ページの画像
PDF
ePub

intention. The Major-General having pushed forward the 95th, (rifle corps,) and the 1st battalion of the 52d regiment, drove the enemy before him, and in his rapid and judicious advance threatened the left of the enemy's position. This circumstance, with the position of Lieutenant-General Fraser's division, (calculated to give still farther security to the right of the line,) induced the enemy to relax his efforts in that quarter. They were, however, more forcibly directed towards the centre, where they were again successfully resisted by the brigade under Major-General Manninghani, forming the left of your division, and a part of that under Major-General Leith, forming the right of that under my orders. Upon the left, the enemy at first contented himself with an attack upon our picquets, which, however, in general maintained their ground. Finding, however, his efforts unavailing on the right and centre, he seemed determined to render the attack upon the left more serious, and had succeeded in obtaining possession of the village through which the great road to Madrid passes, and which was situated in front of that part of the line. From this post, however, he was soon expelled, with a considerable loss, by a gallant attack of some companies of the 2d battalion of the 14th regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholls. Before five in the evening, we had not only successfully repelled every attack made upon the position, but had gained ground in almost all points, and occupied a more forward line, than at the commencement of the action; whilst the enemy confined his operations to a cannonade, and the fire of his light troops, with a view to draw off his other corps, At six the firing ceased."

This victory, complete in itself, was gained under manifold disadvantages. The enemy possessed a great superiority of numbers, and occupied a very favourable position on the elevated ground, from which his heavy cannon fired with great effect on the British line. The darkness of the night, and the strong position on the heights of which he had still the command, rendered it impossible to pursue the enemy. Besides, the great reinforcements which he had received on the march would have enabled him to renew his attacks, till the British would have been fairly borne down and overwhelmed by superior numbers; General Hope determined, therefore, to follow up General Moore's intentions, and issued orders for the immediate embarkation of the troops.

The boats were all in readiness. Admiral De Courcy had made such judicious arrangements, and the officers and seamen exerted themselves with such zeal and effect, that before morning the whole were on board except the rear guard, left under the command of Major-Generals Hill and Bcresford, which, with the sick and wounded, were all embarked the following day.

And thus ended, with the loss of the gallant Commander of the forces, and many valuable officers and brave soldiers, 'an expedition from which the happiest results had been anticipated, but which, from a combination of causes, failed in every essential point except one of great importance, that of drawing the combined force of the enemy to the north, and of leaving the south of Spain open to the efforts of the people.

The loss of the British was 800 men killed and wounded; that of the enemy was afterwards ascertained by Major Napier (who advancing with too great eagerness in the charge just noticed, was wounded and taken prisoner) to be upwards of 3000 men. This is a very remarkable disproportion, when we take into consideration the number and commanding position of the enemy, possessed of a powerful artillery, which, during the whole of the action, continued to plunge its shot into the British ranks from the heights, which our guns could not reach. It can only be ascribed to causes which cannot be too frequently brought under the notice of all soldiers,—the cool and steady aim of the men, and the spirit with which they met the enemy. They did not wait to receive the attack, but rushing 'forward with eagerness and force, quickly turned the attack of their opponents into self defence, the result of which is always comparative safety to the successful assailants, and destruction to their antagonists.

But moderate as the loss of the army was in comparison with that of the enemy, the death of the commander of the forces increased it greatly in the estimation of all who appreciate high honour, devoted zeal for the service, and the most ardent love of his country. The kindest friend, and the most affectionate son, General Moore's last thoughts were divided between his country, his venerated parent, and his friends and companions in arms. His aide-de-camp, Captain Henry Harding, describing his fall, says :—" The violence of the stroke threw him off his horse on his back. Not a muscle of his face altered, nor did a sigh betray the least sensation of pain. I dismounted, and taking his hand, he pressed me forcibly, casting his eyes very anxiously towards the 42d regiment, which was hotly engaged, and his countenance expressed satisfaction when I informed him that the regiment was advancing. Assisted by a soldier of the 42d, he was removed a few yards behind the shelter of a wall. Colonel Graham of Balgowan, and Captain Woodford of the Guards, came up, and perceiving the state of Sir John's wound instantly rode of for surgeons."

"He consented to be carried to the rear, and was put in a blanket for that purpose." Captain Harding attempted to unbuckle his sword from his wounded side, when he said in his usual tone and manner, " It is as well as it is; I had rather that it should go out of the field with me." "He was borne," continues Captain Harding, "by six soldiers of the 42d and Guards, my sash supporting him in an easy posture. Observing the resolution and composure of his features, I caught at the hope that I might be mistaken in my fears of the wound being mortal, and remarked, that I trusted when the surgeons dressed the wound, that he would be spared to us and recover. He then turned his head round, and, looking stedfastly at the wound for a few seconds, said, « No Harding; I feel that to be impossible." I wished to accompany him to the rear, when he said, ** You need not go with me; report to General Hope, that I am wounded and carried to the rear. A serjeant of the *2d, and two spare files, in case of accident, were ordered to conduct their brave General to Corunna." As the soldiers were carrying him slowly along, he made them turn round frequently to view the field of battle, and to listen to the firing; and was well pleased when the sound grew fainter, judging that the enemy were retiring.

Colonel Wynch, being wounded, was passing in a spring waggon. When he understood the General was in the blanket, he wished him to be removed to the waggon. Sir John asked one of the Highlanders, whether he thought the waggon or blanket best? when the soldier answered, that he thought the blanket best . "I think so too," said the General; "and the soldiers proceeded with him to Corunna, shedding tears all the way." *

* It was not without cause that the Highland soldiers shed tears for the sufferings of the kind and partial friend whom they were now about to lose. He always reposed the most entire confidence in them; placing them in the post of danger and honour, and wherever it was expected that the greatest firmness and courage would be required ; gazing at them with earnestness in his last moments, and in this extremity taking pleasure in their successful advance; gratified at being carried by them, and talking familiarly to them when he had only a few hours to live; and, like a perfect soldier, as he was, dying with his sword by his side. Speaking to me, on one occasion, of the character of the Highland soldiers, " I consider," said he, " the Highlanders, under proper management, and under an officer who understands and values their character, and works on it, among the best of our military materials. Under such an officer, they will conquer or die on the spot, while their action, their hardihood, and abstinence, enable them to bear up against a severity of fatigue under which larger, and apparently stronger, men would sink. But it is the principles of integrity and moral correctness that I admire most in Highland soldiers, and this was the trait that first caught my attention. It is this that makes them trust-worthy, and makes their courage sure, and not that kind of flash in the pan, which would scale it bastion to-day, and to-morrow be a larmed at the fire of a picquet. You Highland officers may sleep sound at night, and rise in the morning with the assurance, that, with your men, your professional character and honour are safe, unless you yourselves destroy the willing and excellent material entruiied tot/our direction." Such

Colonel Anderson, his friend and aide-de-camp for twentyyears, thus describes the General's last moments :—" After some time, he seemed very anxious to speak to me, and at intervals got out as follows: 'Anderson, you know that I always wished to die in this way.' He then asked, were the French beaten ?—and which he repeated to every one he knew as they came in. «I hope the people of England will be satisfied; I hope my country will do me justice. Anderson, you will see my friends as soon as you can. Tell them every thing—Say to my mother'—Here his voice quite failed, and he was excessively agitated." At the thought of his mother, the firm heart of this brave and affectionate son gave way—a heart which no danger, not even his present situation, could shake, till the thoughts of his mother, and what she would suffer, came across his mind.

General Moore * was a soldier of the best mould. He was endowed with a vigorous mind, improved by every accomplishment which an anxious and intelligent parent could suggest or bestow. With a face and figure uncommonly handsome, he was active and capable of bearing great fatigue; but in his latter years he had a considerable stoop, and was much broken down by wounds and service in various climates, although only forty-seven years of age at the time of his death. He was the eldest of five sons of the late Dr Moore, and was born at Glasgow in 1762, where

was the opinion particularly addressed to me, as a kind of farewell advice in 1805, when my regiment left his brigade to embark for the Mediterranean. It was accompanied by many excellent observations on the character of the Highland soldier, and the duties of Highland officers, especially what regards their management of, and behaviour towards their soldiers, and the necessity of paying attention to their feelings. The correctness of his views on this important subject I have seen fully confirmed by many years' experience.

• After he was made Knight of the Bath, he preferred to be called General, rather than Sir John Moore. " Sir," said he one day to an officer, who called him Sir John, Sir John, at the beginning of every sentence, "I am your General; I am General Moore."

« 前へ次へ »