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THE BRITISH ARMY RETIRES ON CORUÑA.
33. THE BRITISH ARMY, UNDER MOORE, COMMENCES ITS
RETREAT. When Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore heard, on the 28th of November, of the successive dispersion of the Spanish armies at Salamanca, his anxious and too distrustful disposition became, suddenly, filled with the worst apprehensions. In every expectation he had been disappointed, every representation had proved false; he had been deceived by spurious promises of co-operation which never could be realised, and grossly led astray by the representations of the British ministers at Madrid and Lisbon. Mr. Frere pressed him earnestly to march to the support of Madrid ; Mr. Stuart, who was a diplomatist of greater caution and sounder judgment, wrote in the same strain. He could meet with no native authority in whom he could place any trust or confidence. His mind became not only perplexed but irritated by the progress of events, and he at once took the resolution of withdrawing his army altogether out of Spain, and of assembling it on the banks of the Tagus. The same day he wrote to Sir David Baird to carry back his division to Coruña, embark them there, and join him at Lisbon, and to Sir John Hope to come up, in all haste, by Alba de Tormes, and join him at Ciudad Rodrigo or Almeida. He, at the same time, communicated his intentions to the British ministers, Stuart and Frere. Both wrote strongly to dissuade him from this determination, and the Supreme Junta sent two Spanish Generals to wait upon Sir John Moore in person, and, if possible, turn him from this purpose. Colonel Graham, however, at the same time, came in to head-quarters with the certain intelligence of the new defeat of the Spaniards at Somo Sierra, and of the entrance of Napoleon into Madrid. Morla, in his letter to Sir John, dated the 2nd of December, at the very moment when he was entering into terms with the enemy, endeavoured to persuade him by the assurance that the patriots had an army in the field of 40,000 men, under Castaños, with which the British army could unite and fall on the rear of the enemy. Bad as Moore already thought of the Spanish authorities, it could not have entered into his conception that the principal chief of the Junta was conspiring with the French to inveigle the army of their ally into the enemy's power ; nor could he imagine that the British Minister on the spot should be himself so grossly deceived, by those who surrounded him, as to send him intelligence and advice without any reasonable ground of truth or hope. On the 5th, he received a letter from Frere announcing that the capital had resisted a first assault, and was prepared to follow the example of Zaragoza, and resist the French to the uttermost, asserting these as facts to urge the British army to make an effort in favour of the people of Madrid.
Overpowered, therefore, by these entreaties and representations thus urged upon him by persons in whose judgment, from their positions, he ought to trust, Sir John Moore, on the same day, altered his plans, and sent word to Baird and Hope to join him with all speed and with all their forces at Astorga. On the 10th, Sir
NAPOLEON ADVANCES AGAINST MOORE.
John Hope came up with the artillery and cavalry, and a communication was opened with the Marquis de la Romagna to co-operate with the patriot force under his command, and to this city Moore now resolved to advance. On the 13th, the cavalry, under Lord Paget, entered Toro with General Beresford's brigade, and head-quarters were advanced to Alaejos, and on the 18th Brigadier Charles Stuart, with a brigade of the 18th and Germans, came aux prises with a party of French cavalry and infantry near Rueda. The French were perfectly surprised in this encounter with the British, whom they believed to be in full retreat; their whole detachment was routed and either killed or wounded, and 80 were actually made prisoners. An intercepted despatch from Marshal Berthier to Marshal Soult now apprised the General that the 4th corps-d'armée was moving on Badajoz, and that Marshal Junot with the 8th corps had passed the Pyrenees, and was moving forward, while Soult himself was in Valladolid. Moore therefore halted his army at Toro on the 14th, and effected a junction with Baird at Benevente. On the 20th of December he moved his whole army forward to within three leagues of Sahagun. Here Lord Paget received information that 700 of the enemy's cavalry were posted in that town, and that it might be practicable to cut them off. The ground was covered with snow, the cold was intense; nevertheless, sending General Slade with the 10th Hussars to enter the town from the side of the Cega, he led forward the 15th and horseartillery in person by a different route, and at dawn of day fell upon the outlying picket, one of whom alone escaped with the intelligence to the main body. Accordingly, when Paget cleared the town, he found the enemy drawn up to receive him in an open plain. Without a moment's hesitation, the British cavalry charged, and though they most unexpectedly found that they had a broad ditch to pass, yet, with a true fox-hunting spirit, they at once leaped over the obstacle and fell upon the enemy, who fled, leaving two colonels and 160 men prisoners. The head-quarters of Sir John Moore were, in consequence of this success, established at Sahagun on the 21st; but it was necessary for him to halt the army to await supplies, nor could they be put in motion till the following day. Marshal Soult, posted at Saldana, who was in a somewhat critical state, defending the position of the Carrion with 18,000 men, was considerably taken aback by this bold advance of Moure: he made up his mind to march against him on the 23rd, and, accordingly, arranged with the Marquis de la Romagna to move all the Spanish troops he still possessed in Leon upon Minsilla, to aid in the manæuvre. Moore counted on having a force of 23,000 bayonets and 2,278 sabres with 60 guns.
34. NAPOLEON ADVANCES AGAINST IT FROM MADRID. As soon as Napoleon heard of the forward movement of Sir John Moore, he ordered Soult to retire before him back to Burgos, to which city he ordered Junot also to advance in all haste, while he
himself resolved to quit Madrid on the 18th, and to march against the English army by Villacastia, Arevalo, and Tordesillas. The British advance had already reached this latter place on the 24th, when Moore became awakened to the danger of his position. He had heard of Soult's retreat at the same time that Romagna apprised him that the Emperor was advancing by forced marches, and saw that it was impossible to reach Soult before Napoleon should arrive in the rear. He therefore gave orders for an immediate retreat, satisfied at having so far succeeded in the task imposed upon him, as that he had withdrawn the Emperor from the capital. He quitted Sahagun on the 24th, and on the 28th reached Benevente. The weather was most inclement, so much so, indeed, that when Napoleon was leading his army through the passes of the Guadarama, his artillery was so overwhelmed by a snowstorm that they could scarcely proceed, and a column of infantry actually retreated before its violence. The conqueror who had so recently made a glorious winter campaign in Poland was not, however, to be overcome by a snowstorm in the mountains of Spain, and, therefore, immediately riding to the front of the column in person and dismounting from his horse, he formed the chasseurs of the Guard into sub-divisions the width of the road, on foot, who, leading their horses, pressed forward, forming a shelter to those who followed; and in this way they accomplished the passage of the mountain, but were obliged from the fatigue of the march, which the Emperor shared à la Bonaparte, to halt and pass the night at the post-house of Espinar. This is a characteristic trait of the great General, showing how well he knew the way to enlist the feelings of his soldiers on the side of his own selfish ambition. When the mule arrived, which brought him up the simplest luxuries of the table, he shared his fire and his meal with those who were the most overcome, and next morning led the march as before. He came up with Ney's corps at Rio Seco, whence he marched to Valderas on the 28th ; and the following day approached Benevente.
35. BRITISH CAVALRY AFFAIR AT BENEVENTE. The British cavalry reached Castro Gonzalo on the 27th, and crossed the Esla, where they destroyed the bridge leading into Benevente; but they had encountered the enemy in their retrograde movement, and had already had a successful cavalry affair near Villapando. Sir John Moore, hearing of the near approach of Napoleon, now ordered the destruction of all stores, and appealed to the British army to refrain from the excesses to which they had shown thus early an inclination to commit. There are two roads leading from Benevente, and while Moore took that by Astorga, Hope marched by La Banessa, and Lord Paget continued to cover the retreat with the cavalry. Early on the morning of the 29th a French officer was observed reconnoitring the fords of the Esla, near the destroyed bridge of Castel Gonzalo, and presently, between 500 or 600 cavalry of the Imperial Guard were observed to cross over the river. They
AFFAIR AT BENEVENTE.
were led by Lefebvre-Desnouettes, a dashing cavalry officer, who had already highly distinguished himself. Colonel Otway immediately formed up the pickets, who amounted to about 220 men, and these retired slowly, showing a good face to the enemy. The first French squadron were in the act of charging, when Lord Paget came to the front with the 10th hussars and overturned them in a headlong rush, taking General Lefebvre and some 70 horsemen prisoners. This was the most serious affair in which the British cavalry had yet been engaged. The enemy's force consisted of tried soldiers, and they fought in a manner not unworthy of their reputation. It was a very spirited conflict, most creditable to the English cavalry, who lost in the conflict about 50 killed and wounded, the French losing 130 killed and 70 prisoners. On the 30th, the British General reached Astorga, and found Romagna's corps already arrived there before him. This was exceedingly irritating to Sir John, but he continued his retreat next day on Villa Franca. Soult crossed the Esla on the same day, and on the 31st of December Napoleon came up with his head-quarters to Astorga, and there, from causes not at that time intelligible, gave up the further pursuit of the British to Marshal Soult. It is now known that he had received information that the Austrians were really preparing to take the field, which obliged him to hasten back to Paris to make the required preparations to meet this new emergency.
1. PENINSULAR WAR— SIR JOHN MOORE'S RETREAT.- 2. BATTLE
OF CORUÑA - DEATH OF THE BRITISH GENERAL.-3. MILITARY
ESSLING OR ASPERN.— 24. THE FRENCH ARMY WITHDRAWS INTO THE ISLAND OF LOB-AWE.-25. DEATH AND MILITARY CHARACTER OF MARSHAL LANNES.- 26. THE VICEROY OF ITALY JOINS THE GRAND ARMY - BATTLE OF RAAB.-27. SIX WEEKS IN LOB-AWE. 28. NAPOLEON QUITS THE ISLAND. - 29. BATTLE OF WAGRAM.-30. RETIREMENT AND MILITARY CHARACTER OF THE ARCHDUKE CHARLES OF AUSTRIA.-31. WAR IN SCANDINAVIA CHANGE OF DYNASTY IN SWEDEN.— 32. WAR IN POLAND.-33. WAR IN ITALY AND THE IONIAN ISLANDS. — 34. NAPOLEON ANNEXES ROME TO HIS EMPIRE. 35. WAR RENEWED BETWEEN RUSSIA AND TURKEY — BATTLE OF TARTARIZZA.-36. WALCHEREN EXPEDITION.–37. PENINSULAR WAR. — 38. BATTLE OF TALAVERA. - 39. COMBATS AT ARZOBISPO AND ALMONACID.-40. WELLINGTON ORDERS THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE LINES OF LISBON—41. HE REORGANISES THE BRITISH COMMISSARIAT.-42. RISE OF THE GUERILLA SYSTEM IN SPAIN. — 43. THIRD SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF GERONA-A FRENCH SQUADRON DESTROYED AT CETTE.—44. THE SPANISH ARMIES DEFEATED AT OCANA AND ALBA DE TORMES. -45. TREATY OF VIENNA - NAPOLEON MARRIES AN ARCHDUCHESS.-46. NAVAL WAR - FRENCH FRIGATES SUCCESSFUL IN THE INDIAN OCEAN.-47. BOAT ENGAGEMENTS.-_48. COLONIAL WAR.–49. WAR IN THE EAST - PERSIA, SCINDIA, AND TRAVANCORE.
1. PENINSULAR WAR — SIR JOHN MOORE'S RETREAT.
The weather was dreadful. Rain or snow, with its attendant mud, rendered the roads almost impassable, as well to the pursued as to the pursuers. The latter did not venture to press back the former, for there was at all times readiness enough on the part of the retreaters to stand and fight, and every turn in the road was a position. Indeed, a retreat is always bitter to soldiers ; and a British army is in this respect greatly inferior to a French one, where each soldier reasons like a general, and whether he is ordered away in a movement to the front, flank, or rear, the moustache gris knows that such manæuvres have often led to victory, and he therefore consoles himself with the idea that it will do so now; but the British soldier chafes under the presumed disgrace and privations of a retrograde movement, and becomes, under the mixed feelingsit generates, very insubordinate, and difficult to keep in a state of discipline. The Commander-inChief, who knew his men well, and who was notoriously of a mild and conciliatory but firm demeanour, was constantly with his rearguard, doing his utmost to restrain the excesses which it is impossible absolutely to prevent in retreating armies. A curious anecdote is related among the incidents of Moore's retreat, and as it is almost a proverb, that what is to be found in a printed book is to be believed, it shall be related in the exact terms in which General Savary, Duc de Rovigo, gives it in his Mémoires : “ Nous trouvions beaucoup de chevaux de la cavallerie anglaise mort sur le chemin, et nous rémarquions qu'il leur manquait à tous un pied. Nous apprîmes depuis