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Life of Lord Wellington. part of them which remained on the other side of the river. Encouraged by this unexpected circumstance, a very considerable part of the enemy's infantry immediately arrested their flight, and faced about upon their scattered pursuers. It was impossible that fortune could bave thrown up a more dangerous state of things. A small compact body of brave inen, accustomed to victory, formed to the best habits of discipline, having confidence in themselves and their leader, may be, and indeed very frequently are, a suitable match against an astonishing disproportion of numbers. But when the compactness of the body is broken, no matter whether by a pursuit in victory, or a retreat after repulse, the relative disproportion becomes so great, that success or even escape becomes almost impossible. Thus, an army of twenty-five thousand Englishmen, would at any time defeat an army of one hundred and twenty thousand Mahrattas. But one Englishman would certainly have no chance against six Mahrattas, equally provided with fire arins with himself. The game, therefore, was to be played again by this unexpected turn in the battle of Assye. General Wellesley, seeing the dangerous state of affairs, put himself at the head of the 78th regiment, and a battalion of seapoys; and charging the Mahrattas who had seized the guns, after a bloody and very perilous contest, in which a horse was shot under him, and his personal danger very great, he compelled them to betake themselves to flight. At the same time the brave, the heroic Maxwell, charged the enemy's infantry at the head of the 19th dragoons, and with the loss of his own valuable life, but with the acquisition of a glory and military name which no time will erase, again completed the victory, and added another buttress to the English establisliment in India.
The enemy's dead on the field of battle were about twelve hundred men; their wounded were almost countless. Never hod the Mahrattas, whether from a sense of shame, or a confidence in their numhers, fought with greater fury. It is unnecessary to observe to the military reader, that an enemy is never so dangerous, as when, after a defeat, or rather rout, he unexpectedly turns about, and availing himself of some favourable circumstance, rallies in close order and consolidated front against the pursuing army, scattered by pursuit, separated from their officers, and rendered by their success confident, precipitate, and incautious.
Life of Lord Wellington.
We have been thus particular in our account of this celebrated battle, as well by reason of the peculiar circumstances of the battle itsell, as that we might do justice to two such names as those of Wellesley and Maxwell. If this work meets the encouragement which ke shall endeavour to merit, it shall never be said of the writer of this part of it, that in the narrative of such celebrated deeds as call for the warm tribute of national gratitude, he is either partial or coldblooded. The common debt of national gratitude attaches not only to the national corporation, but to every individual member of it; every one should deem himself to bave the same share in the obligation to the defenders of his country, which he has in the benefit of the defence. Not an Action shall occur, as far as our resources of intelligence shall supply us, or as military gentlemen or their friends will themselves provide us, but shall have its merited mention; and it shall be our pride to perform that justice which is withheld by others.
If we have executed the preceding part of this narrative with any justice, the reader will perceive, that in all the actions of General Wellesley there are two or three conimun characteristic traits; an indefatigable activity; a sagacity which sees and determines in the moment; ard a promptitude which instantaneously acts; an indifference to the mere circumstance of numerical equality; an incomparable readiness in disincumbring himself of whatever is superfluous; and an equal readiness iu deterinining what is superfluous, and the exact point of time when it becomes 'so. To these traits may be added an admirable self-possession, and coinmand of animal spirits and ten per under any state of circumstsnces. He neither loses himself in victory, nor bad he experienced it, would he lose himself in defeat. In victory, as in the battle of Assye, whilst bis army is in pursuit, he is found in the field of battle, and found attended by a sufficient force to meet the most unforeseen vicissitudes of things.
There were chiefly three features in the battle of Assye, which we could wish impressed on the memory of all military men- and that we may be intelligible, we will enumerate them distinctly.
1. The first was—The promptitude with which General Wellesley changed his proposed mode of attack, even when in the actual march
Life of Lord IVellington. to execute it, and the sufficiency of the reasons under which that attack was made.
The enemy, as has been seen, were very strongly posted. Their right was the front of their line: their guns, infantry, and French engineers were on the left. General Wellesley, ignorant of this circumstanice, directed his attack against the right; but having made the discovery as he was approaching, immediately changed his dispositions, and attacked the left. The reasons of this change have been given above.
2. The second circumstance worthy of remark, is-That General Wellesley, finding that the Nizam's force, which would have rendered him nearly equal to the Mahrattas, were marching slowly behind him, and would considerably delay him if he waited for their junction, resolved to do without them; to content himself with bis own very info rior force; and to trust to skill, courage, and fortune, to supply the de. ficiency.
3. The third circumstance is—The ready abandonment of his cannon, and a resolution to do without it, when he found that the difficulty of advancing it checked the more valuable rapidity of his movements.
In all these traits, the military character of General Wellesley bears a very striking resemblance to that of the late celebrated Prussian Commander in Chief, the memorable, and ever-to-be-lamented Duke of Brunswick. Indeed, the first action of the military life of this celebrated Prince so strongly resembles the battle of Assye in these respects, und breathes, as it were, so much of the peculiar character of General Wellesley, that as affording a singular military parallel of two men who would alike dignify the pages of Plutarch, we shall conclude this part of our narrative, with the relation of it.
The action to which we allude, was the relief of the fort of Hoya, a very strong fortress on the Weser. In the seven years war, as it is terined, in the year 1758, the Duke of Brunswick, at that time the hereditary Prince, was sent to reduce this fortress, a French force under Count Chabot being in possession of it. The Prince of Brunswick had at this time only commenced his military career, a career which he afterwards run with so much glory, and terminated amidst the praise, even in defeat and death, of all Europe, with the exception of his most ferocious enemy.
Life of Lord Willington. In the execution of this service, the Prince had a broad and deep river to pass. He had ne means of transporting his men but a single float, so that a long time must necessarily have been spent in getting them over. He had made use of this float but a few times, when a, sudden rising of the wind rendered it unserviceable, and totally cut off all present communication between the Prince and the part that had passed with him, and the more considerable part of his force on the other side of the river. The prince had now to chuse between the value of celerity in the attack, and the importance of waiting till his other force could effect their passage over. The party he was going to attack was much superior to him, had his whole body been together. In these circumstances, the Prince came to a resolution which most assuredly Lord Wellington would take in the same exigence. He resolved not to lose any time in attempts to bring over the rest of his troops, much less to make any attempt to return; but to urge on boldly, in such a manner as to possess the enemy with an opinion of bis strength, and to attack them briskly, and bring the matter to a conclusion before they should be undeceived. Between four and five, therefore, of the following morning, he marched with the utmost speed, directly upon the town. When they approached within a mile and a half of the place, an accident happened which had nearly defeated the whole enterprise. Their detachment fired by mistake on some dragoons of the enemy who were patrolling; the firing was caught from one to another, and at length became general. The Prince remedied this accident by a double diligence; he soon reached the town, and encountered the enemy on the bridge. .
The Prince now made a discovery that it was necessary to change his ground and proposed inode of attack. This he immediately executed in a way as judicious as it was resolute. Having forced the bridge, he made a complete circuit round the town, and turned the enemy by attacking them in the rear. Every tbing succeeded. The attack on the rear was made with bayonet fixed. The French filed into the castle with precipation. This was what the Prince was endeavouring to effect. He knew that the castle could neither contain nor support such a multitude. Accordingly the Count de Chabot was shortly compelled to capitulate, and did not discover, till the signature of the
Vol. I, No. 1.
Journal of the Operations in Portugal.
articles, to wbat an inferior force he had submitted. Such are occasionally the effects of confidence in the attacking party, and a panic in the defenders; and such are frequently the fruits of promptitude, decision, and of that resolute courage, which, making a due calculation of the value of its own skill and efforts, attempts the boldest enterprises, with apparently the most inadequate means; and which not being able to have all that it wishes, makes the best use of all that it bas.
(To be concluded in our next.)
JOURNAL OF THE PRESENT OPERATIONS OF THE
ARMY IN PORTUGAL
GENERAL PLAN OF THE CAMPAIGN.
Dy the unfortunate loss of all the letters by the Marlborough, he are necessarily precluded from the due execution of this part of our subject, and must therefore throw ourselves upon the indulgence of our military readers. Our purpose under this bead, is to give, not merely a detailed narrative, but an intelligible, and explanatory statement, of all the military movements, accompanied occasionally by plans and military drafts, without which it is sometimes impossible that the objects and designs of the contending parties can in any degree be understood. It is not in battles alone, nor indeed in battles principally, that the talents of great generals and their military skill are best exhibited. The two greatest generals in modern times, the King of Prussia, and Marshal Daun, repeatedly, and almost alternately defeated each other in their pitched battles; each exhibited their admirable talents in their positions, manæuvres, mutual foresight, and prevention of the designs of the other; and still more in their incredible dexterity in repairing by their extraordinary judgment, the effects of their misfortunes. In our journal of the campaigns of Lord Wellington, it will be our main effort to do justice to these kinds of military movements of both armies; to explain the plan and design of the campaign on the part of both parties, and to unfold the connection, which the particular motions, and single operations both of Lord Wellington and