The result of the conflict between such a force and our lone
little battalion, whose strength I have already mentioned, must be
anticipated. The enemy, seeing so small a force, detached from any
apparent support, advancing against them, allowed us to approach close;
and the orders given by Colonel Browne were that not a shot should be
fired, but to proceed to work as soon as possible with the bayonet. As
soon as we crossed the ravine close to the base of the hill and formed
on the opposite side, a most tremendous roar of cannon and musketry was
all at once opened, Rufin’s whole division pointing at us with muskets,
and eight pieces of ordnance sending forth their grape, firing as one
salvo. Nearly two hundred of our men and more than half the officers
went down by this first volley, thus opening the battle propitiously
for them. We now literally stood in extended order; the battalion was
checked. In closing on the centre and endeavouring to form a second
efficient line, upwards of fifty more men and some officers were
levelled with the earth; and all the exertions of Colonel Browne could
not form a third line. We had by this time lost upwards of two hundred
and fifty men and fourteen officers, between killed and wounded; the
remainder of the battalion now scattered. The men commenced firing
from behind trees, mounds or any cover which presented, and could not
be got together.

When I say that out of twenty-one officers–the whole number who
originally went into action–fourteen were put _hors de combat_, this
latter number might be given as nineteen; for two officers only of the
battalion were now to be seen standing on the field, Colonel Browne and
the humble author of these Memoirs (wounded). The colonel now addressed
me, saying, “I shall go and join the Guards; will you come?” I declined
the proposition, remarking that not being just then firm on my legs,
it would take me some time to arrive at where the Guards were; that
he was unhurt and mounted and could confidently go. His character for
bravery had been established throughout the army for many years; but as
for me, although I had seen a good deal of service, particularly during
the campaign of Sir John Moore, still I was a very young man, and I
therefore told him that so long as three men of the battalion stood
together and I was able to stand with them, I should not separate from

The colonel galloped off and joined the Guards, who were at that moment
passing at some distance in rear of where our right flank originally
stood, now marked only by our dead. The Guards moved forwards with
astonishing celerity and steadiness, although not formed and exposed at
the time to a tremendous fire of grape and musketry. To this new scene
of slaughter it was that Colonel Browne directed his course.

When the flank battalion were first ordered to advance, we were not in
sight of the other British troops; but as we approached the ravine,
casting a glance behind we discovered the Guards emerging from the
forest. They presented neither line nor column, a confused mass
showing no order whatever, one order alone excepted, and that they
gallantly maintained throughout the day: it was the order to advance
against the foe. Every roundshot which struck their mass passed over
our heads, we then being close under the hill upon which the enemy were

The first advance of General Dikes’ brigade was directly in our rear.
This direction was continued until the wood, which stretched forward
immediately on his right flank, was cleared. His brigade then brought
up their left shoulders until our right flank was passed. Dikes now
brought forward his right, and extending his line gallantly pressed
on to attack the left of Rufin’s division, made heavy by General
Rousseau’s grenadiers.

Soon after Colonel Browne’s departure, Captain (long since
lieutenant-colonel) Calvert, General Graham’s aide-de-camp, rode up to
where I was carrying on a kind of fight with a very few men about me.
Perceiving the destruction around, and seeing some soldiers straggling
and firing some way in the rear, he requested me to go back and bring
them up. This I positively refused, stating that I was wounded in the
thigh, and were I to proceed to the rear I could never regain my place
with an army advancing; I added that as he was mounted he would be safe
in making the attempt. Calvert smiled and rode off, but not to the
rear. Again I was left comparatively alone.


By this time the near approach of the Guards claimed a large portion
of the enemy’s fire, which previously had been directed to the place
where the remains of the flank battalion still continued to fire
from behind defences. I now contrived to get eight or ten of the men
together, principally 9th Grenadiers and 28th Light Infantry; to
this little force I proposed charging a howitzer, which was pouring
forth destruction immediately in our front. The proposition being well
received, I seized a firelock (there were many spare ones), and on this
a drummer named Adams, of the 28th Grenadiers’ Company, said that were
he not afraid of being obliged to pay for his drum, he also would take
a musket. Upon my telling the boy that I would pay for his drum, he
flung it away and armed. I have always thought Adams the bravest man,
or rather boy, whom I ever met–not for seizing a musket and gallantly
charging, for in excitement that was natural enough; but that he should
stand calmly calculating the price of a drum when hundreds of balls
were passing close to his body is scarcely credible; but so it was.

We now darted forward and were so fortunate as to capture the gun at
the very moment when it was being reloaded. Two artillerymen were
bayoneted; the others rode off on their mules. This was not a gun
fallen into our hands–it was taken at the point of the bayonet; and
however I may be criticised for saying it, I was the first person who
placed a hand on the howitzer; and afterwards with some chalky earth I
marked it “28th Regiment.”

Scarcely had the gun been taken when we were joined, as if through
magic effect, by upwards of a hundred men of the flank battalion–a
proof that they were not far distant. They darted forth from behind
trees, briars, brakes and out of hollows; I could imagine myself
standing on “Benledi’s Side.” We now confidently advanced up the hill,
and unlike most advances against a heavy fire, our numbers increased as
we proceeded, soldiers of the flank battalion joining at every step.
On capturing the gun, I threw down the firelock and bayonet which I
carried; but Adams retained his and putting on a pouch did good service
during the remainder of the day.

Soon after the movement of General Dikes in rear of the flank
battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnard, also commanding a flank
battalion, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bath, leading the two flank companies
of the 20th Portuguese Regiment, pushed forward to the left, and were
immediately in fight with the enemy’s tirailleurs. Colonel Wheatley,
who commanded those troops together with the 28th, 67th and 87th
Regiments, disentangling himself from the pine forest and at the same
time prolonging his left flank, soon found himself opposed to the
division of General Laval, who, debouching from the Chiclana wood,
advanced so far as to form an obtuse angle with Rufin’s division,
already in line and engaged on the hill. Laval bore heavily forward
in dense column, sending forth a continued peal of musketry, reckless
of the destructive fire of our artillery, which took him in front and
flank. Previous to these movements of Dikes and of Wheatley, Major
Duncan was sent forward with his brigade of artillery consisting of
ten guns. He came up rather close in rear of Browne’s flank battalion
soon after we were engaged, and next to our own battalion the artillery
were the first British troops in action. The guns were soon embattled
in rear of our left flank; their murderous fire was quick, and heavily
pitched into Laval’s advancing columns. Yet Laval still pressed
forward, until Wheatley’s brigade advancing, firing and deploying,
came in contact with them; then the 87th Regiment, commanded by Major
Gough, making a desperate charge, completely overthrew the 8th French
Regiment, capturing their Eagle. In the meantime Laval, moving forward
his right wing, whom he strengthened with a battalion of grenadiers,
attempted to turn Wheatley’s left flank; but Colonel Belson, with the
28th Regiment, who formed the left of Wheatley’s brigade, coming up,
forming and firing by companies, kept back his left wing in a diagonal
direction, and by making a vigorous charge of the whole regiment served
Laval in the manner in which the French general would have served him;
he completely turned his flank.

At this period the strife was fierce, but, the British cheer passing
through the entire brigade, the whole line now pushed forward. A
general charge took place, and Laval’s division were upset. Wheatley’s
brigade, now bringing forward their left, and whilst in full pursuit,
fell in with the enemy’s corps of reserve, who were instantly put
to flight at the point of the bayonet. In the meantime the Guards,
led on by General Dikes, pushed gallantly forward with lengthened
step and lofty bearing; and I make bold to say that never did the
household troops witness a day more honourable to their corps, nor
one upon which they more brilliantly maintained the glory of their
prince. Surmounting all difficulties presented by the roughness and
inequalities of the ground, heedless of the enemy’s menacing attitude,
reckless of the murderous fire which swept their still unformed ranks,
they bore steadily onward and having crossed a deep broad and rugged
ravine, wherein many a gallant soldier fell to rise no more, they
climbed the opposite bank. Here they were encountered by Rufin’s left
wing and Rousseau’s grenadiers, which latter gallantly descended from
their position to give that reception which to such a warlike visit in
martial country was due. But the Guards having gained firm footing on
the base of the hill, and no obstacle opposed save men in arms, British
blood and British prowess soon prevailed. The chosen grenadiers
recoiled from the shock. Rufin, or rather Victor who was present, tried
to retrieve the disaster by bringing forward his right; but these were
furiously attacked and driven backwards by the remnant of Browne’s
flank battalion, now amounting to nearly two hundred men and one
wounded officer. Both the enemy’s flanks were thus turned round in rear
of his centre.


And now the battle for a moment hovered in the zenith of its glory;
the contending foes were not above ten yards asunder, and scarcely
were the enemy seen to move. Tenaciously maintaining their hold of the
hill, they fought with desperation, defending every inch of ground;
for the precipice was near. Their hardiest veterans stood firm; their
bravest officers came forth displaying the banners of their nation; the
heroic example of Marshal Victor was imitated by all. Conspicuous in
the front the marshal was recognised by both armies waving his plume
in circling motion high above his head, to fasten his troops to the
hill; but his gallant deeds and surprising valour were vain against
his more than equal foe. General Graham at this critical moment darted
to the front, and by one short word, loud and inspiring, made nought
of all the marshal’s bravery and combinations. The word was, “Charge!”
Like electric fluid it shot from the centre of the British line to the
extremities of its flanks, instantaneously followed by the well-known
thundering British cheer, sure precursor of the rush of British
bayonets. The Guards and flankers now rushed forward, when with loud
and murmuring sounds Rufin’s whole division, together with Rousseau’s
chosen grenadiers, were instantly in whirling motion rolled down into
the valley below, leaving their two brave generals mortally wounded
on the hill, which was now in possession of their blood-stained
conquerors. The battle was won; and the gallant Graham triumphantly
stood on the bristling crest of Barossa’s blood-drenched hill.

Now, since both flanks of the enemy had been turned, they came back to
back on the plain; and this steadied them, so that they continued to
fire. I therefore requested Colonel McDonald, our Adjutant-General, to
allow me, with the survivors of the 28th Regiment’s flank companies,
to go out and skirmish with the enemy, whilst our line should be got
ready to advance. To this, with the concurrence of Colonel Browne who
had just rejoined the battalion, he consented. We then moved forward.
I saw no other troops go out. Colonel Browne was now the only officer
with the remaining part of the flank battalion. After skirmishing
for a short time, we were recalled. On our return, Colonel McDonald
remarked that Major Northcote, having come up with the Rifles, would
cover the line; that he therefore recalled us, especially as Colonel
Browne wished to have me with the battalion, at the same time saying
in the most flattering manner that he should never forget my services
throughout the day, and would always be ready to testify to them when
called upon.


The enemy’s divisions, now united, were soon formed, and seemed
determined to seize the boar by the tusks; but the boar was now
metamorphosed into a lion. On Major Duncan arriving with his guns and
sending some beautifully directed shots with mathematical precision to
dress their line, Marshal Victor retired his troops beyond the noxious
range. The hill being gained, and the enemy inclined, although ashamed,
to retreat, General Graham sent his aide-de-camp Captain Hope to
General Beguines, requesting him to bring up the two Spanish regiments
originally attached to the British division; even this turned out
unpropitious. When Duncan’s fire prevailed on the enemy’s column to
retire, Colonel Ponsonby, of the Quarter-Master-General’s Department,
by permission of General Graham sought out the allied cavalry and
brought away the German hussars. Having wound round the western point
of the disputed hill, they were seen sweeping along the plain in beauty
of battle; and it is my firm belief that had they not appeared at
that moment we should have been immediately in motion to the front.
We gave the Germans a cheer as they passed in front of our line, now
formed. The enemy’s cavalry turned round and faced them stoutly, their
commander placing himself some distance in their front. As the Germans
closed on the enemy our cheers were enthusiastic. The brave French
leader was instantly cut down; our cavalry charged right through their
opponents, then wheeling round charged them from rear to front, one red
coat always conspicuous, Colonel Ponsonby. The French dragoons thus
broken, Rousseau’s grenadiers came to their support, and forming square
covered the horsemen in their retreat. Again the British troops were
on the point of advancing, when a staff officer came galloping up to
say that a fresh column of the enemy were coming on the right flank of
the Guards. This information alarmed us. Looking through my glass and
observing them for an instant, I assured Colonel McDonald that they
were Spaniards and that I knew the regiments. However some hesitation
followed; thus the Spaniards who betrayed us in the morning deceived us
in the afternoon. It was General Beguines who, glad to get away from La
Peña, was hastily advancing with the two regiments before mentioned.


A second column were seen advancing from the opposite
direction–Chiclana. This was supposed to be Villatte’s division,
who had not been engaged during the action, having remained near the
Almanza creek, in front of General Zayas. But they turned out to be the
sick, marched out from the hospitals of Chiclana, who thus succeeded as
a ruse in covering the retreat of the vanquished Victor.

Although at this critical juncture every British soldier felt confident
that a strong body of six hundred Spanish cavalry, fired by the example
of the gallant Germans, would ride forward against the reeling columns
of the retiring enemy, yet they never appeared. Abandoning their
calling as soldiers they remained behind, mouthing the pebbles of the
beach and thus preparing with oratorical effect to extol as their own
those heroic deeds in which they bore no part and from which they
studiously kept aloof.

Notwithstanding the arrival of Beguines, General Graham evidently saw
the difficulty and danger of making an advanced movement. The enemy,
though beaten and having suffered severe loss, still retired with
a stronger force in the field than the British numbered before the
battle commenced. Villatte’s division were fresh, and could easily have
joined Victor. Our army was crippled, half its numbers being put _hors
de combat_; and the survivors had been for twenty-four hours under
arms, sixteen of which had been passed in marching, and chiefly during
the previous night. After having gained so brilliant a victory, and
defeated the enemy at all points, the British general fully expected
that La Peña, awaking from his torpor, would take advantage of Victor’s
overthrow and lay the drowsy Spaniards on the track of his discomfited
and retiring columns; but he was mistaken–such was never La Peña’s
intention. At the time when Colonel Browne took up his position on
the hill, the principal part of the Spanish artillery were moved along
the beach road and halted about midway between the two points whence
the enemy could move on to attack, the one by the western point of
Barossa, the other by the eastern side of Bermeja. On this position
they halted, but with their drivers mounted, ready to start at a
moment’s notice for that point, whence the enemy advanced _not_. Thus,
when Victor was perceived advancing against Colonel Browne, the great
guns flew along the beach road, nor stopped until Bermeja was left
far in their rear. Later, when the British troops were exposed to the
hottest fire, perilously situated, their rear left open to attack by
the early flight of the Spaniards from the hill, yet La Peña gave no
aid, although, had he moved forward by the eastern side of Bermeja and
come on the plain in that direction towards Chiclana, he would have got
in rear of Marshal Victor, when the whole French army must have been
destroyed or taken. But neither the roaring of cannon, his duty towards
his allies, the pride of his profession, nor the independence of his
country was sufficient stimulant to rouse him forward into action: La
Peña was determined not to move. Yet when subsequently cashiered for
his disgraceful conduct, he had the unparalleled impudence to declare
that it was a great hardship to be dismissed the Service after _he_
had gained so brilliant a victory with the allied army. And soon
after the battle General Cruz-Murgeon unblushingly asserted in the
public prints at Cadiz that he took both prisoners and guns during
the action. Colonel Ponsonby, who undertook to refute this unfounded
statement, asked me (all the other guns captured being accounted
for) whether any Spaniards even seemingly assisted or were in sight
when the gun, which he said he saw me in the act of charging, was
captured. I replied that there was not a Spaniard in the field at the
time, and that with the exception of himself and Colonel McDonald, the
Adjutant-General, who rode past at the time, no individual of any corps
was in sight of the flank battalion when the gun was taken, not even
the Guards, who, though immediately on our right, were shut out by the
intervening inequalities of the ground. But with respect to his taking
four guns, General Cruz-Murgeon was partly right, the term “taking”
only being erroneous. After the action was over, the Spanish general
found his own guns on the same spot where he had abandoned them in the
morning, silent and cold, though they should have been loudly pouring
forth their hottest fire against Rousseau’s division when they were
advancing against Colonel Browne’s position. This I said that I was
ready to prove, having seen the guns after the Spaniards had fled. This
statement being made public, the controversy ceased, and Cruz-Murgeon
shrank from the paper warfare as disreputably as he had fled from the

Until late in the evening the British general maintained his position
on the hill, when, seeing no prospect of a forward movement on the part
of the Spaniards, he, as soon as it was dark, to prevent his movement
being discovered by the enemy, retired down to Santi Petri point, and
passed over the bridge of boats into the Isla de Leon.

Thus terminated the celebrated battle of Barossa, by Spaniards
termed the bloody fight of the wild boar, fought under extraordinary
difficulties against a gallant foe more than double in number, by
harassed British troops, whose gallantry called forth the admiration
of all Europe and the malignant jealousy of their allies–a battle
which immortalised the genius and valour of the commanding general,
who coolly directed our movements until all was prepared for the
bayonet, when, laying aside the personal prudence of the experienced
old commander, he displayed the vigour and impetuosity of the young
soldier, leading us on to the final glorious charge. It was during this
charge, and when the Guards and flank battalion united on the top of
the hill, that Colonel Browne and I again met, he on the left of the
household troops and I on the right of the flank battalion, with whom,
from the departure of the colonel until his return, I was the only
officer and consequently in command. The time of my command, as well as
I can recollect, was about an hour, and that during the hottest part of
the action. After mutual congratulations, my gallant colonel shook me
cordially by the hand, declaring that he never could forget my services
on that day, and adding that, should we both survive the action, he
would in person present me to General Graham and bear full testimony
to my conduct throughout the whole day. The colonel was fully aware
that, had the author of these Memoirs lagged behind in consequence of
a wound received early in the action, he, on his arrival on the hill,
instead of finding nearly two hundred bayonets of the flank battalion
well into the charge which reeled the enemy off the hill, would not
have had a single man of that battalion present to command, and must
consequently have been still a volunteer with the Guards. I reported
to him my having charged and taken the howitzer. Here I feel called
upon to state that when Colonel Browne parted to join the Guards there
were not ten men of the flank battalion to be seen and not above four
or five standing near us; there was nothing for him to command, and I
feel thoroughly satisfied that it was by sheer bravery he was moved.
Although the battalion when they originally moved forward had not
the slightest prospect of success, still it was absolutely necessary
for the safety of the British army and the Spanish cause to push us
forward; and had we not undauntedly pressed on to attack Rufin in his
position, that general would have come down in perfect order on the
British troops, then in a confused mass and so entangled in the pine
forest as to render any attempt at formation totally impracticable. To
await an attack under such circumstances must have been attended with
the most fatal results.

The extremely critical situation in which the British troops were
placed cannot be more forcibly expressed than by General Graham’s own
words in his orders of the following day:

“ISLA DE LEON, _March 6th, 1811_.

“The enemy’s numbers and position were no longer objects of
calculation, _for there was no retreat left_.”


Under these circumstances to hesitate in pushing forward the flank
battalion, not only as select troops, but also as the only British
troops regularly formed, since they had not yet been entangled in the
pine forest, would have shown culpable weakness and want of resolution,
although the movement was consigning us as a body to certain
destruction. At the commencement of the action our battalion formed a
little more than a tenth of the army; yet at the close of the action
our casualties both in officers and men amounted to nearly a fourth of
the entire loss sustained, although every regiment was well into the

The officers killed and wounded in the flank companies of the 9th and
28th Regiments alone exceeded a fifth of the total loss of officers;
they were sixty-two, and of the flank companies there were thirteen,
six of the 9th and seven of the 28th. But the carnage which the flank
battalion suffered was never brought before the public. The casualties
which took place in the different flank companies were in the official
despatches put under the heads of their different regiments; thus the
officers killed and wounded of the 9th Regiment flankers were returned
as a loss sustained by the 9th Regiment, although at the time the 9th
Regiment were doing garrison duty in Gibraltar; and the 28th Regiment,
who formed the extreme left of the line, returned eight officers killed
or wounded, whereas seven of those were of its flank companies with
Colonel Browne’s battalion, who were led into action on the extreme
right, though the Guards having moved by our rear and subsequently
forming on our right, we at the close of the battle stood between the
two brigades.

The battle, although it lasted little more than two hours, was
extremely fierce and bloody, and its results marked the gallantry
of the two nations by whom it was fought. Two thousand French,
with three general officers, were either killed or wounded; and
they lost six guns and an Eagle. The loss on our side consisted of
five lieutenant-colonels, one major, sixteen captains, twenty-six
lieutenants, thirteen ensigns, one staff, fifty-one sergeants, eleven
hundred and eighty rank and file, making a total of twelve hundred and
ninety-three put _hors de combat_. But of all the army the severest
loss sustained was by the grenadiers and light bobs of the 28th
Regiment; and it may truly be said that the young soldiers who filled
up the vacancies left in those companies by the veterans who fell in
the mountains of Galicia or at Corunna or who sunk through the swamps
in Walcheren, were this day introduced to a glorious scene of action.
Two-thirds of the men and all the officers lay on the battlefield: one
alone of the latter was enabled to resume his legs, for he had no bone
broken; he continued through the fight,–’twas the system of the old


The flank officers of the 28th Regiment who fell in the battle
were Captain Mullins, Lieutenant Wilkinson and Lieutenant Light
(Grenadiers); and Captain Bradley and Lieutenants Bennet, Blakeney and
Moore. Poor Bennet was shot through the head whilst gallantly cheering
on the men through an incessant shower of grape and musketry. On seeing
him fall I darted to the spot and too plainly discovered the cause. It
grieved me that I could not stop for an instant with my dearest friend
and first companion of my youth; but friendship, however fervid, must
yield to imperative duty. The men were fast falling and it required
the utmost exertion to keep the survivors together, exposed, as they
then were, to a murderous fire of round-shot, grape and musketry. My
exertions at the moment were rather limping, as I had just been struck
by a grape-shot under the hip, which for a moment laid me prostrate.
I could only cast a mournful look at Bennet, poor fellow. It may be
that our firm friendship conduced to his fate. A vacancy occurred in
the light company a few days before the action, and I saw that Bennet
would willingly fill it up; but it was an established rule, at least
in the regiment, that a senior lieutenant could never be put over the
head of a junior already serving in the light company. Perceiving that
his delicacy prevented his asking, I prevailed upon Colonel Belson to
appoint him, although my senior. With the battalion two officers only
were wounded, Captain Cadell and Lieutenant Anderson. In the flank
companies no officer escaped, and poor Bennet fell, to rise no more.
But after all man must have a final place of rest, and the appropriate
bed of a soldier is the battlefield; and it will be some consolation to
his friends to know that never did a soldier fall more gallantly or on
a day more glorious, and never was an officer more highly esteemed when
living, nor, when he fell, more sincerely regretted by the whole of
his brother officers. He was wounded about noon on the 5th; the brain
continually oozed through the wound; yet strange to say he continued
breathing until the morning of the 7th, when he calmly expired with
a gentle sigh. A marble slab was subsequently erected in the chapel
of the Government House at Gibraltar, to the memory of Bennet and of
Lieutenant Light of the Grenadiers, by their affectionate brother
officers who unfeignedly regretted the early fall of the two gallant

A few days after the battle the 28th Regiment returned to Gibraltar
and the flank battalion to Tarifa, where we joyfully reoccupied our
old quarters in the houses of the truly hospitable inhabitants. I was
billeted in the house of an old priest, Don Favian Durque. His sister,
an old maiden lady, lived with him, and it is impossible to express
the kindness and attention which I received from both. When the old
lady heard that the grape-shot which struck me had first passed through
an orange, a ration loaf and a roast fowl, with tears in her eyes she
knelt down and with religious fervency devoutly offered up her thanks
to the Blessed Virgin, who, she said, must have fed the fowl which so
miraculously saved my life.

A week had not elapsed after our return to Tarifa when Colonel
Browne received a letter from General Graham requesting that
he would recommend any officer of the flank battalion who had
distinguished himself in the late action. This was in consequence
of some circumstances having come to the general’s knowledge,
principally through his Adjutant-General, Colonel McDonald, and his
Quartermaster-General, Colonel Ponsonby, as well as through his
aide-de-camp, Captain Calvert. Colonel Browne then recommended me to
the general.

Having had occasion to go to Cadiz on private affairs, I carried the
colonel’s letter, upon presenting which the general delayed not a
moment in sending a report on the subject to the commander-in-chief,
with a strong recommendation; and during my stay in the Isla I had the
honour of dining every day at the general’s table. In Colonel Browne’s
letter, which he read to me, the capture of the howitzer is stated,
but is not mentioned in General Graham’s report. In fact he could not
well have mentioned it, having already reported the capture of all the
guns in his official despatch. I cannot help thinking that had Colonel
Browne not forgotten his promise to me, solemnly and spontaneously
pledged on our meeting on Barossa Hill, and had he mentioned my name to
General Graham before that gallant officer sent off his despatches, my
promotion to a company would not have been the result of a subsequent

We remained at Tarifa a few months longer, continually fighting for our
bread (the crops), when many a lively and serious skirmish took place.
It is a pleasant little town, and famous as the point where the Moors
made their first descent into Spain, invited by Count Julian to avenge
the insult offered to his daughter, the beautiful Florinda, by Roderick
the last of the Visigoth monarchs. When the Moors had been expelled
from Spain, a watch-tower was erected here, in which towards evening
a bell rings every hour until dark; it then sounds every half hour
until midnight,–from that hour until three o’clock in the morning it
rings every quarter, and after that every five minutes until daybreak.
This custom continued down to the period when we were quartered there
and probably does so to the present time; and this bell to our great
annoyance hung close to the officers’ guardroom.


Nothing offends a Spaniard, particularly in Andalusia, more than
to insinuate even that he is in any way connected with the Moors.
Should you through doubt ask a Spaniard to what country he belongs,
he answers that he is a pure and legitimate Castilian, not intending
to say that he is a native of either of the Castiles or that he was
born in wedlock, but giving you to understand that his veins are
not contaminated with any mixture of Moorish blood. Yet in Tarifa,
where they are most particular on this point, they still continue a
Moorish custom peculiar to that town and not practised, I believe, in
any other part of Spain. The ladies wear a narrow shawl or strip of
silk, called a mantilla, generally black; the centre of this strip is
placed on the crown of the head, the ends hanging down in front of
the shoulders, the deep fringe, with which they are trimmed, reaching
close to the ankle. So far this dress is common throughout Spain; but
in Tarifa the ladies cross the mantilla in front of their faces, by
which the whole countenance is concealed, with the exception of one
eye; this is done by dexterously lapping the mantilla across at the
waist, and so gracefully that the movement is scarcely perceptible. I
have seen many English and even Spanish ladies of the other provinces
endeavour to imitate this sudden and graceful movement, but never
without awkwardness; whereas every female in Tarifa accomplishes it in
a moment. This temporary disguise is resorted to when the ladies go out
to walk; and so perfect is the concealment and the dress of the ladies
so much alike, that the most intimate acquaintances pass each other
unknown. Thus accidents may happen and husbands fail to know their own

Spanish ladies in general are very fine figures, for which reason, as
I have been told, their under garments, far from flowing, are very
narrow, and tied down the front with many knots of fine silk ribbon.

The order for the flank companies to join headquarters having arrived,
after a long and happy sojourn we bade a final adieu to this pleasant
and hospitable little town, and proceeded to Gibraltar.

After remaining a few days in Gibraltar to exchange our tattered
Barossa clothing for a new outfit, which the flank companies had no
opportunity of doing previously, the regiment sailed for Lisbon on July
10th, on board two men-of-war; but a calm setting in, we were carried
by the current to Ceuta on the African coast. Dropping anchor, the
officers landed to dine with our old friends, the 2nd Battalion 4th or
King’s Own, who were quartered there; but the weather promising fair,
Blue Peter and a gun summoned us on board before the cloth was removed.


Next morning we found ourselves off Tarifa. The whole population
were on the beach kissing hands and waving kerchiefs in the breeze;
we recognised them all; and a recollection of the many happy days
we passed there, where so oft we played and sang and danced the gay
fandango, called forth from all a tear or sigh. The Tarifa ladies
were famed throughout Spain for their beauty. But the charmed city
soon receded from our view; and on we plodded listlessly, until we
came abreast of Barossa Hill, when we all hurried on deck and drank
a flowing bumper with three times three cheers to the health of the
gallant Graham. Continuing our course towards the land, where dwell the
brown maids with the lamp-black eyes, we arrived at Lisbon on the 20th
and next day disembarked.

Our field equipments were immediately put in preparation; our baggage
animals were procured as soon as the market supplied, and as cheap as
the Portuguese sharpers would sell, who next to Yorkshiremen are the
greatest rogues known in regard to horses. Our wooden canteens were
well soaked, securely to keep in what the commissaries cautiously
served out. A portable larder or haversack was given to each to carry
his provisions in, and a clasp knife which was both fork and spoon.
Our little stock of tea, sugar and brandy was carefully hoarded in a
small canteen, wherein dwelt a little tin kettle, which also acted
the part of teapot; _two_ cups and saucers (in case of company), two
spoons, two forks, two plates of the same metal, a small soup-tureen,
which on fortunate occasions acted as punch-bowl but never for soup.
This was termed a rough-and-ready canteen for officers of the line
only. Hussars, lancers and other cavalry captains would doubtless
sooner starve than contaminate their aristocratic stomachs with
viands, however exquisite, served on such plebeian utensils; however a
frying-pan was common to all ranks.


Our equipment being completed, the march was announced for August 1st.
Many conflicting sentiments jarred in our breasts the night before.
Thoughts of the bloody battles we had gained and the prospect of a
glorious campaign before us were gloomed by the recollection that not
long before we had taken the same route with Sir John Moore at our
head; that since that period the ranks of the regiment had been thinned
or swept away at Corunna, Oporto, Talavera, Albuera, Barossa. Many a
gallant soldier and sincere friend had been laid low since last we met
at Lisbon. With these recollections we sat down to table, and eating
seemed but a work of necessity, which passed in mute action. The cloth
being removed, a bumper was proposed to the memory of the immortal
Moore. It was drunk in perfect silence and, as it were, with religious
solemnity. The martial figure and noble mien of the calumniated hero
stood erect in the imagination, and was perfect in the memory of all;
but a painful recollection of the mournful state in which we last
beheld him saddened every countenance. We seemed to see him borne in a
blanket by the rear of the regiment, the moon acting as one big torch
to light the awful procession as it moved slowly along, our men falling
around him as if anxious, even in death, to follow their gallant
leader, and the enemy’s guns firing salvos as if to cheer the warrior’s
last moments. He knew that they were beaten. Thus Sir John Moore
bade his final adieu to the regiment, all shattered save his martial
spirit and lofty mind,–these were unbroken and remained inflexible.
He yielded his last breath with a sigh of love for his country and
of yearning for his profession. After this toast was drunk the band
with muffled drums played, “Peace to the Fallen Brave”; but either the
instruments were out of tune or our souls not tuned to harmony. The
music sounded mournful and low; a dark gloom like a Pyrenean cloud hung
cold, damp and clammy around; we tried to shake it off but in vain.

Our next bumper was to the memory of our late gallant comrades, who
gloriously fell since our last march from Lisbon, gallantly maintaining
the honour of their country and corps. This toast was also drunk in
solemn silence, while many an eye swam at the recollection of scenes
and friends gone for ever. I thought of my poor friend, Bennet. This
toast led to the mention of several anecdotes, wherein the deceased
bore the principal part. The gallant feats of our departed friends
insensibly revived sentiments of a less mournful nature; the foggy
vapour somewhat cleared away.

Our third and last bumper was “To our next happy meeting; and
whosoever’s lot it be to fall may the regiment soon and often be placed
in a situation to maintain the glory of their country, and may they
never forget the bravery and discipline which won the ‘back-plates.’”
This sentiment was received with wild enthusiasm, and so loudly cheered
by all that gloom and melancholy were frightened out of the room. The
festive board gradually resumed its wonted cheerful tone; the merry
song went round drowning the doleful funeral dirge; past misfortunes
and useless regrets were forgotten. We sat late and drank deep, and
thoughts of the fair and of future glory alone occupied our minds.
Heedless of the obstacles opposed to reward of personal merit by an
all-grasping aristocratical interference, our heated imaginations
presented nothing but blood, wounds and scars, ribbons and stars to
our dancing vision now becoming double and doubtful; and at last we
retired–but to prepare for advance. Such was the custom of gallant gay
soldiers the night previous to opening a campaign; in their breasts
the reign of _ennui_ is but short, and they spurn presentiments
and foreboding, harboured only by the feeble nerve, the disordered
brain, the shattered constitution, or by those whose vices conjure up
frightful phantoms to their troubled conscience.

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