There is no Chapter IV in this book.

The errata changes have been included in the file.]



FROM 1809 TO 1815.








K. C. B.










In tracing the following scenes, I have chiefly drawn on the

reminiscences of my military life, and endeavoured faithfully to

convey to the mind of the reader the impression which they made on my

own at the time of their occurrence. Should any errors, as to dates or

trifling circumstances, have inadvertently crept into my narrative, I

hope they will be ascribed to want of memory, rather than to any

wilful intention to mislead. I am aware, that some objections may be

taken to my style; for

                          "Rude am I in my speech,

  And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace:

  For, since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,

  Till now, some nine moons wasted, they have us'd

  Their dearest action in the tented field:

  And little of this world can I speak,

  More than pertains to feats of broil and battle;

  And therefore little shall I grace my cause

  In speaking for myself; yet, by your gracious patience,

  I will a round unvarnished tale deliver,"



  CHAPTER I.                                                         1

Joined the Rifles. Walcheren Expedition. A young Soldier. A Marine

View. Campaign in South Beeveland. Retreat to Scotland.

  CHAP. II.                                                          4

Rejoin the Regiment. Embark for the Peninsula. Arrival in the Tagus.

The City of Lisbon, with its Contents. Sail for Figuera. Landing

extraordinary. Billet ditto. The City of Coimbra. A hard Case. A cold

Case, in which a favourite Scotch Dance is introduced. Climate. The

Duke of Wellington.

  CHAP. III.                                                        15

Other People, Myself, and my Regiment. Retreat to the Lines of Torres

Vedras. Leave Coimbra, followed by a select group of Natives. Ford the

Streets of Condacia in good spirits. A Provost-Marshal and his

favourites. A fall. Convent of Batalha. Turned out of Allenquer.

Passed through Sobral. Turned into Arruda. Quartering of the Light

Division, and their Quarters at Arruda. Burial of an only Child. Lines

of Torres Vedras. Difference of opinion between Massena and Myself.

Military Customs.

  CHAP. V.                                                           38

Campaign of 1811 opens. Massena's Retreat. Wretched Condition of the

Inhabitants on the Line of March. Affairs with the Enemy, near Pombal.

Description of a Bivouac. Action near Redinha. Destruction of Condacia

and Action near it. Burning of the Village of Illama, and Misery of

its Inhabitants. Action at Foz D'Aronce. Confidential Servants with


  CHAP. VI.                                                         61

Passage of the Mondego. Swearing to a large Amount. Two Prisoners,

with their Two Views. Two Nuns, Two Pieces of Dough, and Two Kisses. A

Halt. Affair near Frexedas. Arrival near Guarda. Murder. A stray

Sentry. Battle of Sabugal. Spanish and Portuguese Frontiers. Blockade

of Almeida. Battle-like. Current Value of Lord Wellington's Nose.

Battle of Fuentes D'Onor. The Day after the Battle. A grave Remark.

The _Padre's_ House. Retreat of the Enemy.

  CHAP. VII.                                                        83

March to Estremadura. At Soito, growing Accommodations for Man and

Beast. British Taste displayed by Portuguese Wolves. False Alarm.

Luxuries of Roquingo Camp. A Chaplain of the Forces. Return towards

the North. Quarters near Castello de Vide. Blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Village of Atalya; Fleas abundant; Food scarce. Advance of the French

Army. Affairs near Guinaldo. Our Minister administered to. An

unexpected Visit from our General and his Followers. End of the

Campaign of 1811. Winter Quarters.

  CHAP. VIII.                                                      100

Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. The Garrison of an Outwork relieved. Spending

an Evening abroad. A Musical Study. An Addition to Soup. A short Cut.

Storming of the Town. A sweeping Clause. Advantages of leading a

Storming Party. Looking for a Customer. Disadvantages of being a

stormed Party. Confusion of all Parties. A waking Dream. Death of

General Crawford. Accident. Deaths.

  CHAP. IX.                                                        121

March to Estremadura. A Deserter shot. Riding for an Appetite. Effect

the Cure of a Sick Lady. Siege of Badajos. Trench-Work. Varieties

during the Siege. Taste of the Times. Storming of the Town. Its Fall.

Officers of a French Battalion. Not shot by Accident. Military

Shopkeepers. Lost Legs and cold Hearts. Affecting Anecdote. My

Servant. A Consignment to Satan. March again for the North. Sir Sidney


  CHAP. X.                                                         143

A Farewell Address to Portalegré. History of a Night in Castello

Branco. Regimental Colours lost, with Directions where to find them.

Cases in which a Victory is sometimes won by those who lost it.

Advance to Salamanca. The City. The British Position on St.

Christoval. Affair in Position. Marmont's Change of Position and

Retreat. A Case of Bad Luck. Advance to Rueda, and Customs there.

Retire to Castrejon. Affairs on the 18th and 19th of July. Battle of

Salamanca, and Defeat of the Enemy.

  CHAP. XI.                                                        165

Distinguished Characters. A Charge of Dragoons. A Charge against the

Nature of Things. Olmeda and the French General, Ferez. Advance

towards Madrid. Adventures of my Dinner. The Town of Segovia. El

Palacio del Rio Frio. The Escurial. Enter Madrid. Rejoicings. Nearly

happy. Change of a Horse. Change of Quarters. A Change confounded.

Retire towards Salamanca. Boar-Hunt, Dinner-Hunt, and Bull-Hunt. A

Portuguese Funeral conducted by Rifle Undertakers.

  CHAP. XII.                                                       183

Reach Salamanca. Retreat from it. Pig Hunting, an Enemy to

Sleep-Hunting. Putting one's Foot in it. Affair on the 17th of

November. Bad Legs sometimes last longer than good ones. A Wet Birth.

Prospectus of a Day's Work. A lost _déjûné_ better than a found one.

Advantages not taken. A disagreeable Amusement, End of the Campaign of

1812. Winter Quarters. Orders and Disorders treated. Farewell Opinion

of Ancient Allies. My House.

  CHAP. XIII.                                                      200

A Review. Assembly of the Army. March to Salamanca. To Aldea Nueva. To

Toro. An Affair of the Hussar Brigade. To Palencia. To the

Neighbourhood of Burgos. To the Banks of the Ebro. Fruitful sleeping

place. To Medina. A Dance before it was due. Smell the Foe. Affair at

St. Milan. A Physical River.

  CHAP. XIV.                                                       213

Battle of Vittoria. Defeat of the Enemy. Confusion among their

Followers. Plunder. Colonel Cameron. Pursuit, and the Capture of their

Last Gun. Arrive near Pampeluna. At Villalba. An Irish method of

making a useless Bed useful.

  CHAP. XV.                                                        231

March to intercept Clausel. Tafalla. Olite. The dark End of a Night

March to Casada. Clausel's Escape. Sanguessa. My Tent struck. Return

to Villalba. Weighty Considerations on Females. St. Esteban. A Severe

Dance. Position at Bera. Soult's Advance, and Battle of the Pyrenees.

His Defeat and subsequent Actions. A Morning's Ride.

  CHAP. XVI.                                                       246

An Anniversary Dinner. Affair with the Enemy, and Fall of St.

Sebastian. A Building Speculation. A Fighting one, storming the

Heights of Bera. A Picture of France from the Pyrenees. Returns after

an Action. Sold by my Pay-Serjeant. A Recruit born at his Post.

Between Two Fires, a Sea and a Land one. Position of La Rhune. My

Picture taken in a Storm. Refreshing Invention for wintry Weather.

  CHAP. XVII.                                                      263

Battle of the Nivelle, and Defeat of the Enemy. A Bird of Evil Omen.

Chateau D'Arcangues. Prudence. An Enemy's Gratitude. Passage of the

Nive, and Battles near Bayonne, from 9th to 13th December.

  CHAP. XVIII.                                                     280

Change of Quarters. Change of Diet. Suttlers. Our new Quarter. A

long-going Horse gone. New Clothing. Adam's lineal Descendants. St.

Palais. Action at Tarbes. Faubourg of Toulouse. The green Man. Passage

of the Garonne. Battle of Toulouse. Peace. Castle Sarrazin. A Tender


  CHAP. XIX.                                                       301

Commencement of the War of 1815. Embark for Rotterdam. Ship's Stock.

Ship struck. A Pilot, a Smuggler, and a Lawyer. A Boat without Stock.

Join the Regiment at Brussels.

  CHAP. XX.                                                        307

Relative Situation of the Troops. March from Brussels. The Prince and

the Beggar. Battle of Quatre-Bras.

  CHAP. XXI.                                                       327

Battle of Waterloo, 18th June, 1815. "A Horse! a Horse!" Breakfast.

Position. Disposition. Meeting of _particular_ Friends. Dish of Powder

and Ball. Fricassee of Swords. End of First Course. Pounding. Brewing.

Peppering. Cutting and Maiming. Fury. Tantalizing. Charging. Cheering.

Chasing. Opinionizing. Anecdotes. The End.



     Joined the Rifles. Walcheren Expedition. A young Soldier. A

     Marine View. Campaign in South Beeveland. Retreat to Scotland.

I joined the second battalion rifle brigade, (then the ninety-fifth,)

at Hythe-Barracks, in the spring of 1809, and, in a month after, we

proceeded to form a part of the expedition to Holland, under the Earl

of Chatham.

With the usual Quixotic feelings of a youngster, I remember how very

desirous I was, on the march to Deal, to impress the minds of the

natives with a suitable notion of the magnitude of my importance, by

carrying a donkey-load of pistols in my belt, and screwing my

naturally placid countenance up to a pitch of ferocity beyond what it

was calculated to bear.

We embarked in the Downs, on board the Hussar frigate, and afterwards

removed to the Namur, a seventy-four, in which we were conveyed to our


I had never before been in a ship of war, and it appeared to me, the

first night, as if the sailors and marines did not pull well together,

excepting by the ears; for my hammock was slung over the descent into

the cockpit, and I had scarcely turned-in when an officer of marines

came and abused his sentry for not seeing the lights out below,

according to orders. The sentry proceeded to explain, that the

_middies_ would not put them out for him, when the naked shoulders and

the head of one of them, illuminated with a red nightcap, made its

appearance above the hatchway, and began to take a lively share in

the argument. The marine officer, looking down, with some

astonishment, demanded, "d--n you, sir, who are you?" to which the

head and shoulders immediately rejoined, "and d--n and b--t you, sir,

who are you?"

We landed on the island of South Beeveland, where we remained about

three weeks, playing at soldiers, smoking _mynheer's_ long clay pipes,

and drinking his _vrow's_ butter-milk, for which I paid liberally with

my precious blood to their infernal musquitos; not to mention that I

had all the extra valour shaken out of me by a horrible ague, which

commenced a campaign on my carcass, and compelled me to retire upon

Scotland, for the aid of my native air, by virtue of which it was

ultimately routed.

I shall not carry my first chapter beyond my first campaign, as I am

anxious that my reader should not expend more than his first breath

upon an event which cost too many their last.


     Rejoin the Regiment. Embark for the Peninsula. Arrival in the

     Tagus. The City of Lisbon, with its Contents. Sail for Figuera.

     Landing extraordinary. Billet ditto. The City of Coimbra. A hard

     Case. A cold Case, in which a favourite Scotch Dance is

     introduced. Climate. The Duke of Wellington.

I rejoined the battalion, at Hythe, in the spring of 1810, and,

finding that the company to which I belonged had embarked, to join the

first battalion in the Peninsula, and that they were waiting at

Spithead for a fair wind, I immediately applied, and obtained

permission, to join them.

We were about the usual time at sea, and indulged in the usual

amusements, beginning with keeping journals, in which I succeeded in

inserting two remarks on the state of the weather, when I found my

inclination for book-making superseded by the more disagreeable study

of appearing eminently happy under an irresistible inclination towards

sea-sickness. We anchored in the Tagus in September;--no thanks to the

ship, for she was a leaky one, and wishing foul winds to the skipper,

for he was a bad one.

To look at Lisbon from the Tagus, there are few cities in the universe

that can promise so much, and none, I hope, that can keep it so badly.

I only got on shore one day, for a few hours, and, as I never again

had an opportunity of correcting the impression, I have no objection

to its being considered an uncharitable one; but I wandered for a time

amid the abominations of its streets and squares, in the vain hope

that I had got involved among a congregation of stables and outhouses;

but when I was, at length, compelled to admit it as the miserable

apology for the fair city that I had seen from the harbour, I began to

contemplate, with astonishment, and no little amusement, the very

appropriate appearance of its inhabitants.

The church, I concluded, had, on that occasion, indulged her numerous

offspring with a holiday, for they occupied a much larger portion of

the streets than all the world besides. Some of them were languidly

strolling about, and looking the sworn foes of time, while others

crowded the doors of the different coffee-houses; the fat

jolly-looking friars cooling themselves with lemonade, and the lean

mustard-pot-faced ones sipping coffee out of thimble-sized cups, with

as much caution as if it had been physic.

The next class that attracted my attention was the numerous collection

of well-starved dogs, who were indulging in all the luxury of extreme

poverty on the endless dung-heaps.

There, too, sat the industrious citizen, basking in the sunshine of

his shop-door, and gathering in the flock which is so bountifully

reared on his withered tribe of children. There strutted the spruce

cavalier, with his upper-man furnished at the expense of his lower,

and looking ridiculously imposing: and there--but sacred be their

daughters, for the sake of _one_, who shed a lustre over her squalid

sisterhood, sufficiently brilliant to redeem their whole nation from

the odious sin of ugliness. I was looking for an official person,

living somewhere near the Convent D'Estrella, and was endeavouring to

express my wishes to a boy, when I heard a female voice, in broken

English, from a balcony above, giving the information I desired. I

looked up, and saw a young girl, dressed in white, who was loveliness

itself! In the few words which passed between us, of lively

unconstrained civility on her part, and pure confounded gratitude on

mine, she seemed so perfectly after my own heart, that she lit a torch

in it which burnt for two years and a half.

It must not detract from her merits that she was almost the only one

that I saw during that period in which it was my fate to tread war's

roughest, rudest path,--daily staring his grim majesty out of

countenance, and nightly slumbering on the cold earth, or in the

tenantless mansion, for I felt as if she would have been the chosen

companion of my waking dreams in _rosier_ walks, as I never recalled

the fair vision to my aid, even in the worst of times, that it did not

act upon my drooping spirits like a glass of brandy.

It pleased the great disposer of naval events to remove us to another

and a better ship, and to send us off for Figuera, next day, with a

foul wind.

Sailing at the rate of one mile in two hours, we reached Figuera's Bay

at the end of eight days, and were welcomed by about a hundred hideous

looking Portuguese women, whose joy was so excessive that they waded

up to their arm-pits through a heavy surf, and insisted on carrying us

on shore on their backs! I never clearly ascertained whether they had

been actuated by the purity of love or gold.

Our men were lodged for the night in a large barn, and the officers

billetted in town. Mine chanced to be on the house of a mad-woman,

whose extraordinary appearance I never shall forget. Her petticoats

scarcely reached to the knee, and all above the lower part of the

bosom was bare; and though she looked not more than middle aged, her

skin seemed as if it had been regularly prepared to receive the

impression of her last will and testament; her head was defended by a

chevaux-de-frise of black wiry hair, which pointed fiercely in every

direction, while her eyes looked like two burnt holes in a blanket. I

had no sooner opened the door than she stuck her arms a-kimbo, and,

opening a mouth, which stretched from ear to ear, she began

vociferating "_bravo, bravissimo_!"

Being a stranger alike to the appearance and the manners of the

natives, I thought it possible that the former might have been nothing

out of the common run, and concluding that she was overjoyed at seeing

her country reinforced, at that perilous moment, by a fellow upwards

of six feet high, and thinking it necessary to sympathize in some

degree in her patriotic feelings, I began to "_bravo_" too; but as her

second shout ascended ten degrees, and kept increasing in that ratio,

until it amounted to absolute frenzy, I faced to the right-about, and,

before our _tête-à-tête_ had lasted the brief space of three-quarters

of a minute, I disappeared with all possible haste, her terrific yells

vibrating in my astonished ears long after I had turned the corner of

the street; nor did I feel perfectly at ease until I found myself

stretched on a bundle of straw in a corner of the barn occupied by the


We proceeded, next morning, to join the army; and, as our route lay

through the city of Coimbra, we came to the magnanimous resolution of

providing ourselves with all manner of comforts and equipments for the

campaign on our arrival there; but, when we entered it, at the end of

the second day, our disappointment was quite eclipsed by astonishment

at finding ourselves the only living things in a city, which ought to

have been furnished with twenty thousand souls.

Lord Wellington was then in the course of his retreat from the

frontiers of Spain to the lines of Torres Vedras, and had compelled

the inhabitants on the line of march to abandon their homes, and to

destroy or carry away every thing that could be of service to the

enemy. It was a measure that ultimately saved their country, though

ruinous and distressing to those concerned, and on no class of

individuals did it bear harder, for the moment, than our own little

detachment, a company of rosy-cheeked, chubbed youths, who, after

three months feeding on ship's dumplings, were thus thrust, at a

moment of extreme activity, in the face of an advancing foe, supported

by a pound of raw beef, drawn every day fresh from the bullock, and a

mouldy biscuit.

The difficulties we encountered were nothing out of the usual course

of old campaigners; but, untrained and unprovided as I was, I still

looked back upon the twelve or fourteen days following the battle of

Busaco as the most trying I have ever experienced, for we were on our

legs from daylight until dark, in daily contact with the enemy; and,

to satisfy the stomach of an ostrich, I had, as already stated, only a

pound of beef, a pound of biscuit, and one glass of rum. A

brother-officer was kind enough to strap my boat-cloak and portmanteau

on the mule carrying his heavy baggage, which, on account of the

proximity of the foe, was never permitted to be within a day's march

of us, so that, in addition to my simple uniform, my only covering

every night was the canopy of heaven, from whence the dews descended

so refreshingly, that I generally awoke, at the end of an hour,

chilled, and wet to the skin; and I could only purchase an equal

length of additional repose by jumping up and running about, until I

acquired a sleeping quantity of warmth. Nothing in life can be more

ridiculous than seeing a lean, lank fellow start from a profound

sleep, at midnight, and begin lashing away at the highland fling, as

if St. Andrew himself had been playing the bagpipes; but it was a

measure that I very often had recourse to, as the cleverest method of

producing heat. In short, though the prudent general may preach the

propriety of light baggage in the enemy's presence, I will ever

maintain that there is marvellous small personal comfort in travelling

so fast and so lightly as I did.

The Portuguese farmers will tell you that the beauty of their climate

consists in their crops receiving from the nightly dews the refreshing

influence of a summer's shower, and that they ripen in the daily sun.

But _they_ are a sordid set of rascals! Whereas _I_ speak with the

enlightened views of a man of war, and say, that it is poor

consolation to me, after having been deprived of my needful repose,

and kept all night in a fever, dancing wet and cold, to be told that I

shall be warm enough in the morning? it is like frying a person after

he has been boiled; and I insisted upon it, that if their sun had been

milder and their dews lighter that I should have found it much more



From the moment that I joined the army, so intense was my desire to

get a look at this illustrious chief, that I never should have

forgiven the Frenchman that had killed me before I effected it. My

curiosity did not remain long ungratified; for, as our post was next

the enemy, I found, when anything was to be done, that it was his

also. He was just such a man as I had figured in my mind's eye, and I

thought that the stranger would betray a grievous want of penetration

who could not select the Duke of Wellington from amid five hundred in

the same uniform.


     Other People, Myself, and my Regiment. Retreat to the Lines of

     Torres Vedras. Leave Coimbra, followed by a select group of

     Natives. Ford the Streets of Condacia in good spirit. A

     Provost-Marshal and his favourites. A fall. Convent of Batalha.

     Turned out of Allenquer. Passed through Sobral. Turned into

     Arruda. Quartering of the Light Division, and their Quarters at

     Arruda. Burial of an only Child. Lines of Torres Vedras.

     Difference of opinion between Massena and Myself. Military


Having now brought myself regularly into the field, under the renowned

Wellington, should this narrative, by any accident, fall into the

hands of others who served there, and who may be unreasonable enough

to expect their names to be mentioned in it, let me tell them that

they are most confoundedly mistaken! Every man may write a book for

himself, if he likes, but _this_ is mine; and, as I borrow no man's

story, neither will I give any man a particle of credit for his deeds,

as I have got so little for my own that I have none to spare. Neither

will I mention any regiment but my own, if I can possibly avoid it,

for there is none other that I like so much, and none else so much

deserves it; for we were the light regiment of the Light Division, and

fired the first and last shot in almost every battle, siege, and

skirmish, in which the army was engaged during the war.

In stating the foregoing resolution, however, with regard to

regiments, I beg to be understood as identifying our old and gallant

associates, the forty-third and fifty-second, as a part of ourselves,

for they bore their share in every thing, and I love them as I hope to

do my better half, (when I come to be divided,) wherever _we_ were,

_they_ were; and although the nature of our arm generally gave us more

employment in the way of skirmishing, yet, whenever it came to a

pinch, independent of a suitable mixture of them among us, we had

only to look behind to see a line, in which we might place a degree of

confidence, almost equal to our hopes in heaven; nor were we ever

disappointed. There never was a corps of riflemen in the hands of such


October 1st, 1810.--We stood to our arms at day light this morning, on

a hill in front of Coimbra; and, as the enemy soon after came on in

force, we retired before them through the city. The civil authorities,

in making their own hurried escape, had totally forgotten that they

had left a gaol full of rogues unprovided for, and who, as we were

passing near them, made the most hideous screaming for relief. Our

quarter-master-general very humanely took some men, who broke open the

doors, and the whole of them were soon seen howling along the bridge

into the wide world, in the most delightful delirium, with the French

dragoons at their heels.

We retired, the same night, through Condacia, where the commissariat

were destroying quantities of stores that they were unable to carry

off. They handed out shoes and shirts to any one that would take them,

and the streets were literally running ankle deep with rum, in which

the soldiers were dipping their cups and helping themselves as they

marched along. The commissariat, some years afterwards, called for a

return of the men who had received shirts and shoes on this occasion,

with a view of making us pay for them, but we very briefly replied

that the one half were dead, and the other half would be d----d before

they would pay any thing.

We retired this day to Leria, and, at the entrance of the city, saw an

English and a Portuguese soldier dangling by the bough of a tree--the

first summary example I had ever seen of martial law.

A provost-marshal, on actual service, is a character of considerable

pretensions, as he can flog at pleasure, always moves about with a

guard of honour, and though he cannot altogether stop a man's breath

without an order, yet, when he is ordered to hang a given number out

of a crowd of plunderers, his _friends_ are not particularly

designated, so that he can invite any one that he takes a fancy to, to

follow him to the nearest tree, where he, without further ceremony,

relieves him from the cares and troubles of this wicked world.

There was only one _furnished_ shop remaining in the town at this

time, and I went in to see what they had got to sell; but I had

scarcely past the threshold when I heard a tremendous clatter at my

heels, as if the opposite house had been pitched in at the door after

me; and, on wheeling round to ascertain the cause, I found, when the

dust cleared away, that a huge stone balcony, with iron railings,

which had been over the door, overcharged with a collection of old

wives looking at the troops, had tumbled down; and in spite of their

vociferations for the aid of their patron saints, some them were

considerably damaged.

We halted one night near the Convent of Batalha, one of the finest

buildings in Portugal. It has, I believe, been clearly established,

that a living man in ever so bad health is better than two dead ones;

but it appears that the latter will vary in value according to

circumstances, for we found here, in very high preservation, the body

of King John of Portugal, who founded the edifice in commemoration of

some victory, God knows how long ago; and though he would have been

reckoned a highly valuable antique, within a glass case, in an

apothecary's hall in England, yet he was held so cheap in his own

house, that the very finger which most probably pointed the way to the

victory alluded to, is now in the baggage of the Rifle Brigade!

Reader, point not _thy_ finger at me, for I am not the man.

Retired on the morning of a very wet, stormy day to Allenquer, a small

town on the top of a mountain, surrounded by still higher ones; and,

as the enemy had not shewn themselves the evening before, we took

possession of the houses, with a tolerable prospect of being permitted

the unusual treat of eating a dinner under cover. But by the time

that the pound of beef was parboiled, and while an officer of dragoons

was in the act of reporting that he had just patrolled six leagues to

the front, without seeing any signs of an enemy, we saw the

indefatigable rascals, on the mountain opposite our windows, just

beginning to wind round us, with a mixture of cavalry and infantry;

the wind blowing so strong, that the long tail of each particular

horse stuck as stiffly out in the face of the one behind, as if the

whole had been strung upon a cable and dragged by the leaders. We

turned out a few companies, and kept them in check while the division

was getting under arms, spilt the soup as usual, and transferring the

smoking solids to the haversack, for future mastication, we continued

our retreat.

We past through the town of Sobral, soon after dark, the same night;

and, by the aid of some rushlights in a window, saw two apothecaries,

the very counterparts of Romeo's, who were the only remnants of the

place, and had braved the horrors of war for the sake of the

gallipots, and in the hopes that their profession would be held

sacred. They were both on the same side of the counter, looking each

other point blank in the face, their sharp noses not three inches

apart, and neither daring to utter a syllable, but both listening

intensely to the noise outside. Whatever their courage might have been

screwed up to before, it was evident that we were indebted for their

presence now to their fears; and their appearance altogether was so

ludicrous, that they excited universal shouts of laughter as they came

within view of the successive divisions.

Our long retreat ended at midnight, on our arrival at the handsome

little town of Arruda, which was destined to be the piquet post of our

division, in front of the fortified lines. The quartering of our

division, whether by night or by day, was an affair of about five

minutes. The quarter-master-general preceded the troops, accompanied

by the brigade-majors and the quarter-masters of regiments; and after

marking off certain houses for his general and staff, he split the

remainder of the town between the majors of brigades: they in their

turn provided for their generals and staff, and then made a wholesale

division of streets among the quarter-masters of regiments, who, after

providing for their commanding officers and staff, retailed the

remaining houses, in equal proportions, among the companies; so that,

by the time that the regiment arrived, there was nothing to be done

beyond the quarter-master's simply telling each captain, "here's a

certain number of houses for you."

Like all other places on the line of march, we found Arruda totally

deserted, and its inhabitants had fled in such a hurry, that the keys

of their house doors were the only things they carried away; so that

when we got admission, through our usual key,[1] we were not a little

gratified to find that the houses were not only regularly furnished,

but most of them had some food in the larder, and a plentiful supply

of good wines in the cellar; and, in short, that they only required a

few lodgers capable of appreciating the good things which the gods had

provided; and the deuce is in it if we were not the very folks who


         [Footnote 1: Transmitting a rifle-ball through the key-hole:

         it opens every lock.]

Unfortunately for ourselves, and still more so for the proprietors, we

never dreamt of the possibility of our being able to keep possession

of the town, as we thought it a matter of course that the enemy would

attack our lines; and, as this was only an outpost, that it must fall

into their hands; so that, in conformity with the system upon which we

had all along been retreating, we destroyed every thing that we could

not use ourselves, to prevent their benefiting by it. But, when we

continued to hold the post beyond the expected period, our

indiscretion was visited on our own heads, as we had destroyed in a

day what would have made us luxurious for months. We were in hopes

that, afterwards, the enemy would have forced the post, if only for an

hour, that we might have saddled them with the mischief; but, as they

never even made the attempt, it left it in the power of ill-natured

people to say, that we had plundered one of our own towns. This was

the only instance during the war in which the light division had

reason to blush for their conduct, and even in that we had the law

martial on our side, whatever gospel law might have said against it.

The day after our arrival, Mr. Simmons and myself had the curiosity to

look into the church, which was in nowise injured, and was fitted up

in a style of magnificence becoming such a town. The body of a poor

old woman was there, lying dead before the altar. It seemed as if she

had been too infirm to join in the general flight, and had just

dragged herself to that spot by a last effort of nature, and expired.

We immediately determined, that as her's was the only body that we had

found in the town, either alive or dead, that she should have more

glory in the grave than she appeared to have enjoyed on this side of

it; and, with our united exertions, we succeeded in raising a marble

slab, which surmounted a monumental vault, and was beautifully

embellished with armorial blazonry, and, depositing the body inside,

we replaced it again carefully. If the personage to whom it belonged

happened to have a tenant of his own for it soon afterwards, he must

have been rather astonished at the manner in which the apartment was


Those who wish a description of the lines of Torres Vedras, must read

_Napier_, or some one else who knows all about them; for my part, I

know nothing, excepting that I was told that one end of them rested on

the Tagus, and the other somewhere on the sea; and I saw, with my own

eyes, a variety of redoubts and field-works on the various hills which

stand between. This, however, I do know, that we have since kicked the

French out of more formidable looking and stronger places; and, with

all due deference be it spoken, I think that the Prince of Essling

ought to have tried his luck against them, as he could only have been

beaten by fighting, as he afterwards was without it! And if he thinks

that he would have lost as many men by trying, as he did by not

trying, he must allow me to differ in opinion with him!!!

In very warm or very wet weather it was customary to put us under

cover in the town during the day, but we were always moved back to our

bivouac, on the heights, during the night; and it was rather amusing

to observe the different notions of individual comfort, in the

selection of furniture, which officers transferred from their _town

house_ to their _no house_ on the heights. A sofa, or a mattress, one

would have thought most likely to be put in requisition; but it was

not unusual to see a full-length looking-glass preferred to either.

The post of the company to which I belonged, on the heights, was near

a redoubt, immediately behind Arruda; there was a cattle-shed near it,

which we cleaned out, and used as a sort of quarter. On turning out

from breakfast one morning, we found that the butcher had been about

to offer up the usual sacrifice of a bullock to the wants of the day;

but it had broken loose, and, in trying to regain his victim, had

caught it by the tail, which he twisted round his hand; and, when we

made our appearance, they were performing a variety of evolutions at a

gallop, to the great amusement of the soldiers; until an unlucky turn

brought them down upon our house, which had been excavated out of the

face of the hill, on which the upper part of the roof rested, and _in_

they went, heels over head, butcher, bullock, tail and all, bearing

down the whole fabric with a tremendous crash.

N.B. It was very fortunate that we happened to be outside; and very

unfortunate, as we were now obliged to remain out.

We certainly lived in _clover_ while we remained here; every thing we

saw was our own, seeing no one there who had a more legitimate claim;

and every field was a vineyard. Ultimately it was considered too much

trouble to pluck the grapes, as there were a number of poor native

thieves in the habit of coming from the rear, every day, to steal

some, so that a soldier had nothing to do but to watch one until he

was marching off with his basket full, when he would very deliberately

place his back against that of the Portuguese, and relieve him of his

load, without wasting any words about the bargain. The poor wretch

would follow the soldier to the camp, in the hope of having his basket

returned, as it generally was, when emptied.

Massena conceiving any attack upon our lines to be hopeless, as his

troops were rapidly mouldering away with sickness and want, at length

began to withdraw them nearer to the source of his supplies.

He abandoned his position, opposite to us, on the night of the 9th of

November, leaving some stuffed-straw gentlemen occupying their usual

posts. Some of them were cavalry, some infantry, and they seemed such

respectable representatives of their spectral predecessors, that, in

the haze of the following morning, we thought that they had been

joined by some well-fed ones from the rear; and it was late in the day

before we discovered the mistake and advanced in pursuit. In passing

by the edge of a mill-pond, after dark, our adjutant and his horse

tumbled in, and, as the latter had no tail to hold on by, they were

both very nearly drowned.

It was late ere we halted for the night, on the side of the road, near

to Allenquer, and I got under cover in a small house, which looked as

if it had been honoured as the head-quarters of the tailor-general of

the French army, for the floor was strewed with variegated threads,

various complexioned buttons, with particles and remnants of

_cabbage_; and, if it could not boast of the flesh and fowl of Noah's

ark, there was an abundance of the creeping things which it were to be

wished that that commander had not left behind. We marched before

daylight next morning, leaving a _rousing_ fire in the chimney, which

shortly became too small to hold it; for we had not proceeded far

before we perceived that the well-dried thatched roof had joined in

the general blaze, a circumstance which caused us no little

uneasiness, for our general, the late Major-general Robert Crawford,

had brought us up in the fear of our master; and, as he was a sort of

person who would not see a fire, of that kind, in the same _light_

that we did, I was by no means satisfied that my commission lay snug

in my pocket, until we had fairly marched it out of sight, and in

which we were aided not a little by a slight fire of another kind,

which he was required to watch with the advanced guard.

On our arrival at Vallé, on the 12th of Nov. we found the enemy behind

the Rio Maior, occupying the heights of Santarem, and exchanged some

shots with their advanced posts. In the course of the night we

experienced one of those tremendous thunderstorms which used to

precede the Wellington victories, and which induced us to expect a

general action on the following day. I had disposed myself to sleep in

a beautiful green hollow way, and, before I had time even to dream of

the effects of their heavy rains, I found myself floating most

majestically towards the river, in a fair way of becoming food for

the fishes. I ever after gave those inviting-looking spots a wide

birth, as I found that they were regular watercourses.

Next morning our division crossed the river, and commenced a false

attack on the enemy's left, with a view of making them show their

force; and it was to have been turned into a real attack, if their

position was found to be occupied by a rear guard only; but, after

keeping up a smart skirmishing-fire the greater part of the day, Lord

Wellington was satisfied that their whole army was present, we were

consequently withdrawn.

This affair terminated the campaign of 1810. Our division took

possession of the village of Vallé and its adjacents, and the rest of

the army was placed in cantonments, under whatever cover the

neighbouring country afforded.

Our battalion was stationed in some empty farm-houses, near the end of

the bridge of Santarem, which was nearly half a mile long; and our

sentries and those of the enemy were within pistol-shot of each other

on the bridge.

I do not mean to insinuate that a country is never so much at peace as

when at open war; but I do say that a soldier can no where sleep so

soundly, nor is he any where so secure from surprise, as when within

musket-shot of his enemy.

We lay four months in this situation, divided only by a rivulet,

without once exchanging shots. Every evening, at the hour

  "When bucks to dinner go,

   And cits to sup,"

it was our practice to dress for sleep: we saddled our horses, buckled

on our armour, and lay down, with the bare floor for a bed and a stone

for a pillow, ready for any thing, and reckless of every thing but the

honour of our corps and country; for I will say (to save the expense

of a trumpeter) that a more devoted set of fellows were never


We stood to our arms every morning at an hour before daybreak, and

remained there until a _grey horse_ could be seen a mile off, (which

is the military criterion by which daylight is acknowledged, and the

hour of surprise past,) when we proceeded to unharness, and to indulge

in such _luxuries_ as our toilet and our table afforded.

The Maior, as far as the bridge of Vallé, was navigable for the small

craft from Lisbon, so that our table, while we remained there, cut as

respectable a figure, as regular supplies of rice, salt fish, and

potatoes could make it; not to mention that our pig-skin was, at all

times, at least three parts full of a common red wine, which used to

be dignified by the name of _black-strap_. We had the utmost

difficulty, however, in keeping up appearances in the way of dress.

The jacket, in spite of shreds and patches, always maintained

something of the original about it; but woe befel the regimental

small-clothes, and they could only be replaced by very extraordinary

apologies, of which I remember that I had two pair at this period,

_one_ of a common brown Portuguese cloth, and the _other_, or

Sunday's pair, of black velvet. We had no women with the regiment; and

the ceremony of washing a shirt amounted to my servant's taking it by

the collar, and giving it a couple of shakes in the water, and then

hanging it up to dry. Smoothing-irons were not the fashion of the

times, and, if a fresh well-dressed aide-de-camp did occasionally come

from England, we used to stare at him with about as much respect as

Hotspur did at his "waiting gentlewoman."

The winter here was uncommonly mild. I am not the sort of person to

put myself much in the way of ice, except on a warm summer's day; but

the only inconvenience that I felt in bathing, in the middle of

December, was the quantity of leeches that used to attach themselves

to my personal supporters, obliging me to cut a few capers to shake

them off, after leaving the water.

Our piquet-post, at the bridge, became a regular lounge, for the

winter, to all manner of folks.

I used to be much amused at seeing our naval officers come up from

Lisbon riding on mules, with huge ships' spy-glasses, like

six-pounders, strapped across the backs of their saddles. Their first

question invariably was, "Who is that fellow there," (pointing to the

enemy's sentry, close to us,) and, on being told that he was a

Frenchman, "Then why the devil don't you shoot him!"

Repeated acts of civility passed between the French and us during this

tacit suspension of hostilities. The greyhounds of an officer followed

a hare, on one occasion, into their lines, and they very politely

returned them.

I was one night on piquet, at the end of the bridge, when a ball came

from the French sentry and struck the burning billet of wood round

which we were sitting, and they sent in a flag of truce, next morning,

to apologize for the accident, and to say that it had been done by a

stupid fellow of a sentry, who imagined that people were advancing

upon him. We admitted the apology, though we knew well enough that it

had been done by a malicious rather than a stupid fellow, from the

situation we occupied.

General Junot, one day reconnoitring, was severely wounded by a

sentry, and Lord Wellington, knowing that they were at that time

destitute of every thing in the shape of comfort, sent to request his

acceptance of any thing that Lisbon afforded that could be of any

service to him; but the French general was too much of a politician to

admit the want of any thing.


     Campaign of 1811 opens. Massena's Retreat. Wretched Condition of

     the Inhabitants on the Line of March. Affairs with the Enemy,

     near Pombal. Description of a Bivouac. Action near Redinha.

     Destruction of Condacia and Action near it. Burning of the

     Village of Illama, and Misery of its Inhabitants. Action at Foz

     D'Aronce. Confidential Servants with Donkey-Assistants.

The campaign of 1811 commenced on the 6th of March, by the retreat of

the enemy from Santarem.

Lord Wellington seemed to be perfectly acquainted with their

intentions, for he sent to apprize our piquets, the evening before,

that they were going off, and to desire that they should feel for them

occasionally during the night, and give the earliest information of

their having started. It was not, however, until daylight that we

were quite certain of their having gone, and our division was

instantly put in motion after them, passing through the town of

Santarem, around which their camp fires were still burning.

Santarem is finely situated, and probably had been a handsome town. I

had never seen it in prosperity, and it now looked like a city of the

plague, represented by empty dogs and empty houses; and, but for the

tolling of a convent-bell by some unseen hand, its appearance was

altogether inhuman.

We halted for the night near Pyrnes. This little town, and the few

wretched inhabitants who had been induced to remain in it under the

faithless promises of the French generals, shewed fearful signs of a

late visit from a barbarous and merciless foe. Young women were lying

in their houses brutally violated,--the streets were strewed with

broken furniture, intermixed with the putrid carcasses of murdered

peasants, mules, and donkeys, and every description of filth, that

filled the air with pestilential nausea. The few starved male

inhabitants who were stalking amid the wreck of their friends and

property, looked like so many skeletons who had been permitted to

leave their graves for the purpose of taking vengeance on their

oppressors, and the mangled body of every Frenchman who was

unfortunate or imprudent enough to stray from his column, shewed how

religiously they performed their mission.

March 8th.--We overtook their rear guard this evening, snugly put up

for the night in a little village, the name of which I do not

recollect, but a couple of six pounders, supported by a few of our

rifles, induced them to extend their walk.

March 9th.--While moving along the road this morning, we found a man,

who had deserted from us a short time before, in the uniform of a

French dragoon, with his head laid open by one of our bullets. He was

still alive, exciting any thing but sympathy among his former

associates. Towards the afternoon we found the enemy in force, on the

plain in front of Pombal, where we exchanged some shots.

March 11th.--They retired yesterday to the heights behind Pombal, with

their advanced posts occupying the town and moorish castle, which our

battalion, assisted by some Cácadores, attacked this morning, and

drove them from with considerable loss. Dispositions were then made

for a general attack on their position, but the other divisions of our

army did not arrive until too late in the evening. We bivouacked for

the night in a ploughed field, under the castle, with our sentries

within pistol shot, while it rained in torrents.

As it is possible that some of my readers might never have had the

misfortune to experience the comforts of a bivouac, and as the one

which I am now in, contains but a small quantity of sleep, I shall

devote a waking hour for their edification.

When a regiment arrives at its ground for the night, it is formed in

columns of companies, at full, half, or quarter distance, according

to the space which circumstances will permit it to occupy. The officer

commanding each company then receives his orders; and, after

communicating whatever may be necessary to the men, he desires them to

"pile arms, and make themselves comfortable for the night." Now, I

pray thee, most sanguine reader, suffer not thy fervid imagination to

transport thee into elysian fields at the pleasing exhortation

conveyed in the concluding part of the captain's address, but rest

thee contentedly in the one where it is made, which in all probability

is a ploughed one, and that, too, in a state of preparation to take a

model of thy very beautiful person, under the melting influence of a

shower of rain. The soldiers of each company have a hereditary claim

to the ground next to their arms, as have their officers to a wider

range on the same line, limited to the end of a bugle sound, if not by

a neighbouring corps, or one that is not neighbourly, for the nearer a

man is to his enemy, the nearer he likes to be to his friends. Suffice

it, that each individual knows his place as well as if he had been

born on the estate, and takes immediate possession accordingly. In a

ploughed or a stubble field there is scarcely a choice of quarters;

but, whenever there is a sprinkling of trees, it is always an object

to secure a good one, as it affords shelter from the sun by day and

the dews by night, besides being a sort of home or sign post for a

group of officers, as denoting the best place of entertainment; for

they hang their spare clothing and accoutrements among the branches,

barricade themselves on each side with their saddles, canteens, and

portmanteaus, and, with a blazing fire in their front, they indulge,

according to their various humours, in a complete state of


There are several degrees of comfort to be reckoned in a bivouac, two

of which will suffice.

The first, and worst, is to arrive at the end of a cold wet day, too

dark to see your ground, and too near the enemy to be permitted to

unpack the knapsacks or to take off accoutrements; where,

unincumbered with baggage or eatables of any kind, you have the

consolation of knowing that things are now at their worst, and that

any change must be for the better. You keep yourself alive for a

while, in collecting material to feed your fire with. You take a smell

at your empty calibash, which recalls to your remembrance the

delicious flavour of its last drop of wine. You curse your servant for

not having contrived to send you something or other from the baggage,

(though you know that it was impossible). You then damn the enemy for

being so near you, though probably, as in the present instance, it was

you that came so near them. And, finally, you take a whiff at the end

of a cigar, if you have one, and keep grumbling through the smoke,

like distant thunder through a cloud, until you tumble into a most

warlike sleep.

The next, and most common one, is, when you are not required to look

quite so sharp, and when the light baggage and provisions come in at

the heel of the regiment. If it is early in the day, the first thing

to be done is to make some tea, the most sovereign restorative for

jaded spirits. We then proceed to our various duties. The officers of

each company form a mess of themselves. One remains in camp to attend

to the duties of the regiment; a second attends to the mess: he goes

to the regimental butcher, and bespeaks a portion of the only

purchaseable commodities, hearts, livers, and kidneys; and also to see

whether he cannot _do_ the commissary out of a few extra biscuit, or a

canteen of brandy; and the remainder are gentlemen at large for the

day. But while they go hunting among the neighbouring regiments for

news, and the neighbouring houses for curiosity, they have always an

eye to their mess, and omit no opportunity of adding to the general


Dinner hour, for fear of accidents, is always the hour when dinner can

be got ready; and the 14th section of the articles of war is always

most rigidly attended to, by every good officer parading himself round

the camp-kettle at the time fixed, with his haversack in his hand. A

haversack on service is a sort of dumb waiter. The mess have a good

many things in common, but the contents of the haversack are

exclusively the property of its owner; and a well regulated one ought

never to be without the following furniture, unless when the

perishable part is consumed, in consequence of every other means of

supply having failed, viz. a couple of biscuit, a sausage, a little

tea and sugar, a knife, fork, and spoon, a tin cup, (which answers to

the names of _tea-cup_, _soup-plate_, _wine-glass_, and _tumbler_,) a

pair of socks, a piece of soap, a tooth-brush, towel, and comb, and

half a dozen cigars.

After doing justice to the dinner, if we feel in a humour for

additional society, we transfer ourselves to some neighbouring mess,

taking our cups, and whatever we mean to drink, along with us, for in

those times there is nothing to be expected from our friends beyond

the pleasure of their conversation: and, finally, we retire to rest.

To avoid inconvenience by the tossing off of the bed-clothes, each

officer has a blanket sewed up at the sides, like a sack, into which

he scrambles, and, with a green sod or a smooth stone for a pillow,

composes himself to sleep; and, under such a glorious reflecting

canopy as the heavens, it would be a subject of mortification to an

astronomer to see the celerity with which he tumbles into it. Habit

gives endurance, and fatigue is the best nightcap; no matter that the

veteran's countenance is alternately stormed with torrents of rain,

heavy dews, and hoar-frosts; no matter that his ears are assailed by a

million mouths of chattering locusts, and by some villanous donkey,

who every half hour pitches a _bray_ note, which, as a congregation of

presbyterians follow their clerk, is instantly taken up by every mule

and donkey in the army, and sent echoing from regiment to regiment,

over hill and valley, until it dies away in the distance; no matter

that the scorpion is lurking beneath his pillow, the snake winding his

slimy way by his side, and the lizard galloping over his face, wiping

his eyes with its long cold tail.

All are unheeded, until the warning voice of the brazen instrument

sounds to arms. Strange it is, that the ear which is impervious to

what would disturb the rest of the world besides, should alone be

alive to one, and that, too, a sound which is likely to sooth the

sleep of the citizens, or at most, to set them dreaming of their

loves. But so it is: the first note of the melodious bugle places the

soldier on his legs, like lightning; when, muttering a few curses at

the unseasonableness of the hour, he plants himself on his alarm post,

without knowing or caring about the cause.

Such is a bivouac; and our sleep-breaker having just sounded, the

reader will find what occurred, by reading on.

March 12th.--We stood to our arms before daylight. Finding that the

enemy had quitted the position in our front, we proceeded to follow

them; and had not gone far before we heard the usual morning's

salutation, of a couple of shots, between their rear and our advanced

guard. On driving in their outposts, we found their whole army drawn

out on the plain, near Redinha, and instantly quarrelled with them on

a large scale.

As every body has read Waverley and the Scottish Chiefs, and knows

that one battle is just like another, inasmuch as they always conclude

by one or both sides running away; and as it is nothing to me what

this or t'other regiment did, nor do I care three buttons what this or

t'other person thinks he did, I shall limit all my descriptions to

such events as immediately concerned the important personage most

interested in this history.

Be it known then, that I was one of a crowd of skirmishers who were

enabling the French ones to carry the news of their own defeat through

a thick wood, at an infantry canter, when I found myself all at once

within a few yards of one of their regiments in line, which opened

such a fire, that had I not, rifleman like, taken instant advantage of

the cover of a good fir tree, my name would have unquestionably been

transmitted to posterity by that night's gazette. And, however

opposed it may be to the usual system of drill, I will maintain, from

that day's experience, that the cleverest method of teaching a recruit

to stand at attention, is to place him behind a tree and fire balls at

him; as, had our late worthy disciplinarian, Sir David Dundas,

himself, been looking on, I think that even _he_ must have admitted

that he never saw any one stand so fiercely upright as I did behind

mine, while the balls were rapping into it as fast as if a fellow had

been hammering a nail on the opposite side, not to mention the numbers

that were whistling past, within the eighth of an inch of every part

of my body, both before and behind, particularly in the vicinity of my

nose, for which the upper part of the tree could barely afford


This was a last and a desperate stand made by their rear-guard, for

their own safety, immediately above the town, as their sole chance of

escape depended upon their being able to hold the post until the only

bridge across the river was clear of the other fugitives. But they

could not hold it long enough; for, while we were undergoing a

temporary sort of purgatory in their front, our comrades went working

round their flanks, which quickly sent them flying, with us

intermixed, at full cry, down the streets.

Whether in love or war, I have always considered that the pursuer has

a decided advantage over the pursued. In the first, he may gain and

cannot lose; but, in the latter, when one sees his enemy at full speed

before him, one has such a peculiar conscious sort of feeling that he

is on the right side, that I would not exchange places for any


When we reached the bridge, the scene became exceedingly interesting,

for it was choked up by the fugitives who were, as usual, impeding

each other's progress, and we did not find that the application of our

swords to those nearest to us tended at all towards lessening their

disorder, for it induced about a hundred of them to rush into an

adjoining house for shelter, but that was netting regularly out of the

frying-pan into the fire, for the house happened to be really in

flames, and too hot to hold them, so that the same hundred were

quickly seen unkennelling again, half-cooked, into the very jaws of

their consumers.

John Bull, however, is not a blood-thirsty person, so that those who

could not better themselves, had only to submit to a simple transfer

of personal property to ensure his protection. We, consequently, made

many prisoners at the bridge, and followed their army about a league

beyond it, keeping up a flying fight until dark.

Just as Mr. Simmons and myself had crossed the river, and were talking

over the events of the day, not a yard asunder, there was a Portuguese

soldier in the act of passing between us, when a cannon-ball plunged

into his belly--his head doubled down to his feet, and he stood for a

moment in that posture before he rolled over a lifeless lump.

March 13th.--Arrived on the hill above Condacia in time to see that

handsome little town in flames. Every species of barbarity continued

to mark the enemy's retreating steps. They burnt every town or

village through which they passed, and if we entered a church, which,

by accident, had been spared, it was to see the murdered bodies of the

peasantry on the altar.

While Lord Wellington, with his staff, was on a hill a little in front

of us, waiting the result of a flank-movement which he had directed,

some of the enemy's sharpshooters stole, unperceived, very near to him

and began firing, but, fortunately, without effect. We immediately

detached a few of ours to meet them, but the others ran off on their


We lay by our arms until towards evening, when the enemy withdrew a

short distance behind Condacia, and we closed up to them. There was a

continued popping between the advanced posts all night.

March 14th.--Finding, at daylight, that the enemy still continued to

hold the strong ground before us, some divisions of the army were sent

to turn their flanks, while ours attacked them in front.

We drove them from one strong hold to another, over a large track of

very difficult country, mountainous and rocky, and thickly intersected

with stone walls, and were involved in one continued hard skirmish

from daylight until dark. This was the most harassing day's fighting

that I ever experienced.

Daylight left the two armies looking at each other, near the village

of Illama. The smoking roofs of the houses showed that the French had

just quitted and, as usual, set fire to it, when the company to which

I belonged was ordered on piquet there for the night. After posting

our sentries, my brother-officer and myself had the curiosity to look

into a house, and were shocked to find in it a mother and her child

dead, and the father, with three more, living, but so much reduced by

famine as to be unable to remove themselves from the flames. We

carried them into the open air, and offered the old man our few

remaining crumbs of biscuit, but he told us that he was too far gone

to benefit by them, and begged that we would give them to his

children. We lost no time in examining such of the other houses as

were yet safe to enter, and rescued many more individuals from one

horrible death, probably to reserve them for another equally so, and

more lingering, as we had nothing to give them, and marched at

daylight the following morning.

Our post that night was one of terrific grandeur. The hills behind

were in a blaze of light with the British camp-fires, as were those in

our front with the French ones. Both hills were abrupt and lofty, not

above eight hundred yards asunder, and we were in the burning village

in the valley between. The roofs of houses every instant falling in,

and the sparks and flames ascending to the clouds. The streets were

strewed with the dying and the dead,--some had been murdered and some

killed in action, which, together with the half-famished wretches whom

we had saved from burning, contributed in making it a scene which was

well-calculated to shake a stout heart, as was proved in the instance

of one of our sentries, a well known "devil-may-care" sort of fellow.

I know not what appearances the burning rafters might have reflected

on the neighbouring trees at the time, but he had not been long on his

post before he came running into the piquet, and swore, by all the

saints in the calendar, that he saw six dead Frenchmen advancing upon

him with hatchets over their shoulders!

We found by the buttons on the coats of some of the fallen foe, that

we had this day been opposed to the French ninety-fifth regiment, (the

same number as we were then,) and I cut off several of them, which I

preserved as trophies.

March 15th.--We overtook the enemy a little before dark this

afternoon. They were drawn up behind the Ceira, at Fez D'Aronce, with

their rear-guard, under Marshal Ney, imprudently posted on our side of

the river, a circumstance which Lord Wellington took immediate

advantage of; and, by a furious attack, dislodged them, in such

confusion, that they blew up the bridge before half of their own

people had time to get over. Those who were thereby left behind, not

choosing to put themselves to the pain of being shot, took to the

river, which received them so hospitably that few of them ever quitted

it. Their loss, on this occasion, must have been very great, and, we

understood, at the time, that Ney had been sent to France, in

disgrace, in consequence of it.

About the middle of the action, I observed some inexperienced light

troops rushing up a deep road-way to certain destruction, and ran to

warn them out of it, but I only arrived in time to partake the reward

of their indiscretion, for I was instantly struck with a musket-ball

above the left ear, which deposited me, at full length, in the mud.

I know not how long I lay insensible, but, on recovering, my first

_feeling_ was for my head, to ascertain if any part of it was still

standing, for it appeared to me as if nothing remained above the

mouth; but, after repeated applications of all my fingers and thumbs

to the doubtful parts, I, at length, proved to myself, satisfactorily,

that it had rather increased than diminished by the concussion; and,

jumping on my legs, and hearing, by the whistling of the balls from

both sides, that the rascals who had got me into the scrape had been

driven back and left me there, I snatched my cap, which had saved my

life, and which had been spun off my head to the distance of ten or

twelve yards, and joined them, a short distance in the rear, when one

of them, a soldier of the sixtieth, came and told me that an officer

of ours had been killed, a short time before, pointing to the spot

where I myself had fallen, and that he had tried to take his jacket

off, but that the advance of the enemy had prevented him. I told him

that I was the one that had been killed, and that I was deucedly

obliged to him for his _kind_ intentions, while I felt still more so

to the enemy for their timely advance, otherwise, I have no doubt, but

my _friend_ would have taken a fancy to my trousers also, for I found

that he had absolutely unbuttoned my jacket.

There is nothing so gratifying to frail mortality as a good dinner

when most wanted and least expected. It was perfectly dark before the

action finished, but, on going to take advantage of the fires which

the enemy had evacuated, we found their soup-kettles in full

operation, and every man's mess of biscuit lying beside them, in

stockings, as was the French mode of carrying them; and it is needless

to say how unceremoniously we proceeded to do the honours of the

feast. It ever after became a saying among the soldiers, whenever they

were on short allowance, "well, d--n my eyes, we must either fall in

with the French or the commissary to-day, I don't care which."

As our baggage was always in the rear on occasions of this kind, the

officers of each company had a Portuguese boy, in charge of a donkey,

on whom their little comforts depended. He carried our boat-cloaks and

blankets, was provided with a small pig-skin for wine, a canteen for

spirits, a small quantity of tea and sugar, a goat tied to the donkey,

and two or three dollars in his pocket, for the purchase of bread,

butter, or any other luxury which good fortune might throw in his way

in the course of the day's march. We were never very scrupulous in

exacting information regarding the source of his supplies; so that he

had nothing to dread from our wrath, unless he had the misfortune to

make his appearance empty-handed. They were singularly faithful and

intelligent in making their way to us every evening, under the most

difficult circumstances. This was the only night during Massena's

retreat in which ours failed to find us; and, wandering the greater

part of the night in the intricate maze of camp-fires, it appeared

that he slept, after all, among some dragoons, within twenty yards of



     Passage of the Mondego. Swearing to a large Amount. Two

     Prisoners, with their Two Views. Two Nuns, Two Pieces of Dough,

     and Two Kisses. A Halt. Affair near Frexedas. Arrival near

     Guarda. Murder. A stray Sentry. Battle of Sabugal. Spanish and

     Portuguese Frontiers. Blockade of Almeida. Battle-like. Current

     Value of Lord Wellington's Nose. Battle of Fuentes D'Onor. The

     Day after the Battle. A grave Remark. The _Padre's_ House.

     Retreat of the Enemy.

March 17th.--Found the enemy's rear-guard behind the Mondego, at Ponte

de Marcella, cannonaded them out of it, and then threw a temporary

bridge across the river, and followed them until dark.

The late Sir Alexander Campbell, who commanded the division next to

ours, by a wanton excess of zeal in expecting an order to follow,

would not permit any thing belonging to us to pass the bridge, for

fear of impeding the march of his troops; and, as he received no order

to march, we were thereby prevented from getting any thing whatever to

eat for the next thirty-six hours. I know not whether the curses of

individuals are recorded under such circumstances, but, if they are,

the gallant general will have found the united hearty ones of four

thousand men registered against him for that particular act.

March 19th.--We, this day, captured the aide-de-camp of General

Loison, together with his wife, who was dressed in a splendid hussar

uniform. _He_ was a Portuguese, and a traitor, and looked very like a

man who would be hanged. _She_ was a Spaniard, and very handsome, and

looked very like a woman who would get married again.

March 20th.--We had now been three days without any thing in the shape

of bread, and meat without it, after a time, becomes almost

loathsome. Hearing that we were not likely to march quite so early as

usual this morning, I started, before daylight, to a village about two

miles off, in the face of the Sierra D'Estrella, in the hopes of being

able to purchase something, as it lay out of the hostile line of

movements. On my arrival there, I found some nuns who had fled from a

neighbouring convent, waiting outside the building of the village-oven

for some Indian-corn-leaven, which they had carried there to be baked,

and, when I explained my pressing wants, two of them, very kindly,

transferred me their shares, for which I gave each a kiss and a dollar

between. They took the former as an unusual favour; but looked at the

latter, as much as to say, "our poverty, and not our will, consents."

I ran off with my half-baked dough, and joined my comrades, just as

they were getting under arms.

March 21st.--We, this day, reached the town of Mello, and had so far

outmarched our commissary that we found it necessary to wait for him;

and, in stopping to get a sight of our friends, we lost sight of our

foes, a circumstance which I was by no means sorry for, as it enabled

my shoulders, once more, to rejoice under the load of a couple of

biscuits, and made me no longer ashamed to look a cow or a sheep in

the face, now that they were not required to furnish more than their

regulated proportions of my daily food.

March 30th.--We had no difficulty in tracing the enemy, by the wrecks

of houses and the butchered peasantry; and overtook their rear-guard,

this day, busy grinding corn, in some windmills, near the village of

Frexedas. As their situation offered a fair opportunity for us to reap

the fruits of their labours, we immediately attacked and drove them

from it, and, after securing what we wanted, we withdrew again, across

the valley, to the village of Alverca, where we were not without some

reasonable expectations that they would have returned the compliment,

as we had only a few squadrons of dragoons in addition to our

battalion, and we had seen them withdraw a much stronger force from

the opposite village; but, by keeping a number of our men all night

employed in making extensive fires on the hill above, it induced them

to think that our force was much greater than it really was; and we

remained unmolested.

The only person we had hit in this affair was our adjutant, Mr.

Stewart, who was shot through the head from a window. He was a gallant

soldier, and deeply lamented. We placed his body in a chest, and

buried it in front of Colonel Beckwith's quarters.

March 31st.--At daylight, this morning, we moved to our right, along

the ridge of mountains, to Guarda: on our arrival there, we saw the

imposing spectacle of the whole of the French army winding through the

valley below, just out of gun-shot.

On taking possession of one of the villages which they had just

evacuated, we found the body of a well-dressed female, whom they had

murdered by a horrible refinement in cruelty. She had been placed upon

her back, alive, in the middle of the street, with the fragment of a

rock upon her breast, which it required four of our men to remove.

April 1st.--We overtook the enemy this afternoon, in position, behind

the Coa, at Sabugal, with their advanced posts on our side of the


I was sent on piquet for the night, and had my sentries within

half-musket shot of theirs: it was wet, dark, and stormy when I went,

about midnight, to visit them, and I was not a little annoyed to find

one missing. Recollecting who he was, a steady old soldier and the

last man in the world to desert his post, I called his name aloud,

when his answering voice, followed by the discharge of a musket,

reached me nearly at the same time, from the direction of one of the

French sentries; and, after some inquiry, I found that in walking his

lonely round, in a brown study, no doubt, he had each turn taken ten

or twelve paces to his front, and only half that number to the rear,

until he had gradually worked himself up to within a few yards of his

adversary; and it would be difficult to say which of the two was most

astonished--the one at hearing a voice, or the other a shot so near,

but all my rhetoric, aided by the testimony of the serjeant and the

other sentries, could not convince the fellow that he was not on the

identical spot on which I had posted him.

April 2d.--We moved this day to the right, nearer to the bridge, and

some shots were exchanged between the piquets.


April 3d, 1811.

Early this morning our division moved still farther to its right, and

our brigade led the way across a ford, which took us up to the middle;

while the balls from the enemy's advanced posts were hissing in the

water around us, we drove in their light troops and commenced a

furious assault upon their main body. Thus far all was right; but a

thick drizzling rain now came on, in consequence of which the third

division, which was to have made a simultaneous attack to our left,

missed their way, and a brigade of dragoons under Sir William Erskine,

who were to have covered our right, went the Lord knows where, but

certainly not into the fight, although they started at the same time

that we did, and had the _music_ of our rifles to guide them; and,

even the second brigade of our own division could not afford us any

support, for nearly an hour, so that we were thus unconsciously left

with about fifteen hundred men, in the very impertinent attempt to

carry a formidable position, on which stood as many thousands.

The weather, which had deprived us of the aid of our friends, favoured

us so far as to prevent the enemy from seeing the amount of our paltry

force; and the conduct of our gallant fellows, led on by Sir Sidney

Beckwith, was so truly heroic, that, incredible as it may seem, we had

the best of the fight throughout. Our first attack was met by such

overwhelming numbers, that we were forced back and followed by three

heavy columns, before which we retired slowly, and keeping up a

destructive fire, to the nearest rising ground, where we re-formed and

instantly charged their advancing masses, sending them flying at the

point of the bayonet, and entering their position along with them,

where we were assailed by fresh forces. Three times did the very same

thing occur. In our third attempt we got possession of one of their

howitzers, for which a desperate struggle was making, when we were at

the same moment charged by infantry in front and cavalry on the right,

and again compelled to fall back; but, fortunately, at this moment we

were reinforced by the arrival of the second brigade, and, with their

aid, we once more stormed their position and secured the well-earned

howitzer, while the third division came at the same time upon their

flank, and they were driven from the field in the greatest disorder.

Lord Wellington's despatch on this occasion did ample justice to Sir

Sidney Beckwith and his brave brigade. Never were troops more

judiciously or more gallantly led. Never was a leader more devotedly


In the course of the action a man of the name of Knight fell dead at

my feet, and though I heard a musket ball strike him, I could neither

find blood nor wound.

There was a little spaniel belonging to one of our officers running

about the whole time, barking at the balls, and I saw him once

smelling at a live shell, which exploded in his face without hurting


The strife had scarcely ended among mortals, when it was taken up by

the elements with terrific violence. The _Scotch mist_ of the morning

had now increased to torrents, enough to cool the fever of our late

excitement, and accompanied by thunder and lightning. As a compliment

for our exertions in the fight, we were sent into the town, and had

the advantage of whatever cover its dilapidated state afforded. While

those who had not had the chance of getting broken skins, had now the

benefit of sleeping in wet ones.

On the 5th of April we entered the frontiers of Spain, and slept in a

bed for the first time since I left the ship. Passing from the

Portuguese to the Spanish frontier is about equal to taking one step

from the coal-hole into the parlour, for the cottages on the former

are reared with filth, furnished with ditto, and peopled accordingly;

whereas, those of Spain, even within the same mile, are neatly

whitewashed, both without and within, and the poorest of them can

furnish a good bed, with clean linen, and the pillow-cases neatly

adorned with pink and sky-blue ribbons, while their dear little girls

look smiling and neat as their pillow-cases.

After the action at Sabugal, the enemy retired to the neighbourhood of

Ciudad Rodrigo, without our getting another look at them, and we took

up the line of the Agueda and Axava rivers, for the blockade of the

fortress of Almeida, in which they had left a garrison indifferently


The garrison had no means of providing for their cattle, but by

turning them out to graze upon the glacis; and we sent a few of our

rifles to practice against them, which very soon reduced them to salt


Towards the end of April the French army began to assemble on the

opposite bank of the Agueda to attempt the relief of the garrison, while

ours began to assemble in position at Fuentes D'Onor to dispute it.

Our division still continued to hold the same line of outposts, and

had several sharp affairs between the piquets at the bridge of


As a general action seemed now to be inevitable, we anxiously longed

for the return of Lord Wellington, who had been suddenly called to the

corps of the army under Marshal Beresford, near Badajos, as we would

rather see his long nose in the fight than a reinforcement of ten

thousand men any day. Indeed, there was a charm not only about himself

but all connected with him, for which no odds could compensate. The

known abilities of Sir George Murray, the gallant bearing of the

lamented Pakenham, of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, of the present Duke of

Richmond, Sir Colin Campbell, with others, the flower of our young

nobility and gentry, who, under the auspices of such a chief, seemed

always a group attendant on victory; and I'll venture to say that

there was not a bosom in that army that did not beat more lightly,

when we heard the joyful news of his arrival, the day before the

enemy's advance.

He had ordered us not to dispute the passage of the river, so that

when the French army advanced, on the morning of the 3d of May, we

retired slowly before them, across the plains of Espeja, and drew into

the position, where the whole army was now assembled. Our division

took post in reserve, in the left centre. Towards evening, the enemy

made a fierce attack on the Village of Fuentes, but were repulsed with


On the 4th, both armies looked at each other all day without

exchanging shots.


May 5th, 1811.

The day began to dawn, this fine May morning, with a rattling fire of

musketry on the extreme right of our position, which the enemy had

attacked, and to which point our division was rapidly moved.

Our battalion was thrown into a wood, a little to the left and front

of the division engaged, and was instantly warmly opposed to the

French skirmishers; in the course of which I was struck with a

musket-ball on the left breast, which made me stagger a yard or two

backward, and, as I felt no pain, I concluded that I was dangerously

wounded; but it turned out to be owing to my not being hurt. While our

operations here were confined to a tame skirmish, and our view to the

oaks with which we were mingled, we found, by the evidence of our

ears, that the division which we had come to support was involved in a

more serious onset, for _there_ was the successive rattle of

artillery, the wild hurrah of charging squadrons, and the repulsing

volley of musketry; until Lord Wellington, finding his right too much

extended, directed _that_ division to fall back behind the small river

Touronne, and ours to join the main body of the army. The execution of

our movement presented a magnificent military spectacle, as the plain,

between us and the right of the army, was by this time in possession

of the French cavalry, and, while we were retiring through it with the

order and precision of a common field-day, they kept dancing around

us, and every instant threatening a charge, without daring to execute


We took up our new position at a right angle with the then right of

the British line, on which our left rested, and with our right on the

Touronne. The enemy followed our movement with a heavy column of

infantry; but, when they came near enough to exchange shots, they did

not seem to like our looks, as we occupied a low ridge of broken

rocks, against which even a rat could scarcely have hoped to advance

alive; and they again fell back, and opening a tremendous fire of

artillery, which was returned by a battery of our guns. In the course

of a short time, seeing no further demonstration against this part of

the position, our division was withdrawn, and placed in reserve in

rear of the centre.

The battle continued to rage with fury in and about the village,

whilst we were lying by our arms under a burning hot sun, some stray

cannon-shot passing over and about us, whose progress we watched for

want of other employment. One of them bounded along in the direction

of an _amateur_, whom we had for some time been observing securely

placed, as he imagined, behind a piece of rock, which stood about five

feet above the ground, and over which nothing but his head was shown,

sheltered from the sun by an umbrella. The shot in question touched

the ground three or four times between us and him; he saw it

coming--lowered his umbrella, and withdrew his head. Its expiring

bound carried it into the very spot where he had that instant

disappeared. I hope he was not hurt; but the thing looked so

ridiculous that it excited a shout of laughter, and we saw no more of


A little before dusk, in the evening, our battalion was ordered

forward to relieve the troops engaged in the village, part of which

still remained in possession of the enemy, and I saw, by the mixed

nature of the dead, in every part of the streets, that it had been

successively in possession of both sides. The firing ceased with the

daylight, and I was sent, with a section of men, in charge of one of

the streets for the night. There was a wounded Serjeant of highlanders

lying on my post. A ball had passed through the back part of his head,

from which the brain was oozing, and his only sign of life was a

convulsive hiccough every two or three seconds. I sent for a medical

friend to look at him, who told me that he could not survive; I then

got a mattress from the nearest house, placed the poor fellow on it,

and made use of one corner as a pillow for myself, on which, after

the fatigues of the day, and though called occasionally to visit my

sentries, I slept most soundly. The highlander died in the course of

the night.

When we stood to our arms, at daybreak next morning, we found the

enemy busy throwing up a six-gun battery, immediately in front of our

company's post, and we immediately set to work, with our whole hearts

and souls, and placed a wall, about twelve feet thick, between us,

which, no doubt, still remains there in the same garden, as a monument

of what can be effected, in a few minutes, by a hundred modern men,

when their personal safety is concerned; not but that the proprietor,

in the midst of his admiration, would rather see a good bed of garlic

on the spot, manured with the bodies of the architects.

When the sun began to shine on the pacific disposition of the enemy,

we proceeded to consign the dead to their last earthly mansions,

giving every Englishman a grave to himself, and putting as many

Frenchmen into one as it could conveniently accommodate. Whilst in

the superintendence of this melancholy duty, and ruminating on the

words of the poet:--

  "There's not a form of all that lie

     Thus ghastly, wild and bare,

   Tost, bleeding, in the stormy sky,

     Black in the burning air,

   But to his knee some infant clung,

   But on his heart some fond heart hung!"

I was grieved to think that the souls of deceased warriors should be

so selfish as to take to flight in their regimentals, for I never saw

the body of one with a rag on after battle.

The day after one of those negative sort of victories is always one of

intense interest. The movements on each side are most jealously

watched, and each side is diligently occupied in strengthening such

points as the fight of the preceding day had proved to be the most


Lord Wellington was too deficient in his cavalry force to justify his

following up his victory; and the enemy, on their parts, had been too

roughly handled, in their last attempt, to think of repeating the

experiment; so that, during the next two days, though both armies

continued to hold the same ground, there was scarcely a shot


They had made a few prisoners, chiefly guardsmen and highlanders, whom

they marched past the front of our position, in the most ostentatious

way, on the forenoon of the 6th; and, the day following, a number of

their regiments were paraded in the most imposing manner for review.

They looked uncommonly well, and we were proud to think that we had

beaten such fine-looking fellows so lately!

Our regiment had been so long and so often quartered in Fuentes that

it was like fighting for our fire-sides. The _Padre's_ house stood at

the top of the town. He was an old friend of ours, and an old fool,

for he would not leave his house until it was too late to take

anything with him; but, curious enough, although it had been

repeatedly in the possession of both sides, and plundered, no doubt,

by many expert artists, yet none of them thought of looking so high as

the garret, which happened to be the repository of his money and

provisions. He came to us the day after the battle, weeping over his

supposed loss, like a sensitive Christian, and I accompanied him to

the house, to see whether there was not some consolation remaining for

him; but, when he found his treasure safe, he could scarcely bear its

restoration with becoming gravity. I helped him to carry off his bag

of dollars, and he returned the compliment with a leg of mutton.

The French army retired on the night of the 7th, leaving Almeida to

its fate; but, by an extraordinary piece of luck, the garrison made

their escape the night after, in consequence of some mistake or

miscarriage of an order, which prevented a British regiment from

occupying the post intended for it.

May 8th.--We advanced this morning, and occupied our former post at

Espeja, with some hopes of remaining quiet for a few days; but the

alarm sounding at daylight on the following morning, we took post on

the hill, in front of the village. It turned out to be only a patrole

of French cavalry, who retired on receiving a few shots from our

piquets, and we saw no more of them for a considerable time.


     March to Estremadura. At Soito, growing Accommodations for Man

     and Beast. British Taste displayed by Portuguese Wolves. False

     Alarm. Luxuries of Roquingo Camp. A Chaplain of the Forces.

     Return towards the North. Quarters near Castello de Vide.

     Blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo. Village of Atalya; Fleas abundant;

     Food scarce. Advance of the French Army. Affairs near Guinaldo.

     Our Minister administered to. An unexpected Visit from our

     General and his Followers. End of the Campaign of 1811. Winter


Lord Wellington, soon after the battle of Fuentes, was again called

into Estremadura, to superintend the operations of the corps of the

army under Marshal Beresford, who had, in the mean time, fought the

battle of Albuera, and laid siege to Badajos. In the beginning of

June our division was ordered thither also, to be in readiness to aid

his operations. We halted one night at the village of Soito, where

there are a great many chestnut trees of very extraordinary

dimensions; the outside of the trunk keeps growing as the inside

decays. I was one of a party of four persons who dined inside of one,

and I saw two or three horses put up in several others.

We halted, also, one night on the banks of the Coa, near Sabugal, and

visited our late field of battle. We found that the dead had been

nearly all torn from their graves, and devoured by wolves, who are in

great force in that wild mountainous district, and shew very little

respect either for man or beast. They seldom, indeed, attack a man;

but if one happens to tie his horse to a tree, and leaves him

unattended, for a short time, he must not be surprised if he finds, on

his return, that he has parted with a good _rump steak_; _that_ is the

piece that they always prefer; and it is, therefore, clear to me,

that the first of the wolves must have been reared in England!

We experienced, in the course of this very dark night, one of those

ridiculous false alarms which will sometimes happen in the best

organized body. Some bullocks strayed, by accident, amongst the piles

of arms, the falling clatter of which, frightened them so much that

they went galloping over the sleeping soldiers. The officers'

baggage-horses broke from their _moorings_, and joined in the general

charge; and a cry immediately arose, that it was the French cavalry.

The different regiments stood to their arms, and formed squares,

looking as sharp as thunder for something to fire at; and it was a

considerable time before the cause of the _row_ could be traced. The

different followers of the army, in the mean time, were scampering off

to the rear, spreading the most frightful reports. One woman of the

52d succeeded in getting three leagues off before daylight, and swore,

"that, as God was her judge, she did not leave her regiment until she

saw the last man of them cut to pieces!!!"

On our arrival near Elvas, we found that Marshal Beresford had raised

the siege of Badajos; and we were, therefore, encamped on the river

Caya, near Roquingo. This was a sandy unsheltered district; and the

weather was so excessively hot, that we had no enjoyment, but that of

living three parts of the day up to the neck in a pool of water.

Up to this period it had been a matter of no small difficulty to

ascertain, at any time, the day of the week; that of the month was

altogether out of the question, and could only be reckoned by counting

back to the date of the last battle; but our division was here joined

by a chaplain, whose duty it was to remind us of these things. He

might have been a very good man, but he was not prepossessing, either

in his appearance or manners. I remember, the first Sunday after his

arrival, the troops were paraded for divine service, and had been some

time waiting in square, when he at length rode into the centre of it,

with his tall, lank, ungainly figure, mounted on a starved, untrimmed,

unfurnished horse, and followed by a Portuguese boy, with his

canonicals and prayer-books on the back of a mule, with a hay-bridle,

and having, by way of clothing, about half a pair of straw breeches.

This spiritual comforter was the least calculated of any one that I

ever saw to excite devotion in the minds of men, who had seen nothing

in the shape of a divine for a year or two.

In the beginning of August we began to retrace our steps towards the

north. We halted a few days in Portalegré, and a few more at Castello

de Vide.

The latter place is surrounded by extensive gardens, belonging to the

richer citizens; in each of which there is a small summer-house,

containing one or two apartments, in which the proprietor, as I can

testify, may have the enjoyment of being fed upon by a more healthy

and better appetized flea, than is to be met with in town houses in


These _quintas_ fell to the lot of our battalion; and though their

beds, on that account, had not much sleep in them, yet, as those who

preferred the voice of the nightingale in a bed of cabbages, to the

pinch of a flea in a bed of feathers, had the alternative at their

option; I enjoyed my sojourn there very much. Each garden had a

bathing tank, with a plentiful supply of water, which at that season

was really a luxury; and they abounded in choice fruits. I there

formed an attachment to a mulberry-tree, which is still fondly

cherished in my remembrance.

We reached the scene of our former operations, in the north, towards

the end of August.

The French had advanced and blockaded Almeida, during our absence, but

they retired again on our approach, and we took up a more advanced

position than before, for the blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo.

Our battalion occupied Atalya, a little village at the foot of the

Sierra de Gata, and in front of the River Vadilla. On taking

possession of my quarter, the people showed me an outhouse, which,

they said, I might use as a stable, and I took my horse into it, but,

seeing the floor strewed with what appeared to be a small brown seed,

heaps of which lay in each corner, as if shovelled together in

readiness to take to market, I took up a handful, out of curiosity,

and, truly, they were a curiosity, for I found that they were all

regular fleas, and that they were proceeding to eat both me and my

horse, without the smallest ceremony. I rushed out of the place, and

knocked them down by fistfuls, and never yet could comprehend the

cause of their congregating together in such a place.

This neighbourhood had been so long the theatre of war, and

alternately forced to supply both armies, that the inhabitants, at

length, began to dread starvation themselves, and concealed, for their

private use, all that remained to them; so that, although they were

bountiful in their assurances of good wishes, it was impossible to

extract a loaf of their good bread, of which we were so wildly in want

that we were obliged to conceal patroles on the different roads and

footpaths, for many miles around, to search the peasants passing

between the different villages, giving them an order on the commissary

for whatever we took from them; and we were not too proud to take even

a few potatoes out of an old woman's basket.

On one occasion, when some of us were out shooting, we discovered

about twenty hives of bees, in the face of a glen, concealed among the

gumcestus, and, stopping up the mouth of one them, we carried it home

on our shoulders, bees and all, and continued to levy contributions on

the _depot_ as long as we remained there.

Towards the end of September, the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo began to

get on such "short commons" that _Marmont_, who had succeeded

_Massena_, in the command of the French army, found it necessary to

assemble the whole of his forces, to enable him to throw provisions

into it.

Lord Wellington was still pursuing his defensive system, and did not

attempt to oppose him; but Marmont, after having effected his object,