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him (Sir J. M.) by forced marches, at Salamanca or at Ciudad Rodrigo; remarking,
"After due consideration, I have determined to give the thing up, and to retire. It was my wish to have run great risks to fulfil what I conceive to be the wishes of the people of England, and to give every aid to the Spanish cause; but they have shown themselves equal to do so little for themselves-their two principal armies having allowed themselves to be thus beaten and dispersed without almost an effort it would only be sacrificing the Army without doing any good to Spain, to oppose it to such numbers as must now be brought against us: besides, I take for granted, a junction with Baird is out of the question; and, perhaps, with you, pro. blematical; as there must be troops at Burgos, which must now push on to intercept us.'
Here the Editor observes:
It thus appears that Sir John More took the resolution of retreating, without waiting for Mr. Frere's answer to his letter of the 27th. The defeat of Castanos totally altered the question; and the situation of the Army admitted of no delay. For, if Buonaparte should detach his most advanced corps against the British, General Hope might possibly he intercepted, and Sir David Baird might be hotly pursued, and suffer loss in the embarkation.
He then assembled the General Officers, and shewed them the intelligence he had received, and the plan he had adopted. He told the Generals, "that he had not called them together to request their counsel, or to induce them to commit themselves by giving any opinion upon the subject. He took the responsibility entirely upon himself; and he only required that they would immediately prepare for carrying it into effect."
It ought to be mentioned, that the idea of retreating was very generally disapproved of at Salamanca by the Army. The murmurs against it from Officers of rank were heard in every quarter. Even the Staff Officers of Sir John Moore's family lamented it; and, for the first time, doubted the wisdom of his decision. He, however, afterwards learnt, that General Hope agreed with him completely on this, as on all other points.'
December 2, Sir J. Moore was supplied with various information, all tending to represent affairs in a better light, chiefly on the authority of Don Tomas Morla, whose treachery was afterward manifested; together with letters from Mr. Frere, strongly expressing his dissent from the opinion of the General, and urging farther efforts in favour of the common cause. Other encouraging accounts were shortly transmitted; Madrid was stated to be firm in its determination and active in its preparations to resist the enemy;, the Junta sent, through the Prince of Castelfranco and Don T. Morla, pressing solicitations to Sir John Moore for his aid; and Mr. Frere again wrote, reiterating
his persuasions, and renewing his request for a change in Sir John's measures:
"I have no hesitation (he says) in taking upon myself any degree of responsibility which may attach itself to this advice. As I consider the fate of Spain as depending absolutely for the present upon the decision which you may adopt. I say for the present, for such is the spirit and character of the country, that, even if abandoned by the British, I should by no means despair of their ultimate success."
Duly considering all these statements, (which appeared to come from the best authority, but which have since proved to be entirely deceptive,) and reflecting that his instructions. from the British Government commanded him to receive the requisitions and representations of the Spanish Junta and the British Minister at Madrid "with the utmost deference and attention," Sir John Moore rescinded his former determination, and wrote to Sir David Baird to stop his retreat, and return to Astorga.
In the mean time, Mr. Frere sent to Sir John the memorable letter of which Colonel de Charmilly was the bearer, requiring that this gentleman should be examined by a Council of War, to give (in fact) evidence in opposition to the views and resolves of the Commander in Chief. The General's answer is inserted in the present volume, and deserves the Editor's epithets of ⚫ calm and dignified :'—but we must hasten onward.
On the 4th Inst. General Hope's division effected a junction with the main army. Sir John now took measures for making a movement on Zamora and Toro, that he might approximate himself to the corps of Sir David Baird and the Marquis de la Romana, and that he might threaten the communication between Madrid and France. Madrid had capitulated on the 3d December, but the British General was uninformed of its entire submission.
Dec. 12. a private dispatch to Lord Castlereagh was written, in which we find this paragraph:
"I fear that Mr. Frere is infinitely more sanguine upon the subject of Spain than I am. This is to be regretted, as it renders it more embarrassing for you to come to a decision upon the measure to be pursued I have seen no ability with the Spanish Government, but much the reverse: none has been displayed by their officers in the command of the armies; no one officer has yet a chief direction of the military branch; the armies have shewn no resolution, the people RO enthusiasm, nor no daring spirit; and that which has not been shewn
Morla and his associates were actually negociating for the surrender of Madrid, when they wrote in the name of the Junta to the British General, urging his continued co-operation.
hitherto, I know not why it should be expected to be displayed hereafter. I feel as if the British was the only efficient force in Spain. Your Lordship will consider with what view it was originally sent; whether in aid of an enthusiastic brave people, capable of fighting their own battles, or to contend alone with France, and retrieve the affairs of a beaten disorganized nation. We have had now some proof of the efforts of which Spain is capable; and we can judge by the resistance they have made, whether they have fought with that spirit and obstinacy of a people ardent for the independence of their country. It is certainly right for your Lordship to consider well these matters, that you may be able to estimate justly the aid which is to be expected in this struggle from the Spanish nation, and decide to what amount the British Army should be reinforced, or, if not reinforced, what measures it should follow. The French force in Spain may fairly be set down at 80,000 men*, besides what is in Catalonia; the British at 27 or 28,cco, including the regiments coming from Portugal. The French expect considerable reinforcements. The armies which the Spaniards had formed have been beater and dispersed, and are again collecting. This, my Lord, is, I believe, the true statement; and I leave your Lordship to throw into the scale what portion of enthusiasm, resolution, and ability, you think we have a right to expect from the specimen already given."
On the 14th, the head quarters were at Alaejos, and on the 15th at Toro. On the 20th, Sir J. M. reached Majorga, and was joined by Sir David Baird.
The British army were now united ; and, independent of some small detachments left to keep up the communications, it amounted to 23,000 infantry, and 2000 two or three hundred cavalry. The Head Quarters were at Majorga, but the cavalry and horse-artillery were advanced to Monastero Melgar Abaxo, within three leagues of Sahagun; where it was understood that near 700 of the Enemy's cavalry were posted.'
The Head quarters were established at Sahagun on the 21st. All information, on which reliance could be placed, still displayed the conduct of the Spanish Juntas, and the situation of their troops, in the most discouraging light: but Sir John now determined on making an attack on the enemy, under Marshal Soult, at Saldana, and concerted measures with the Marquis Romana for that purpose. Writing to Mr. Frere on the 23d, he concludes by observing,
"The movement I am making is of the most dangerous kind. I not only risk to be surrounded every moment by superior forces, but to have my communication intercepted with the Galicias. I
Sir J. Moore's intelligence, particularly that obtained through the Spanish Government, was often imperfect. Instead of 80,000, he should have said 150,000."
wish it to be apparent to the whole world, as it is to every individual of the army, that we have done every thing in our power in support of the Spanish cause; and that we do not abandon it, until long after the Spaniards had abandoned us."
In the course of this day, however, messenger after messenger brought unpleasant reports;' information was received that the enemy was advancing from Madrid; and Sir John Moore perceived that his movement and design were discovered by Bonaparte, who was now marching a superior force against him. This was what he had all along expected, and was prepared for.-The forward march of the troops was instantly countermanded.' The General also directly wrote to Romana, and thus states his intentions:
"Your Excellency knows my object, in marching in this direction, was to endeavour to free you from a troublesome neighbour, and to strike a blow at a corps of the rnemy, whilst it was still imag ned that the British troops had retreated into Portugal I was aware of the risk I ran, if i should be discovered, and the Enemy push on a corps between me and my communication
"My movement has, in some degree, answered its object, as it has drawn the Enemy from other projects, and will give the South more time to prepare With such a force as mine, can pretend to do no more It would only be losing this army to Spain and to England, to persevere in my march on Soult; who, if posted strongly might wait, or, if not, would retire and draw me on until the corps from Madrid got behind me: in short, single-handed, I caunot pretend to contend with the superior numbers the French can bring against me.
"I received your Excellency's letter at six, and the troops were to have marched from this to Carrion at eight this evening. I countermanded them, and shall take immediate measures for retiring on Astorga. There I shall stand; as my retreat thence, if necessary, will be secure. I shall be in the way to receive the supplies and the reinforcements which I expect from England. At the worst, I can maintain myself, and, with your Excellency's aid, defend the Galicias and give time for the formation of the armies of the South, and that which you command to be prepared, when a joint effort may be made, which can alone be efficacious. It is playing the Enemy's game to draw him to attack our armies in rotation."
Here the Editor interposes some additional remarks and information:
It is now requisite to point out the plan which was adopted by Buonaparte. The particulars were disclosed by his movements; but exact information has also been obtained through Major Napier of the 50th regiment. This Officer at the battle of Corunna was stabbed in the body by a bayonet, and wounded in the head by a sword, yet he defended his life till quarter was promised him. When a prisoner he was treated most handsomely by the Duke of
Dalmatia (Soult). He dined with Marshal Ney frequently, who as well as General La Borde, the Chief of l'Etat Major, and other officers of rank, frankly told him the design and sentiments of the Emperor. When Buonaparte received intelligence that the British were moving to the Duero, he said, "Moore is the only General now fit to contend with me, I shall advance against him in person."
'Orders were then sent to the Duke of Dalamatia to give way, if attacked, and to decoy the British to Burgos, or as far Eastward as possible; and at the same time to push on a corps towards Leon, on their left flank. And should they attempt to retreat, he was ordered to impede this by every means in his power. The corps on the road to Badajos was stopt, and ordered to proceed towards Salamanca; while he himself moved rapidly with all the disposable force at Madrid, and the Escurial, directly to Benavente. Neither Buonaparte nor any of his Generals had the least doubt of surrounding the British with between 60 and 70,000 men before they could reach Galicia.
'Sir John Moore, as appears both by his letters and his conduct, saw clearly the whole of this plan: he had prepared for the danger; calculated the time; and has acquired the glory of being the first General who has frustrated Buonaparte.'
Here is the material point in the history of this unfortunate campaign. The General now seriously determined on withdrawing, and commenced measures for effecting that retreat which ended in the embarkation at Corunna; which has been praised by some as conducted with the most eminent skill, firmness, and perseverance; and which has been censured by others as injudicious and unwarrantably severe in its rapidity. On the melancholy effects of it, as sustained by the troops while on march, we shall not dwell in our abstracted narrative : but it is essential to state the principle on which it was directed, and the position of the enemy by which it was induced. The Editor represents that
The Duke of Dalmatia received strong reinforcements from the 22nd to the 24th; so that his army alone' was much superior to the British. It was posted behind the river Carrion, between Carrion and Saldana.
The Duke of Abrantes had advanced from Burgos to Palentia, and threatened the right flank of the British.
Buonaparte pushed on the corps at the Escurial, and marched from Madrid on the 18th in person, with an army consisting of 32,000 infantry and 8000 cavalry. The advanced guard of this cavalry passed through Tordesillas on the 24th; the same day the van of the British left Sahagun; and both moved to the same point - Benavente.
'There was another corps on the road to Badajos commanded by the Duke of Dantzic; this had advanced to Talavera de la Reina; and had pushed on as far as Arzo-Bispo, in pursuit of the Spanish General Galuzo. This was likewise counter-matched, and was di
REV. SEPT. 1809.