Abbildungen der Seite

what was merely omission and forgetfulness, to be an intended neglect. He was anxious to be empowered to make a greater advance to the Minister than Moore thought he could in honour make; but promised to say no more than he was authorized.

Sir Arthur sailed next day for England, and left upon Sir John Moore's mind the impression of an exalted character.

When an account of the Convention granted to Junot reached England, the terms were generally reprobated as too favourable to their enemies. Loud clamours arose, a military Court of Inquiry was instituted by Government, and Sir Hew Dalrymple was recalled.

Chapter XVI.

A few days after the command of the army had devolved on Sir Harry Burrard, despatches arrived from the War Minister, containing the appointment of Sir John Moore to the chief command of an army to be employed in Spain. These letters were dated the 25th of September, previous to Sir Arthur Wellesley's arrival in England, and consequently anticipated the communication he intended to make to Government. A private letter from Lord Castlereagh to Sir John accompanied the public despatches, assuring him of his personal assistance in everything respecting the public service; and begging him to write confidentially, and privately, on subjects connected with his command.

Moore replied in the same amicable strain, and resolved to act conformably; which the good of the service required, and he thought of nothing else.

Before relating the proceedings of the British army, it is requisite to notice briefly the events in Spain which followed the compulsory deposition of the sovereign.

Napoleon had despatched his brother to Madrid, to be proclaimed king of Spain, nearly as he would have nominated one of his officers to a vacant commission. And this appointment was supported by seventy thousand French troops *, who were soon augmented to a hundred and ten thousand; which force, commanded by experienced generals, was considered adequate to hold in submission a dejected nation, that in latter times had not been distinguished for military prowess. The insurrection, however, which burst forth against this audacious usurpation, proved far more formidable than had been apprehended. The infuriated populace rose up suddenly, and attacked stragglers, and

* History of the Peninsular War, by Colonel Napier.-Vol. i. p. 45. Appendix, p. 86, from Official Returns.

small parties of French soldiers. They killed many, and also some Spaniards in authority, who were suspected of being favourable to France. Though ill-armed, and worse officered, the insurgents congregated together in masses ; generals were placed over them, arms and ammunition were procured from England, and an enthusiastic ardour prevailed. All Spain being in commotion, Joseph · was amazed ; and found he was seated on a

tottering throne. He intimated his alarm to his brother, lying on the watch at Bayonne, who, enraged at any opposition to his will, poured fresh troops into Spain, and organized regular military operations to overwhelm the patriotic Spaniards. The French marshals and generals soon moved forward with strong columns of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, against the northern revolted provinces. And as disorderly wrath is little able to withstand disciplined skill, the tumultuary Spanish bands were easily overthrown, dispersed, and slaughtered.

Several disastrous encounters ensued in

Burgos, Segovia, Biscay, and Asturia. But the most considerable defeat occurred at Rio Seco, in the kingdom of Leon; where upwards of twenty-five thousand Spaniards were assembled under two generals, who unhappily disagreed.

They were attacked by an army of French, commanded by Marshal Bessieres, and miserably massacred. After which, Leon and the neighbouring provinces were compelled to submit to the French yoke.

The first turn of fortune in favour of Spain, was in Arragon, where the people were exasperated against their invaders with peculiar animosity, and their ardour augmented by religious enthusiasm. Bonaparte sent an army furnished with a formidable battering train, against Saragoza, the capital of the province. As that city had no other fortification than a low, brick wall, he entertained so little doubt of its capture, that instructions were given for the subsequent movements of the besieging forces.

Some Spanish corps attempted to oppose

« ZurückWeiter »