ページの画像
PDF
ePub

contract, and, as is too common in such cases, became wholly unserviceable after a few days' marching. *

SECTION XII.

England, 1809—fValcherenScotland, 1810—England, 1811 — Portugal, 1812—SpainSalamanchaBurgosPortugal.

The soldiers soon recovered from their wounds, and from the fatigues of the march to Corunna. No officer of this

• Although the following observations may seem foreign to the present subject, I give them a place here, both on account of the number of men who suffered severely on this occasion, and, at the same time, in order to mention the great improvements that have been made in this respect— improvements that must be gratifying to every friend of the good and faithful soldier. I ha e had frequent occasion to notice the high state of comfort, and the attention to the feelings and convenience of the soldiers, introduced into the army under the directions of the present Commanderin-Chief. The regulations with regard to the shoes for the troops form only one out of a numerous list of improvements, all tending to the same purpose,—to show the soldier that he is held in respect by the country which pays him, and by his immediate commanders. Such is the attention paid that justice be done to the soldiers, and so judicious and appropriate are the regulations, that much of the fault must rest with the regimental officers if they receive, or permit their soldiers to be supplied with improper clothing or provisions. But while such is the casein the army, it cannot well be denied, that the system of doing every thing by contract is quickly undermining the honesty of the people, and subverting all proper ideas of truth and justice in their dealings. In contracts, it is generally understood that the lowest will be accepted. When the cheapest offer has been preferred, the next object of the contractor is to fulfil it on terms as profitable as possible to himself; that is, to make the article as bad ashe can, first saving the risk of its being returned on his hands. A contractor, seeing that his principal sets others in competition with him, will naturally re

VOL. I. 2 L

regiment died except Major Campbell, whose constitution, previously debilitated by a service of twenty-five years in the regiment, sunk under the severity of the weather to which he had been exposed on the march. He died a few days after landing at Plymouth. *

The regiment was marched to Shorncliffe, and brigaded there with the Rifle corps, under the command of MajorGeneral Sir Thomas Graham. In these quarters the men were again equipped, and soon readyfor farther service. The 2d battalion, which had been quartered in Ireland since 1805, was now under orders to embark for Portugal, and could therefore spare no men to supply the loss sm

taliate. In this process he must give directions to his workmen, who thus become familiarised with fraud, bad materials, and hasty and careless workmanship, such as they do not see in the fair honest course of business. Observing this iniquitous proceeding among their superiors, and, so far as they perceive, without shame, punishment, or prejudice, to their characters, it cannot be a matter of surprise, that, in their own little dealings, they should practise a duplicity and deception so successfully carried on among those to whom, from their education and rank in society, they might be expected to look up as examples of honour and integrity. When the great number of contracts is taken into consideration, and the excessive proportion executed in such a manner as to render it proverbial, that any work badly executed has been done by contract, and when we farther consider the thousands of the common and labouring people to whom, in the course of workmanship, the secret of these deceptions must be communicated, and the still greater number who must suffer, as the poor soldiers formerly did, from its effects, this system of itself may be viewed as a very fruitful source of dishonesty, and of the lessening of that regard for fair dealing and probity which has always been so honourable a feature in the character of the people of this kingdom.

* Major Archibald Argyle Campbell was son of Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan Campbell, who had served in the Royal Highland regiment during the Seven Years' War, in the 84th, or Highland Emigrants in the American war, and as Lieutenant-Colonel in the Breadalbane Fencibles in the last war. Major Campbell died honoured and lamented by his regiment . So sensible were the officers of his value, that they subscribed a sum of money, in which the soldiers requested to join, to erect a monument to his memory in the Calton Hill burying-ground in Edinburgh, where it now stands as a mark of respect to a brave soldier, whose courage was guided by judgment and prudence, and whose prudence was warmed by the best heart and the kindest disposition.

tained by the 1st battalion on the retreat to Corunna. In the last day's march of forty-five miles from Lugo, numbers of the men being without shoes, and all half famished and exhausted, orders were issued that " the rear guard cannot stop, and those who fall behind must take their fate." Upwards of 6000 men of the army had already, from disease and fatigue, dropped behind. The loss of the Royal Highland regiment, from the same causes, was also considerable. Including those killed and dead of wounds, and prisoners, the number amounted to 136 men. Of the prisoners who dropped behind on the march, and fell into the hands of the enemy, numbers were released and sent to England, and rejoined their regiment.

It was supposed that the soldiers of the 42d, 79th and 92d regiments suffered from the Highland dress. Others again said, that the garb was very commodious in marching over a mountainous country, and that experience had shown that those parts of the body exposed to the weather by this garb are not materially affected by the severest cold; thus, while instances are common of the fingers, toes, and face, being frost-bitten, we never hear of the knee being affected, and when men, in the Highland garb, have had their fingers destroyed by frost, their knees remained untouched, although bare and exposed to the same temperature which affected other parts of the body. * The warmth which the

• An extraordinary instance of the degree of cold which the human body can be brought to sustain, is exemplified in the instance of a man of the name of Cameron, now living on the estate ofStrowan, in the county of Perth. This man showed an aversion to any covering from the time he was able to walk, always attempting to throw off his clothes. Being indulged by his mother in this, he went about at all times, even in the deepest snows, and during the hardest frosts, in a state of nudity, and continued the same practice without the smallest detriment to his health, till increasing years made it necessary, for the sake of decency, to give him some covering. His parents, wishing to send him to a neighbouring school, a loose kind of plaid robe descending to his knees was made, and thrown over his shoulders; but he was fifteen years of age before he wore the usual dress. There is nothing remarkable in his character, disposition, or constitution, nor does he appear to be stronger than other men, but he is perfectly healthy.

numerous folds of the kilt preserved round the centre of the body was a great security against complaints in the bowels, which were so prevalent on this occasion among the troops; and it may be supposed that men who are in a manner rendered hardy by being habituated, at least from the time they joined Highland corps, to a loose cool dress, would be less liable to be affected by violent and abrupt changes of temperature.

As the present was not a period of rest for soldiers, this regiment and the Cameron and Gordon Highlanders were again ordered to hold themselves in readiness for active service, and, in July 1809, marched to Ramsgate to join an armament collecting there for the purpose of effecting a landing on the islands in the mouth of the Scheldt, and of attempting the capture and destruction of the fleet and arsenal at Antwerp. For this purpose a body of troops were collected in Kent more numerous than any that had sailed from England at one time since the days of the Edwards and Henrys, who had so frequently invaded France with great and numerous armies.

In the month of July the whole were embarked, consisting of 2320 cavalry, 3*,409 infantry, 16 companies of artillery, a troop of horse artillery, 2 companies of the staff corps, and a detachment of the waggon train, in all, above 88,000 men, with a fleet of 39 sail of the line, and 30 frigates, besides mortar vessels and gun-boats; the land forces being under the command of Lieutenant General the Earl of Chatham, and the fleet under that of Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Strachan. This powerful armament sailed on the 28th of July 1809. The Royal Highlanders were in the brigade of Brigadier-General Montresor, and the division of Lieutenant-General the Marquis of Huntly. Of this disastrous enterprise 1 shall only state, that the principal object having been found impracticable, and the sickly state of the army in this worst of climates having rendered it impossible to retain the inferior stations already captured, part of the armament returned to England in September, and the rest in October. The 42d was included in the first division, and landing at Dover, marched to Canterbury on the 11th of September, having only 204 men fit for duty, of 758, who, six weeks before, had marched through the same town for embarkation.

The men recovered very slowly from the disease caught at Walcheren. This was the more deeply to be regretted, as the ranks of this regiment were not now to be filled up with the same facility and enthusiasm as in past times, for neither recruiting in the country, nor volunteering from the Scotch militia, was successful. This was so strongly felt when the 2d battalion embarked for Portugal, that the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Blantyre, recruited from the Irish militia, who furnished 150 men to be transformed into Highlanders. If Highlanders will not enlist into their native regiments, it is, doubtless, necessary to complete those corps by other means; but, otherwise, it must appear inexpedient to introduce men into a corps where they must assume a garb so different from that to which they have been accustomed, and where they must be called Highlanders, although ignorant of the language and strangers to the habits of the country whose designation they bear, and whose military character they are supposed to support.

The regiment was removed to Scotland in July 1810, and quartered in Musselburgh; a number of the men still labouring under the influence of the Walcheren fever.

It might be interesting to observe, and trace through a succession of years, the changes in the moral conduct of this corps,—changes that did not indicate those improvements which, in an enlightened age, might have been expected, but which, on the contrary, betrayed a relaxation of that moral feeling and spirit which had distinguished the service of national corps in the reign of George II., and in the early part of that of his late Majesty.

With regard to the soldiers of this regiment, I know not whether it was this supposed relaxation of moral character

« 前へ次へ »