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to which I could not hearken, to be lifted out of the way of the cavalry. Though my soul bled for them, I had to shake them rudely off. That night my shoulder was black as a coal, for I had .fired that day 197 rounds of ball-cartridge; and sore as I was, I slept sound as a top till the bugle awoke me an hour before day. We kept firing till ten o'clock, and then exchanged the wounded, who had been all night bleeding. While this dismal barter was taking place, the French brought their bands to the front, and their men amused themselves with dancing and football. The next morning five picked regiments of grenadiers advanced to storm the town. Down they came, shouting as usual; they were taller and older than most of our lads, their hats set round with feathers; their long black beards made them look like savages; but we kept them at bay nevertheless. At last they overpowered us, and forced us through the streets, of which we disputed every inch.
A French dragoon, dealing death around, forced his way up near to where I stood, expecting every moment to be cut down. My piece was empty, there was not a moment to lose. I got a stab at him beneath the ribs upwards; the vicious back-stroke the rascal gave before he fell cut the stock of my musket in two, but I stood unarmed. I soon got another gun, and fell to work again. Eventually, with a total loss of 400 men, we drove the French before us through the town.
After Soult raised the siege of Badajoz, we set out to stop General Girard's depredations in Estremadura. When we got to Alcuesca, we heard the enemy were at Arroyo del Molino, and unconscious of our approach. We were placed in the houses, and told to keep silent; and to every man was served half-a-pound of rice. At midnight we received our rum, and shortly after the sergeants tapped softly at the doors, and we began our march in a ceaseless drench of rain. The only thing that broke the silence was the howling of the wolves. When day broke, we were near the town. The embers were glowing at the stations which the French outposts had just left. General Hill riding up to our colonel, ordered the men to clean out the wet priming from the pans
of their firelocks. The drift was driving so thick in the eyes of the French, they could not see us. The colonel then told us off in three divisions, and ordered us to charge up the three streets of the town, forcing our way to the other side. The general, taking off his hat, said, God be with you-quick march !' We gave three cheers, and in we went at the gate; the inhabitants cheering, our pipers playing 'Hey, Johnny Cope, are ye waking yet ?' The French, jammed in with baggage, were swearing, firing in confusion, and running here and there, some in their shirts, some half accoutred. The French general came out of a house mad with rage and gnashing his teeth, threw his cocked-hat upon the ground, and stamped upon it. In a moment our men stripped his coat of all his medals. A brigade of French came in sight. We had orders to fire ; nearly half the pieces missed, the powder was so wet. Some Portuguese artillery coming up, however, we gave the enemy a volley, leaped over a wall behind which we had formed, and in column drove them over the hill; down which they threw all their baggage, and then surrendered. In this affair we took 3000 infantry, 1600 cavalry, and six pieces of artillery. The horses were sold, and the money divided amongst the men. I got two-and-sixpence for my share ; but I had taken care to supply myself very comfortably out of the French stores at Molino.
One day while skirmishing near Alba Tormes, one of our lads, whilst taking cartridges from his box, let it fall over a wall we were lining, the French being in great strength in front. He instantly leant his musket against the wall, leaped over to the enemy's side, and came back unhurt. The very same hour the button of my stock was shot off—that was a near one. While at Tormes we were short of provisions. One of our men found a piece of meat on the face of the brae near the hospital, brought it home, and cooked it. A good part of it was eaten before it was discovered by his comrades to be part of a man's arm. He then threw it away, but said nevertheless it was very sweet, and never a bit the worse.
One winter's night in 1813, I was on duty at a bridge near Bovo, a lonely outpost. My orders were to be on the alert; and if I heard anything, to put my ear to the ground, distinguish if it was the tread of men or horses, and give the alarm. The night was starry and a little cloudy. About half-past one I heard the footsteps of an animal, probably, I thought, a stray mule. At last I could distinguish a large wolf a few yards from the bridge in the middle of the road, looking full at me. I levelled my piece; we stood staring at each other. I durst not fire, lest I should give a false alarm. I expected him every moment to spring. However, on the tread of the sergeant and relief guard, he scampered off, relieving me from my disagreeable position.
Following the enemy quite across Spain, we at last, on the 20th of June, encamped on the face of a hill near Vittoria. We had no tobacco, and were smoking leaves and herbs, when Colonel Cadogan rode away and bought us kindly half-a-pound of tobacco a man. Next morning our pipes did not play for parade, and we began to suspect mischief. At eleven we received orders to fall in and follow the line of march ; and just as we started we had to step on one side, to allow a brigade of guns to pass us at full speed. Now there's work to do,' we said to each other. We passed a village, and crossed a river. On the other side of the road we saw the fires still burning in the deserted French camp. A large Spanish column was moving along the height to our right. We halted, drew up in column; and orders were given to brush out and oil our locks, and examine the flints. We then moved up the hill under heavy fire; the centre being ordered to open to allow the 71st (our regiment) to advance. Our men had engaged before word came for the doctor to assist Colonel Cadogan, who was wounded. Immediately we charged up the hill, the piper playing • Hey, Johnny Cope.' We forced the French from the height, sending out four companies to skirmish. As the enemy retreated we saw a French officer harshly pricking his men with his sword to force them to stand. · Down with him ! cried a man near me; and down he dropped, struck by several balls. We were scarcely on the height, when a heavy column of French, dressed as Spaniards in greatcoats and white covers on their hats, gave us a volley which put us to the right-about down hill through the whins in double-quick time. Our four companies, already deceived, were mown down almost to a
We retired, covered by the 50th, who stopped our pursuers by a tremendous volley, and we returned to the height. We were here supplied with sixty more rounds of ammunition, and continued firing till the bugle sounded. Our drought was excessive, for the only spring there was had been rendered useless. In the heat of the action one of our men called out he would have a drink, let the world go as it would. As he stooped to drink, a ball pierced his head, and he fell in the water, which was reddened by his blood. Thirsty as we were, we could not taste it after that. Only 300 of us were able to do duty out of above 1000 who had drawn rations in the morning. The cries of the wounded were heartrending; but we could give them no assistance, for the French were getting under arms, and we were to maintain the heights while there was a man left
When the French retreated to Vittoria, we followed quick as our weary limbs would carry us—our legs bleeding with thorns, our feet bruised by the roots of trees. Coming to a bean-field at the bottom of the height, we immediately broke, and every man filled his haversack. It was a dull encampment that night—we had left 700 men behind. No one joked ; everyone hung his head, mourning the loss of a friend or comrade. At twelve o'clock a man from each company was sent to receive half-a-pound of flour for every soldier, and thus we had double allowance. I had fired 168 rounds that day ; my shoulder was as black as a coal, and I could not touch my head with my right hand. The next day there were great congratulations. Mutual sorrow had made us all brothers. About a hundred of our men joined—they had escaped from the French in the retreat.
The afternoon we attacked Toulouse, as we were in extended order, firing and retiring, just as I had risen to run behind my file, a spent shot struck me on the groin. “God receive my soul !' I said, and sat down resigned, laying my musket by me, and gasping for breath. The French were advancing fast. I was sick ; I put my canteen to my mouth, but I could not taste the water ; still I moistened my lips, and grew less faint. I felt my thigh, and found there was no blood. At that moment the French came up, and one of them made a charge at me as I sat pale as death. But the next man turned the point past me. Do not touch the good Scot,' he said; and then asked me if I remembered him.
He was a soldier whose life I had saved at Lobral from a Portuguese who was going to kill him as he lay wounded. • God bless you ! he cried ; and threw me a pancake from his hat. The rear-guard took my knapsack, and left me lying ; and I soon rejoined the regiment, though in great pain. Soon after came peace. We embarked at Bordeaux, and arrived in Cork in June 1814.
I had been now seven years and eleven months a soldier, and hoped for my discharge ; but having been only sixteen when I enlisted, my seven years were counted from my eighteenth year. . I had still therefore a year to serve. After lying at Limerick some time, we got the word for America. I sought my discharge in vain, though I had only a few months more to serve. It was hard, and I so near freedom, I was almost tempted to desert ; but I kept my honour and embarked. When on our way, a schooner fired a gun, brought us to, and gave us orders for Deal. My heart leapt for joy. I would not have stayed in the regiment for a thousand pounds; ay, I would have left if I had only had a shirt to cover me. We sailed to Gravesend, and after one afternoon sailed for Antwerp.
We were quartered in villages near Louis till the 16th of June 1815, and were drilled daily. As we were going out for the usual field-day on the 16th, we were marched off sixteen miles to the French frontier, and arriving at one in the morning at a village, we took the quarters of a brigade of Brunswickers who marched out. The next day, just as we had halted for the heat and lit our fires, we got orders to fall in, and move along the high-road towards Waterloo. The road was crowded by artillery and ammunition carts, all pushing on for Waterloo. The distant firing had never ceased that day or the day before. Just as we encamped, and began to cook, we had to advance on the enemy. We lay down under arms, the rain never ceasing all night. At daybreak, stiff and sore with the rain, we got half an allowance of liquor, the most welcome thing I ever received. As the weather cleared up, we began to clean our arms and prepare for action. A young lad lately joined said to me while we were cleaning, Tom, you are an old soldier, have escaped often, and have every chance to escape this time also. I am sure to fall.' I tried to cheer him, but I could not alter his belief; and he begged me to tell his parents he died praying for their blessing and pardon.
The artillery had been tearing away ever since daybreak in dif
ferent parts of the line. About twelve o'clock we fell in for attack, and marched to our position on the face of a brae, to cover a brigade
We were so worn out with our two days' march that many of us fell asleep (I included) directly, almost as soon touched the ground. The cannon-balls plunging in amongst us killed many of our men. I was awoke by a shot striking the ground a little below me. It turned me heels over head, broke
my musket in pieces, and killed a lad at my side. I was so stunned and confused, I did not know at first whether I was wounded or not. An hour and a half under this dreadful fire cost us about sixty men, and we never returned a bullet. The poor lad I mentioned had both his legs cut off by a shot, and he soon bled to death, saying, ' Tom, do not tell my mother how I died; it would break her heart.' About two o'clock a squadron of lancers came down hurraing to charge the guns. We formed square.
General Barnes called out, 71st, I have often heard of your bravery-it will not be less to-day than it has been.' We soon put our old playfellows to the right-about. We advanced, forming square every now and then to receive cavalry. The noise and smoke were dreadful. We could see but a very little way from us, and the wounded and dead lay thick all round. We then moved on in column for considerable way, and formed line; then gave three cheers, fired a few volleys, charged the enemy, and drove them back in the old way. Once a squadron of French cavalry rode furiously down upon our line. We had only time to form the front of the square before they were on our bayonets. Many of our men were out of place. There was a good deal of jostling for a minute or two and a good deal of laughing-our quartermaster dropping his bonnet in riding into the square, snatched it up, put it on back foremost, and wore it so all day. A French general lay dead in the square, his breast covered with orders. Our men fell to plundering them off, pushing each other as they passed, and snatching at them. We stood in square for some time, while the 13th Dragoons and a squadron of French dragoons were engaged : the 13th kept retiring behind our column, till we would drive back the Frenchmen with a volley, then at them again. We felt every blow the 13th received; when a Frenchman fell, we shouted; when one of the 13th, we groaned. We wished to join them, but were forced to stand in square. When we fell back to the heights in the rear, a shot cut the straps of a man's knapsack near me; it fell and was rolling away, when he snatched it up, saying, 'I am not going to lose you in that way—you are all I have in the world ;' and roughly tying it on, he marched forward. Lord Wellington came riding up, and forming square with him in the centre, we received the French cavalry. Shortly the whole army received orders to advance, and we moved forwards in two columns four deep. This was the last effort—the enemy retired, leaving everything behind.