exciting one. As we marched up to our post in line of battle, I observed a man lying on his back a little to my left. I could not resist going over to look at the body ; it was that of a young Frenchman who had evidently died that morning but from what cause I did not ascertain.
It was the first dead body I had seen on the field, and caused a painful and sickening sensation, which, how- ever, was shortly to be passed by, as death on the field became a matter of common occurrence. We shortly after this arrived at the base of a slightly elevated piece of ground, where we halted, our general wishing to place us in as safe a position as he could, while the rear of the army was coming up, and forming in line of battle.
Tliis began to look like business. A sharp firing on the right gave us notice that the ball had been opened in that quarter. It was Morillo's Spanish division that had come in contact with the most advanced part of the French army. The Spaniards, though acting admirably under their patriotic and gallant general, were unable to make much impression on the French troops, until they were reinforced by a British battalion sent to their assistance.
This was that brave regiment the 71st Highlanders, under the com- mand of one of the best and most experienced officers in the army, Colonel Cadogan. We had, however, short time for lamentation. The rear of the army had already arrived in their posi- tion, and the order "Stand to your arms!
Our light companies, of which mine was one, were ordered to form in extended skirmishing order, in front of the brigade, and were directed to advance and clear the wood, from which the sharpshooters were annoying us, and at whom I had myself taken several shots from the musket of the corporal of my company. A field of corn, standing four or five feet high, and just ready for the sickle, was between us and the wood, and as we advanced through it, besides the bullets from the wood, an occasional cannon- ball bowled along through it, its course being easily seen by the lowering of the ears of corn, as if reaped.
As they rolled through it, I felt as if I could have stopped some of these balls with my foot, they appeared to roll so slowly. Fortunately for me I did not try the experiment, as the loss of a leg would have ensued. A perfect hailstorm of bullets was poured down upon us, which, if it had lasted, must have swept us all into eternity. But we pushed forward, and the French turned. Looking to my right, I saw my captain, Girdle- stone, wounded aud supported by the bugler.
I rushed over to him; he seized me by the hand, gave it a hard squeeze, and said to me, " Go on, my boy! I ran on frantically to the front, screaming at the top of my voice, " Come on, 31st! Bub these brave fellows did not require to be called to advance ; the only difficulty was to keep them back. I was parched with thirst from the heat and excite- ment, when an officer attached to the light com- pany of the Buffs, seeing me panting for breath, dipped his hand, on which was a thick glove, into a ditch, which was more blood than water, and passed it across my mouth, which greatly re- freshed me.
By the wound of Girdlestone I found myself placed in command of the light company of the 31st, who had been through the greater part of the Peninsular War, and, though reduced in num- bers, were as gallant a lot of men as ever existed. I began to feel that, at the age of sixteen, I was placed in a very responsible position, and deter- mined to keep myself as cool and steady as was possible. Three or four regiments of cavalry were at the moment charging, and galloped up to the foot of the eminence on which the French line stood; it was too steep for the horses to ascend, and they were obliged to wheel.
But the firm and un- compromising style in which the British army advanced was too much for the nerves of the French; they turned in retreat along their whole line, and the battle of Vittoria was won. For the rest of the day it was easy work for us. In looking towards the town of Vittoria, I saw a moving mass of all sorts of vehicles retiring over the plain; it was the whole of the materiel of the French army, their baggage and their plunder. Notwithstanding their hasty retreat, the whole fell into the hands of Lord Welling- ton's army. Here was taken the famous Berlin, fitted up with every conveniencce and luxury, with silver and Sevres china: It has now become a matter of history, from Lord Wellington's despatches and other competent authorities.
Indeed, we were ignorant of almost every detail of the action, save those which passed under our own observation, until we received the English newspapers some time afterwards; but it is well known how complete was the defeat: I regret to say, but am scarcely surprised at it, that there were some breaches of discipline, now known under the Indian name of " looting," which were severely censured, and in some instances punished ; but it would be invidious to name any particular regiment after all had otherwise behaved so well.
While thus in pursuit, I observed a large body of men moving parallel with us on our right.
George Burdett L'Estrange
I said to an officer near me, " Those fellows are French. A couple of squadrons would have been enough. Seeing us, they rapidly moved off. Sometimes it was a love-letter, and sometimes a touching effusion from a beloved mother or sister to some young French soldier. The firing had nearly ceased, but an occasional flying shot from a gun enlivened us. Almost the last shot that was fired for it was now near evening I heard whistling along exactly in my direction. The usual feeling is to dip the head, and thus make a low bow to these dangerous missiles, as they generally fly over head.
A double allowance of rum, was, however, served out, and a small piece of raw beef, cut from some bullocks which had been driven in, hastily killed and cut up, and almost as quickly grilled at the point of the bayonet or ramrod. As soon as the toasted beef was swallowed, we lay down upon the bare ground, which fortunately was quite dry; and my gallant Colonel, Leith, Captains Nicholls and Knox, and myself slept under one blanket. I happened to get a centre berth under the aforesaid blanket, in which there was a long split, which just came to my share.
Before daybreak we were standing to our arms ; the old three taps of the morning drum did not now come into play. We again started in pur- suit of the French in the direction of Ron- cesvalles, famous for its battle mentioned in the " Song of Roland," where "Roland the Brave and Oliver, and every paladin and peer on Roncesvalles fell.
I really believe this was the villainous tube which threw the shot so near me and made me jump for my life. In a short time we came to Pampeluna. The French threw a garrison into this strongly-fortified town, but had not time to provision it; they had pro- visions only for a very short time. We passed by without any apprehension of leaving so strong a place in our rear, as it was to be sur- rounded and blockaded by the Spaniards, who were already in force on the spot. We took little notice or care for these objects, and left even valuable muskets on the road as we passed.
After a few hours we reached the town of Eon- cesvalles, which is at the foot of the Pyrenees, where we halted. The town was not imposing ; a few small houses, a couple of rather large monastical-looking buildings, which we soon ascertained had been converted into Posadas. We were not long in seeking the interior of the buildings to ascertain what good things we could procure to appease our ravenous appetites.
The viands produced were cooked with the usual quantity of garlick, so grateful to the Spanish appetite, but so uncongenial to the English stomach ; but hunger is an admirable sauce, and we really enjoyed our repast. This boy was frequently the butt of the soldier's jokes, which he took very patiently. Among others, when rations of meat were served out in the usual manner by a kind of lottery, performed by placing a soldier with his back to the table or ground, where the rations were laid out, another soldier, pointing to a piece of meat, would call out, " This," meaning, "Who is this for?
Sometimes he would call out " Ista," pointing to a bad, bony morsel, and the response was inevitably Antonio, or Portugee boy; for, by using the word " Ista" the Spanish for " this," it was intended to inform the soldier that it was a bad piece, good for the Portuguese boys. The next day our light companies were informed that they would be required to make a sort of secret movement, in as light marching order as possible. Jean Pied de Port. Our com- mandant, I believe, had sealed orders, not to be opened till after our arrival at the Quinta, which I before mentioned when speaking of the feelings of the French towards us, and towards the Spaniards.
The country was in all the gorgeous beauty of midsummer, the trees many of them fruit-bearing: Things altogether seemed very much altered for the better ; we had, in fact, passed the frontier into France, which had not been ravaged by war like unhappy Spain and Portugal, and we were the first of the "enemies' troops," over the French frontier.
We had thus the satisfaction of being the first to enter the territory of La Belle France and the Grande Empire. He could not resist the oppor- tunity of firing a shot into the village before we had reached it. The report, of course, alarmed the little garrison, who were instantly on the move, and, with the rapidity of French sol- diers, the greater part of them escaped. It deepens still, the work is scarce begun; Nor mortal eye the distant end foresees.
ON our return from the Quinta, in front of Koncesvalles, on the lower road to St. Jean Pied de Port, we encamped again for a "few days. My gun, as usual, was soon in requisi- tion, to ascertain if any game was to be found in the neigbourhood. We found that quails were rather numerous, but having no dogs to point or rouse them, we found it very difficult to get them on the wing, the birds being very young, and lying like-stones.
Our attention was soon turned from these agreeable pastimes, as an order came for the light companies to move to the front. As we marched up this mountain- side, I ob- served for the first time the curious effect of the cloud or mist pouring over the brow of the mountain, or through the defiles, which I ex- pected every moment to come down in a heavy shower ; but it turned out that it was only the mist. After a march of about three miles we arrived at the summit of the Pyrenees, and saw the fertile valleys of France spread out before us as if on a map.
Here finding a plateau of natural growth, we were ordered to pitch our tents, and make ourselves as comfortable as we could, which we were certainly well inclined to do. I slept like a top, after the fatigues of the day, and began the next morning to look about me and admire the magnificent scenery that lay before, around, and almost at our feet ; the fine woods of well-grown trees furnished the sides of the mountains more than halfway up to our elevated position or bank.
We soon began to find ourselves tolerably comfortable. The eagle and the vulture, sure accompaniments of an army in the field, which provides ample provender for them, soared over our heads in splendid circles of flight, and I soon began to think of my gun, and what chance there was of sport. I sallied out by myself to prospect the country ; looking down from those sublime heights upon the val- leys below were the noble woods that adorned the sides of the mountain.
I saw little chance of finding any game in these high and wild regions, except perhaps the chance of coming on a bear, if I ventured into the woods, as I heard that they were to be found in these regions. I was sur- prised to see just at my elbow a delicious- looking ripe strawberry, and then another and another, and found that the ground was covered with them. After regaling myself on this delicious god-send, I lost very little time in returning to camp, and reporting to my brother officers the treasure I had hit upon, when there was an instantaneous rush to the strawberry- beds, such as I should suppose might in these.
The time hung heavily enough on our hands in this elevated camp for several days ; I could not even turn my gun to any account, except an occa- sional shot, at a long distance, at an eagle or a vulture as he circled over our heads. Some- times these disgusting birds, when heavily gorged with their prey, would allow us to ap- proach within a few yards, when they with difficulty arose from the ground or rock on which they were seated, but I never, unfor- tunately, was prepared for such a chance.
When the news reached the Emperor that the Ebro had been passed, the battle of Vittoria won, and the French army beaten and dis- organized, driven into France, and the French territory violated by the feet of the enemy, Bonaparte, who was then in the north, and whose luck had begun to turn, despatched Marshal Soult in hot haste to reorganize the French army, and endeavour to recover the lost ground. The Marshal, who was supposed to be the best general under his command, lost no time in obeying his orders.
He collected every man that -he could lay his hands on, and sent them to the Spanish frontier by every conceivable means he could procure. It was dated from St. Jean Pied de Port, and is as follows: To be read at the heads of Companies in each Regiment, 23rd July, The recent events of the war have induced his Majesty the Emperor to invest me, by an Imperial decree of the 1st instant, with the command of the armies of Spain, and to honour me with the flattering title of his ' Lieutenant.
For this pur- pose were many of your comrades withdrawn. The Emperor himself assumed the command, and the arms of France, guided by his powerful and commanding genius, achieved a succession of as brilliant victories as any that adorn the annals of our country. The presumptuous hopes of aggrandizement entertained by the enemy were confounded, pacific overtures were made, and the Emperor, always inclined to con- sult the welfare of his subjects by following moderate counsels, listened to the proposals that were made.
With well-provided fortresses in his front and rear, a skilful general, enjoying the confidence of his troops, might, by selecting good positions, have braved and discomfited his motley levy. But unhappily at this critical period timorous and pusillanimous counsels were followed. The fortresses were abandoned and blown up, hasty and disorderly marches gave confidence to the enemy, and a veteran army, small indeed in number, but great in all that constitutes the military character, which had fought, bled, and triumphed in every province in Spain, beheld with indignation its laurels tarnished and itself compelled to abandon all its acquisitions the trophies of many a well-fought and bloody day.
The valour and steadiness of his troops have been praiseworthy. Yet do not forget that it is to the benefit of your example they owe their present military character, and that whenever the relative duties of a French general and his troops have been ably fulfilled, their enemies have commonly had no other resource than flight. Soldiers, I partake of your chagrin, your grief, your indignation; I know that the blame of the present situation of the army is imputable to others ; be the merit of repairing ifc yours.
I have borne testimony to the Emperor of your bravery and zeal. His in- structions are to drive the enemy from those lofty heights, which enable them proudly to survey our fertile valleys, and chase them across the Ebro. No difficulties can be insurmountable to your valour and devotion. They will be completed in a few days. Let the account of our success be dated from Vittoria, and the birth of his Imperial Majesty be celebrated in that city, so shall we render memorable an epoch deservedly dear to all Frenchmen.
We could hear the roar of the cannon almost continuously, though we were at a considerable distance, ours being the extreme right of the British lines. There was only one pass a few miles to our right, called the Pass of Jaca, or Haca as pronounced, which was occupied by the Spaniards. The other two British Brigades of our division, that is, the Highland Brigade and O'Callaghan's Brigade, occupied the pass of Maya, several miles to our left ; and Sir Lowry Cole's division also occupied some intermediate position.
On the evening of the 24th we were apprised that something might be expected, and desired to be particularly on the alert. They continued to bring up their columns for several hours ; I conclude- that the miserable state of the roads did not admit of any very rapid movements. A spur of the mountain ran down for a short space to our left. Our position was a rocky eminence, entirely composed of large rocks, an admirable position for light troops to occupy. The road to the front passed just on the right of this eminence, and there shortly after our arrival I saw General Morillo, mounted on a tall black Spanish horse, with long white military gloves which came nearly to his elbow, and which he kept continually pulling up, as it appeared to me by a sort of nervous movement.
He sent out a lot of his Spaniards to skirmish in the front ; and we were ordered to defend our position to the last extremity, a duty which we performed with the usual pluck and determina- tion of British soldiers. Ill At length, about one or two o'clock, we observed the whole of the French army in our front advancing to the attack. The Spanish skirmishers were of course soon driven in, and a cloud of French sharpshooters were thrown in thousands against us. With great gallantry, and before very long, they arrived at the foot of the rocky eminence that we were left to defend to the last, of course to give time to our general to retire his brigade, which it was evident was the inevitable result of the attack of so large a force on one brigade.
We had a considerable space to traverse before we could be safe from the fire, behind a spur of the hill in our rear, and we had to make for it. I con- fess I was greatly inclined to have a run for it, but I recollected what an example it would be to our men, and besides I had a great repug- nance to running away. The French seemed satisfied with having driven us from our position, and inclined to follow us up slowly. The general had re- tired the brigade in the direction of Konces- valles, and as we got a little to the rear he halted the light companies, and, with tears in his eyes, thanked them for the gallant stand they had made in their position.
We did not remain long to rest ourselves, but followed the brigade down the hill in the direction of Ron- cesvalles. As we descended the hill I was walking alongside of the general on horseback, and feeling the gravel rather penetrating my foot, I turned it up to Sir John, and showed him the bare skin of my foot, both shoe and stocking being worn through. We passed Roncesvalles, pursuing our retreat in the direction of Pampeluna, and marched on rather dejected until night began to gather in about us, when at length we were ordered to halt, light our fires, and commence our cooking, the tents and baggage still far to the rear.
In fact, the French were close on our track. I now began to discover the difference between a victorious advance and a retreat in face of the enemy. We trudged along all night in the dark. It is odd if 10, British cannot show their faces to 30, Frenchmen. As the day dawned upon us we were in sight of Pampeluna, some distance on our left, en- compassed with clouds of Spanish cavalry and infantry blockading the town, and as we passed over the summit of a rather high hill or moun- tain we saw the French army making a most determined attack on the British.
We com- manded the view, which was magnificent ; and the first thing that met my eye was a battalion of Portuguese scattered and running like mad, and immediately a large body of French formed themselves en masse on our position. I must say the French stood their ground won- derfully, and for a moment or two it appeared to me doubtful what the issue would be ; but just as this gallant regiment got within a few paces of the French column, I saw the two colours go out in front of our heroes almost up to the French bayonets, the battalions following them true as steel, when they hurled the Frenchmen down the steep face of the Pyrenean mountain that they expected to drive us from.
I asked afterwards who the gallant youths were who carried the colours with such commandable effect, and was informed that one of them was Francis Russell, in whose room I and the second Marquis of Anglesey slept at West- minster ; and we were both his fags. An unfor- tunate French sergeant, shot through the lungs, and evidently in mortal agony, made such a row, that my general asked me to see him moved to a small house in the rear. Though the action was, I may say, concluded, I felt as if it was turning my back on the enemy: I, however, obeyed my general's orders, had him carried to the house, where I found the surgeon at work, got him a glass of water, for which he returned me thanks, with a squeeze of my hand, and I returned as quickly as possible to my company.
We halted exactly on the spot where I had seen the fine charge of the Fusiliers executed a few minutes before ; the dead bodies lay before us, and we remained, until the evening set in, exactly in the same position, looking at the French army on the face of the mountain exactly opposite to us.
We could distinctly hear the bands of, the different French regiments play, and so near, that we could distinguish the air. I recollect one in par- ticular, that we afterwards discovered from two bandsmen who had deserted, and came over to us, and were immediately taken into our band, to whom they taught it. It was called Bona- parte's March, and a very fine piece of music it was ; I remember the air of it to the present day. When night set in, I lay down in my camlet cloak which Antonio, my Portuguese boy, had brought up to me towards evening, and slept like a top until wakened up by some mounted officer riding at full speed over me.
I felt the horse's legs as they caught in my cloak, but the horse, as I believe is usually the case, avoided trampling upon me. My own gallant captain, Girdlestone, having recovered from his wound at Yittoria it was merely a flesh wound through the thigh , had rejoined us this morning ; he came up, looking a's well and as fresh as paint, which we all rejoiced to see, but he had a bright new regi- mental coat on, and very clean white trousers, which I suppose made him a conspicuous mark to the French sharpshooters, for before the day was over he was again wounded exactly in the same place, and he had again to return to be nursed through his second wound at Vittoria.
The next morning we, as usual, stood to our arms before daylight, not knowing what im- portant events were before us during the day. Towards evening, however, we heard that the sixth division was approaching, and with it "Wellington himself. Nothing further took place with us that evening ; we remained exactly in the same position, and when we had sufficient light the next -morning to see what was before us, we observed that the French army was retiring; in fact, Wellington had turned their position and saved us the trouble of going at them in front.
Before many hours were over one of the finest spectacles of the campaign occurred; the French army, retreating, had thrown out a cloud of skirmishers to cover it; our army was immediately in motion to follow them up. Our brigade formed the head of the column, and our light companies were thrown out in front to reply to the French sharpshooters.
The scenery was magnificent, the day bright and sunshiny. It was exactly like a brilliant field-day, or sham fight, although occasionally a bullet passed from front to rear, or vice versa. In this form we ad- vanced during the greater part of the day, until the French began to think it was nearly time to halt for the night and bivouac ; and to give us notice of this their intention, they in- creased the number of their sharpshooters, and treated us to a very sharp fire for some little time.
At length we took the hint, and gave up any further attack upon them that evening, as all they seemed to want was time to get away. The next morning we were very early on the the alert, driving the French army before us through the magnificent valley of the Bastan. Towards the middle of the day our general got information that the provisions destined for the relief of Pampeluna were halted in the beautiful secluded village of Elizondo, about a couple or three miles in our front.
We soon arrived at Elizondo, took the whole convoy, and were told that the French general as he evacuated the tow. The general, fearing the soldiers would get at the brandy, had the casks stove in, and let the brandy run about the street, and it was a sight to see the soldiers lying down on their faces and lapping it up with their hands. We suffered no loss in this charming little episode, except one, alas! When we set off at the double, I gave my pony to Antonio, wishing to go on foot with my men. We left the brigade a considerable way in the rear.
The only thing that escaped was my little Portuguese boy, who I suppose was valueless. I never saw the pony again, but I heard that she was afterwards seen in the streets of Paris. In consideration of the loss of my pony, my general allowed me to get one of the mules at a low price. I selected one which I thought was the best, and got on his back to go and join my company, but before we got out of the street he tumbled on his head, sending me face foremost on to the pavement.