ページの画像
PDF
ePub

yet he feels frequently disgust at being commanded by men of no experience or talent, who have obtained their commissions by rank and interest, under regulatious which are now exploded. The brilliant engagement in which the Germans were so highly distinguished, is universally a theme of conversation. The second day the army began the retreat from Burgos, in consequence of the enemy's cavalry being superior to ours in point of number, Colonel Halkett was ordered by the Commander of the Forces to halt at the village of St. Mariadel Carmino with his brigade of German Light Cavalry, consisting of two battalions of 380 men each ; the Colonel posted one battalion in the village, and the other he so dispersed that the left wing enfiladed the high road leading to the bridge, at about forty yards distance; he then formed an abatis at the end of the bridge of cart wheels and branches of trees, leaving an opening for our cavalry to pass when retiring. In consequence of an attack of superior numbers the cavalry were driven in and pursued by the French, who, as soon as they occupied the bridge, received the fire from the left wing of the Germans, which put them completely to the route, killed and wounded more than 100: the French then threw shot and shells on the village, but were checked advancing by Col. Halkett having directed the battalions posted in the village to move about in such a manner as to lead the enemy to estimate their force to be more numerous than was really the case. The French having found a ford to their right, passed over some cavalry, and drove the Spanish cavalry away, who were left to guard it. Colonel Halkett was then obliged to retire on the village Venta del Poso; our cavalry having again advanced, the French came on in three lines, and were gallantly charged by the 11th, 12th, and 16th Dragoons, but, although the squadrons of these regiments repeatedly broke through the first and second line of the enemy, they were so overpowered by numbers that those they had broke formed in their rear and in their flanks; courage was unavailing, and they were forced to retreat: the heavy cavalry of the Germans were ordered to charge, but, although they attacked with their accustomed vigour, they were driven back, and the whole pursued by the French cavalry. At this time Colonel Halkett had halted his brigade at the village of Venta del Poso, and, aware of the predicament of our cavalry, who were flying in all directions, and vigorously pursued by the French, formed his brigade into two squares en echellon, leaving a space for our cavalry to pass through—which they did, with the enemy so close to them that all must inevitably have been taken had not Colonel Halkett, when the French, who, in their eagerness, had also passed close between the squares, given them a heavy fire; this alone decided the business; the enemy faced about and fled in disorder, leaving between three and four hundred killed and wounded. They once more formed and advanced on the squares, but were received in so cool and steady a manner by the Germans that they declined further contest; by which circumstance our cavalry were enabled to make their retreat, followed by the German squares. The highest praise was given to the Germans for their brave and steady conduct; and the Marquis of Wellington, in shaking Colonel Halkett by the hand, thanked him and his brigade for having saved his cavalry. Much can be said in favour of our cavalry, when we reflect that in point of numbers the enemy were five to one, and among them their best cavalry: when we also reflect that in regard to discipline and the real knowledge of cavalry tactics, our officers are extremely deficient, and as it is well known there was a want somewhere. In point of gallantry it was not possible for any men or officers to give greater proofs of it;-it would perhaps be invidious to particularise officers where all were gallant, but among whom Lieutenant-Colonel Pelly, Earl Waldegrave, Lieutenant B. Proctor were conspicuous. The gallant Earl more than once had personal rencontres with the enemy, and conspicuously distinguished himself; the latter, Lieut. B. Proctor, had two horses killed under him, and, when on the ground, and attacked by a French officer and two men, bravely resisted and kept them at bay until he was succoured. The Prince of Orange who, as Aide-de-Camp to the Marquis of Wellington, notwithstanding his situation exempted him from an active part in this business, most gallantly distinguished himself, and was very much noticed. Alucant, Jan. 28, 1818–The force of the French between Valencia and this place is principally stationed at Fuente Laguera, and amounts to 12,700 infantry and 1500 cavalry. North of the city, in the direction of Segortie, they have about 1200 infantry and 500 cavalry to controul the Guerillas in that neighbourhood. Lord William Bentinck has arrived here, and the strength of the allies in Alicant and its neighbourhood, consists of about 22,000 men. Elio is to the north-east, at the distance of 22 leagues, with 10 or 11,000 men, and the Duke Del Parque is stationed near the Passes of the Sierra Morena with about 12 or 13,000, and each of these commanders have a small proportion of horse with them. The latter is threatened with a visit from the French by the way of La Mancha. It will be seen by a comparison of those hostile forces, that in numerical strength the Allies are much superior. Buonaparte has commanded Soult to have 40,000 men in readiness to march for France at a moment's notice. A monk named Nebot has organized a force of 2500 infantry and 500 horse, lancers, with which he has contrived to harrass the enemy most successfully. In a late rencontre with a force sent against him by the Governor of Valencia, he conducted himself very gallantly, and finally routed the enemy, taking 3 convoys, 2 pieces of artillery, and five hundred men. The contributions to the enemy in the quarters occupied by this chief, have been very trifling. He has also placed officers at proper places to collect the contributions ordered by the legitimate government, formed magazines, manufactories for casting balls, repairing of arms, &c. and prepared every thing requisite for the preservation of his party. More than 500 French of all ranks have deserted to his division. He has several times dispersed the Spaniards who are favourable to the enemy, and rigorously persecutes them. He has formed a partisan Junta, composed of determined patriots, and adopted other measures of order and precaution. Out of two thousand French troops who came from Valladolid, under Drouet, to Guadarama, more than 200 have perished in consequence of a severe storm and a heavy fall of snow.

Ertracts from Army Regulations, General Orders, and Courts-Martial.

PERTHSHIRE MILITIA.

JPhitehall, Jan. 14, 1813.-Sin, I am commanded by the Prince Regent to acquaint your Royal Highness, that having received a memorial from certain substitutes of the Perthshire regiment of militia, claiming a release from their military service at the end of ten years from the date of their enrolment, and grounding their claim on certain clauses of the 42d of the King, cap. 91, His Royal Highness has been pleased, notwithstanding the irregular conduct on the part of the petitioners in failing to make their representation, in the first instance, through their Commanding Officer to the Commander-in-Chief, to direct that the case should be re

ferred to the Law Servants of the Crown, whose opinion, in obedience to the commands of His Royal Highness, I have the honour to inclose. * I have it also in command to recommend to your Royal Highness, that immediate steps be taken to inform the petitioners, through their Commanding Officer, of this opinion upon their case, and that your Royal Highness will be pleased at the same time to express, in the strongest manner, the confident expectation of the Prince Regent of the entire and complete acquiescence of the petitioners in this clear and conclusive exposition of the law, and His Royal Highness's persuasion, that the discharge of their military duties, until the term of their service shall legally and regularly expire, will be marked with the same zeal, loyalty, and obedience, by which it has been hitherto distinguished. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, &c.

I am likewise commanded to acquaint your Royal Highness, that since the receipt of the Memorial from the Perthshire substitutes, the Prince Regent has received others from the Berwickshire and Lanarkshire regiments of militia; but as they are precisely similar, His Royal Highness has not thought it necessary to order them to be referred to His Majesty's Law Servants, for their opinion upon them.

(Signed) SIDMOUTH.

Copy of a Circular Letter addressed by the Adjutant-General to the General Officers commanding Districts in Great-Britain.

Horse-Guards, 14th Jan. 1813.-I have received the Commander-in-Chief's commands to transmit to you the inclosed copy of a letter, which he has received from the Secretary of State, conveying the opinion of His Majesty's Principal Law Servants on the claim preferred by certain Soldiers, serving as Substitutes in Regiments of Militia of North-Britain.

The Commander-in-Chief had hoped that the very clear and decided opinion which was given on the claims of the soldiers of this description in the Circular Letter, which by His Royal Highness's direction I had the honour of addressing to you on the 12th of November last, could not have failed of convincing them of the error under which they were acting, and he cannot but observe on the irregularity of their conduct on the present occasion, in having passed by their Commanding Officer, and having addressed themselves immediately to the Prince Regent. His Royal Highness, however, derives this satisfaction from the irregularity of their procceding, that, in the first place, they will perceive that no consideration is allowed to intervene, or impede, the examination into any claim of a soldier, however erroneously founded, wheneveritis stated interms consistent with discipline, and there are grounds to trust it is urged with a persuasion on the part of the claimant that it is a legal and fair one; and in the second, that this question, which has for some time agitated the minds of the persons concerned, will now be finally decided by the highest authority.

In transmitting to you this document, I am directed to signify to you the Commander-in-Chief's commands, that you immediately communicate the same to the Officers in the command of regiments of North British Militia in the District under your command, and that you at the same time signify to them His Royal Highness's expectation that they will personally explain to their men the result of the reference which has been made to the Crown Lawyers, and impress on the mind of each individual the confidence which the Commander-in-Chief entertains that they will continue, to the legal period of their military service, to perform their duty as

faithful and obedient soldiers; and it will at the same time be highly necessary to explain to them, that if, after the fair and indulgent investigation which has been given to this business, any soldier should allow himself to be so far misled as to make this erroneous and unfounded claim the cause of any proceeding contrary to bis military duty and engagements, he may be assured that the same will be considered as a most grievous offence against discipline, and will be met with all the rigour and severity which an offence of that nature, under such aggravated circumstances, would demand.

HARRY CALVERT, Adjt.-Gen.

OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY AND SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

Lincoln's-Inn, 18th Jan. 1818.“ MY LORD, We had the bonour to receive your Lordship's Letter, dated 12th January, 1813, transmitting to us a Petition addressed to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, by several persons serving as substitutes in the Royal Perthshire Militia, claiming a right to their discharge at the expiration of five, or at the most ten years' service, and desiring that we would take the same into immediate consideration, and report to your Lordship, for His Royal Highness's information, our opinion thereon.

“We have accordingly attentively considered the contents of this Petition, and the Statute of 42 Geo. III. chap. 91, therein referred to, and particularly the several sections which the Petitioners appear to rely upon in support of their claim of a limitation of their service to a period of five years, or at most of ten years; and we are very clearly of opinion that the claim of these Petitioners is totally groundless, and cannot be complied with, without a direct breach of the positive provisions of the Act of Parliament.

“ The misapprehension on this subject seems to have arisen from not adverting to the clear line of distinction drawn by the Act, between the ballotted man who serves by compulsion, and the substitute who serves by his own engagement, and receives a considerable bounty, the period of service for the ballotted man being expressly fixed by the 35th Section of the Act, and the ternis of the Oath which he is required to take, to the space of FIVE YEARS ; whereas, by the Section immediately following (the 36th), the period of service prescribed for the substitute is, 'the space of five years, and also for such farther time as the Militia shall remain embodied, if, within the space of five years, His Majesty sball order and direct (as it is notorious he has done) the Militia for which such man is enrolled, to be drawn out and embodied,' agreeable to which a Form of Oath is given to be taken by the Substitute, different from that of the Ballotted Man, by which he engages to serve in the Militia during the term of five years, or for such farther time as the Militia sball remain embodied, if within the space of five years His Majesty shall order the Militia to be drawn out and embodied, unless he should be sooner discharged.

« To construe this Section as limiting the service of the Substitute, when the Militia is embodied, to the same period as the service of the ballotted man, would be to reject all the words in the 36th Section, and of the Oath which follows it, extending the service conditionally to a farther period, and to affix the same meaning to both the 35th and 36th Sections, which are thus pointedly contrasted with each other as to their different objects. The other construction of the 36th Section, aimed at by the Petitioners, by which the limitation of ten years is supposed to be given to the Substitute's period of service, is an attempt to introduce a new term into the clause, for which there is not any part of it the least authority. The truth is,

[graphic]

that the duration of the service of the Substitute is neither confined to any definite period of years beyond five, nor is it absolutely unlimited, but it is made to depend wholly on a contingency, namely, the continuance of the embodying of the Militia by his Majesty's command. “If the Militia had not been ordered to be embodied within the prescribed period of five years, the Substitute's service would have ceased, as well as that of the Ballotted Man, at the end of five years from the date of his enrolment; but such Order having issued, the Substitute is now bound by the express words of the Act of Parliament, and of his Oath, to serve as long as the Militia for which he is enrolled shall remain embodied, and no longer. The meaning of the Act on this subject is so clearly and plainly expressed, that it admits of not the least doubt, nor is there in any part of the Act any clause which, rightly considered, in the smallest degree militates or interferes with this construction. “The Sections relied upon in the petition (all of which we have attentively read) are perfectly consistent with it. Some of them have no reference whatever to the duration of a Substitute's service, such as Sections 15, 32, 37, 38, 45, 61, and 143. The 59th, 96th, and 182d clauses, in which the discharge of the Substitute is mentioned, and a power given to inflict, by way of punishment, an extension of his service, which the petition states to render the limitations contended for indisputable, afford no such inference; on the contrary, these clauses will be found perfectly consistent with the construction above given of the Act, as to the true nature of the limitation of a Substitute's service. “The fallacy of the argument used in the petition arises from not considering that the Act which passed in 1802, necessarily provided for every case which might arise as well in a time of peace as of war, when the Militia should not be, as well as when it should be, embodied. “In many events which might have taken place (as has been already shewn) the Substitute's service might have terminated at the end of five years, and it will still terminate, as to all who have served their five years, whenever the Militia ceases to be embodied, except as to any Substitute who may, for any offence, have been sentenced to serve for a more extended period. “There is, therefore, no inconsistency in any of the provisions of the Act; nor does it follow that because the service of the Substitute is not limited to any definite period, that it is therefore wholly unlimited, and admitting of no possible extension, unless extended as a punishment for transgression. The service of the Substitute, though not limited by time, is limited by events, and, till those events take place, the service cannot be discontinued without the peril of incurring a direct violation of the law. We have written our opinion thus at large on this subject, not from any difficulty or doubt really belonging to it, but from the great importance of obviating any possibly misunderstanding respecting it. (Signed) “THoMAs plumeR.-william GARRow.

“Right Hon. Lord Viscount Sidmouth, &c.”

(CIRCULAR)

JP'ar-Office.—It being of importance to the security of Public Money entrusted to Regimental Paymasters, that the persons who become sureties for them should be clearly shown to be competent to the amount for which they are respectively bound, I have the honour to acquaint you, that, in future, in order the more readily to ascertain the competency of a proposed surety for a Paymaster, one of the referees is to be

« 前へ次へ »