« PreviousContinue »
trigger, he blew his own brains out. Poor fellow! he was much esteemed by his comrades, and I think, on the whole, they were not sorry that he had thus freed himself from the horrors of the lash.
“ Now are our brows crowned with victorious wreaths,
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments.”
AFTER the retreat from Antwerp, our brigade occupied a village called Putte, on the road and exactly half-way between Antwerp and Bergen-op-Zoom, and about three miles from the river Scheldt; having obtained possession of Fort Frederick Henry, a fort on the banks of the river, two miles from fort Lillo, then occupied by the French, and being on the same bank.
As there was no accommodation whatever for the lodging of troops at this place, the regiments of our brigade relieved each other, in the occupation of it. It was of the utmost importance, as it completed our line of in
trenchment, and enabled us most effectually to cut off all supplies to Bergen-op-Zoom, either from the country, or from Antwerp, by the river.
On the 28th of February, it being our turn to take the duty of this fort, we arrived there about ten o'clock in the forenoon, and relieved the 30th regiment. At this time a French line-of-battle ship, with a number of gunboats, having dropped down with the tide from Antwerp, anchored just above the fort, and immediately opened their fire on The 30th, in going away, was exposed to considerable danger, from the cannon balls which were flying about. One of these shots struck two men of the 30th, as they were crossing the bridge, taking off both legs from one of them, and one from the other.
Being now placed as a sentinel, on the bank of the river, between the two forts, I was immediately opposite the French man-of-war, and my instructions were,
to lie down on the bank, that I might be less exposed to their shot, to keep a sharp look out upon them,
and to give notice if I saw them attempting to land any men.
The gun-boats kept rather behind the man-of-war, out of the range of the long forty-two-pounders at our fort. I could see everything that was passing on board the large ship, who, though she had fired a few broadsides at the fort, was now evidently making arrangements to bring as many of her guns as possible to bear on the fort, her object being to force a passage by, to relieve Bergen-op-Zoom. The bank of the river is about twenty feet above the surrounding country, and it is by cutting through this bank, that they can, to impede the operations of an enemy, inundate the country. Under this bank our regiment were tolerably secure from the enemy's shot, except when they had to assist the artillery-men, in superintending the furnaces, and getting the red-hot shot ready for them.
As soon as the enemy had got everything ready, she opened upon us in right earnest; broadside after broadside was fired in the most rapid succession. It was the most awful sight
I have ever been called on to witness. . The whole of her shot passed obliquely by me, but appeared to make but little impression on the fort. The gun-boats, who could not reach the fort, amused themselves by firing at us poor fellows on the bank ; but, as we were lying down, they did not hit any of us, though many of the shot passed very close. One, a nine-pounder, struck the bank within a yard of where I was reclining; I got it out of the bank, and afterwards took it to the fort with me. The enemy continued her fire for the space of four hours.
When we had been on our dangerous duty two hours, we expected to be relieved; but were disappointed, as to relieve us they would have had to bring the men on the top of the bank, where they would have been exposed to certain destruction. So we had to stand fast, and I was not sorry for it afterwards, as it gave me an opportunity of seeing the close of this affair.
At about three o'clock two men belonging to the Rocket Brigade arrived at the