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On the 20th of January, 1810, Soult made a general attack on Sierra Morena, the conquest of which had been facilitated to him by the defeat of Ocana. On the 22d, all obstacles were surmounted, and he had his headquarters at Baylen, a place for ever memorable, from the victory obtained by the Spaniards over General Dupont. Soult did not know how to avail himself of the stupor occasioned in all the classes of the inhabitants by his passage, as daring as unexpected, through the defiles of Sierra Morena. If, instead of scattering his troops, he had in a mass rapidly directed his course to Seville and then to Cadiz, there is little doubt but he would have obtained immediate possession of those two places, almost without resistance; but he hesitated and advanced with the slowness of a tortoise. Instead of directing Sebastiani to Grenada, and Mortier towards Badajoz, he should have marched them towards Cadiz with a bridge equipage to pass the rivulet of Santi Petri; and the dispatch in which he announced to Berthier the occupation of Andalusia, ought to have been dated from head-quarters at Cadiz. So Buonaparte would have manoeuvred, if he had commanded this expedition in person. Soult will vainly excuse himself by asserting that his plans were paralysed by the irresolution of King Joseph; it was then the proper opportunity to let him understand, “that his kingdom was not of this world.” The king was to be considered as a non-entity, when circumstances required the abilities of a general to be called forth. The French were indebted for the victory at Fontenoy, only to the good sense of Lewis the Fifteenth, who, on a day of battle, reckoned himself only as the first Aide-de-Camp of Marshal Saxe.
The defeat of Romana's corps, on the 19th of February, 1811, and the capture of Badajoz, surrendered on the 11th of March, are events so much the more deplorable, as all the chances were in favour of the allies to have prevented them. Instead of pursuing Massena, who escaped like a shadow, without excepting the garrison of Almeida, it would have been much more important that the Portuguese should have been sent in pursuit of the retreating French, and to have marched with the choice of the English troops to preserve Badajoz, the very important key of Guadiana, which only surrendered on the 11th, and which could, and ought to have been relieved on the 9th. Buonaparte only exposed himself to derision when he reproached Soult for not having left the command of the whole of Andalusia to Victor, when he proceeded to Estremadura:-there is not an under-lieutenant of the French army who does not know that the government of a province belongs, according to military regulations, to the next officer in rank. Victor is a Marshal, while Sebastiani is still only a General of Division; and what likelihood is there that this latter would have refused to co-operate with Victor, had he received the smallest invitation to that effect. Buonaparte is much to be pitied, if, in order to lessen the disgrace of a check, he is reduced to the necessity of picking a quarrel with his best officers. If he had wished to have scolded Soult with reason, the battle of Albuera, fought on the 16th of May, afforded him a fine opportunity of doing so. This Marshal must have been informed by his spies, that the siege of Badajoz was raised---his ends were then accomplished; instead, therefore, of wantonly causing the slaughter of many thousand brave fellows, he ought to have manoeuvred in the same manner he did the day after the battle. This step seemed to be pointed out to him by his superiority in cavalry, which would very advantageously have covered all his movements, and General Beresford would thereby have been prevented, for several days, from resuming the siege of Badajos. It is even probable, that had it not been for the slaughter, equally impolitic and dreadful, of the 16th of May, the allied army would not have refused battle, notwithstanding the junction of Soult and Marmont's armies; every circumstance induces the belief, that the fate of the Peninsula might have been decided on the 20th of June, in the plains of Albuera. Lord Wellington may also be reproached for leaving so much to the discretion of General Beresford as to come to a pitched battle with General Soult, who had even a year ago been represented to the English government as the most able French General of the army of Spain, and it appeared natural to expect from that information, that Lord Wellington would have been present at the first affair of any consequence with that General. The conduct of the French, after having relieved Badajoz, and that Lord Wellington had withdrawn to Portalegre, has justly caused the greatest surprise to all military men, -that two French armies should reunite and then separate without coming to an engagement, although the allied army was but at a day's distance! The lines at Portalegre could not have becoine, in one day, a second edition of the lines of Torres Vedras; and this position was far from presenting sufficient obstacles to stop the double torrent which had overwhelmed Sierra Morena, and inundated Portugal. Time, the great teacher, will one day give us the key to these singular events. For my own part, I should really be tempted to believe, that Massena in 1810, and Soult in 1811, reluctantly obeyed superior orders: still, whatever may be the case, the Duke of Dalmatia is greatly to be censured for having related, in his report of raising the siege of Badajos, facts evidently false. The fate of war is uncertain. The loyalty of Commanders guarantees to history and the world that truth which deterpines public opinion. Let any one compare the frank and manly report of the English General with the false and absurd rodomontades of Soult, and he will readily convince himself, that whoever has recourse to falsehood for the purpose of casting ridicule on his opponent, is unworthy of the noble title of soldier. The English army did more than its duty at the siege of Badajoz, since it attempted two assaults, although the breach was not practicable. The dispersion of the army of Murcia, attacked by Soult on the 9th of August, seems only to have been for the troops of the 4th corps a simple march. The arrival of Blake, however, ought to have awakened the energy and increased the spirit of resistance in the Spaniards. It may also be asked, why a diversion was not attempted upon the Guadiana in order to retain Soult there? It is now evident how much they were in the wrong in not adopting a fixed plan of military operations, and a good system of organization. It results therefrom, that the provinces of Spain are attacked, ravaged, aud successfully conquered, in the same manner as were the other kingdoms of the continent of Europe. Though I have been obliged to say much against Soult, he is, notwithstanding, the first General of the French armies next to Buonaparte and Vol. II. C
Moreau; he does not possess the genius of war in a degree equal to those two Generals, but he is their superior in the practical knowledge of manoeuvres in the field. Buonaparte certainly regretted his not having Soult with him in his campaign against the Austrians in 1809; and I know Soult intimately enough to be able to assert, that often in Spain and Portugal he regretted much that he was not under the directions of Buonaparte. For some time Soult was strongly suspected of being a warm republican, and that he had adopted the politics of the other party very much against his own inclination: others have maintained that he had caused himself to be called by the title of majesty at Oporto. The facts are, however, in no wise substantiated, in spite of all the pains that Berthier, director in chief of the inquisition of the Sultan his master, took to verify them. Besides, Buonaparte, since his nomination of emperor, has thrown off the mask, and it is of little concern to him whether he be loved or esteemed of men, provided that they, like Soult, obey and and fear him. My opinion is, that this General, who has been one of the most amply rewarded with riches and honour, seeks only to preserve to himself the favour of his sovereign in honourably performing his duty. He has no doubt, like muny others, declaimed and prated a great deal about the new order of things. Now, that he is acting one of the first characters, he must be considered as somewhat insane to think of the re-establishment of the republic; on the contrary, the good sense of Marshal Soult gives us reason to conclude, that he will be, in proper time, one of the firmest props of the throne, a zealous advocate for religion, and a strict observer of military discipline;—most important qualities, since they are, under a lawful government, the triple and immortal AEgis of the happiness of citizens, the glory of monarchs, and the splendor of empires. *...* General Sarrazin's biographies will be continued in our nert.
THE fleet with our army arrived in Marmorice harbour, upon the coast of Coria, on the 28th of December, 1800. Having waited there nearly two months, during which time a small reinforcement arrived from England, it sailed for Egypt on the 22d of February, 1800. The troops in health and spirits, arrived in Aboukir Bay upon the 2d of March, at 10 A. M. A sham descent had been practised in Marmorice to exercise the soldiers. It was found by this that six thousand men might be landed in the most perfect order, and ready for immediate action in the short space of twentythree minutes. Their passage had been boisterous. Several Greek transports parted from the fleet during a gale of wind, and disappeared for many days with part of the 12th, the 26th, and Hompesch's regiments of Dragoons. From these circumstances, and the lateness of the day, the landing was postponed till the following day, and therefore a great advantage lost. Had the landing been attempted then, there would have been no opposition. The enemy, although long before informed of our approach, was totally unprepared, and the lives of many brave soldiers would have been spared. The army was unable to land on the following day, and thus the enemy gained time to collect their forces. Preparations were accordingly made for a stout resistance. The succeeding morning was equally unfavourable, and six days were lost in the same manner. During all this time the English fleet continued in sight of the French army, and were at length so little regarded, that the French, becoming dupes to the delay, actually believed that the whole was merely a feint to cover operations in another quarter; , and that our real intention was to steal off in the night, and land at Jaffa, upon the coast of Syria. This delay, however, was not solely owing to the weather. A part of it may be referred to another cause. Major M'Arras, chief engineer, had preceded the fleet from Marmorice to reconnoitre the country. He had been twice on the Egyptian shore, and with the greatest success. He had observed the lake of Aboukir; had surveyed all the adjoining territory; ascertained the different heights; and selected a convenient spot for landing. Having finished all his plans, he unfortunately ventured on shore a third time to confirm their accuracy, and was observed by a French armed boat at the very instant he was putting off to return to his ship. The wind was against him, and the crew of his boat, finding every effort ineffectual, fell alongside the enemy and surrendered. By a most dastardly instance of cruelty on the part of the French, they poured a volley of musquetry into the boat, after the surrender had taken place; by which Major M'Arras was killed. Our fleet arrived very shortly after this disaster, and the Commander-in-Chief, instead of obtaining the information expected, was compelled to wait till the business of reconnoitring, now become more difficult than ever, could be again accomplished. Thus was the descent of our army postponed until the 8th of March (1800). The French had thus gained even more time than they thought proper to use as the means of defence, and were stationed on the sandy heights eastward, and within gun-shot of Aboukir Castle, between that fortress and the entrance to the lake Said. The spot selected for landing was immediately under this hill, and that a worse place could hardly have been chosen is evident from this
circumstance, that the enemy had, besides their artillery upon the heights, a covering for their flanks of eight field pieces on the right and four upon the left. These, together with the guns of the castle, bore down upon the place of landing. The day prior to that of the descent, signals were made to cook three days' provisions for the troops, and for the boats of every description to put off from their respective ships, and to repair to the Mondavi brig, as a point of rendezvous, when a false fire should be shewn from the Foudroyant, the ship of the Commander-in-Chief. On the following morning, the 8th of March, at three o'clock, A. M. the expected signal was made. Every boat instantly repaired to the several ships to take in their quota of troops ; and then proceeded to the appointed station, close in under the hill, about three miles from the enemy, whence they were to move according to the order of battle. Thus they all remained until the whole of the reserve was collected around the Alondavi.
Never was any thing conducted with greater regularity. The French, to their astonishment, as they afterwards related, instead of beholding a number of men landed pell-mell, saw the British troops preparing a regular line as they advanced in their boats, although the wind was directly in their teeth, and fmally landing in regular order of battle, under the heaviest fire perhaps ever experienced. Shells, cannon-balls, and grape-shot, coming with the wind, fell like a storm of hail about them, yet not a soldier quitted his seat or moved, por did a single sailor shrink from the hard labour of his oar. Not a musket was suffered to be charged until the troops could form upon the strand. They were commanded to sit still in the boats; and this command, with inconceivable firmness, did these men obey; with the exception only of returning for each volley of shot from their enemies three general cheers, an effect of ardour in which their officers found it impossible to restrain them. The feelings of those who remained in the ships were not proof against such a sight. Several of our brave seamen wept like children, and many of those upon the quarter-decks wlio attempted to use telescopes, suffered the glasses to fall from their hands, and gave vent to their tears.
But the moment of triumph was at hand. For three long miles, pulling in this manner against the wind, did our brave tars strain every sinew. Several boats were sunk by the bursting of the shells, and about two hundred and seventy men were killed before they reached the shore. At length, with all their prows touching the Beach at the same instant, the boats grounded. Then a spectacle