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closed, it was perceived that the French line extended beyond the right flank of the British, and a body of the enemy was observed moving up the valley to turn it. Marshal Soult's intention was to force the right of the British, and thus to interpose between Corunna and the army, and cut it off from the place of embarkation. Failing in this attempt, he was now endeavouring to outflank it. Half of the fourth regiment was therefore ordered to fall back, forming an obtuse angle with the other half. This manoeuvre was excellently performed, and they commenced a heavy flanking fire: Sir John Moore called out to them, that this was exactly what he wanted to be done, and rode on to the fiftieth, commanded by Majors Napier and Stanhope. They got over an enclosure in their front, charged the enemy most gallantly, and drove them out of the village of Elvina; but Major Napier, advancing too far in the pursuit, received several wounds, and was made prisoner, and Major Stanhope was killed*. The general now proceeded to the forty-second. "Highlanders!" said he, "remember Egypt!" —they rushed on, and drove the French before them, till they were stopped by a wall: Sir John accompanied them in this charge. He now sent Captain Hardinge to order up a battalion of guards to the left flank of the forty-second. The officer commanding the light infantry conceived, at this, that they were to be relieved by the guards, because their ammunition was nearly expended, and he began to fall back. The general, discovering the mistake, said to them, "My brave forty-second, join your comrades: ammunition is coming, and you have your bayonets!" Upon this, they instantly moved forward. Captain Hardinge returned, and pointed out to the general where the guards were advancing. The enemy kept up a hot fire, and their artillery played incessantly on the spot where they were standing. A cannon shot struck Sir John, and carried away his left shoulder, and part of the collar-bone, leaving the arm hanging by the flesh. He fell from his horse on his back, his countenance did not change, neither did he betray the least sensation of pain. Captain Hardinge, who dismounted, and took him by the hand, observed him anxiously watching the forty-second, which was warmly engaged, and told him they were advancing; and upon that intelligence his countenance brightened. Colonel Graham, who now came up to assist him, seeing the composure of his features, began to hope that he was not wounded, till he perceived the dreadful laceration. From the size of the wound, it was in vain to make any attempt at stopping the blood; and Sir John consented to be removed in a blanket to the rear. In raising him up, his sword, hanging on the wounded side, touched
* He was shot through the heart, and died so instantaneously, that the smile with which he was regarding the conduct of his men was fixed upon his cheek. They buried him at the entrance of the bivouac which he had occupied the preceding night; and as his brother leant forward to look upon the body for the last time, a rifle-shot passed through his cloak, and struck his side; its force was broken by the fold3 of the cloak, otherwise the blow must have been fatal, and he would have fallen into the grave upon his brother's corpse.
VOL. III. Q a
his arm, and became entangled between his legs: Captain Hardinge began to unbuckle it; but the general said, in his usual tone and manner, and in a distinct voice, " It is as well as it is; I had rather it should go out of the field with me." Six soldiers of the forty-second and the guards bore him. Hardinge, observing his composure, began to hope that the wound might not be mortal, and said to him, he trusted he might be spared to the army, and recover. Moore turned his head, and looking steadfastly at the wound for a few seconds, replied, " No, Hardinge, I feel that to be impossible."
As the soldiers were carryinghim slowly along, he made them frequently turn round, that he might see the field of battle, and listen to the firing; and he was well pleased when the sound grew fainter. A spring-waggon came up, bearing Colonel Wynch, who was wounded: the colonel asked who was in the blanket, and being told it was Sir John Moore, wished him to be placed in the waggon. Sir John asked one of the Highlanders whether he thought the waggon or the blanket was best f and the man said the blanket would not shake him so much, as he and the other soldiers would keep the step, and carry him easy. So they proceeded with him to his quarters at Corunna, weeping as they went.
General Paget, meantime, hastened with the reserve to support the right wing. Colonel Beckwith dashed on with the rifle corps, repelled the enemy, and advanced so far as nearly to carry off one of their cannon; but a corps greatly superior moved up the valley, and forced him to retire. Paget, however, attacked this body of the enemy, repulsed it, and pressed on, dispersing every thing before him, till the enemy, perceiving their left wing was now quite exposed, drew it entirely back. The French then advanced upon Generals Manningham and Leith, in the centre, and there they were more easily repelled, the ground being more elevated, and favourable for artillery. The position on the left was strong, and their effort there was unavailing: but a body of them took possession of a village on the road to Betanzos, and continued to fire from it, till Lieutenant Colonel Nicholls attacked it, and beat them out. Night was now closing in, and the French had fallen back in all parts of the field. The firing, however, was not discontinued till it was dark. Southey
A MILITARY EXECUTION.
I HAD ridden towards the front one morning, for the purpose of visiting a friend in the fifth division, when I learned, that three men had been seized a few days before, half-way between the two chains of posts, and that one of them had confessed that their intention was to desert. A court-martial was immediately ordered; the prisoners were condemned to be shot: and this was the day on which the sentence was to be carried into execution. I consequently found the division, on my arrival, getting under arms; and being informed of the circumstances, I determined, after a short struggle with my weaker feelings, to witness the proceeding.
It was, altogether, a most solemn and impressive spectacle. The soldiers took their stations, and formed their ranks, without speaking a word; and they looked at one another with that peculiar expression, which, without seeming to imply any suspicion of the impropriety of the measure, indicated great reluctance to become spectators of it. The same feeling evidently pervaded the minds of the officers; indeed you could almost perceive the sort of shudder which ran through the frames of all who were on parade.
The place appointed for the execution was a little elevated plain, a few hundred yards in front of the camp, and near the piquet from which the culprits had deserted. Hither the different battalions directed their steps, and the whole division being formed into three sides of a hollow square, the men grounded their arms, and stood still. At the vacant side of this square, a grave was dug, the earth, which had been excavated, being piled up on its opposite bank; and this, as the event proved, was the spot to be occupied by the prisoners.
We had stood thus about five minutes, when the muffled drums of the corps to which the culprits belonged were heard beating the dead march; and they themselves, handcuffed and surrounded by their guards, made their appearance. One was a fine young man, tall, and well made; another was a dark, thick-set, little man, about forty years of age; and the third had nothing remarkable in his countenance, except an expression of deep cunning and treachery. They all moved forward with considerable firm