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XI.

1808.

CHAP. territories, he discharged his arduous duties in

such manner as to deserve and obtain the gratitude of the conquered people. In the subsequent war against the Mahrattas he commanded at the battle of Assye, against an army exceeding his own number in the proportion of ten to one; and whose disciplined troops, under French officers, more than doubled the British force. The action was severe beyond all former example in India: having won the enemy's artillery, consisting of an hundred pieces, which were served with perfect skill, he had to take them a second time with the bayonet, when men who had feigned death rose from the ground and turned them upon the conquerors as they pressed forward in pursuit. The victory was decisive; the success was followed up, and at the close of that triumphant war a monument in honour of the battle was erected at Calcutta; the inhabitants of that city presented him with a sword, and his own officers with a golden vase; the thanks of parliament were voted him, and he was made a Knight Companion of the Bath. He returned to England in 1805; took his seat in the House of Commons the ensuing year, as member for Newport in the Isle of Wight, and in 1807 was appointed Chief Secretary in Ireland. But his military services were soon required; he accompanied Lord Cathcart in the expedition against Copenhagen, and commanded in the only affair of importance which took place. He was now to be tried in more arduous undertakings;

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1808.

and such was the repute in which his talents CHAP. were held, that when the armament for the Peninsula was placed under his command, the

July. opinion both of the army and of the public entirely accorded with the choice which Government had made.

Sir Arthur Wellesley, having about ten thou- Sir Arthur sand men under his command, sailed from Cork Coruña. on the 12th of July, and leaving the fleet as soon as he had seen it clear of the coast, made sail in a frigate for Coruña, and arrived there on the 20th. There the Junta of Galicia informed him of the battle of Rio Seco; and that the French, being, in consequence, masters of the course of the Douro, were enabled to cut off the communication between that province and the country to the south and east. The French in Portugal they estimated at 15,000, of whom 12,000 were supposed to be at Lisbon; and he was told that the Portugueze troops at Porto amounted to 10,000, and that a Spanish corps of 2000 had begun their march for that city on the 15th, and were expected to arrive there about the 25th. Sir Arthur consulted with them concerning the immediate employment of his army. They explicitly stated that they were in no need of'men, but wanted arms, ammunition, and money:.. this latter want was relieved by the arrival of £200,000 from England that very day. They strongly recommended him to employ his forces against the enemy in Portugal, because while that army remained unbroken the Spaniards

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1808.

to Porto.

CHAP. could never make any simultaneous effort to

drive the French out of the Peninsula; and they

advised him to land in the north, that he might July.

bring forward and avail himself of the Portugueze

troops in that quarter. He proceeds Accordingly Sir Arthur sailed for Porto, order

ing the feet to follow him. He arrived there the 24th, and had a conference that night with the Bishop and the general officers. From them, and from Lieutenant-colonel Brown, who had previously joined them, he learnt that the regular Portugueze troops who had been collected amounted to 5000 men, and were posted at Coimbra; that there were about 1200 peasants in advance, and a corps of 2500 Portugueze and 300 Spanish infantry at Porto, besides volunteers and peasants; but all were badly equipped and armed, the peasantry having only pikes. It was concerted that the 5000 should co-operate with him, and the remainder with the Spanish corps, then, so the Spaniards had informed him, on its way from Galicia; and that the peasantry should be employed, part in the blockade of Almeida, part in the defence of Tras os Montes, which province was supposed to be threatened by Bessieres, in consequence of his victory at Rio Seco. Sir Arthur stated, that he should want cattle for draught, and for the supply of his army; the Bishop took pen and ink, wrote down the number which would be required, and replied immediately that they were ready.

Here Sir Arthur received a letter from Sir

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1808. July.

Charles Cotton, advising him to leave the troops CHAP. either at Porto or at the mouth of the Mondego, and proceed to communicate with him off Lisbon. The fleet accordingly was ordered to Mondego Bay, and the general proceeded to confer Heroes with Sir Charles. There he found dispatches with in c. from General Spencer, stating that he had landed Cotton. his corps in Andalusia, at the request of the Junta of Seville; but that he had resisted the applications made to him to join Castaños, thinking it advisable to preserve his force unbroken, for the purpose of acting with Sir Arthur. He had, however, consented to take up a position at Xeres, where he might serve as a point of support for Castaños, in case of defeat, and from whence he could re-embark in eight-and-forty hours: and he supposed that Sir Arthur would begin his campaign at Cadiz, implying an opinion that Dupont could not be defeated without English assistance. Sir Arthur, however, being convinced by the Junta of Galicia that his army would be employed with more advantage to the common cause against Junot, ordered General Spencer to join him off the coast of Portugal, unless he should be actually engaged in operations which he could not relinquish without injury to the Spaniards.

General Spencer represented Junot's force as The Monexceeding 20,000 men: the admiral, according only place to the reports of the Portugueze, estimated them at less : Sir Arthur concluded that they were cffected from 16,000 to 18,000, of whom about 12,000

where a landing could be

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1808.

CHAP. were at Lisbon, and in its vicinity, and 2400 at

Alcobaça. Any attempt at landing in the Tagus

was considered impracticable: it would be equally July.

so at Cascaes: it was at all times difficult to land an army in the small bays near the rock, and would be now especially dangerous because of the neighbourhood of the enemy: Peniche was garrisoned by the French. There was therefore no choice but to disembark in the Mondego. Thither Sir Arthur returned. He rejoined the fleet there on the 30th, and there he found intelligence of the defeat of Dupont, and advice from his own government, that he would be reinforced immediately with 5000 men, under Brigadier-General Acland, and afterwards with 10,000 who had been under Sir John Moore in Sweden, the command being vested in Sir Hew Dalrymple; but he was directed to carry into execution without delay the instructions which he had received, if he thought himself sufficiently strong. He also received accounts that Loison had been detached from Lisbon, to open the communication with Elvas, the patriots in AlemTejo having been joined by about a thousand men from the Spanish army of Estremadura, and

being now formidable. Troops

This latter account made him conclude that the Mom" there was no danger of being attacked by su

perior numbers before his reinforcements reached him; and he determined to land, both for the sake of the troops, and because he knew that the Portugueze, who were much discouraged at

landed in

dego.

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