IN THE BATTLE OF ARROYO MOLINOS

Next morning at dawn we commenced our second campaign in Portugal.
Crossing the Tagus, we continued our route through the Alemtejo, and
arrived at Villaviciosa on the 10th. Here we joined our 2nd Battalion,
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie. It was the first meeting
of the battalions since our separation at the Curragh of Kildare in
1805, and was very interesting. The old veterans of the 1st Battalion
with measured phrase recounted their feats in Denmark, Sweden, Holland,
Portugal and Spain, cunningly leaving many a space to be filled up by
the warm imagination of their excited young auditors. On the other hand
the gallant striplings of the 2nd Battalion, with that fervent and
frank ingenuousness so inseparable from youth and so rare in advanced
manhood, came at once to the bloody fight. They long and often dwelt
upon the glorious battle of Albuera; they told of the Spaniards coming
late; that Blake would neither lead nor follow; of brigades being cut
up through the over-anxiety of their commanders; of colours being
taken; in fine, of the battle being all but lost, until their brigade,
commanded by their gallant Colonel Abercrombie, in conjunction with the
brave Fusiliers, came up and by a combined and overwhelming charge bore
down all opposition and tore away the palm of victory already twining
round the enemy’s standard.

The two battalions had been so severely cut up, particularly at Barossa
and Albuera, that one battalion alone remained efficient for service.
All the men of the 2nd were transferred to the 1st. Their officers and
sergeants returned to England; but since Colonel Belson was obliged
to go home for the benefit of his health, Colonel Abercrombie was
retained. And now, and contrary to my wishes, the colonel appointed
me to the command of a battalion company; but he pledged himself that
whenever the regiment should be about to come in contact with the
enemy, I should have it at my option to join the light company.

We shortly afterwards removed to Portalegre, General Hill’s
headquarters. Here we remained some time enjoying all the luxury
of campaigning, inviting even to the most refined cockney, keenest
sportsman, or most insatiable gourmand. Races were established,
partridge-shooting was good, and General Hill kept a pack of foxhounds,
and entertained liberally. He felt equally at home before a smoking
round of beef or a red-hot marshal of France, and was as keen at
unkennelling a Spanish fox as at starting a French general out of his
sleep, and in either amusement was the foremost to cry, “Tally ho!”
or, “There they go!” As his aide-de-camp, Captain Curry, was married,
the amiable Mrs. Curry always dined at the general’s table, so that we
neither forgot the deference due to beauty nor the polished manners of
the drawing-room.

[Sidenote: ADVANCE OF GENERAL HILL.]

But a union of so many sources of happiness is transient in the life
of a soldier. Towards the middle of October a division of the French
5th Corps, commanded by General Gerard, moved through Estremadura to
collect forage and provisions for the army at Portugal, crossing the
Guadiana at Merida, and approaching the Portuguese frontier near
Caceres and Aliseda. In consequence the British troops marched out of
Portalegre on the 22nd, and the head of our column reached Albuquerque
in Spain on the evening of the 23rd. General Hill was here informed
that the enemy had retired from Aliseda to Arroyo de Puerco, and that
Aliseda was again in possession of the Spaniards. However, to secure
that country, Aliseda was entered on the night of the 24th by a British
brigade, some Portuguese artillery, and a portion of cavalry; whilst
at Casa de Santillana, about four miles distant, a similar force was
stationed. The enemy’s advanced guard were driven out of Arroyo de
Puerco on the morning of the 25th by the Spanish cavalry, commanded
by Count Penne Villamur; the fugitives moved upon Malpartida, their
main body being still at Caceres. The British and Portuguese troops
following the route of Villamur’s cavalry, after a forced march which
continued throughout the night of the 25th, arrived on the morning of
the 26th at Malpartida; and here we learned that the enemy had during
the night moved upon Caceres. During this morning General Hill was
informed that Gerard, with the main body of his troops, had moved from
Caceres, but in what direction none could tell. In this uncertainty,
together with the inclemency of the weather and the fatigue caused by
our previous night’s forced march, the general judged it expedient to
halt for the day. The Spaniards however moved on to Caceres. Towards
night the general having received positive information that the French
had directed their course upon Torremocha, we were put in motion at
three o’clock on the morning of the 27th; but during our march we were
informed that the foe had evacuated Torremocha that very morning,
with the avowed intention of occupying the town of Arroyo Molinos for
that night. All our information seemed to be at variance; yet all was
perfectly correct. General Hill now bent his line of movement, and by a
forced march arrived late that evening at Alcuescar, unperceived by the
enemy. Both armies marched nearly in parallel lines during the greater
part of the day, and not very far asunder; but intervening mountains
and a thickly wooded country prevented each from seeing the other.

We now felt certain that the enemy, whom we had so ardently and
arduously sought, were at length within our reach. Our advanced post
was not above two miles from Arroyo Molinos, where Gerard rested in
fancied security, flattering himself that he had deceived us by his
movements, and that we were then at Caceres, toward which we had bent
our course in the morning.

[Sidenote: AN ANXIOUS MISSION.]

On arriving at Alcuescar we were all excessively fatigued from our
forced marches; but while we were pitching our tents and anticipating
some repose, I received an order to proceed to San Antonio, between
six and seven miles distant, to carry despatches to General Hamilton,
who commanded a Portuguese brigade halted at that place. I strongly
remonstrated, pointing out that during a halt of some hours by which
the whole army gained some repose, I had been sent far into the country
to collect information from the peasantry; that carrying this despatch
did not fall to me as a regular tour of duty; and above all, that I
felt excessively unwilling to proceed to the rear at that late hour,
knowing that the army were to move during the night and would more
than probably be engaged before the dawn. However all my remonstrances
were vain. Lieutenant Bailey, then on the quarter-master-general’s
staff (now commandant in the Island of Gozzo), told me that I was
particularly selected by General Hill to carry the despatch; that
his orders were peremptory; and that not a moment should be lost in
communicating its important contents to General Hamilton. Bailey then
read the despatch, which imported that, from the position which the
British army occupied, the enemy could not possibly escape except
through San Antonio. General Hamilton was therefore directed to place
every car and cart in his possession, and everything which he could
collect in the place, as an obstacle across the road, and in every way
to impede the enemy’s progress, should they attempt to pass him during
the night, and thus to give time to the British troops to come up on
the first alarm. The despatch was read to me with the view that, should
I be pursued by any French cavalry patrols, I should tear it, and if I
fortunately escaped, deliver its contents verbally, or if I were driven
out of my road, communicate its import in Spanish to any peasant I
might meet, who could perhaps creep his way to San Antonio, although I
should not be able to get there. I had an order from General Hill to
the Spanish General, Giron, to furnish me with a party of dragoons. The
Spanish general offered me three men when like Phocion I remarked that
for the purpose of war they were too few and for any other purpose too
many. I therefore took only one man, strongly recommended as a guide,
and set off in very threatening weather for San Antonio.

Arriving there without any adventure and safely delivering my
despatches, I immediately wheeled round to regain the camp, when, in
addition to the lateness of the hour and the difficulty of finding
my way through a dense forest, the darkened clouds suddenly burst
and torrents of rain poured down, accompanied by a tempest of wind
so furious as nearly to blow me off my horse. All traces of our
route having disappeared, I called to the dragoon to go in front and
point out the way, upon which he very coolly but respectfully replied
that it was for the first time in his life he was there. My rage and
consternation at this astounding declaration was such that I could have
shot the fellow. I asked him how he could think of coming as a guide
through a thick forest, and over ground with not one foot of which he
was acquainted, beset too by the enemy’s patrols; and expressing my
conviction that he must be a countryman of mine, I asked him if he were
born in Ireland. The man replied that he was not selected as a guide;
that he and the other dragoons, whom I had declined taking, were simply
warned as an escort, but the word guide was never mentioned. As to his
place of birth, he, after appropriate adjustment in his saddle and
assuming true quixotic mien, announced himself a “Castillano puro”; but
judge my mortification at his asking me, with simplicity apparently
genuine, if Ireland was in Portugal! I indignantly darted my spurs into
the flanks of my unoffending high-spirited Andalusian steed, which,
although never attached to the commissariat, I had selected from the
breed of Bucephalus or bullock-headed, still common in Andalusia, and
remarkable for the bones which protrude above the eyes and resemble
stumps of horns.

[Sidenote: A NIGHT ADVENTURE.]

We still moved forward and after wandering some time in the dark
perceived a fire. This was cautiously approached. The dragoon, being in
front, was challenged by a sentry, whom he declared to be French; and
instantly turning we both galloped off. We were wandering to and fro,
scarce knowing where we were; but the Sierra Montanchez, rearing its
head high above the trees and appearing black amidst the dark clouds,
prevented us at least from turning our backs to the place we sought,
and warned us not to approach too near lest we should come upon the
French army. Again we discovered a fire, which we conjectured to be
that of a piquet. It rained torrents; the wind blew furiously tearing
the trees from the roots. Troops of howling wolves stalked around;
and although they sometimes passed nearly between our horses’ legs,
we durst not fire even in our own defence, lest in so doing we should
awaken the attention of a more formidable foe.

Soaked through with rain, not knowing where I was, I struck my
repeater, which I never failed to carry, and found that the army
would be in motion in little more than an hour and a half. I became
desperate; I resolved at all hazard to ascertain our true position.
With this determination I alighted, leaving my cloak on the saddle,
since it was too heavy to support from the quantity of rain it had
imbibed; my pistols I carried in my breast, to keep the locks dry. The
Spaniard I prevailed upon to remain behind, between thirty and forty
paces distant from the fire which burned in our front, with orders not
to move unless he should hear a shot fired, when he should take it for
certain that I was attacked; then he was to ride forward at full speed,
taking care not to leave my horse behind. All thus arranged, with
doubtful step I approached the fire. My preceding the dragoon arose
neither from personal bravado nor from want of full confidence in the
Spaniard, who, I felt convinced, would do his duty gallantly: in fact,
I had some difficulty in prevailing upon him to remain behind; and he
anxiously pleaded to accompany me, although he still felt offended
at being taken for a Portuguese-Irishman. My taking the lead was in
consequence of the haughty Castilian having been too proud to learn
any language but his own; and I happened to have had a tolerably good
acquaintance with the languages of the four nations whose troops were
in the field, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Silently and
cautiously I moved forward, until I arrived within a few yards of the
fire; then lying down flat on the ground, and forming a kind of funnel
with both hands close to the ground and laying my ear thereto, I now
plainly heard words which I joyfully discovered to be Portuguese.
Getting on my legs I approached the fire with confidence. A Portuguese
sentry, lowering his bayonet, demanded who I was; this being soon
explained, I holloaed out to Don Diego, the Spanish dragoon, who
instantly galloped forward with his sabre drawn, but not forgetting
my horse. Upon asking the Portuguese corporal, who commanded the
piquet, where the English were encamped, I was much astonished at his
replying, “Here.” I could discover no sign of an army or a camp, until
moving forward about forty yards in the direction which the corporal
indicated, I came upon the very spot upon which my own tent had been
pitched. Here I found Lieutenant Huddleston, of the company, lying
under the folds of the tent, which had been blown down. I asked the
cause of the darkness which reigned around and which was the chief
cause of my wandering for some hours close to the army without being
able to discover it. He told me that immediately after my departure
a general order was issued that not a light should be lit, except
one in the commissariat tent, and that only while they served out an
additional allowance of rum, granted in consequence of our long march
and the dreadful state of the weather; and that the furious tempest,
which I must have encountered in the forest, blew down almost every
tent, which added to the obscurity.

[Sidenote: A SILENT CAMP.]

I had still upwards of two miles to ride through incessant wind and
rain to reach the village of Alcuescar, where the generals took up
their quarters with the light companies of the division and some
Spanish cavalry. Immediately on arriving there I reported to General
Hill my having executed the duty with which I was entrusted. This
report I made through Captain Clement Hill, the general’s brother
and aide-de-camp. He told me that the general felt excessively well
pleased at my having succeeded, wondered at my having returned so soon,
or at all, in such dreadful weather, and directed that I should not
depart until I had dined (rather a fashionable hour, past one in the
morning), adding with his usual urbanity that he regretted not being
able to see me, as he was engaged with two Spaniards, who were making
communications of a very important nature.

Having swallowed some cold roast beef and a tumbler of port, I retired
to the next house, where fortunately the light company of the 28th
Regiment were stationed. Here I procured food for my wearied horse;
but, although steeped with rain, I could make no change in my dress, my
baggage being upwards of two miles in the rear, where the regiment were
encamped. Change of stockings I could procure, but my boots teeming
with water I durst not take off, knowing that I should not be able to
draw them on again.

Shortly afterwards the army from the camp came up and joined us.
Company states being collected, the adjutant told me that the colonel
remarked that No. 1–the company to which I had been attached–was not
signed by me. I had previously fallen in with the light company. I
immediately signed the state and fell in with the battalion company. I
perceived that the colonel rather avoided me.

[Sidenote: AGAIN WITH THE LIGHT COMPANY.]

All being prepared, the light companies of the brigade were ordered
to advance. I could restrain my feelings no longer, and went to
the colonel, reminding him of the promise which he made when I was
unwillingly appointed to the command of a battalion company in
Portugal; and repeated what I then said, that since October 14th,
1808 (the day we marched from Lisbon under Sir John Moore), to the
present time the light company, although they had been innumerable
times in fight, had never fired a shot nor seen a shot fired when I
was not present, and I trusted that I should not now be left behind.
“Oh! there it is, Mr. Blakeney–every one wishes to leave me. You are
more respectable commanding a company with the regiment than 2nd in
a company detached.” Being rather hurt at the (for the first time)
cool manner in which he addressed me, I merely bowed and said that
with whatever company I was ordered to serve I hoped to be able to do
my duty. The colonel rode away, but immediately returned and said:
“Blakeney, I very well recollect my promise, but thought you would
never mention it. I wished to have you near myself. However I now speak
to you as your friend: do as you please; either join the light company
or remain, but do not hereafter say that I marred your prospects,
which on the contrary I pledge you my honour I would most willingly
advance.” Encouraged by the colonel’s friendly and sincere manner, as
well as by the kind regards which he always showed towards me, I felt
emboldened to express my sentiments freely; and although I held Colonel
Abercrombie in the highest estimation, as indeed did every officer
in the regiment, I told him candidly that I wished to join the light
company. Shaking me cordially by the hand, “God bless you, my honest
fellow!” said he, “and may every success attend you.” Another officer
was appointed to command the battalion company; and mounting my horse
I soon overtook the light bobs, who greeted me with a cheer, saying
that they knew Mr. Blakeney would not remain behind. This anecdote, in
itself of no consequence, I introduce, as it gives me an opportunity
of doing justice to the noble feelings of the gallant generous Colonel
Abercrombie, of whose disinterested friendship I soon had a still
stronger proof.

About dawn, weather still dreadful and favoured by a dense fog, the
troops were formed under rising ground within half a mile of the enemy,
who, strange to be said, did not present even a single vedette. They
occupied Arroyo Molinos, a small town situated under the northern
extremity of Sierra Montanchez, a broad chain of mountains which
receded from Arroyo in a semicircular form, its extreme points being
upwards of two miles asunder. It is everywhere impassable, even by
goats, except within about a quarter of a mile of its eastern point,
where persons desperately situated might by climbing, scramble across.
The road leading from Arroyo Molinos to Merida lies at right angles
to that from Alcuescar, while the road to Medellin intersects the one
leading from Merida to Trujillo. To prevent the escape of the enemy
by any of these roads was the anxious care of the general. The rising
ground, under which our troops united, prevented our near approach
being discovered by the enemy and favoured the distribution of the army
for the attack.

[Sidenote: THE FRENCH SURPRISED.]

Major-General Howard’s brigade, composed of the 1st Battalions
50th, 71st and 92nd Regiments, one company 60th Rifles, and three
six-pounders, supported by Morillo’s Spanish infantry, formed the left
column, and, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, were pushed
forward direct upon the town; the 50th and the guns remained a short
distance in reserve. Colonel Wilson’s brigade, consisting of the 1st
Battalion 28th, 2nd Battalions 34th and 39th Regiments, one company
60th Rifles, the 6th Portuguese regiment of the line, commanded by
Lieutenant-Colonel Ashurst, with two six-pounders and a howitzer,
formed the right column. The cavalry, commanded by Sir William Erskine,
formed a third column; these were placed in the centre, ready for any
emergency. All being prepared, all suddenly moved forward, favoured by
the elements, which, but a few moments ago furiously raging, now as
if by command became perfectly calm and the dense fog; clearing away,
our left column were absolutely entering the town before the enemy
were aware of our vicinity. Although one of their brigades had marched
an hour previously for Merida, their main body were only now getting
under arms to follow. The 71st and 92nd Regiments cheered and charged
through the town, making a few prisoners, but had some men cut down by
the opposing cavalry. The enemy, driven out of the place, formed in two
columns on the plain outside, under the base of Montanchez, protected
by their cavalry. Casting a glance to the north, they perceived the
50th Regiment with the guns advancing. The fire from the 71st Light
Infantry, issuing from the gardens, disturbed their close formation;
and in the meantime the 92nd Regiment filed through the streets and
formed line on the enemy’s flank, who, upon this double assault,
commenced a rapid retreat, as they thought, reducing the front of their
columns, who were headed by their cavalry. This, advance or retreat,
was performed with such celerity that they were soon lost sight of by
our left column.

At this juncture the Spanish cavalry commanded by that active officer,
Count Penne Villamur, rode into the plain and separated the enemy’s
horsemen from their infantry. The count steadily, though not furiously,
maintained his part until the British cavalry came up, who, in
consequence of the rude darkness of the night and roughness of the
roads and ground, had been delayed in their advance. There was also
an equestrian Spanish band, clothed like harlequins and commanded by
a person once rational, but now bent on charging with his motley crew
the hardy and steadily disciplined cavalry of France; and yet, however
personally brave their commander, Mr. Commissary Downy, little could be
expected from this fantastic and unruly squadron, who displayed neither
order nor discipline. Intractable as swine, obstinate as mules and
unmanageable as bullocks, they were cut up like rations or dispersed in
all directions like a flock of scared sheep.

The British cavalry having at length come up, accompanied by the
German hussars, the affair became more serious. A brisk charge by
two squadrons of the 2nd Germans and one squadron of the 9th English
Dragoons led by Captain Gore, the whole commanded by Major Busshe
of the Germans, put the French cavalry to flight. Their infantry
still pushed forward with uncommon rapidity, yet in perfect order,
fancying without doubt that all their danger was left behind. But as
they approached the eastern horn of the crescent range of the Sierra
Montanchez, by passing round which they expected to gain the Trujillo
road, they were met directly in front by our right column, headed by
the light companies of the 28th, 34th and 39th Regiments. Here a rather
unfortunate circumstance took place. About ten minutes before we saw
the head of the enemy’s approaching column, four of their guns whipping
at speed crossed in front of the light companies who formed the advance
guard of our column. We were immediately ordered to follow and try to
overtake them; and we consequently brought forward our left shoulders
and attempted a double quick movement through ploughed ground, soaked
by several days’ previous rain, every step bringing the men nearly up
to the knee in clammy mud. When we had made a mock run for eight or ten
minutes, General Hill, who saw the movement, ordered us to desist, as
the cavalry would take the guns; they were soon afterwards captured by
the 13th Light Dragoons.

[Sidenote: THE FRENCH DASH FOR SAFETY.]

We now brought up our right shoulders and faced the enemy’s column, the
head of which was by this time close at hand. A low ridge or rising
ground was between us, and, the 28th Light Company leading, I galloped
up the ascent, urged by the ambition natural to youth to be the first
to meet the foe. In this however I was disappointed; for on gaining
the summit I discovered immediately on my left General Hill with his
aide-de-camp, the late Colonel Curry, attended by one sole dragoon.
The light company came quickly up and commenced firing (the enemy not
above a hundred yards distant), upon which the general showed his
disapprobation in as marked a manner as a person could do who never,
under any excitement whatsoever, forgot that he was a gentleman; at
this moment he felt highly excited. The enemy perceived it impossible
to pass by us, and as our left column were moving up in their rear
every eye was casting a woeful look up the side of the dark and
stubborn Montanchez, which forbade access; they saw no mode of escape.
Becoming desperate, and arriving at where the mountain began to dip,
they made a rush at the broad and high stone wall which ran along its
base, and tearing open a breach, the head of their column, led by
General Gerard, entered the opening at the very moment that the light
company topped the rising ground and saw them. Thus did Gerard make his
escape, which he could not have effected had we not been sent trotting
after the guns, by which we lost upwards of twenty minutes’ time.

But there was still a remedy left, had it been taken advantage of, as
will afterwards be shown. I observed the displeasure which our men’s
firing gave the general, who at the moment used the remarkable words,
“Soldiers, I have done my duty in showing you the enemy; do you yours
by closing on them.” Upon this truly eloquent and inspiring appeal,
which must have fired the breast of the most phlegmatic, I instantly
placed my cap on the point of my sword, and waving it over my head I
rode between the contending troops to prevent the light company from
firing, exhorting them to come on with the bayonet, a weapon which they
well knew from experience the enemy could never resist. The men whom I
addressed, 28th Light Company, had fought at Barossa and Albuera, and
some still there were of the hardy old veterans of Galicia. I mention
the 28th Light Company, since they were the company who led and whom I
commanded; they instantly obeyed the call, and I need scarcely say that
the other light companies of the brigade were not less prompt. All knew
the efficiency of the weapon mentioned, and knowing it came forward
undauntedly, although at the moment the odds against them were fearful.
The three companies could not muster two hundred bayonets; the column
to be charged amounted to nearly fifteen hundred As the captain of the
company, not knowing the enemy to be so near, had remained behind to
behold a charge made by the harlequin equestrians, I had an opportunity
of leading the 28th Light Company into the body of General Gerard’s
column, the head having unfortunately previously escaped through the
breach in the wall.

[Sidenote: INTO THE SIDE OF GERARD’S COLUMN.]

Having brought the company in collision with the enemy, and being a
pretty fair fox-hunter and well mounted, I jumped the wall, my horse
carrying me stoutly over, although, with the exception of few and short
intervals, I had been on his back for six and thirty hours. The wall
being crossed, absurd as it may appear, alone I met the then head of
the enemy’s column. A scuffle ensued; I lost my horse and cap, but not
my sword.

My address to the light company, as well as what followed, was in the
presence of General Hill, who as I write commands the army in chief;
and I trust to escape a suspicion of exaggeration in my recital of
what took place, for however inclined I might feel to extol my own
services on the occasion, anything I could allege would fall short of
Lord Hill’s testimony, stated in his letter to Lord Fitzroy Somerset,
Military Secretary, dated Portalegre November 24th, 1811.

Soon after I crossed the wall, Lieutenants Potter, 28th, and Sullivan,
34th Regiments, at the head of some men of their respective light
companies, charged through the breach, now almost choked with French,
when all who had not previously escaped were made prisoners; and Lord
Hill may recollect that, whilst as yet only the light companies of
Colonel Wilson’s brigade were come up and engaged, his lordship made
upwards of a thousand prisoners, who threw down their arms, all or
most of whom would have escaped had not those companies undauntedly
and quickly rushed forward. Had we been so fortunate as to come up
twenty minutes sooner, General Gerard and every man in his army must
inevitably have been taken. No military enterprise throughout the
Peninsular War was more judiciously planned or more promptly executed.

The light companies now pushed forward in pursuit of Gerard and the
fugitives; every yard we advanced prisoners were made. Having continued
the chase to beyond the crest of the hill, I was amazingly surprised
at seeing Gerard descending down the road leading to Merida, about
two hundred yards beneath us; he was accompanied by very few men, for
the ground was broken and rocky and very difficult to pass over. Some
French officers, who rushed through the wall on horseback, had been
immediately obliged to dismount, and, formation of any kind being
impossible, groups of the enemy continually descended in small numbers,
who, on reaching the road, ran forward to join those who had already
arrived. But my astonishment was caused at seeing a squadron of British
cavalry drawn up on the road who moved not at all, although within a
hundred yards of where Gerard and the enemy descended in these small
bodies from the mountain. Some time afterwards I asked the officer who
commanded the squadron how it was he did not charge the fugitives,
remarking that he lost an opportunity which most probably would never
again present itself, that of taking prisoner the enemy’s commanding
general. He replied with perfect seriousness that his orders were to
halt on that road, and that therefore the escape of the enemy was
no affair of his; that had he been ordered to charge, he would have
done so willingly. This I firmly believe; and he was not very long
afterwards killed while gallantly charging with his regiment. What
increased my astonishment was that the enemy descended on to the road
exactly in his front, and moved away from him; for the squadron were
drawn up to face the direction which the French took, being the only
one by which they could escape.

[Sidenote: LOSSES OF THE FRENCH.]

The British loss in the action was trifling: seven rank and file
killed; seven officers and between fifty and sixty rank and file
wounded. On the part of the enemy, General Gerard’s corps were almost
totally destroyed or dispersed. General Le Brun, Colonel the Prince
D’Arenberg, both of the cavalry, Colonel Andrée, Adjutant-General,
Lieutenant-Colonel Voirol, and another lieutenant-colonel whose name
I forget, Gerard’s aide-de-camp, one commissary, thirty captains and
subalterns, and upwards of fifteen hundred rank and file were made
prisoners. The whole of their guns, waggons, baggage and magazines were
captured. Their loss in killed and wounded could not be ascertained
from the nature of the ground, but it must have been considerable. The
light companies were firing during four hours, while they chased the
fugitives up the hill of Montanchez and down the other side until we
nearly reached the road. When General Morillo returned next morning,
having continued the pursuit all night, he reported that, exclusive of
those who fell on the plain, upwards of six hundred dead or dying were
found in the woods and among the mountains.

In consequence of the severe fatigue which the army had suffered
immediately before the action, as well as the necessity of bringing the
prisoners together, the light companies were called in. On arriving
on the plain I was not a little surprised at the general greeting I
met from the whole regiment, who with the 34th had been some time in
the plain. When the regiment had approached the breach in the wall,
my horse was found in possession of a French soldier and my cap at
the foot of the hill where it had rolled down. I was consequently
put down as either among the slain or made prisoner; and upon this
Colonel Abercrombie had said that he was excessively sorry for the
circumstance, but that it was all my own seeking, because I declined
remaining with him.

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