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borde, and Junot.
Junot went by water to Villa Franca, and
leaving Thiebault there to command the reserve, 1808. joined Loison at Alcoentre. That General had August.
reached Santarem on the 13th, in a deplorable Junction of Loison, La. condition. The weather was intensely hot, with
out a cloud in the sky, or a breath of air stirring. Whole companies lay down upon the way; many died of thirst, and more would have perished if the officers of the staff, as soon as they arrived at that city, had not gone out with a great number of the inhabitants carrying water to meet them; brandy also was sent out, and carts to convey those who were unable to proceed farther on foot. Each of Loison's long marches at this time is said to have cost him not less than an hundred men. The troops were so dreadfully exhausted, that he was compelled to remain two days at Santarem. On the 16th he proceeded to Alcoentre, where Junot joined him the next day; they then moved to Cercal, and on the day
after the action at Roliça the British army diEarly Cam- stinctly saw their columns in the line of Torres paigns, 18.
Vedras. To that place Laborde was now recalled, who had retreated beyond it to Monta
chique; he effected his junction on the 19th, and Thiebault, when General Thiebault arrived with the reserve
on the 20th, the whole force which Junot could bring into the field was collected there, in number about 12,000 infantry, and 1200 or 1500 horse.
Sir Arthur had not pursued Laborde after the
battle of Roliça; the line by which the enemy August 18. retired would have led him from the sea. He
The British advance to Vimeiro.
was beginning his march for Torres Vedras on CHAP. the morrow, when he received advice that General Anstruther was arrived on the coast. His
August. original intention had been to employ this General's brigade, and that of General Acland, in besieging Peniche, if that should be necessary; otherwise to land them in some of the bays near the rock, in the rear of the enemy, while he pressed upon their front. But the resistance which he had experienced at Roliça, and his disappointment of any co-operation from Freire, induced him now to land General Anstruther's troops, and join them to the army. He proceeded therefore to the village of Vimeiro, that being the position best calculated to effect his junction, and, at the same time, a march in advance. Calms prevented the fleet, which was anchored off the Berlings, from standing in, till the evening of the 19th. The brigade was then landed at Maceira, upon a sandy beach, at the foot of a cliff almost perpendicular, the ascent of which is exceedingly steep and difficult. The landing was a measure of extreme difficulty and General hazard. The boats were almost always filled in ther's brigoing-in by the surf, many were swamped, and a few men perished; the disembarkation, however, by the great exertions and skill of the navy, was effected with less loss than might have been expected. The French could not oppose the landing, but, profiting by their superiority in cavalry, they sent a body of dragoons, in the hope of attacking the brigade on its march. Against this
CHAP. danger due precautions had been taken. The
troops, when they had marched about three leagues, found a detachment under General Spencer waiting at Lourinham to receive them, and took their place in the advanced guard.
The French cavalry were active during this and Burrard in the preceding day; they scoured the country, and
Sir Arthur could obtain no information of the enemy, except that their position was very strong, and occupied by their whole force. On the 20th, at noon, it was announced that General Acland was in the offing; and on the evening of the same day Sir Harry Burrard, the second in command, arrived in Maceira Roads. Sir Arthur immediately went on board, informed him of what had been done, and of the present state of things, and laid before him the plan of operations upon which he had intended to proceed. His purpose was to march on the following morning, push his advanced guard to Mafra, and halt the main body about four or five miles from that place, thus turning the enemy's position at Torres Vedras. He possessed as much knowledge of the ground as good maps and scientific descriptions could impart; Sir Charles Stuart (a man whose great military talents had never been allowed a field whereon to display themselves) had carefully surveyed this part of the country when he commanded the British troops in Portugal; it had not escaped him, that upon this ground, in case of serious invasion, the kingdom must be saved or lost; and his maps and papers were in Sir
Arthur's hands. The battle would thus be fought CHAP. in a country of which he had adequate knowledge, and he hoped to enter Lisbon with the retreating or flying enemy. Such was the plan which he had formed, and orders for marching on the morrow had actually been issued, before Sir Harry's arrival. To Sir Arthur, who had a well-founded con- He alters
the plan of fidence in himself and in his troops, no prospect the camcould have been more encouraging; but the new
paign. commander did not behold it hopefully. The objections to a forward movement preponderated in his mind; he learnt that the artillery * horses
* They were cast off cavalry, and most useful horses cast purchased in Ireland; and they from dragoon regiments, as unfit were described as old, blind, and for dragoon service generally, lame: some of them, it was said, (the inferior description of such had already at this time died of cast horses having been from time age, others of work, though they to time sold); that they had been had been carefully fed: nearly à always carefully groomed and sixth part had thus perished on well fed, and were in excellent the way, and of the remainder condition for common draft, the a great number were not worth service for which they were rethe forage which they consumed. quired. From the manner in Nine years after these poor horses which this representation was had been delivered over to the made to me, I have no doubt of dogs and wolves, a representation its truth. The horses, when they was made to me in their favour, began the campaign, had probably and I feel myself bound to notice not recovered from the voyage; it, were it only for the singularity they were not accustomed to the of the case. I am assured that the food of the country, and were 300 horses (which Lord Castle- employed in much harder work reagh good-naturedly called his than had ever fallen to their lot countrymen) were selected with before, and upon much worse the greatest care, as well as know-, roads. And so, peace to their ledge, in horseflesh, from 1050 of memory. I must not however which the corps was then com- omit to observe, that Captain posed; that they were in the very Eliot, in his Treatise on the best condition and working order; Defence of Portugal, says, these they were drafts from a collection artillery horses, in the brigade to made by purchase in 1803, (that which he was attached, did their is, five years before, and there- duty perfectly well at the battle fore not young); or from the best of Vimeiro.
CHAP. were inefficient, that our men, for want of cavalry,
were kept close to their encampments by the August
. enemy's horse; and that it would not be possible
to go far into the country, because they depended upon the ships for bread. Weighing these things, he was not convinced that Sir Arthur's intentions were expedient; the decision which he was now to make appeared to him most serious in its consequences; he thought it was impossible to calculate the disasters to which a check might expose the army, and therefore he deemed it necessary to wait for Sir John Moore's division. Sir Arthur had recommended that that division, when it arrived in the Mondego, should march upon Santarem, a position from whence it might intercept the enemy's retreat, whether they attempted to make their way to Almeida or to Elvas; but the new commander hearing on his way of the action at Roliça, and disapproving this arrangement, had immediately dispatched iustructions by which Sir John Moore was directed to proceed from the Mondego, and join him as speedily as possible in Maceira Roads. In vain did Sir Arthur represent the precious time that would be lost before this division could be landed and become serviceable at Vimeiro; the far greater utility which might be expected from its presence at Santarem; the evil of at once changing their operations from an offensive to a defensive course; and of allowing the enemy to choose their time and ground. For, situated as the two armies now were, it was impossible to