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killing different parties of the French, generally superior in force. to those which attacked them.” On entering Valladolid he took a French Major of Cavalry, who was proceeding with an escort to join his regiment.
Throughout the retreat of Sir Jobn Moore's army, BrigadierGeneral Stewart conducted hiinself in a manner that repeatedly called forth the warniest praises of that officer. Lieutenant-General Lord Paget, who was Commander-in-Chief of the two brigades of cavalry, on the march to Sahagun had information of six or seven hundred cavalry being in that town.--He marched on the night of the 20th, from some villages where he was posted, in front of the army at Majorga, with the 10th and 15th hussars.-- The 10th marched straight to the town, whilst Lord Paget with the 15th endeavoured to turn it.--Unfortunately he fell in with a patrole, one of whom escaped and gave the alarm; by this means the French had time to form on the outside of the town before Lord Paget got round. -He immediately charged them, beat them, and took from 180 to 190 prisoners.
On the 24th of December the advanced-guard of Buonaparte's army marched from Tordesillas, which is a hundred and twenty miles from Madrid, and fifty from Benevente; and strong detachments of cavalry had been pushed forward to Villalpando and Majorga.--On the 26th Lord Paget fell in with one of these detachments at the latter place. His Lordship immediately ordered Colonel Leigh, with two squadrons of the 10th Hussars, to attack this corps, which had halted on the summit of a steep hill. One of Colonel Leigh's squadrons was kept in, reserve; the other rodę briskly up the hill : on approaching the top, where the ground was rugged, the Colonel judiciously reined-in to refresh the horses, though exposed to a severe fire from the enemy. When he had nearly gained the summit, and the horses had recovered their breath, he charged boldly, and overthrew the enemy, many of whom were killed and wounded, and above a hundred surrendered prisoners, Nothing could exceed the coolness and gallantry displayed by the British cavalry on this occasion.—The 18th Hussars had signalized themselves in several former skirmishes; they were successful in six different attacks.-Captain Jones, of that regiment, when at Palencia, had even ventured to charge a hundred French dragoons with only thirty British : fourteen of the enemy were killed, and six taken prisoners.
The cavalry, the horse-artillery, and a light corps, remained on
the night of the 26th at Castro Gonzalo; and the divisions under General Hope, and Frazer marched to Benevente.—The next day Brigadier-General Stewart crossed the Eslar, and followed the same route, after completely blowing up the bridge.—The gallant con. duct of the cavalry on all occasions, gave rise about this time to the following observation from Sir John Moore.-“ Our cavalry is very superior in quality to any the French have; and the right spirit has been infused into them by the example and instruction of their two leaders, Lord Paget and Brigadier-General Stewart.''
At nine o'clock on the morning of the 29th, some of the enemy's cavalry were observed trying a ford near the bridge which had been blown up, and presently between five and six hundred of the imperial guards of Buonaparte plunged into the river and crossed över.—They were immediately opposed by the British piquets, who had been much divided to watch the different fords; but were quickly assembled by Colonel Otway.—When united they amounted only to two hundred men.—They retired slowly before such superior numbers, bravely disputing every inch of ground with the enemy.-- The front squadrons repeatedly charged each other; and upon the piquets being forced by a small party of the 3d dragoons, they charged with so much fury that the front squadron broke through, and was for a short time surrounded, by the enemy's rear squadron wheeling up: but they extricated themselves by charging back again through the enemy. They then quickly rallied, and formed with the rest of the piquets. Lord Paget soon reached the field, and found Brigadier-General Stewart at the head of the piquets of the 18th and 3d German light dragoons, sharply engaged, the squadron's on both sides sometimes intermixing. His Lordship was desirous of drawing on the enerny further from the ford, till the fotb hussars, who were formed at some distance, were ready.This regiment 'soon arrived, and Lord Paget immediately wheeled it into line in the rear of the piquets. The latter then charged the enemy, supported by the 10th hussars. In the charge BrigadierGeneral Stewart had his sword struck out of bis hand by a musket ball, which was immediately replaced by that of Lieutenant-Colonel Otway, with which he continued the contest.-On the British cavalry commencing a charge, the French wheeled round, fled to the ford, and plunged into the river.—They were closely pursued, and left on the field fifty-five killed and wounded, and seventy prisoners, among whom was General Le Febvre, the Commander of the imperial guard. As soon as the enemy reached the opposite side of the river, they formed on the bank; but a few rounds from the horse artillery, who arrived at that moment, quickly drove the French up the hill in the greatest disorder". The gallant and enterprising manner in which this service was performed, displaying a degree of personal courage and intrepidity almost amounting to rashness, for which Brigadier-General Stewart has on all occasions been conspicuous, was pointed out by the following General Order of Sir John Moore as an example for the emulation of the rest of the army under his command.
Head Quarters, Astorga, Dec. 30th, 1808. “It is very probable that the army will shortly have to meet the enemy; and the Commander of the Forces has no doubt that they will eagerly imitate the worthy example sct them by the cavalry, on several occasions, and particularly in the affair of yesterday, in which Brigadier-General Stewart, with an inferior force, charged and overthrew one of the best corps of cavalry in the French army.”
Sir John Moore also took occasion to notice it in his dispatch to
Lord Castlereagh, dated from Astorga, Dec. 31, 1808, in the follow
“The morning I marched from Benevente, some squadrons of Buonaparte's guards passed the river Eslar, at a ford above the bridge. They were attacked by Brigadier-General Stewart at the head of the piquets, of the 18th and 3rd German Light Dragoons, and driven across the ford. Their Colonel, a General of Division, Lefebvre, was taken, together with 70 officers and men. The affair was well contested. The numbers with which General Stewart attacked were inferior to the French. It is the corps of the greatest character in their army; but the superioity of the British was very conspicuous.”
On arriving at Coruña on the 13th of January Sir John Moore determined to send to England Brigadier-General Stewart, for the purpose, as he stated, of detailing to the British minister the events which took place since his letter from Astorga, of the 31st of Dec. He had selected Brigadier-General Stewart as an officer who appeared to him best qualified to give the minister every information he might desire, both with respect to the actual situation of the army at that period, and the events which led to it. Sir John Moore remarks in his letter that, “Brigadier General Stewart is a man in whose honor I have the most perfect reliance; he is incapable of stating any thing but the truth, and it is the truth which at all times I wish to convey to your lordship and to the king's government;” and in a following paragraph he adds, “ in the
* For a further account of these engagements, vide the Biography of Lieutenant*eneral the Earl of Uxbridge. Military Panorama, Pol. I. page 497.
meantime I rely on General Stewart for giving your Lordship the information and detail which I have omitted. I should regret his absence, for his services have been very distinguished; but the state of his eyes, having been seized at this time with a very bad opthalmia, makes it impossible for him to serve, and this country is not one in which cavalry can be of much use. If I succeed in embarking the army, I shall send it to England; it is quite unfit for further services until it has been refitted, which can best be done there.” - - - o Brigadier-General Stewart was appointed, in 1809, AdjutantGeneral to the army under Sir Arthur Wellesley, in which situation he particularly distinguished himself during the pursuit of the French army under Marshal Soult across the Douro, by leading on two squadrons of the 16th and 20th Dragoons, who charged the enemy in the most gallant manner, and destroyed and took many prisoners. He has continued to hold this appointment to the present time, in which, on various occasions, his name has been most honorably mentioned, particularly after the passage of the Douro and the affair at El Bodon. On the 5th of February, 1810, he received the thanks of the House of Commons for his gallant conduct.—The following is an extract from the votes. a
Brigadier-General the Honorable Charles Stewart being come to the House, Mr. Speaker acquainted him that the House had, upon Thursday last resolved, that the Thanks of this House be given to him for his distinguished exertions on the 27th and 28th of July last, in the memorable battle of Talavera, which terminated in the signal defeat of the forces of the enemy. And Mr. Speaker gave him the Thanks of the House accordingly as followeth, viz.-
“ Brigadier-General Charles Stewart,
“Amongst the gallant officers to whom this House has declared its gratitude for their distinguished services in Spain, your name has the honor to stand enrolled.
“During the progress of the two last campaigns in Spain and Portugal, whoever has turned his eyes towards the bold and perilous operations of our armies in Leon and Gallicia; whoever has contemplated the brilliant passage of the British troops across the Douro, an exploit which struck the enemy himself with admiration as well as dismay; must have marked, throughout those memorable achievements, that spirit of energy and enterprise with which you have rapidly advanced in the career of military fame, and by which you have now fixed your name for ever in the annals of your country, as a chief sharer in those immortal laurels won by British fortitude and valour in the glorious and hard-fought battle of Talavera.
“Upon the great Commander, under whom it was there your pride and felicity to serve, his sovereign, this House, and the voice of an applauding empire, have conferred those signal testimonies of honor and gratitude, which posterity will seal with its undoubting approbation. And it is no mean part of the merits for which you are to be this day crowned with our thanks; that you were chosen by such a commander to be the companion of his councils, and the sure hand to which he could entrust the prompt and effectual direction of his comprehensive and victorious operations. “To you, sir, I am therefore now to deliver the Thanks of this House; and I do accordingly, in the name and by the command of the Commons of the United Kingdom, thank you for your distinguished exertions on the 27th and 28th days of July last, in the memorable battles of Talavera, which terminated in the signal defeat of the forces of the enemy.”
Upon which Brigadier-General Stewart said, "
“I feel myself totally inadequate to express the high sense I entertain of the distinguished honor that has been conferred upon me—an honour far exceeding any little services I may have rendered in the fortunate situations in which I have been placed. If a sentinent of regret could, at such a moment, arise in my mind, it would be that, (from the circumstance of a severe indisposition) I stand alone here on the present occasion; the army being still on service, and that I am not accompanied by my gallant brother officers (equally members of this House), who are far more eminently entitled to its thanks, and to the applause of their country than myself.
“If I might venture to arrogate anything beyond the most anxious zeal for the king's service, and a sincere love for the profession I belong to, it is an ardent desire to follow the footsteps of my great and gallant Commander, to whose sole abilities and exertions we stand indebted, not only for the battle of Talavera, but for all those successes which have rendered him alike an ornament to his country and a terror to her foes. To follow his bright example, to emulate his achievements, and to be thought worthy of his confidence, I shall ever consider as the surest passport to the greatest distinction that can be conferred on a soldier. I mean the approbation of this honorable House.
“I must now offer my sincerest acknowledgments to you, sir, for the very marked kindness you have shewn me in expressing to me the Thanks of this House, by condescending to enumerate my humble services in the partial manner you have done. And I beg to assure you it will be my anxious study, to avail myself of all occasions, to merit the honour which has this day been conferred on me."
As a most distinguished testimony of the high estimation in which his general professional merits and services have been regarded by his sovereign, he has lately had conferred upon him; the marked distinction of being admitted to the Order of the Bath, as one of the knights of that order: and further permitted to accept and wear the insignia of an Honorary Knight and Commander of the Royal Portuguese Military Order of the Tower and Sw ord, with which His Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Portugal was