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Soon after the close of the siege just described, I received, in conjunction with others, who were similarly entitled, my share of prize-money, on account of the property captured some years before at Copenhagen. Some arrears of pay were also supplied by the hands of Major Wells. A little good advice was kindly subjoined. We were exhorted to save our money, to avoid excesses, and spend with economy. But alas ! how hardly shall they that are rich keep in the path of moderation and humility. The cash burnt in our pockets. The intimations so civilly given were altogether wasted, and might as well have
been addressed to our knapsacks. No sooner did opportunity offer, than the wine-houses washed away, not only all our good advices, but the whole of our hardearned pittance so recently distributed. When a man is determined to indulge in liquor, he is almost sure to find some justification for it. It is commonly of Dean Aldrich's sort, more wordy than wise:
“Good wine, old friends, or being dry,
Or that he may be bye and bye,
I am sorry to admit that I was carried away with the torrent of sensuality, which at this time set in with a kind of powerful flood-tide. Every good impression was well nigh obliterated from my mind. The nice mental perception of right and wrong, which I re
tained as a valued relic, resulting from my mother's advices, was nearly blunted ; and my subsequent experience has shown me, that when once the barrier between vice and virtue is weakened, or is dimly visible, great danger is at hand. Among other habits unhappily contracted was that of profane swearing ; which, connected with singing licentious ballads, and free living, completed the depravity of my conduct. And yet I was more proud of my religion than ever ; and had any one called in question the infallibility of the Pope, I should have instantly challenged him to fight for the insolence of the thing.
It has been observed by an acute military writer, that the talents of Lord Wellington rose with his difficulties; and notwithstanding the serious impediments which obstructed the measure, he resolved to subdue the important fortress of Badajos. He accordingly proceeded to Elvas, which he reached on the 11th of March, and arrangements were immediately commenced for the formal investment of the place. Badajos is a regularly fortified town. The garrison, composed of French, Hessian, and Spanish troops, was now near five thousand strong. Phillipon, the Governor, had greatly improved the defences of the place. A second ditch had been dug at the bottom of the great one, which was also in some parts filled with water. The gorge of the Pardaleras was inclosed, and that outwork was connected with the body of the place, from whence powerful batteries looked into it. The three western fronts were mined; and on the east, the arch of the bridge behind the San Roque was built up to form an inundation two hundred yards wide, which greatly contracted the space by which the place could be approached by troops; and all the inhabitants had been compelled, on pain of being sent away, to lay up food for three months. The plan fixed upon by the besiegers was, to attack
the bastion of Trinidad, because the counter-guard there being unfinished, the bastion could be battered from the hill on which Picurina stood. Of nine hundred gunners present, three hundred were British, the rest Portuguese ; and there were one hundred and fifty sappers, volunteers from the third division. In the night of the 17th eighteen hundred men broke ground one hundred and sixty yards from the Picurina. A tempest which happened to arise, stifled the sound of their pickaxes; and though the work was commenced late, a communication four thousand feet in length was formed, and a parallel of six hundred yards, three feet deep, and three feet six inches wide, was opened. However, when the day broke, the Picurina was re-inforced; and a sharp musketry, interspersed with discharges from some fieldpieces, aided by heavy guns from the body of the place, was directed on the trenches. On the 19th Lord Wellington, having secret intelligence that a sally was intended, ordered the guards to be re-inforced. Nevertheless, at one o'clock some cavalry came out by the Talavera gate; and thirteen hundred infantry, under the command of General Vielland, filed unobserved into the communication between the Picurina and the San Roque. These troops, jumping out, at once drove the workmen before them, and began to demolish the parallel. Previous to this outbreak the French cavalry, forming two parties, had commenced a sham fight on the right of the parallel ; and the smaller party pretending to fly, and answering Portuguese to the challenge of the picquets, were allowed to pass. Elated by the success of their stratagem, they then galloped to the engineers' parc, which was a thousand yards in the rear of the trenches, and there cut down some men,-not many, for succour soon came; and meanwhile the troops at the parallel, having rallied upon the relief
which had just arrived, beat the enemy's infantry back, even into the castle. In this hot fight the besieged lost above three hundred men and officers, the besiegers only one hundred and fifty ; but Colonel Fletcher, the chief engineer, was badly wounded; and several hundred trenching-tools were carried off;—for Phillipon had promised a high price for each : yet this turned out ill; for the soldiers, instead of pursuing briskly, dispersed to gather the tools. After the action, a squadron of dragoons, and six field pieces, were placed as a reserve-guard behind St. Michael ; and a signal-post was established on the Sierra de Venta, to give notice of the enemy's motions.
On the 24th, the 5th division invested the place, on the right bank of the Gaudiana : the weather was fine, and the batteries were heavily armed. The next day at eleven o'clock, the pieces opened, but were so vigorously opposed, that one howitzer was dismounted, and several artillery and engineer officers were killed. Nevertheless, the San Roche was silenced ; and the garrison of the Picurina was so galled by the marksmen in the trenches, that no man dared look over the parapet. Hence, as the external appearance of the fort did not indicate much strength, General Kempt was charged to assault it in the night. The outward seeming of the Picurina was, however, fallacious; the fort was very strong; the fronts were well covered by the glacis; the flanks were deep; and the rampart, fourteen feet perpendicular from the bottom of the ditch, was guarded with thick slanting pales above ; and from thence to the top there were sixteen feet of an earthen slope. Seven guns were mounted on the works, the entrance to which, by the rear, was protected with three rows of thick paling ; the garrison was above two hundred strong, and every man had two muskets. The top of the rampart was furnished with loaded shells to push over; and finally some small
mines, and a loop-holed gallery under the counterscarp intended to take the assailants in rear, were begun, but not finished. Five hundred men of the third division being assembled for the attack, General Kempt ordered two hundred, under Major Rudd, to turn the fort on the left; an equal force, under Major Shaw, to turn the fort by the right; and one hundred from each of these bodies were directed to enter the communication with San Roche, and intercept any succours coming from the town. The engineers, with twenty-four sappers bearing hatchets and ladders, guided these columns; and fifty men of the light division, provided also with axes, were to move out of the trenches at the moment of attack.
The night was fine, the arrangements clearly and skilfully made, and about nine o'clock the two flanking bodies moved forward. The distance was short, and the troops quickly closed on the fort, which, black and silent before, now seemed one mass of fire: then the assailants, running up to the palisades in the rear, endeavoured to break through ; and when the destructive musketry of the French and the thickness of the pales rendered their efforts useless, they turned against the faces of the work, and strove to break in there ; but the depth of the ditch, and the slanting stakes at the top of the brick-work, baffled them.
At this time, the enemy firing incessantly and dangerously, the crisis appeared imminent; and Kempt sent the reserve headlong against the front: thus the fight was continued strongly; the carnage became terrible; and a battalion coming out from the town to succour the fort, was encountered, and beaten by the party on the communication. The guns of Badajos and of the castle now opened; the guard of the trenches replied with musketry; rockets were thrown up by the besieged; and the shrill sound of alarm-bells, mixing with the shouts of the combatants, increased the