« PredošláPokračovať »
rected towards Salamanca. Even the division under the Duke of Trevise. which was proceeding to Saragossa, was stopt; and the long, meditated vengeance against that heroic city was deferred.
In fine, the whole disposable force of the French army, forming an irregular crescent, was marching in radii with rapid steps to environ the British. To accomplish this favourite object, Buonaparte stopt his victorious career to the South, where there was nothing capable of resisting him '
Sir John Moore's first object was to pass the river Elsar without interruption. There are three routes across this river: the first is by Mansilla, where there is a good bridge; the second is by Valencia where there was only à ferry; and the third is by Castro Gonsalo, where there is also a bridge; this last road leads to Benavente. It was impossible to go by Mansilla, as the Marquis of Romana's troops were there, and the country was completely exhausted by them. There were great objections to the whole army attempting the passage by the ferry at Valencia: for the intelligence received was, that the river was rapidly increasing, so that the ford would probably be too deep, and the boats were few. These circumstances would render the passage of the whole army very tedious at this point. And besides, an adequate supply of food could not be found; nor could covering, which was necessary at this season, be had for the whole army on one route.
It was, however, quite requisite to secure Valencia to stop the Enemy. Sir David Baird was, therefore, directed to take that route; and it was resolved that the rest of the army should proceed by Castro Gonsalo.
By this division of the army also the magazines and stores, which were deposited at Benavente and Zamora, were effectually covered.'
These movements were effected according to the General's orders, and on the 27th. his head quarters were established at Benavente. On the 29th, the British dragoons had a skirmish with some French cavalry under General Lefebvre, who was taken; and from the prisoners it was learnt that Bonaparte slept the preceding night at Villalpando, only four leagues from Benavente.To prevent being turned by the enemy, and on account of the scarcity of provisions, the Commander detached General Craufurd with gooo light troops to Orense, on the road to Vigo; and the rest of the army proceeded to Astorga, where Sir D. Baird's column was again united to it.
It is known (says the Editor) that Buonaparte had fully expected to have reached Benavente as soon as, or before, the British; and the Duke of Dalmatia hoped, that they would be so much retarded by Buonaparte's attacks, that he might. by forced marches through Leon, precede them at Astorga. The little resistance made by the Spaniards at Mansilla, and the immediate submission of Leon, facilitated this plan. Had either been in time, the British would have been surrounded. But Buonaparte was anticipated in
both his projects; and, while a part of his cavalry was repulsed by Lord Paget, the van of the British Army, under General Fraser, entered and secured Astorga.'
A dispatch of the 31st to Lord Castlereagh thus represents
"With respect to me, my Lord, and the British troops, it has come to that point which I have long foreseen.. Abandoned from the beginning by every thing Spanish, we were equal to nothing by ourselves. From a desire to do what I could, I made the movement against Soult. As a diversion it has answered completely; but, as there is nothing to take advantage of it, I have risked the loss of the army for no purpose. I have no option now but to fall down to the coast as fast as I am able. I found no provision here: the little which has been collected had been consumed by Sir David's corps in their passage; and there is not two days' bread to carry the army to Villa-franca. I have been forced to push on the troops by divisions, without stopping ''There is no means of carriage: the people run away, the villages are deserted; and I have been obliged to destroy great part of the ammunition and military stores. For the same reason I am obliged to leave the sick. In short, my sole object is to save the army. We must all make forced marches to the coast, from the scarcity of provisions, and to be before the enemy; who, by roads upon our flanks, may otherwise intercept us."
The troops now proceeded to Villa Franca, the French ca valry constantly hanging on their rear, and frequent skirmishes occurring.
When Buonaparte reached Astorga he was joined by the Duke of Dalmatia. The whole army that was assembled there amounted to near 70,000 men, independently of other corps, which were countermanded from their former destination, though not yet come up. It is natural to imagine that a man so accustomed to succeed in all his plans must have been bitterly disappointed to find that, notwithstanding his exertions, the British were beyond his reach. He here reviewed this immense force; and perceiving, by the masterly arrangements of his enemy, that it was no longer possible to intercept him, he halted to watch the event. Three Marshals of France, with as many divisions, were commanded to follow the British closely, and to destroy them, either before or during their emharkation. And some other corps followed those divisions, to support them.'
At Lugo, Sir John Moore determined to offer battle to the French, the ground being favourable, and he conceiving it to be desirable to fight the enemy there, rather than suffer his troops to be continually harassed on their march: but Marshal Soult seemed not to relish the dispositions which he found made by Sir J. M., and nothing more than skirmishes took place. The retreat of the British was therefore continued to Corunna;
Corunna; and from this place the General once more addresses Lord Castlereagh, and observes:
"Your Lordship knows that had I followed my own opinion as a military man, I should have retired with the army from 'Salamanca. The Spanish armies were then beaten; there was no Spanish force to which we could unite; and I was satisfied that no efforts would be made to aid us, or favour the cause in which they were engaged. I was sensible, however, that the apathy and indifference of the Spaniards would never have been believed; that, had the British been withdrawn, the loss of the cause would have been imputed to their retreat and it was necessary to risk this army to convince the people of England, as well as the rest of Europe, that the Spaniards had neither the power, nor the inclination, to make any efforts for themselves.
"It was for this reason that I marched to Sahagun. As a diversion it succeeded: I brought the whole disposable force of the French against this army, and it has been allowed to follow it, without a single movement being made to favour its retreat.'
We refrain at present from all farther details of this march, of the partial actions that enlivened it, and of the general action at Corunna which terminated the life of the gallant Commander. Our immediate object has been to exhibit the essential movements and determinations made by Sir John Moore, with the reasons and motives' by which he was instigated; and we trave brought our detail sufficiently near to the close of the transaction. Though, however, we have gone through it at some length, we have been forced to pass unnoticed a great variety of statements which are not unimportant in the question; and a large portion of those instances of want of energy, of capacity, of information, of activity, and of hearty co-operation, on the part of the Spaniards, which contributed to form the decision of the British General. We have also been obliged to glance.
This is the letter which was so much required by and at length submitted to Parliament, but with omissions, which are not here supplied. The Editor subjoins the following note on this subject:
In this dispatch there are several omissions, owing to the following circumstance:
In the month of March last, the Secretary of State for the War Department sent for the Author, and informed him, that it was the intention of Administration to accede to laying this letter before ParHament; which, however, being a private letter, and not written in the usual manner of official dispatches, it was thought proper to omit some passages which his Lordship would point out. The Author replied, that he could not presume to object to any omissions which did not affect his brother's reputation. After this conversation it was judged improper to fill up the blanks. One passage at the beginning, however, it was considered, might be restored, where mention is made of the Honourable Brigadier-General Stewart, brother to Lord Castlereagh....
but slightly at the unfortunate difference of opinion which prevailed between Mr. Frere and Sir John Moore, and at the still more prejudicial want of openness and of accuracy in the communica tion of intelligence from the former to the latter. On these points, the curiosity of the public has been not a little excited; and ma terials for ample satisfaction seem to be furnished in this volume,
We confess that it strikes us, from a view of the developement afforded by this work, that the conduct of Sir John Moore was justified by appearances, and by the result; and we think also that subsequent events, to the present mo ment, confirm his opinions and substantiate his measures. If his decision, then, was right, not only is great praise due to his sagacity, but it must be admitted that his consequent movements are in the highest degree indicative of his military skill and of his firmness. Leaving the present representation, how ever, to the judgment of our readers, we shall now close the subject; to which we must speedily return, in order to take notice of various other publications relative to it which have appeared.'
A portrait of Sir John Moore, a view and a plan of the bat tle of Corunna, and a map of Spain and Portugal, with the marches of the British columns, illustrate the volume.
ART. X. History of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres; containing the most accurate Details relative to the Topography, History, Commerce, Population, Government, &c. &c. of that valuable Colony, By Samuel Hull Wilcocke Illustrated with Plates. 8vo. pp. 576. 12s. 6d. Boards. Symonds; Black and Co., &c.
UR temporary possession of the city of Buenos Ayres, and the general expectation that we were to succeed to the permanent rule of the vast colony dependent on that government, seem to have occasioned the British public to be enriched with the va luable information which the pages before us communicate. As to the materials out of which this volume has been formed, the author intimates that he obtained them in consequence of having been engaged in extensive mercantile pursuits, which had relation to the Spanish colonies in South America. The value of the knowlege, also, which is here imparted, is enhan ced by the difficulty of obtaining it. Most of our readers are: aware of the disappointment which Dr. Robertson experienced in his application for this purpose.
On this subject it is stated by Mr. Wilcocke';
The papers regarding America, which are deposited amongst the records of the Spanish monarchy in the archive of Simancas, near Val ladolid, 120 miles from the seat of government, are stated to be so nu merous as to fill the largest apartment in the archivo, and to com. G 3
pose eight hundred and seventy-three large bundles. Yet this treasure of historical and colonial knowledge is wholly inaccessible, and no admission into the archivo of Simancas is ever granted without a particular order from the king. Some years ago, however, the Spanish government seem to have relaxed, in some degree, from so much of their illiberal system, as to have given access to these archives to Don Antonio Munoz. then occupied in compiling a work called an History of the New World. Of this only one volume was completed, and Munoz was interrupted in the prosecution of his work; which contains some strictures upon the colonial policy of Spain, by which, probably, he gave offence to the council of the Indies. He was debarred from all further access to the necessary documents, and interdicted from publishing any more of his history. Munoz is since dead, and the undertaking has perished with him.
-- That this system of concealment, than which nothing can be more illiberal, still predominates in the Spanish councils, is proved by a recent instance. The celebrated navigator Malespina, who, from the years 1792 to 1795, was employed by Spain to explore the Pacific Ocean, and her colonies washed by its waves, was, soon after his return to Cadiz, arrested and thrown into prison, as was the padre Gil, an ecclesiastic of a liberal and enlightened mind, who had undertaken the compilation of the voyage. All the papers and drawings belong ing to the expedition were seized, and the botanists and other men of science, who accompanied Malespina, received orders to suspend their labours. Though part of the narrative was actually printed, the impression was suppressed; and the details of that interesting voyage are buried, as so many others have before been, amongst the dusty archives, and in the mouldy recesses of the Spanish charcery.'
With regard to the contents and arrangement of the volume, the writer gives this summary:
After a few preliminary observations respecting the aboriginal population of America, the sources whence it has been conjectured to be derived, and the physical peculiarities of that part of the globe; an enumeration will be given of all the Spanish possessions, and their geographical and political divisions; and the attention of the reader will be more particularly directed to that portion now under con sideration. A brief notice of the first discovery of the river La Plata, will be followed by such accounts as have come down to us relative to the appearance, the government, the customs, and the propensities, of the Indians who were found in the country on its first Occupation by the Spaniards. Their religion, their language, and their arts, will all pass in review.
The grand icatures of the country will form one of the objects of consideration.
The natural productions occupy the next place.
After a general account of the country, a short history will be entered into of the first discovery of the river La Plata, of its original settlers, and progressive conquerors of the gradual extension of discovery and conquest by which the province of Buenos Ayres came at length to border upon the dominions which the valour and ferocity of