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the time in discussing the occurrences of the last two days, and the probable issue of the next day's contest, which we had every reason to suspect would be a most desperate one.
Our position was an extremely good defensive one, and this was not the first time it had been selected as such, for the French army occupied the very same ground, in 1705, when they were attacked and beaten by the confederate army, under the Duke of Marlborough; and again, the Prince of Orange, in 1794-5, availed himself of the same position, to cover Brussels against the advancing French Republican forces, but he was driven from it that time by the impetuosity of the enemy : so that, as far as the selection of ground went, we were very favourably circumstanced.
" But see, the haughty Cuirassiers advance,
The dread of Europe and the pride of France !
About daybreak, on the morning of the 18th, the rain subsided, and we began to light fires with such materials as we could get from the forest, and with the straw, of the corn, which was still standing in considerable quantities. By six o'clock we had a cloudless sky and a powerful sun, under the cheering influence of which, we began to clean our muskets for the coming strife. Having shaved myself and put on a clean shirt, I felt tolerably comfortable, though many around me were complaining much of cramps and agues.
I went as far as the farm-house of La HayeSainte, and obtained some water, and on returning had an excellent view of the arrangements made by the antagonist forces. As the morning wore on, brigade-majors and aides-decamps were riding about, with instructions from the Duke, to each division and brigade, to take up its proper position for the day.
The Foot Guards were on the right of the line, and a portion of them were detached to occupy and defend the château of Hugamont, a post of the utmost importance, as the possession of that by the enemy would have enabled them to turn our right flank; next the Guards, was the 33rd and 69th, which formed one square together, then the 30th and our regiment, the 73rd, formed the next square.
Sufficient room was of course left between the squares, to enable the troops to deploy into line when necessary. Immediately on our left was a regiment of Dutch infantry; next to them were other regiments of British infantry. The farm-house was occupied by a strong body of Hanoverians; the left of our
line was formed
on the other side of the
Brussels road, and the whole extended about
a mile and a-half.
Our artillery, which was strong and effective, was very judiciously placed, and did great execution. A brigade of German artillery formed on the ridge, just in front of our brigade, and was taken on the first advance of the cuirassiers. Two divisions of the British, and most of the Nassau troops, were placed in the rear, forming another line; and it was supposed that more than ten thousand of these were killed or wounded, without having the opportunity of firing a shot. The Life Guards and Oxford Blues were in the rear of the squares, and the rest of the cavalry were disposed of in the same way along the lines. The light companies of the different regiments were ordered in front, to co-operate with the Rifles, in skirmishing with the enemy.
As my brother was going on this duty, we shook hands, not supposing it likely that we should both be preserved through such a battle as this promised to be. From this time we
had no opportunity of seeing each other until the close of the action.
By twelve o'clock the artillery on both sides were busily engaged. Some commissariat waggons came into the field, with a supply of salt provisions and spirits, and two men from each company were sent for them. I was one of these. It was some time before I got our allowance of hollands; and we had scarcely received it, when a cannon-shot went through the cask, and man too. While waiting here, Shaw, the fighting-man, of the Life Guards, was pointed out to me; and we little thought then, that he was about to acquire such celebrity. He drank a considerable portion of the raw spirit; and, under the influence of that, probably, he soon afterwards left his regiment, and running 'a-muck' at the enemy, was cut down by them as a madman.
I admire, as much as any man can do, individual acts of bravery, but Shaw certainly falls
very far short of my definition of the term hero. The path of duty is the path of safety; and it is quite likely that Shaw, if he had