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MAURICE TIERNAY, THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE.
" THE ARMY SIXTY YEARS SINCE."
I FOLLOWED the soldiers as they march- thing of that air which seems inherent ed beyond the outer boulevard, and in the seaman. They were grave, gained the open country. Many of serious, and almost stern in manner, the idlers dropped off here; others and very unlike the young cavalry accompanied us a little further; but at soldiers, who, mostly recruited from the length, when the drums ceased to beat, south of France, many of them Gascons, and were slung in marching order on had all the high-hearted gaiety and the backs of the drummers, when the reckless levity of their own peculiar men broke into the open order that land. A campaign to these fellows French soldiers instinctively assume on seemed a pleasant excursion; they a march, the curiosity of the gazers made a jest of everything, from the wan appeared to have nothing more to feed faces of the invalids, to the black bread upon, and one by one they returned to of the “ Commissary;” they quizzed the capital, leaving me the only lingerer. the new “ Tourleroux,” as the recruits
To any one accustomed to military were styled, and the old “Grumblers," display, there was little to attract notice as it was the fashion to call the veterans in the column, which consisted of de- of the army; they passed their jokes tachments from various corps, horse, on the Republic, and even their own foot, and artillery ; some were return- officers came in for a share of their ing to their regiments after a furlough;
ridicule. The Grenadiers, however, some had just issued from the hospitals, were those who especially were made and were seated in charettes, or country- the subject of their sarcasm. They were cars ; and others, again, were peasant generally from the north of France, and boys only a few days before drawn in the frontier country toward Flanders, the conscription. There was every whence they probably imbibed a por. variety of uniform, and, I may add, of tion of that phlegm and moroseness 80 raggedness, tooma coarse blouse and a very unlike the general gaiety of French pair of worn shoes, with a red or blue nature; and when assailed by such ad. handkerchief on the head, being the versaries, were perfectly incapable of dress of many among them. The Re- reply or retaliation. public was not rich in those days, and They all belonged to the army of the cared little for the costume in which “ Sambre et Meuse,” which, although her victories were won.
The artillery at the beginning of the campaign highly alone seemed to preserve anything like distinguished for its successes, had been uniformity in dress. They wore a latterly eclipsed by the extraordinary plain uniform of blue, with long white victories on the Upper Rhine and in gaiters coming half way up the thigh ; Western Germany; and it was curious a low cocked hat, without feather, but to hear with what intelligence and inwith the tricoloured cockade in front. terest the greatest questions of strategy They were mostly men middle-aged, were discussed by those who carried or past the prime of life, bronzed, their packs as common soldiers in the weather-beaten, hardy-looking fellows,
ranks. Movements and maneuvres whose white moustaches contrasted were criticised, attacked, defended, riwell with their sun-burned faces. All diculed, and condemned, with a degree their weapons and equipments were of a of acuteness and knowledge that showsuperior kind, and showed the care ed the enormous progress the nation bestowed upon an arm whose efficiency bad made in military science, and with was the first discovery of the repub- what ease the Republic could recruither lican generals. The greater number officers from the ranks of her armies. of these were Bretons, and several of At noon the column halted in the them had served in the fleet, still bear- wood of Belleville; and while the men ing in their looks and carriage some- were resting, an express arrived announcing that a fresh body of troops “ He is a dragoon, a voltigeur, an artil. would soon arrive, and ordering the lerist, a pontonièrwhat you will_he others to delay their march till they knows everything, as I know my came up:
The orderly who brought horse's saddle, and cloak-bag.” the tidings could only say that he be- Both parties now grew warm; and lieved some hurried news had come as each was not only an eager partisan, from Germany, for before he left Paris but well acquainted with the leading the rappel was beating in different events of the two campaigns they unquarters, and the rumour ran that re- dertook to defend, the dispute atinforcements were to set out for Stras- tracted a large circle of listeners, who, bourg with the utmost despatch. either seated on the greensward, or
“And what troops are coming to lying at full length, formed a picjoin us?” said an old artillery sergeant, turesque group under the shadow of in evident disbelief of the tidings. the spreading oak trees. Meanwhile,
“ Two batteries of artillery and the the cooking went speedily forward, voltigeurs of the 4th, I know for cer- and the camp-kettles smoked with a tain are coming,” said the orderly, steam whose savoury odour was not a “ and they spoke of a battalion of little tantalising to one who, like mygrenadiers."
self, felt that he did not belong to the - What ! do these Germans need company. another lesson,” said the cannonier, “What's thy mess, boy ?" said an “I thought Fleurus has taught them old grenadier to me, as I sat at a little what our troops were made of?” distance off, and affecting—but I fear
“ How you talk of Fleurus,” inter- very ill-a total indifference to what rupted a young hussar of the south ; went forward. “I have just come from the army of “He is asking to what corps thou Italy, and, ma foi ! we should never belong'st?" said another, seeing that have mentioned such a battle as the question puzzled me. Fleurus in a despatch. Campaigning “Unfortunately I have none,” said I. amongst dykes and hedges—lighting, “I merely followed the march for cuwith a river on one flank and a fortress riosity.” on t'other-parade manæuvres—where, “ And thy father and mother, at the first check, the enemy retreats, child—what will they say to thee on and leaves you free, for the whole thy return home ?" afternoon, to write off your successes
“ I have neither father, mother, nor to the Directory. Had you seen our home,” said I, promptly. fellows scaling the Alps, with ava- “ Just like myself,” said an old redlanches of snow descending at every fire whiskered sapeur ; or if I ever had of the great guns—forcing pass after parents, they never had the grace to pass against an enemy, posted on every
Come over here, child, and cliff and crag above us-cutting our
take share of dinner." way to victory by roads the hardiest “No, parbleu! I'll have him for my hunter had seldom trod; I call that war.” comrade,” cried the young hussar. “I
" And I call it the skirmish of an was made a corporal yesterday, and outpost !” said the gruff veteran, as he have a larger ration. Sit here, my boy, smoked away, in thorough contempt
and tell us how art called.” for the enthusiasm of the other. "I “ Maurice Tierney." have served under Kleber, Hoche, and Maurice will do; few of us care Moreau, and I believe they are the first for more than one name, except in the generals of France."
dead muster they like to have it in full. “ There is a name greater than them Help thyself, my lad, and here's the all,” cried the hussar, with eagerness.
wine-flask beside thee.” Let us hear it, then—you mean “ How comes it thou hast this old Pichegru, perhaps, or Massena ?” uniform, boy,” said he, pointing to my
“No, I mean Bonaparte!” said the sleeve. hussar, triumphantly.
“It was one they gave me in the “A good officer, and one of us,” Temple,” said I. “I
was a 'rat du said the artilleryman, touching his belt prison' for some time.” to intimate the arm of the service the “ Thunder of war!” exclaimed the general belonged to. “ He commanded cannonier, “I had rather stand a whole the siege-train at Toulon."
platoon fire than see what thou must "He belongs to all,” said the other. have seen, child.”
“ And hast heart to go back there, “Quite true, I never heard of it boy,” said the corporal," and live the before.” same life again ?”
“ Voila!” exclaimed Pierre, in con“No, I'll never go back,” said I. temptuous triumph.
66 And these are " I'll be a soldier."
the fellows pretend to feel their coun“Well said, mon brave—thou'lt be a try's glory, and take pride in her conhussar, I know.”
quests. Where hast thou been, lad, “ If nature has given thee a good not to hear of places that every child head, and a quick eye, my boy, thou syllables now-a-days?" might even do better; and in time, “I will tell you, where I've been,” perhaps, wear a coat like mine,” said said the hussar, haughtily, and dropping the cannonier.
at the same time the familiar “ thee “Sacre bleu !” cried a little fellow, and “thou” of soldier intercourse. whose age might have been anything “ I've been at Montenotte, at Millefrom boyhood to manhood—for while simo, at Mondovesmall of stature, he was shrivelled and “ Allons, donc! with your disputes,' wrinkled like a mummy—“why not be broke in an old grenadier; "as if satisfied with the coat he wears?" France was not victorious whether the
“And be a drummer, like thee,” said enemies were English or German. Let the cannonier.
us hear how Pierre won his battle “Just so, like me, and like Mas- at-at sena_he was a drummer, too.”
“ At Grandrengs,” said Pierre. “No, no!" cried a dozen voices to- “ They call it in the despatch the acgether, " that's not true.”
tion of the Sambre,' because Kleber “He's right; Massena was a drum- came up there—and Kleber being a mer in the Eighth,” said the cannonier ; great man, and Pierre Canot a little "I remember him when he was like one, you understand, the glory atthat boy yonder."
taches to the place where the bullion “To be sure," said the little fellow, epaulettes are found—just as the old who, I now perceived, wore the dress King of Prussia used to say, • Dieu of a “ tambour ;" “and is it a disgrace est toujours a cotè de gros bataillons.'” to be the first to face the enemy?"
" I see we'll never
come to this " And the first to turn his back to same victory of Grandrengs, with all him, comrade,” cried another.
these turnings and twistings," muttered “Not always_not always"_said the artillery sergeant. the little fellow, regardless of the laugh “ Thou art very near it now, comagainst him. “ Had it been so, I had rade, if thou'lt listen,” said Pierre, as not gained the battle of Grandrengs on he wiped his mouth after a long the Sambre.”
draught of the wine.flask.
" I'll not " Thou gain a battle !" shouted half- weary the honourable company with a-dozen, in derisive laughter.
any description of the battle generally, " What, Petit Pierre gained the day but just confine myself to that part of at Grandrengs!" said the cannonier; it, in which I was myself in action. “why, I was there myself, and never It is well known, that though we heard of that till now.”
claimed the victory of the 10th May, “I can believe it well,” replied we did little more than keep our own, Pierre; “many a man's merits go un- and were obliged to cross the Sambre, acknowledged: and Kleber got all the and be satisfied with such a position as credit that belonged to Pierre Canot.” enabled us to hold the two bridges
“ Let us hear about it Pierre, for over the river--and there we remained even thy victory is unknown by name for four days : some said
preparing for to us, poor devils of the army of Italy. a fresh attack upon Kaunitz, who How call'st thou the place ?"
commanded the allies; some, and I be“Grandrengs," said Pierre, proudly. lieve they were right, alleging that “ It's a name will live as long, perhaps, our generals were squabbling all day, as many of those high-sounding ones and all night, too, with two Commisyou have favoured us with. Mayhap, saries that the Government had sent thou hast heard of Cambray ?"
down to teach us how to win battles. “. Never!” said the hussar, shaking Ma foi ! we had had some experience his head.
in that way ourselves, without learning “Nor of · Mons,' either, I'll be the art from two citizens with trisworn ?" continued Pierre.
coloured scarfs round their waists, and
yellow tops to their boots! However a shot, and he couldn't fire-take a that might be, early on the morning of comrade on his back and caper away the 20th we received orders to cross like a horse, just to tempt the Germans the river in two strong columns, and to come out of their lines. It was form on the opposite side; at the same with these blessed youths I was now time that a division was to pass the to serve, for the Tambour of the stream by boat two miles higher up, Marbeuf was drowned in crossing and, concealing themselves in a pine the Sambre a few days before. wood, be ready to take the enemy in Well-we passed the river safely, flank, when they believed that all the and, unperceived by the enemy, force was in the front."
gained the pine wood, where we 6. Sacre tonnerre! I believe that our formed in two columns, one of atarmies of the Sambre and the Rhine tack, and the other of support—the never have any other notion of battles voltigeurs about five hundred paces than that eternal flank movement !” in advance of the leading files. "The cried a young sergeant of the Voltigeurs, morning, was dull and hazy, for a who had just come up from the army heavy rain had fallen during the night; of Italy. “ Our general used to split and the country is flat, and so much the enemy by the centre, cut him intersected with drains, and dykes, and piecemeal by attack in columns, and ditches, that, after rain, the
is then head him down with artillery at too thick to see twenty yards on any short range-not leaving him time for side. Our business was to make a a retreat in heavy masses.
counter-march to the right, and, guided “Silence, silence, and let us hear by the noise of the cannonade, to Petit Pierre,” shouted a dozen voices, come down upon the enemy's flank in who cared far more for an incident, than the thickest of the engagement. As a scientific discussion about maneu- we advanced, we found ourselves
in a kind of marshy plain, planted “ The plan I speak of was General with willows, and so thick, that it was Moreau's," contirued Pierre ; 6 and I cften difficult for three men to march fancy that your Bonaparte has some
abreast. This extended for a conthing to learn ere he be his equal !” siderable distance; and, on escaping
This rebuke seeming to have engaged from it, we saw that we were not the suffrages of the company, he went above a mile from the enemy's left, on: “ The boat division consisted of which rested on a little village.” four battalions of infantry, two bat- “I know it well,” broke in the canteries of light-artillery, and a volti- nonier; “it's called Huyningen.” geur company of the Regiment de
6 Just so.
There was a formidable Marbæuf - to which I was then, for battery in position there; and part of the time, attached as Tambour en the place was stockaded, as if they exchef.' What fellows they were—the pected an attack. Still, there were no greatest devils in the whole army! videttes, nor any look-out party, so They came from the Faubourg St. far as we could see; and our commandAntoine, and were as reckless and un- ing officer did'nt well know what to disciplined as when they strutted the make of it, whether it was a point streets of Paris.
When they were of concealed strength, or a position thrown out to skirmish, they used to they were about to withdraw from, play as many tricks as school-boys : At all events, it required caution ; sometimes they'd run up to the roof of and, although the battle had already a cabin or a hut-and they could climb begun on the right—as a loud cannon. like cats-and, sitting down on the ade, and a heavy smoke told us—he chimney, begin firing away at the halted the brigade in the wood, and enemy, as coolly as if from a battery; held a council of his officers to see what sometimes they'd capture half-a-dozen was to be done. The resolution come asses, and ride forward as if to charge, to was, that the voltigeurs should and then, affecting to tumble off, the advance alone to explore the way, the fellows would pick down any of the rest of the force remaining in ambush. enemy's ollicers that were fools enough We were to go out in sections of comto come near-scampering back to the panies, and spreading over a wide surcover of the line, laughing and joking face, see what we could of the place. as if the whole were sport. I saw *Scarcely was the order given, when one-when his wrist was shattered by away we went and it was now a race
who should be earliest up and exchange trough, hooped with iron, and supfirst shot with the enemy.
Some ported by two heavy chains that passed dashed forward over the open field in over a windlass, about ten feet above front; others skulked along by dykes and ditches; some, again, dodged I was safe enough for the matter of here and there, as cover offered its that; at least none were likely to disshelter: but about a dozen, of whom cover me, as I could easily see by the I was one, kept the track of a little rust of the chain and the grass-grown cart-road, which, half-concealed by edges, that the well had been long dishigh banks and furze, ran in a zig-zag used. Now the position was far from line towards the village. I was always being pleasant. There stood the farmsmart of foot; and now, having newly house, full of soldiers, the muskets joined the “voltigeurs,” was naturally ranging over every approach to where eager to show myself not unworthy I lay. Of my comrades, there was of my new associates. I went on at nothing to be seen, they had either my best pace; and being lightly missed the way or retreated ; and so equipped-neither musket nor ball- time crept on, and I pondered on what cartridge to carry-I soon outstripped might be going forward elsewhere, and them all; and, after about twenty whether it would ever be my own forminutes' brisk running, saw in front of tune to see my comrades again. me a long, low farm-house, the walls " It might be an hour-it seemed all pierced for musketry, and two three or four to me-after this, as I small eight-pounders in battery at looked over the plain, I saw the caps the gate. I looked back for my com- of our infantry just issuing over the panions, but they were not up-not a brushwood, and a glancing lustre of man of them to be seen. No mat- their bayonets, as the sun tipped ter,' thought I, they'll be here soon; them. They were advancing, but as meanwhile I'll make for that little it seemed, slowly—halting at times, and copse of brush-wood;" for a small then moving forward again- just like clamp of low furze and broom was a force waiting for others to come up. standing at a little distance in front of At last they debouched into the plain; the farm. All this time, I ought to but, to my surprise, they wheeled about say, not a man of the enemy was to be to the right, leaving the farm-house on seen, although I, from where I stood, their flank, as if to march beyond it. could see the crenelated walls, and This was to lose their way totally ; the guns, as they were pointed—at a nothing would be easier than to carry distance all would seem like an ordi- the position of the farm, for the Gernary peasant house.
were evidently few, had no “ As I crossed the open space to gain videttes, and thought themselves in the copse, piff'! came a bullet, whiz- perfect security. I crept out from my zing past me; and just as I reached ambush, and holding my cap on a stick the cover, piff! came another. I tried to attract notice from our felducked my head and made for the lows, but none saw me. I ventured at thicket; but just as I did so, my foot last to shout aloud, but
no better caught in a branch. I stumbled and success; so that, driven to the end of pitched forward; and trying to save my resources, I set to and beat a myself, I grasped a bow above me. It • roulade on the drum, thundering smashed suddenly, and down I went. away with all my might, and not caring Ay! down sure enough--for I went right what might come of it--for I was half through the furze, and into a well- mad with vexation as well as despair. one of those old, walled wells, they They heard me now; I saw a staff have in these countries, with a huge officer gallop, up to the head of the bucket that fills up the whole space, leading division and halt them; a and is worked by a chain. Luckily the volley came peppering from behind bucket was linked up near the top, me, but without doing me any injury, and caught me, or I should have gone for I was safe once more in my bucket. where there would have been no more Then came another pause, and again heard of Pierre Canot; as it was, I I repeated my manæuvre, and to my was sorely bruised by the fall, and delight perceived that our fellows were did'nt recover myself for full ten advancing at quick march. I beat minutes after. Then I discovered harder, and the drums of the grenadiers that I was sitting in a large wooden answered me. All right now, thought