THE DIARY OF CHARLES DUDLEY MADDEN
APR.1.- Marched from Chichester to Portsmouth (18 miles) and embarked with 22 horses and 21 men on board the transport ‘Venus,’ marked V.V., at 12 o’clock p.m.
APR.2.- Easter Sunday, remained in the town of Portsmouth.
APR.3.- Saw the Dock-yard and Men-of-War.
APR.4.- Weighed anchor for Stokes Bay.
APR.5-6-7.- Rode at anchor
APR. 8.- Weighed anchor, fleet consisting of 100 sail, and dropped down the bay to Cowes, then cast anchor, the wind changing to W.S.W.
APR 9.-The wind still being adverse, went higher up the Bay.
APR.10.-Got the signal for weighing anchor, proceeded beyond Needles, but was obliged to return and anchor in Little Yarmouth roads.
APR.11.- Returned to Stokes Bay.
APR.12.-Got in forage.
APR.13.-Rode at anchor.
APR.14.-Got in water.
APR.15-16. Rode at anchor in Stokes Bay.
APR.17.-Weighed anchor, wind N.N.E., cleared the Needles by one at noon.
APR.18.-At 6 p.m. bore three leagues N.N.E. of Portland lights.
APR.19.-At 8 p.m. bore N.E. three leagues of Lizard lights, very squally.
APR.20.-Brisk gales, shortened sail for the fleet to come up. Lay to four hours.
APR.21.-Strong gales, Lat. 47deg.7m.North, a brig, the Boras, carrying 40 horses belonging to the 3rd Dragoon Guards, ran foul of by the stern, and went down almost instantly, scarcely affording time for the crew to save themselves by boats sent to assist them.
APR.22.-Lat. 45 deg. 24m. Very strong gales with rain, horses much distressed by the severe rolling of the vessel- one was thrown out of his berth to the other side of the vessel, but was not hurt.
APR.23.-Lat. 44deg.7m. North; a strong breeze. At Galicia a calm came on and the sea remaining much agitated, rolled the vessel severely, it not being able to make any way. A brig, marked C.Z., belonging to the 3rd, rolled away her main mast at 4 in the morning, and foretop mast at 6, was taken in tow by the Commodore.
APR.24.- Steady breeze; Lat. 41deg.8m. North.
APR.25.-Steady gale at 7 in the morning, was off the Burlings rocks, ten leagues from the rock of Lisbon, at one o’clock p.m. At 6 p.m. cast anchor off Belem Castle, near the Tagus, two miles from Lisbon.
APR.26.-Disembarked my horses by swimming, all got safe ashore. Got a billet in a large house in Belem; could not even procure a fire to boil water for my breakfast as all the doors were locked which led to any part of the house where the family lived, and not being able to make myself understood when I met any of the family.
Belem is a part of the suburbs of Lisbon, two miles from the main town. The prospect on either side of the Tagus is beautiful as the land rises very high and the face of the hills is covered entirely with groves of olive and orange, with neat white-washed houses appearing in every direction. The Tagus is a large fine river navigable as far as Santarem 13 leagues, for ships of war and 15 leagues further for large boats.
APR.27.-Remained at Belem assisting to disembark the remainder of my troop.
APR. 28.-Rode into Lisbon; an ill-paved, filthy, irregular-built city, many of the streets are so steep and ill-paved as scarce to be passable on horseback. The eye is met everywhere by some dismal convent or chapel. The lower part of the town that is next the Tagus is principally inhabited by shopkeepers and the middle-class of people. As the hill rises from the river the houses improve and bear more the appearance of wealth, and form at a distance a grand appearance as most of the houses of the rich in Portugal are decorated with paintings without. There are two streets in the lower part of the town better paved and evener than the rest, called Gold and Silver street, from the number of jeweller’s shops in them, where may be bought jewellery of a good quality at a reasonable rate, and gold trinkets of a better quality than in most other countries. Most of the men wear large cloaks and cocked hats, and are in general dressed slovenly and dirty. The woman in general walk with a hood drawn over the head which covers the face as much as a bonnet. If two or three of the family walk out they always walk one before the other, with a string of servants more or less according to their quality. This is principally the policy of the men, who are very jealous of the women, and when married have always a spy on their wives. The people, in general, have a dark, sallow, unhealthy look. You will see as you pass along the streets numbers of lazy wretches lying asleep in the sun, following one another with scarcely any cloaths [sic] on them; the lower class scarce ever wear shoes or stockings except when they go to Mass, when all classes put on their best cloaths, and the upper classes display all their jewels and trinkets. Smoking and taking snuff is a general custom among the Portuguese. The various hideous and ridiculous dresses of the different priests, monks and friars catch one’s attention everywhere; one half of the people seem to be of the religious order. The only carriages which are made use of in Lisbon are small two-wheeled carriages like gigs, drawn by mules, and drove by a man riding one of them. Mules are principally used for riding and draught by the upper classes. There is a general custom in Lisbon which is particularly offensive to strangers, and that is, throwing all filth and nuisances of every kind out of their upper windows into the streets, as few or none of the houses have back yards or sewers. This gives the streets in general in warm weather a most offensive smell. A passenger has two choices to make, either to walk in the middle of the street and run the risqué [sic] of being rode over, or constantly to have his eyes about him and run off directly if he hear a window open near him. In all large towns in Portugal a man’s ears are constantly serenaded with the ringing either of convent or chapel bells. Another great nuisance in Portugal is the great creaking that the cart wheels make, as the axles are wood, and the people are forbid to grease them to prevent smuggling. These are drawn by two bullocks, who bear the whole weight of the cart by a bar of wood which rests on the neck near the horns which is attached to the pole. Lisbon seems very ill provided with places of reception for strangers, as the only ostensible accommodation are some hotels lately set up by English-men for the accommodation of English. There is a statue at the wharf of John the First, King of Portugal, on horse-back, a noble piece of workmanship, 35 feet high, with several female figures round the pedestal. John was famous for improving the arts and science of Portugal. There are two operas and several play houses open. The operas are well conducted.
APR. 29.- Saw Prince’s Riding School, a beautiful building, 150 feet long and well proportioned in height and breadth, and ornamented on the top and sides with representations from fabulous history.
APR.30.- Saw the Prince’s Gardens, well laid out, and abounding with every luxury the climate would afford, but now falling into decay from neglect. There are some statues and busts. Two struck me as being very fine pieces of sculpture. One of Cleopatra destroying herself with an asp from a basket of fruit, and the other of the Grecian daughter suckling her father. There remains a small collection of wild birds and beasts. The gardens have much the appearance of ancient splendour.
APR. 31.- Remained at Belem preparing for the march.
MAY 1.- Ditto.
MAY 2.- Marched from Lisbon to Vilafranca [de Xira], five leagues, with three day’s corn, forage and provisions. Country very picturesque, roads very stony, bad and narrow, the country well wooded with olive and fir. Vilafranca is a small town built on the banks of the Tagus, the people civil, but filthy and ignorant, as it is the policy of their priests to keep them as illiterate as possible. You may ride through a whole before you meet one person who can read your billet.
MAY 3.- Marched Azambuja, three leagues, road better, country beautiful, but hilly; a small town on the Tagus.
MAY 4.- Marched to Santarem, four leagues, roads better, country beautiful; a large town; got no billet as there were many troops in the town; slept in a straw loft; was near eat up with vermin.
MAY 5.- Marched to Golega, four leagues, road sandy, but wider and better; country very beautiful. Golega is a good town, people very civil; got a famous billet, my patron providing me with everything for man and horse, being very sick.
MAY 6 to 18.- Remained at Golega, being out constantly for drill, for practice in patroling, out-post duty and picquets, and advanced and rear guards, &c.
MAY 19.– The two left squadrons at Golega got orders to move to Abrantes, to join the right wing, five leagues. I was left in charge of the baggage guard. The night coming on dark, and the bullocks tired, I halted till daylight in a grove of olives.
MAY 20.– Arrived at Abrantes, situated on a very high hill, commanding a most extensive prospect. The castle where our horses were picqueted was near a mile above the level of the country. The Tagus runs close under the hill. Over which was a large bridge of boats. Abrantes is a large town with some good streets, but very narrow and filthy. Abrantes might be made a strong place, if it contained water within itself, but the few springs it contains are inconsiderable. Abrantes is the place from which Junot takes his title of Duke, it being a gift from Buonaparte.
MAY 21 to June 3.– Remained at Abrantes, was obliged to go twice a day with my troop to the river to water. The hours were five in the morning and four in the evening, the exertion of going up and down that hill twice in the day was the means of injuring many of our horses.
JUNE 4.- The regiment turned out on foot and fired a feu de joie in honour of the King’s birthday [King George III].
JUNE 5-6.- Remained in Abrantes. On the 6th, two brigades of infantry marched into Abrantes from Oporto.
JUNE 7.- Another division marched in. The 4th Dragoons were ordered to turn out for a field day at 7 in the morning, but were countermanded with orders to march at 12 o’clock with four days’ forage and provisions. We encamped about three miles from Abrantes in a wood of pines, and immediately commenced building our huts, and by seven in the evening the whole regiment was encamped, ten in one hut, the men’s lines in front of their own horses.
JUNE 8.- The men and officers were employed in completing their huts and clearing the ground. The camp was well supplied with water, vegetables and milk.
JUNE 9.- The regiment was inspected in their lines by General Payne†. Weather fine, but intensely hot.
JUNE 10.- The regiment was inspected in their lines by Sir A. Wellesley.
JUNE 11.- The regiment was reviewed by General Beresford†.
JUNE 12.- The 3rd Dragoon Guards formed an encampment in continuation of our lines on the side of a stony hill.
JUNE 13.- The 3rd and 4th were brigaded together† and had a field day under the inspection of General Payne.
JUNE 14.- Three brigades of infantry marched out of Abrantes and encamped a small distance from the cavalry.
JUNE 15.- Two more brigades marched out of Abrantes and joined the former encampment, the whole about 14,000.
JUNE 16.- two squadrons of the 3rd and two of the 4th had a field day under General Payne.
JUNE 17.- The other two squadrons were out under General Payne.
JUNE 18.- The whole line of cavalry and infantry was inspected by Sir A. Wellesley.
JUNE 19.- The regiment had a field day under General Payne.
JUNE 20.- One or two sharp showers.
JUNE 21-22.- Very warm, but fine.
JUNE 23.- The heavy brigade [of cavalry] marched on foot to the infantry lines for Divine service; the fourth part of the congregation could not hear one syllable.
JUNE 24-25-26.- Weather very fine, but warm.
JUNE 27.- The infantry commenced their march towards Spain.
JUNE 28.- The 4th marched the same route. It fell to my lot as junior officer in the brigade to remain in charge of the sick and lame horses, and baggage belonging to the brigade. Got 40 men and horses from the 4th.
JUNE 29.- The 3rd marched the same route, left 32 men and horses.
JUNE 30.- Selected such men and horses as were fit to march to the depot.
JULY 1.- Was employed in sending the baggage to the store in Abrantes.
JULY 2.- The 23rd Light Dragoons marched into the cavalry lines from Lisbon.
JULY 23.- Took in charge eight men and horses belonging to the 23rd.
JULY 4.- The 23rd marched for Spain.
JULY 5-6-7.- Remained at Abrantes; weather fine, but warm.
JULY 8.- A light brigade of infantry, consisting of the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th, marched into the encampment commanded by General Craufurd†.
JULY 9.- That brigade marched for Spain.
JULY 10.- In the morning after breakfast, having gone to parade, a spark from a fire in the rear of my hut lodged on the thatch, and before the fire could be got under, everything in the hut was consumed, consisting of all my cloaths, appointments, bedding, saddlery, etc.
JULY 11.- Got orders to march to Golega with such men and horses as were fit to march, leaving the remainder under the charge of a non-commissioned officer.
JULY 12.- Marched to Portela, a small village, about two leagues from Abrantes, on the banks of the Tagus.
JULY 13.- Arrived at Golega.
JULY 13 to AUG. 23.- Remained at Golega; weather very fine, but warm; people remarkably attentive; had good shooting and coursing.
AUG. 23.- received orders to march with what men and horses were fit for duty, to join General Catlin Craufurd’s division† at Nisa.
AUG. 24.- Marched with 23 rank and file, one sergeant, to Abrantes.
AUG. 25.-Marched to Gaviao, four leagues, through a barren hilly country, being almost entirely covered with gum cistus. Gaviao [is] a small village.
AUG. 26.- Arrived at Nisa, the cantonment of General C. Craufurd’s division consisting of the 1st battalion of the 3rd, 2nd of the 28th, 2nd of the 34th, and 2nd of the 39th, 2nd of the 48th, and 1st of the 57th. They were in two encampments, right and left of the town. Nisa is a small town, and well fortified, being surrounded by a wall with redoubts. From Nisa to Gaviao is a continued flat of 10 or 12 miles.
AUG. 26 to Sep.7.- Halted at Nisa; weather intensely hot.
SEP. 7.- Marched my detachment of the 3rd, 4th, and Horse Artillery, with General C. Craufurd’s division to Alpalhao, a small village two leagues and a half from Nisa.
SEP. 8.- Marched to Portalegre, a large town much better built and cleaner than most other towns I had seen; four leagues. There are several good churches, particularly a cathedral, a lofty fine building, having a remarkable large well-toned organ. The church music in that cathedral was very fine, and the priests attentive to strangers.
SEP. 9.- Marched to Arronches, a good town, but the streets uneven, being situated on the side of a steep hill. Arronches is surrendered by a wall and ditch, but is not strong, being commanded by several heights near the town; four leagues.
SEP. 10.- Marched into Elvas, situated near the confines of Portugal and Spain, four leagues and a half from Arronches. Elvas is a strong situation on the top of a high hill, and the fortifications well built and in excellent repair. You enter the town over a portcullis. The streets are very steep and in a filthy state. Elvas is a city of considerable note, but would form no impediment to an invading army, as it stands on a hill, and roads leading round it in every direction.
SEP. 11.- Marched to Badajoz, a frontier town of Spain, two leagues and a half from Elvas. In going into the town you cross the Guadiana, over a large well-built bridge, consisting of 25 arches. Badajoz is the headquarters of the British Army in Spain. The transition from Portugal into Spain can be perceived immediately by the difference in the appearance of the people, and the cleanliness of the streets and houses. The Portuguese language is very little understood even in Badajoz, and not in the least blended with the Spanish, as each nation has had for centuries a noted antipathy for each other, being in constant war, and though now fighting in the same cause are jealous of each other. Though the Spaniards are more unfriendly to the English than the Portuguese, and show it in their manner and conduct, yet I think they are a much finer race of people. The dress of the men of the upper class is grander to an extreme, being embroidered from head to foot, and the colours of their cloaths partake of all the shades in the rainbow. They are particularly civil and courteous to each other. The women dress mostly in dark silk and satins (I mean the higher class) with a great deal of silk lace; being constantly braced up from their infancy they have generally very fine figures. They have generally a shawl or lace over their heads. They have much advantage of the Portuguese women. The ruling characteristic of the Spaniards seems to be great pride, with an inferior opinion of all other nations, but particularly so of their neighbours the Portuguese. The market in Badajoz is well supplied with vegetables, fruits, and game. To the 18th, halted in Badajoz.
SEP. 19.- Marched to join my regiment at Merida, with 32 horses and 52 men, arrived at Talavera de Real, a small town, two leagues and a half from Badajoz; the country between is an immense plain which extends 14 or 15 leagues into Spain.
SEP. 20.- Arrived at Lobon, a small town, three leagues from Talavera. Lobon is situated on the top of a very high hill, and from one post commands a most beautiful and extensive prospect.
SEP. 21 to 29.- Marched into Merida, four leagues from Lobon, over the same plain, which extends much beyond. Merida is a large town, of an ancient date, having in it some remains of Roman architecture. There is an amphitheatre, built in the reign of Augustus, which is quite entire, you can see the cells for the wild beasts, the rows of seats for the spectators, &c., also the remains of a famous aqueduct to supply the town with water. There is also the remains of a Roman bath, near which is a tall pillar of marble beautifully carved. This town being the cantonment of the heavy brigade of cavalry and a troop of horse artillery, consisting of near 200 horses, made everything very dear, and as the Guadiana, which lies close under the town is, in summer, at that part, greatly stagnated, it proved the grave of more than 200 of our brigade. The weather was also intensely hot. We also lost an immense number of our horses, as the straw was infamous. Nothing extra; weather intensely hot.
SEP. 29.- Was taken ill of the flux, which confined me till the 16th Oct.
OCT. 17.- Turned out for duty.
OCT. 22.- Was taken ill of the fever and ague, which confined me till the 1st November.
NOV. 1.- Was able to walk out.
NOV. 1 to 15.- Remained at Merida, getting strength, but was much retarded by a severe dysentery which attacked me after the ague left me. The weather within this fortnight changed suddenly from a scorching hot sun to a cold raw wind with some rain.
NOV. 15.- Went on command, with two sergeants and 20 rank and file, to Aljucen, a small village four leagues from Merida. This party was intended as an advance regiment to the army, being advanced in Spain, and on one of the leading lines of march from the present position of the French Army. I had instructions to keep a constant patrole in front for my security.
DEC. 2 to 17.- My detachment was relieved and returned to Merida. Remained in Merida, being quite restored to health.
DEC. 17.- The brigade, with the artillery, got orders to march towards Abrantes; the right wing marched to Lobon.
DEC. 18.- I marched with the left wing to Lobon.
DEC. 19-20.- Halted in Lobon; got some good shooting.
DEC. 21.- Was sent forward to Badajoz to take up quarters for the left wing.
DEC. 22.- The left wing marched into Badajoz.
DEC. 23.- Marched with the left wing to Campo Major, a large town in Portugal, four leagues from Badajoz. Campo Maior is surrounded by a wall and ditch, but is overlooked by some heights near the town.
DEC. 24-25.- halted in Campo Maior; weather very fine.
DEC. 26.- Marched to Arronches, four leagues; roads bad and country very barren.
DEC. 27.- Marched to Portalegre.
DEC. 28-29-30.- Halted in Portalegre.
DEC. 31.- Marched to Gafete, a small village, four leagues.
JAN. 1.- marched to Gaviao, four leagues, country very barren, roads hilly.
JAN. 2.- Marched to Abrantes, country very picturesque, but wild and abounding with immense cork trees, which are in growth and appearance much like oak. There are also a great abundance of wild myrtle, too large to be called shrubs. There is heath also from 10 to 15 feet high, and when in blossom is beautiful.
JAN. 3.- Arrived at my destination, a small village, by name Montalvo, two leagues from Abrantes, in which was only the troop I belonged to, the regiment being cantoned in seven places. The village afforded us nothing, being composed of poor ignorant people. We were supplied by the Tagus, which ran within a league of the village.
JAN. 3 to 25.- Remained at Montalvo.
JAN. 25.- Marched to Tancos with my troop alone. Tancos is a small town beautifully situated on the side of a hill over the Tagus, which runs close by the town, three leagues from Abrantes. The Tagus by Tancos is very wide and deep, and is navigable for very large sail boats, which are constantly going up and down with supplies for the Army. The labour of forcing one of those large boats when loaded against the stream, with poles, is immense, and it requires men to be inured to it from their infancy to stand it.
JAN. 25 to FEB. 18.- Remained at Tancos.
FEB. 18.- Sent my first charger by water to Lisbon, being lame in one of his feet.
FEB. 19.- Marched to Tomar. Tomar is a large, well-built town, surrounded with very high hills on every side. The streets are wide and regular, and kept cleaner than any other town in Portugal. There is also an excellent market in Tomar. There are the remains of a most extensive convent on the top of one of the hills over the town; the walls are built in the gothic manner and cover a large extent of ground; there is but a part at present occupied by some priests. The chapel is well worth seeing, in which are some fine Scripture paintings. There is also a large building, quite in the English form, erected by an Englishman, in which is a manufactory of cotton and woollen cloths. Tomar, four leagues from Abrantes.
FEB. 20.- Marched to Aldea de Cruize [Aldeia Nova?], a small village; four leagues; road very hilly and bad; country very beautiful.
FEB. 21.- Marched to Leiria, a large town situated on a branch of the river Lis; five leagues. The town is at the foot of a steep hill on which are the remains of a very large castle. The country surrounding is beautifully romantic.
FEB. 22.- Marched to Pombal; five leagues. A neat, beautiful village, situated on a branch of the river Mondego, on a high hill. Over the town is an old castle, once a strong place, commanding a distant prospect. In a chapel belonging to the castle is a beautiful sculpture of Our Saviour, with several female figures round it. There is also the tomb of the Marquis of Pombal†, one of the most famous characters amongst the Portuguese. He was a man of fine abilities, and employed them for the improvement of his country. He made the famous road from Lisbon to Coimbra, with the intention of carrying it on to Oporto. He deepened the river Mondego from Coimbra to the sea, and confined its immense surface within her channels, which has, since his death, very much filled up and got out of repair, and within a few years will be of no service to the city. He also got several beneficial laws enacted for the good of Portugal, and, for their defence against the incursions of the Spaniards, he got the fortifications of several large towns repaired. In so depraved a state has Portugal been for many years, that the Marquis seems to be the only publick [sic] character on record.
FEB. 23.- Marched to Condeixa [a-Velha], a small town, four leagues; road a continuation of the Marquis of Pombal’s; the country picturesque into Coimbra, two leagues, it being the original extent of our rout[e], but we received orders there to proceed forthwith to a small town called Tentugal, two leagues further; did not halt in Coimbra. I was billeted in a castle with the whole of my troop. It was the property of the Duke de Cadabalo, completely unfurnished. We (the officers of my troop) being very much tired, after a long tedious march and a very warm day, got a fire lighted in a large hall, 60 feet by 30, and proportionably high, and by the assistance of the steward got some refreshment. The size and gloomy appearance of so large unfurnished a room brought to my mind the descriptions I had read of in Romans, as the light of one candle scarce served to show us the gloomy walls. The castle is just over a branch of the river Mondego. From the terrace of the castle is a most beautiful view of Coimbra to the left, and the high lands adjoining the sea at Figueira Bay to the right (about seven leagues off). There is an immense flat extending from Coimbra to the sea, through which the Mondego flows in two channels, but which is covered by the river in winter like an immense ocean. The high land on the other side of the flat from Tentugal is beautiful, having several large villages on it.
FEB. 25.- Marched to Montemor-o-Velho, two leagues, near a branch of the river Mondego, a filthy, small town, four leagues from the sea. Where the Mondego falls out, the sea is called Mondego Bay (or Figueira Bay) from a small town built on the bay. Figueira Bay is the next best bay for embarking troops to Lisbon. There are the ruins of a very large castle on the hill over Montemor[-o-Velho], which commands a beautiful view. Most of our officers here quartered in a convent, each having one of the friar’s cells. We had their library for a mess room. There was a very large garden belonging to the convent, in which was a large orangery, from which we were supplied. Montemor[-o-Velho] was only the cantonment for the left wing, the right remaining at Tentugal.
APR. 7.- Remained at Montemor [o-Velho], during which time incessant heavy rains set in, which swelled the river to an unusual height. The whole of the streets in the lower part of the town were covered to a great depth with water, and the inhabitants were obliged to get out of their upper windows into boats. The unusual height of the water was owing to strong tides with a strong westerly wind forcing the water back.
APR. 7 to 28.- Joined the right wing at Tentugal. Remained at Tentugal.
APR. 28.- Went to Coimbra, being ill of the ague. Coimbra ranks as the third city in Portugal; it lies close by the river Mondego; it is very extensive, the streets extend up a very steep hill to a considerable height. The view from the hill is beautiful, as there are very high hills round Coimbra, well wooded, with many good country houses in every direction. The streets are mostly narrow and very filthy. There is a most famous college in Coimbra, on a very extensive plan, in which are studied all the liberal arts and sciences. The students here at times consisted of near 3,000, but are at present much reduced on account of the state of the country, many having gone with the Army. The students in the last campaign embodied themselves to the amount of 600, and were the means of keeping part of Soult’s army in check from ravaging the country.
MAY. 17.- Went to see the Convent of St. Croix, one of the largest and richest convents in Portugal, being large enough to accommodate near 300 men. There are resident in the convent between three and four hundred priests. The library is very valuable and extensive. Walked through the gardens, which are very large and well laid out, abounding with everything the climate will afford. There is in the gardens a great curiosity, a cedar hedge round a piece of water, supposed to be the tallest and finest in Europe. There is also a temple which is formed with columns of Gothic arches which, at a distance, has a fine effect.
MAY. 19.- Went to see a very large nunnery, situated on a hill at the other side of the river from the city. There are 300 females, many of them of the first families in Portugal, and they have been the means of bringing great wealth to the convent. They have a large garden surrounded with a very high wall. Their dress is frightful, having on their heads a black skullcap with a long peak coming to a point and reaching half way down the nose; their cloaths are white, and made tight to the body and buttoning under the chin. The music in the chapel, which is very high and large, is well worth hearing. There is a great deal of painting in the chapel, but perfect daubs.
MAY. 21.- Went to dine with an English officer in the Convent St. Croix, commanding a brigade of Portuguese†. He was billeted in the convent and his table kept for him by the priests, who gave us an excellent dinner. Several British officers had been quartered in the convent, who fared well at the priest’s expense. There were in the convent two brothers, French priests, who are particularly civil and attentive to the English, and whose manners far excelled the Portuguese priests.
MAY. 21 to June 4.- Remained at Coimbra, getting quite well. Got an account of my first charger dying in Lisbon of an inflammation in his lungs.
JUNE 4.- Got orders to join my regiment and bring from Coimbra what men and horses were fit for duty; marched with some of the 3rd and 4th to Condeixa-a-Velha, two leagues.
JUNE 5.- Marched to Miranda do Corvo, three leagues; a very bad and hilly road; incessant rain; a small village.
JUNE 6.- Marched to Ponte da Mucella, four leagues; a bad road; incessant rain; a small village.
JUNE 7.- Marched to Galizes, a small village, four leagues; a bad and hilly road; much rain; saw a good deal of snow on the mountains, an immense range of which runs northwards from Coimbra.
JUNE 8.- Arrived at Seia, the headquarters of the 4th. Seia is a small town on an eminence, four leagues. Went the same day to Santa Marinha, the quarters of my troop, a small village, one league from Seia; weather beginning to clear up and grow warm.
JUNE 8 to JULY 19.- Remained at Santa Marinha; had several slight attacks of the ague. During this time most of the harvest was got up. The principal bread of the poor is rye. The people in the north of Portugal are very poor and dirty.
JULY 19.- Marched with the whole regiment to Melo, three leagues. A neat small village; became the headquarters of the regiment, containing four troops; three leagues from Celorico [da Beiro], four from Gouveias, and ten from Almeida.
JULY 28.- Got orders to march four leagues in advance, to cover the retreat of the infantry. I went forward to take up quarters for my regiment to a small village called Baracal, on the high road from Gouveias to Celorico [da Beiro]; found almost the entire village deserted in consequence of the near approach of the French, who were expected through every hour. Met on its march the main body of the army on its road to Coimbra, and in the course of the day met the regiments from the advanced posts, consisting of General Craufurd’s Light Brigade, three Cacadore regiments of Portuguese, and a troop of Horse Artillery.
JULY 29.- Turned out according to orders with the troop of Horse Artillery at half-past 3 o’clock in the morning and marched to our alarm post, and remained till two hours after daybreak; Could hear the guns at Almeida very plain.
JULY 30.- Turned out at 3 o’clock in the morning, and after remaining four hours at the alarm post, marched to a small village (one league) called Macal de Chao, from which two squadrons of the 4th, with two guns of the artillery, had marched that morning (two leagues and a half in advanced). At 2 o’clock got orders to turn out and march with a corporal and four privates to join a sergeant and 16 of the 4th, who had been stationed as an advanced picquet for the purpose of patrolling towards Almeida. Acores is one league from Baracal near the high road from Gouveias to Celorico [da Beiro]. There is a beautiful extensive valley near Acores called the Val de Mondego, from the river Mondego running through it. I had orders to send out two patroles of a corporal and four each, one to a village called Vila Franca [das Naves], a league and a half to the left in advance on the road to Pinhel, and the other to Ansul two leagues to the right in advance on a road leading from Almeida to Celorico. The cantonment of the enemy were in some village about three or four leagues from Acores, and a strong division under Loison in Pinhel, four leagues. I found Acores greatly deserted by its inhabitants.
JULY 31.- Got orders to send out another patrol to a small village called Rocamondo, in the rear of Vila Franca [das Naves].
AUG. 1.- Got orders to reconnoitre the Val de Mondego and make myself acquainted with the roads leading into it from Almeida, and to report their situation.
AUG. 2.- Rode to Vila Franca [das Naves], a small village situated very high, and from a rock near the town could plainly see Pinhel, [Figuiera de] Castelo de Rodrigo, and Almeida, and with my glass could plainly see the fortifications and the windows in the houses. Freixeda, the advanced post of our cavalry, lies about a league and a half from Vila Franca [das Naves], and Alverca [da Beira], the headquarters of the cavalry, about half a league.
AUG. 3 & 4.- Remained at Acores.
AUG. 5.- Rode to see the City of Guarda, two leagues and a half from Acores. In going from the Val de Mondego to Guarda you have to ascend a mountain near a league in the ascent, the road all paved, but even and broad, supposed to be a Roman road. Guarda is three leagues and a half from Celorico [da Beira]. Guarda is supposed to be one of the highest situated cities in Europe. It is surrounded by a wall, but the fortifications do not seem to be in good repair. It is like most other Portuguese towns, filthy, and the streets irregular and ill-paved. The Bishop’s palace is a large building; the town was mostly deserted by its inhabitants; 3,000 English lay in the town.
AUG. 6.- Rode the full extent of the Val de Mondego up the course of the river, which, before it enters the valley, comes down some immense mountains. The torrent of water which comes down in winter is incredible and rises during the heavy rains to a surprising height in a short time. You may see some stones which were the battlement of a bridge which is near 30 feet from the river at present, weighing half a ton, thrown to the other side of the bridge where they now remain.
AUG. 7.- Lost a very fine mare which I had bought as a second charger from the remount sent from England for the 4th, having got the Commander of the Force’s leave. She was first seized with a fever in her legs, and her hoofs began to separate from the hair, and would have fallen off her in a short time. I had bought her three weeks before for £46. Got orders this day to go into the fields to procure forage for the horses, and was obliged to bring in wheat just ready to be cut, though the sole dependence of many poor families. Such are the calamities of war. The inhabitants continued to flock through this place from the part adjacent to the French, as they committed all kinds of depredations in the village they entered. The retreats for the Portuguese, both rich and poor, are in villages high up in the mountains, where they retire with the wreck of their properties.
AUG. 17.- Went to see the advanced picquets of the Army which are in a line from Guarda a little in the rear of Pinhel, our advanced position in Freixeda, a small village three leagues from Almeida and two and a half from Acores. Freixeda is situated high, and a small distance from the village is a height on which is erected a telegraph which communicates with one in Almeida. The advanced videttes are about a mile in front from Freixeda, that opposite Freixeda is on a height commanding a full view of Almeida. With my glass I could plainly see every shot that was fired from the city and could discern the men on the walls. I could also see the mounted videttes of the French. I went on my way to Freixeda through the camp of the 14th Light Dragoons and on my return through the camp of the German Hussars. The German horses seemed to be in very fine condition, and their manner of encampment showed their thorough knowledge of their duty on service. They are supposed to be as serviceable, steady soldiers as any employed in this camp, having stood all advanced duty this winter, and during the heavy rains and long cold nights had picquets to mount, with constant patrolling without the assistance of any other regiment; still their horses are by much fitter for service than any other dragoon regiment now employed with us.
AUG. 19.- A large body of troops marched through Acores on their route in advance, consisting of the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry, the 95th Rifle Corps, with two regiments of Portuguese Cacadores; 43rd halted that night in Acores.
AUG. 20.- The German Legion, consisting of about 2,000 men, marched into this village, 700 of whom halted here this night.
AUG. 21.- My party was recalled in consequence of the infantry coming up in my front; march to Macal do Chao, the headquarters of my regiment, and joined my troop.
AUG. 23.- The regiment got orders to march from Macal do Chao and Baracal to make room for a large body of infantry who were on their march upwards. We were divided into three cantonments, Ratoeira, Lajeosa [do Mondego], and Acores- my troop with two others marched into Acores, in which we found near 1,000 Germans; every corner of the village was filled, and numbers were living in the fields and gardens.
AUG. 28.- My squadron marched to [Moravis?], a small village three miles from Acores, which place was occupied by the troops which lay in our rear; went in the evening to witness the execution of two privates of the 4th for a robbery and attempt to murder; the evening was unusually wet, with incessant thunder and lightning.
AUG. 29.- Took up my former quarters at Marcal de Chao, which contained two squadrons; we got orders to turn out on our alarm post every morning at quarter before 6 o’clock and to remain there for orders; our baggage was ordered to go some distance from the town in the rear.
AUG. 31.- The three troops stationed at Macal do Chao got orders in the evening to march to Acores.
SEP. 1.- Turned out on our alarm post at quarter before 6 with our baggage.
SEP. 2 & 3.- Turned out as before, got orders to parade at 12 0’clock for an inspection of arms, ammunition, etc., but an order came at 10 o’clock for the whole to turn out immediately in consequence of the French having advanced within two leagues of Acores and drove in our videttes. I was ordered to take a party with me and reconnoitre the roads leading to Alorea [Amoreira?], which the French had entered that morning, from the height above the town. I observed a large body of cavalry and infantry on their return through Alorea for their station. They had marched about two miles beyond Alorea and had some slight skirmishes with our videttes; on my return, which was late in the evening. I found my squadron had marched to a small village about a mile from Acores (Aldeia Rica).
SEP. 4.- The squadron turned out at quarter past 3 o’clock and marched two leagues to the alarm post of the 3rd and Light Dragoons near Marcal do Chao; after halting for two hours, got orders to march to Lajeosa, a good village three miles from Acores and a league from Celorico.
SEP. 5.- Turned out at our alarm post at quarter 4 o’clock and remained there for two hours and a half and then returned.
SEP. 6.- Turned out at quarter past 4 o’clock to the alarm post and marched from thence with a sergeant and 12 privates to relieve a picquet of my squadron stationed at a small village called Porcos, seven miles from Algeoda. At 2 o’clock got orders from my colonel to turn out immediately to march my picquet to a ford across the river Mondego, near a small village called Porto de Carne, where the high road from Guarda to Celorico crosses the river. My picquet was stationed in a field near the river, where we encamped for the night. I got orders not to unsaddle and only half to unbridle. I had orders to place several videttes to observe the roads leading from Guarda, where the French were expected to march, and to keep up constant patroles during the night as Guarda was evacuated by the English garrison and there was nothing between my picquet and the enemy, who were about eight miles from me.
SEP. 7.- Turned out quarter past 4 o’clock on the alarm post.
SEP. 9.- The French entered Guarda with about 1,000 men and had a strong support of infantry in a wood near the town. The detachment of light dragoons that were there got off with difficulty; the brigade turned out as usual.
SEP. 10.- Got orders to join a party of the 4th, which had been sent to reconnoitre Guarda, and as the French had not remained in Guarda more than eight or nine hours, I had instructions to remain there till relieved by a party of the light dragoons, placing videttes on the walls of the town and keeping a good look out in case of a surprise. I found that fine city with but three natives in it, and those had come in from the country for plunder. Every door had been broke open by the French, and the furniture and contents lying in the streets, not being such plunder as would be of service to them; the church door was broken in bits. Though the city is an extensive one, you could hear a horse move at the further end from you, as there being neither noise in the houses or streets, the sound passed as if through a hollow passage. It was the most dismal scene I ever witnessed, nor could I think any event could strip a large city so thoroughly of its inhabitants. There literally did not remain one soul of the inhabitants. I was relieved at 5 o’clock in the evening and returned to my quarters at Lajeosa, two leagues and a half. We turned out this morning at 3 o’clock a.m.
SEP. 11.- Turned out at quarter before 3 o’clock; the baggage turned out as usual.
SEP. 12.- The French re-entered Guarda at 8 a.m. and remained till two o’clock. An officer of our regiment was sent to reconnoitre and found the town evacuated.
SEP. 13.- Turned out at half-past 3 o’clock; the baggage as usual went to the rear with orders to proceed to a village about three miles to the rear, if not counter ordered.
SEP. 14.- Went on picquet at 4 in the morning.
SEP. 15.- Was relieved off picquet at 4 o’clock in the morning. I had scarce time to get my breakfast on my return to my quarters, when an express came that the French had entered Guarda in great force, and were on their march for the Val de Mondego where the picquet was stationed. We got orders to turn out forthwith at our alarm post, and before we could get clear of the town the skirmishes commenced between the advanced guard of the French and the picquets. The picquet was supported by a squadron of the German Hussars; the French pressed so rapidly on the picquet that they were obliged to fall back on their support. There was then sent a squadron of the 4th as a support to the Germans, which served to check their progress. During the whole of the day there was continual sharp skirmishing; a body of the Germans charged a troop of French cavalry and obliged them to fall back on their rifle-men. We remained on our ground which commanded a full view of the skirmishes; at length the Germans were obliged to retire through Lajeosa and the French followed them close to the town, but on seeing another squadron of the 4th going to their support they fell back. We continued on the heights above Lajeosa till 11 o’clock at night, when we got orders to retire four miles to a small village called Cortico [da Serra]. This night all the cavalry fell back, as our advanced posts on our left flank had been drove in by a large force of cavalry and infantry.
SEP. 16.- Marched at 5 o’clock in the morning for Vila Cortes [da Serra], a small village two leagues; there was on their march at the same time all the cavalry with us, consisting of the German Hussars, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 16th. The Germans were in our rear and kept up a continual skirmish with the French, who advanced to Celorico [da Beira] and threw out their advanced guard and skirmishers a league in advance. Several of the wounded hussars passed us on our march. They took one officer and seven dragoons prisoners in a charge. We got into Vila Cortes [da Serra] by 10 o’clock, and at 1 were ordered to turn out on our alarm post, where we remained one hour. We had not returned to our quarters more than one hour, when we got orders to turn out, and marched to two small villages (three leagues) called Santa Martinho and Vodra. We did not get in till 12 o’clock at night.
SEP. 17.- Got orders to be in readiness to turn out at 2 o’clock p.m., and marched at 3 o’clock to a small village one league and half, Sao Romao, where a squadron of the 4th had been cantoned, when the headquarters of the regiment lay at Seia.
SEP. 18.- The baggage had orders to turn out at quarter before 4 a.m., and the regiment at quarter before 5 a.m. We marched to a small village called Cassada [Candossa?], four leagues; our regiment were all encamped under trees, the evening and night turned out very wet.
SEP. 19.- The baggage marched at quarter before 4 a.m. and the regiment at quarter before five to a small village about six leagues from Coimbra and four from Cassada, near Moita. The headquarters of the cavalry.
SEP. 20.- Halted.
SEP. 21.- Turned out at half-past 3 o’clock and marched with a column of cavalry consisting of the 14th, 16th, German Hussars and 3rd and 4th, crossed the Mondego at a ford and halted in a fine plain surrounded with large groves of pines, and the land on all sides very high and forming a beautiful prospect. There is a neat good village near the plain called Mortagua. The high road from Coimbra to Vizeu runs by the plain through the village, it is four leagues from our last quarters and six from Coimbra.
SEP. 22.- Halted, with orders to be in readiness to turn out at a minute’s notice. We could plainly hear the skirmishing of our infantry with the French.
SEP. 23.- Early in the morning I got orders to turn out with a party, and go with the Commissary in search of corn. After we had been out several hours we heard our advanced posts engaged, and returned to our quarters, when we found the French had advanced and drove in our videttes, and a sharp skirmish continued in front of our camp during the whole of the day. They got possession of the heights in front of the encampment, and our whole force was ordered to turn out, consisting of six regiments of cavalry and nine of infantry, with two troops of horse artillery. The French were about 30,000 infantry with a large force of cavalry. I was ordered to go to call in a party I had stationed in a village about two leagues from the camp as a guard on forage. When I returned it was quite dark, and after wandering with my party on the plain for some hours I was informed by a picquet that our whole force had marched off on the high road to Coimbra. I did not get into my encampment till half-past 4 in the morning.
SEP. 24.- Was mustered, and marched at 2 o’clock p.m. one league and half and encamped in a large wood of pine, near a very rich and fine valley, where was great abundance of Indian corn.
SEP. 25.- Halted; some rain.
SEP. 26.- Marched to our former encampment; on a high hill near the heard a great deal of firing. In the evening we moved higher up the hill and encamped.
SEP. 27.- Turned out at 3 o’clock a.m. and marched up a very high hill by the great road leading from Coimbra to Vizeu, which I passed over a short time before, but it being dark did not observe the strength of the situation. When we got near the top of the hill we filed into a large demesne belonging to a convent called Busaco, ascended through it to the top of a long range of very high hills commanding a distant prospect. We found the entire British Army drawn out, which extended near a mile. My regiment was in rear of the Guards with orders to support them. We had scarcely got to our ground when the action commenced by the French attacking both our flanks with two large columns, they got possession of a height, a small distance from my regiment, where the 88th Regiment and a regiment of Portuguese was stationed, which they defended most gallantly. After a severe firing of musketry and artillery, the 88th charged the French who had ascended that part of the height and drove them down the hill in confusion. All the other positions on the right flank were attacked and defended with gallantry. We had artillery stationed on all the commanding situations, which destroyed the French in great numbers. On the left wing the enemy were equally unsuccessful, being charged by the 52nd and some Portuguese regiments with great gallantry. The firing continued without intermission the whole of the day. Our artillery, which consisted of about 40 pieces of heavy guns, played down on the columns of the enemy with great certainty and precision, and were never known to direct their fire to more purpose. One shell was fired into a brigade of the enemy’s artillery, and two waggons, loaded with ammunition and shells, blew up, which destroyed everything near them. A short time after, the enemy were driven from the position near me. I rode over the ground where they were engaged, which was covered in every direction with the dead and wounded; about 500 of one regiment lay dead in the circumference of a few hundred yards. The loss of the enemy was computed at 4,000, ours, including Portuguese, between five and six hundred†. We took the general with other officers of rank. The French attacked with surprising gallantry considering our position, which was next to being inaccessible. In the evening the enemy began to move their cavalry towards our left flank, and the firing was continued only on that flank. We returned at night to the last encampment we had left.
SEP. 28.- Marched at 5 o’clock a.m. lower down the hill and halted till 3 o’clock, when we marched towards our left flank and encamped at 10 o’clock p.m.
SEP. 29.- Marched at 4 a.m. with the remainder of the cavalry towards our left flank as a corps of observation. We got information of the enemy after two hours’ march, and halted to throw out our picquets and patrols. We marched a short time and fell in with the great road leading from Coimbra to Oporto. We encamped near it a short distance from a village called Mealhada. We had scarcely got in when we got accounts of two of our picquets being attacked by the enemy. I was ordered to turn out for picquet with 20 men as a support to the others, but was not attacked during the night.
SEP. 30.- My picquet was called in at 5 a.m., when a sharp skirmish commenced between the Light Dragoons who formed our rearguard and the enemy. We halted for some hours during the heat of the day, and encamped at night in a wood near the great flat which runs from Coimbra along the course of the Mondego to the sea. Our camp was in full view of Coimbra. Which lay about two miles from us.
OCT. 1.- Turned out at 5 a.m., and on the flats where was also drawn up the 3rd, 14th, 16th, Royal Hussar†, and a troop of Horse Artillery. We could see that old and fine city of Coimbra deserted by all its inhabitants, and destined to be ravaged this day by a ferocious banditti. Shortly after day-break the skirmishing commenced in front, and the riflemen† of the enemy poured along the heights leading to Coimbra in every direction. It seems to be our intention to have checked the enemy’s cavalry should they advance on the flat, but after a very severe skirmishing and our showing them such a front as to prevent them crossing the ford of the Mondego, they brought up a regiment of cavalry with riflemen mounted behind them. They dismounted, and covering themselves by a thick hedge, which ran along the river, sent in on us so sharp a fire as obliged us to retire; they brought up to the ford a regiment in a column of half squadrons, with the intention of cutting off the artillery, and charged the ford, which was gallantly defended by the Germans and 14th; at length we were obliged to retreat. The road we retreated along was very narrow, which obliged those regiments in front to move on as fast as possible to get out of the way of the guns, and of those in the rear; by some mistake the cavalry baggage had not marched off in good time and came into the road. In the midst of the bustle and confusion some was upset, and the principal part left behind the rearguard which must necessarily had been taken had the enemy pushed on; the roads were lined on all sides with wretched people flying from Coimbra, who were unwilling to leave their homes and properties till the last minute. Numbers seeing us come on so fast threw down on the middle of the road what valuables they had reserved for future wants, and ran across the country hiding themselves in woods for fear of the enemy, not having with them what nourishment would support them for one day. You might see some of what were once the most wealthy people in Portugal with their families, each labouring under a load of bread, corn, or something to supply present wants. Some who made a better provision for future wants, put theirs on carts, many of which either broke down or upset, and were left with their contents on the road. To add to their misfortunes the weather was immensely hot. Such destruction, misery and deplorable wretchedness! We halted near a village called Soure, three leagues and half from Coimbra, and encamped on the right of General Spencer’s division of infantry†, which consisted of about 10,000, they were encamped along the side of a hill which was in a circular form like a half moon, and as their fires were for the most part in regular lines, formed a most beautiful sight like an amphitheatre, as the night was very dark.
OCT.-2.- Turned out at 5 a.m., but was detained till 9 by the men being supplied ammunition; marched four leagues and encamped near a small village. The road we marched along runs near and parallel to the great road from Lisbon to Coimbra; the weather was intensely hot and the road covered with people going towards Lisbon. Numbers seem to be fatigued as not to be able to support themselves.
OCT. 3.- Turned out at 5 a.m. and marched within a league and a half of Leiria by a road which runs parallel to the great road through that place from Lisbon to Coimbra. The weather was intensely hot, the roads crowded with people flying towards Lisbon.
OCT. 4.- Halted at 1 p.m. and encamped in a grove of pine.
OCT. 5.- Turned out at 6 a.m. and formed up on the high road from Leiria to Lisbon; shortly after a sharp skirmish commenced in our front and the enemy brought some artillery to bear on our advanced cavalry. The 16th Light Dragoons was nearest the enemy. The French pushed on a regiment of hussars, and two squadrons of the 16th charged them three times, took about 30 prisoners and one captain and two subalterns of the 3rd Regiment of Hussars; the 16th lost a few men and horses, with several severely wounded, among which was one captain shot through the thigh. We returned through Leiria (which was quite deserted) and encamped a league and half beyond the town, near the high road; the weather intensely hot, and the roads so dusty, you could scarce see your hand before you.
OCT. 6.- Turned out at quarter past 3 a.m. and marched about a league on the great road, then turned off to our right towards the sea, and halted near a large town wherein is the famous Convent of Alcobaca. I got orders to turn out for picquet with a sergeant, corporal and 20 men, and went about a league back on the road, which we had marched and placed my picquet near a village called Aljubarrota. Shortly after I had stationed my vidette an orderly came from a picquet of General Anson’s brigade, which was stationed on the high road which runs through Rio Maior, with information that the French were advancing on that road, and desired me to join them on that road as soon as I heard the skirmishing commence. That road ran parallel to the road I was stationed on, and about two miles distant. As soon as I heard the skirmishing commenced I moved my party as quick as I could for the high road, but just as I was joining the road my sergeant, who was about 20 yards in front, fell in with a column of the French cavalry who were on their march; some of their skirmishers had rode a few hundred yards up the lane, and were going down, and the sergeant who was just in the front of me rode within six yards of two dragoons; there stood near them two rifle men who instantly fired at us, the dragoons shortly after fired also, and before we could turn about, a large body of cavalry rushed up the lane. We returned to the place where our regiment was stationed, and fell back on the town where our brigade was quartered. Not seeing our brigade, we went off to the right, so as to avoid the line of march of the enemy and fell in with a great road which runs near the sea towards Lisbon, which proved to be the road on which our brigade was to march, as we fell in about 10 o’clock with our baggage, which was some leagues in front of the brigade; we encamped with the baggage.
OCT. 7.- Halted till my brigade joined me, which was about 10 o’clock. We encamped, but were not allowed to remain more than three hours, as information came in from our picquets that the French were advancing by the same route we had come; we instantly got orders to turn out, and commenced our march, leaving a squadron in our rear as a support to our picquets. We halted till 10 o’clock at night in a very fine well-built town Caldas [da Rainha], famous for its hot baths; it seems to have been resorted to by many of the wealthy Portuguese, as the baths are very elegant. There is a large hospital well fitted up for invalids, and the whole town has an appearance of grandeur; it, like most other towns, was quite deserted; it is situated 14 leagues from Lisbon and four from the sea. When our picquet joined us we marched through a good town Obidos and encamped in a wood near the town. There are several houses in the town have much appearance of wealth, and the remains of a famous castle in the middle of the town; its walls ascend from with the town to an immense height. The weather commenced to be unusually stormy, with constant torrents of rain; the brigade, from being so near the enemy, was not allowed to go into the town, and the men as well as the generality of the officers were under constant heavy rain; for two and a quarter hours the men lay on the ground half covered with water, and could not get fires to light; the rain in such torrents that all their provisions were destroyed; the wind was unusually cold.
OCT. 8.- Halted, the weather unusually wet, with a very cold wind; the men and horses under constant torrents of rain.
OCT. 9.- Marched at 5 a.m. to a small village called Ameal, four leagues, and encamped near the town; the weather very stormy, with heavy rain. We were as before obliged to remain in our encampment; the rain fell at night so heavy as to wet all our baggage, not leaving us a dry thing to change with.
OCT. 10.- Turned out on our alarm post at quarter before 5 a.m. and remained for two hours, when I got into the town to get my things dry; the men remained in the camp all day and night, under the heaviest rain I ever remember-this was the fourth day and night the men, horses, and majority of the officers had been under constant torrents of rain; took off my cloathes this night for the first time since we commenced our retreat from Lajeosa, which was on the 15th of September.
OCT. 11.- Turned out at quarter before 5 and went on picquet towards a road leading from the Strada Nova to the Strada Real, which are two great roads running parallel to each other to Lisbon- the Strada Nova from Oporto through Coimbra, Leiria, Rio Mayor to Lisbon, the other running nearer the sea; the weather still continued wet and stormy. We encamped in a wood, and were pretty well protected from the wet by some planks which we found sawed in the wood; foraging parties of the enemy came into villages close by my videttes, plundered and stripped everybody they met.
OCT. 13.- Turned out at 5 o’clock and remained on our alarm post three hours.
OCT. 14.- Turned out at 5 and remained on our alarm post, as yesterday; about 2 o’clock an alarm came in from one of our picquets, and we turned out, our baggage went to our rear; we remained on our alarm post for four hours and turned in with orders to be in readiness to turn out at a minute’s notice; at 6 o’clock turned out with my troop for enlarging picquet. The men remained with their horses formed up in a square of the village all night; it rained very hard for some hours in the morning.
OCT. 15-16.- Turned out as usual.
OCT. 17.- Rode to Torres Vedras (3 miles) to see the fortifications; it forms a part of the lines which were taken up by Lord Wellington for the defence of Lisbon; it is seven leagues from that place. The lines, which are a chain of strong positions with several fortifications, run from the [Zizandre?] at the sea by Torres Vedras, Sobral to Alhandra, near the Tagus. Within these lines are the whole of Lord Wellington’s army, consisting of nearly 80,000 men, including some very serviceable regiments of militia, 15,000 Spaniards under the Marquis of Romana, and a considerable number of British sailors from our fleet in the Tagus, for the purpose of manning the batteries. Within these lines were collected more than one half of the population of Portugal. Torres Vedras is a small dirty town, but situated so as to completely command the pass to Lisbon by that road, it contained the 88th British Regiment, 3 Regiments of Portuguese, beside some militia. There are several heights near the town on which are constructed very strong forts with batteries.
OCT. 18.- Turned out at 5 a.m. on our alarm posts at 2 o’clock p.m. an account from one of our picquets that the enemy had shown themselves in some force on the heights above the picquets, which were stationed about a league from Ameal, near a large range of high hills called Serra de St. Giao. That picquet was to guard a road leading from Ramalhal to Ameal, and by another branch to Torres Vedras. When we turned out we could see the enemy on the heights, but they were in a straggling irregular appearance, which convinced us that it was not their intention to advance, but were either a strong foraging party or for the purpose of reconnoitring.
OCT. 19-20. Turned out as usual; weather began to clear up.
OCT> 21.- Went on picquet to a large quinta [da Bugalheira?] on the Obidos road; the house and offices were very large and extensive, forming a square. There was accommodation for about 300 horses; the apartments were very spacious and elegant. All the furniture was removed and not one individual left on the premises. About the middle of the day one of the patroles brought me information that there was a foraging party of the enemy driving a flock of sheep some short distance from my picquet. I sent out a party after them, but from that part of the country being very flat, they got notice of my party some distance off, and all except one made their escape into the mountains. My party brought in about 90 bullocks, 500 goats and sheep, with one prisoner.
OCT. 22.- Got orders to be in readiness to march at 11 o’clock, as the Germans and 16th Light Dragoons were coming to relieve us. We marched through Torres Vedras, and from that took the road to Mafra through Pone de rol; the 3rd Dragoons halted at Ponte de rol. We there cantoned in several small villages near the sea. My troop was at a large quinta about three miles from Ponte do Rol.
OCT. 23.- Halted, and for the first time did not turn out on our alarm post, being within the lines.
OCT. 24.- The left wing, of which my troop was one, got orders to march to a neat, good town called in the map [Lubuguiro?], three miles nearer Mafra, and one league and a half from that place. We got very well put up, both ourselves and horses.
OCT. 25.- Got orders to turn out at 9 o’clock for the inspection of General Cotton†, but was countermanded. Rode down to the sea, which was two miles from the town. The appearance of the shore struck me very forcibly as being one of the boldest I ever saw, the bank [cliff] was more than 100 feet perpendicular, with scarce an appearance of sand; in some places where the bank forms a curve inwards its appearance is very awful, as there are few projecting rocks, and being quite perpendicular there is nothing to catch the eye; it is considered one of the boldest shores in the world. I cast a longing eye to poor England in the direction I thought it lay. The sea, which I consider part of the British dominions, brought many cheerful reflections to my recollection.
OCT. 26.- Was inspected by General Cotton; weather very cold.
OCT. 27-28.- Weather very fine, but cold.
OCT. 29.- Took a ride through the country, which is a continuation of ridges of high hills with deep valleys between, running from the sea in a straight direction.
OCT. 30.- Having some business at Enxara [do Bispo], which is about three leagues from Incarnadad [Encarnacao?], I rode through that place to Pero Negro, the present headquarters of the Army. It is a small, dirty village. Enxara [do Bispo], which is on the high road from Torres Vedras to Lisbon, is a small, dirty place. I passed through a village called [Livaramenta?], situated high, having several good houses, a neat, clean appearance. I also passed through a village called Freiria, which was also a neat, good village. My route was in a parallel direction with our lines, and between our advanced and rear line. I could see two chains of forts, one on my right and the other on my left, which appear to have full command of the country adjacent to them, and is a strong proof of the indefatigable abilities and great judgment of Lord Wellington.
NOV. 1.- Weather fine, but cold and bracing.
NOV. 2.- Had a field day under the inspection of Sir Stapleton Cotton, who returned the regiment thanks for its good appearance and the fine condition of the horses.
NOV. 3.- Weather rainy and cold; took a ride and saw a large fleet passing the Burlings on their way to Lisbon. Such scenes being new, afford a pleasing variety and even involuntarily conjure up the pleasing idea that those ships may shortly transport us to the only spot in the world capable of affording a good and secure asylum to all the world that wants a country and home.
NOV. 4.- Rode to see Mafra, situated two leagues from Incarnadad, and seven from Lisbon. Mafra is remarkable for an immense building which covers a great tract of ground, forming a square, the front of which is remarkably grand and ornamented with several very fine statues. These are three domes on the top, the centre of which reaches to a great height. The front of the building is a place which the Royal Family used frequently to inhabit, the two sides are a nunnery and a friary, the rear is taken up with stables, &c.; the chapel belonging to the palace is well worth seeing, as also the suite of rooms, which are very large and of a fine proportion. The town is neat but straggling.
NOV. 4 to the 12.- Weather fine, but strong sharp winds.
NOV. 13.- Rode to Ericeira, a neat, good town two leagues from Incarnadad and one from Mafra. Ericeira is close by the sea and being so near Lisbon was the fashionable resort for bathing; the sea flows close against the town, but the banks are an immense height, almost perpendicular. Ericeira is one of the neatest towns I have seen in Portugal.
NOV. 15.- Got orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment’s notice.
NOV. 16.- Marched at 4 a.m. by Freiria through Sobral [de Abelheira], and were quartered in some quintas near a large town called Alenquer, which we found full of troops; this was an unusual long march, being nine leagues, with the roads very bad and constant torrents of rain; our move was in consequence of the French having fallen back. We could see near Sobral their camp, which they had left a few hours before, and their camps and positions on each side of the road as we marched along; the roads were offensive with the stench of dead horses and beasts of burden. I think on a moderate calculation we did not march 500 yards without seeing one lying on the road, and as they had mostly died when the French first marched towards Lisbon, which was near a month ago, they were quite putrid. We saw several dead bodies of the French lying in houses and on the road, who had been removed when sick, and died on the march. There were also two bodies of Portuguese, who had been murdered by the French and had lain on the road just as they fell. The houses the French occupied were left in a most filthy state.
NOV. 17.- Marched at 4 a.m. through Vila Nova [da Rainha] and Azambuja, and was cantoned in some small villages and quintas near Cartaxo. Our line of march was about three leagues and a half. Vila Nova is situated close by the Tagus, as is also Azambuja; they are both good towns, and on the high road from Abrantes to Lisbon. It was about 20 months since we passed through Azambuja before, which was on our first marching up the country.
NOV. 18.- Marched at 4 a.m. for Santarem, which was about two leagues from us; when we got within two miles of the town we halted, it being discovered that the French were in Santarem, and had fortified the road leading to it. The town is situated on the top of a very steep hill; the road to it is particularly favourable and easy defended, as there is a marsh round the hill, and can only be passed by cavalry or artillery by a long causeway. The French had blockaded the centre with trees, and, as some suppose, had either a concealed battery or a mine to blow it up, where was a picquet of the French. At the end of the causeway was a house, which the French had converted into a battery, and on a small hill which rises above the house was a line of infantry with several guns; there ran through the flat a small river, which, owing to the great rains, was much swelled, and divided our lines from the French and strengthened their position so far as to make it impossible to attack them, but under great disadvantage. They had also broke up the road which winds round the hill to the town. At the end of the causeway next our lines rose a very steep hill, which quite overlooked the causeway and the first French line; from this place Lord Wellington was able to reconnoitre, and discovered several masked batteries. We remained drawn up till night, and then retired to some quintas a short distance from our position.
NOV. 19.- Turned out at 4 o’clock a.m. and marched to the same ground we had formed up on the day before; as soon as light came on we could see the French drawn up. About 10 o’clock a.m. General Spencer’s division joined the army, consisting of about 10,000 men in which was a Brigade of Guards, 24th, 50th, 42nd, 79th, 92nd and 71st, and a large brigade of Germans†; with this addition, our army numbered about 15,000 British infantry, several brigades of Portuguese infantry, seven regiments of British cavalry, two troops of Horse Artillery, and a large train of English and Portuguese foot artillery. It was generally expected in the army that the attack would commence on the arrival of General Spencer’s division and every step was taken for that purpose, but on Lord Wellington’s close inspection of the French position he deferred the attack till he got accounts from General Hill†, who had gone across the Tagus with the intention of crossing the river again at the bridge of Abrantes and getting in the rear of the French Army. He had with him about 10,000 infantry, and a large body of cavalry. Abrantes still remained untaken by the enemy, being very strong and well fortified. We remained on our ground till dark and then retired to the same cantonments we had occupied the night before. My troop was with two other troops in a range of offices which formed three sides of a square and were built for cattle to feed in, having a manger running quite through the centre, at either side of which horses could stand. One side was full of Indian corn, and without the offices was three large ricks of straw. This place is situated in a large plain which runs quite level along the Tagus to an immense extent. The turf was quite smooth and green, and on the whole, both for supplies and situation, admirably suited for cavalry. There was in the sheds immense stores of plows [sic], and other implements of farming. The premises and plain belong as far as I could understand to the Marquis of Nisa.
NOV. 21.- Turned out and marched at 4 a.m. to the same ground we had occupied before; the day was very wet, and the river swelled to a great height; there was during the day some sharp skirmishing between some of our Light Brigade and cavalry with a body of French riflemen, and chasseurs ά cheval. In the course of the day I was ordered to go to General Cotton for orders, who was on the height which looks over the causeway and the French lines. The French had a picquet on the centre of the causeway and another close under the hill; when I was standing on the banks of the river, our picquet was at the end of the causeway and our vedettes and those of the French were about 60 yards from one another. I saw some of the French soldiers from the picquet picking sticks for a fire within 20 yards of our sentries, but it seems a custom in war for picquets never to molest one another unless one encroaches unfair on the other’s post. We have had vedettes this campaign frequently so near those of the enemy as to be able to talk to each other. The English respect the French as soldiers and the French have a similar respect for us. The skirmishing being on the flat under the hill, I could see everything as plain as possible. I could with my glass describe the figure or dress of every individual of those who appeared in the line drawn up on the hill in the rear of the advanced post of the enemy, and considered it one of the most singular sights I ever looked at in my life: to see two large armies within half a mile of each other, and except the skirmishing on our right, everything appeared as if they were one and the same army.
NOV. 22.- Got orders to hold ourselves in readiness to turn out before daylight, but were not ordered out. Weather very wet. At 4 p.m. the baggage was ordered to turn out immediately and parade at the bridge which is near the quinta where General Cotton’s quarters were. On their halting there some time got orders to return to their quarters.
NOV. 23.- Turned out with our baggage at 6 a.m. and marched about five miles to some large quintas, situated in the rear of the left flank of our line and a mile from Cartaxo.
NOV. 24.- Was mustered at 10 o’clock. Weather still cloudy and wet.
NOV. 25.- Rode to Azambuja, three leagues, where I was able to purchase some groceries, etc., which I was much in want of; found the town quite full of troops, having all General Cole’s division† in it, they appeared scarce habitable, through filth, but by constant fatigue parties of several hundreds daily, the houses and streets were soon cleansed.
NOV. 26.- Rode with a friend to Azambuja who wished to purchase some groceries, etc.
NOV. 27.- Weather very cloudy and cold; rode to Cartaxo.
NOV. 28.- Took a long circuit through the country, including the several quarters of the regiment.
NOV. 29.- Got orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march.
NOV. 30.- Turned out at a quarter before 3 o’clock and marched to Cartaxo, where three squadrons of the 4th took up their cantonments. My squadron cantoned in two large quintas near the town.
DEC. 1 to 10.- Remained cantoned in Cartaxo and the neighbourhood. Was reviewed on the 9th by General Cotton.
DEC. 10.- Relieved the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the advanced lines. The troops were cantoned in different quintas along the lines. My troop was in a quinta on a ridge above the small rivulet that divided the French lines from ours. I could see with my naked eye the different picquets of the enemy on the other side of the water, and could plainly trace all their breast works and encampments round the hill of Santarem. When my troop went to the river to water they could easily converse with the French dragoons watering on the other side, and could plainly see each picquet in front of us relieving their vedettes. I could see the soldiers in the windows of the town with my glass and those standing around the fires outside the town. On the whole I considered it a sight that must afford a man not much accustomed to such sights a great deal of pleasure, and must be flattering to the feelings of an Englishman when he considers that a people occupying so small a spot of Europe, as the British Islands, should be able to make such a stand against the collected force of the greatest part of Europe.
DEC. 11.- Rode to the causeway on which was a double vedette of ours placed at one end and the same of the French at the other. One of our cavalry vedettes was on our right side of the bridge with an infantry vedette of the enemy a short distance from us, and the enemy had a cavalry vedette on our left side. With my glass I could plainly discern the facings of the different regiments in the camp at the end of the causeway, and could discern the figures and descriptions of every person on the hill.
DEC. 12.- Rode some distance down the banks of the rivulet, and could see the different picquets and vedettes of the enemy on the other side. The vedettes, though within a hundred yards of us, in some instances allowed us to stop in front of them, and examine them with their arms carried and standing steady on their posts as if one of their own officers was looking at them.
DEC. 13.- Continued on the alert till after 8 o’clock in the morning.
DEC. 14.- Went on picquet and had the pleasure of a close peep at our neighbouring vedette, when I went to visit my vedette. In the early part of the morning the enemy’s cavalry vedette, which was placed on our left side of the causeway, deserted to the vedette of my picquet, who was on the right. His only means of coming to our vedette was either crossing the river, or swimming his horse under one of the arches of the bridge, which he did, and was brought to the picquet in a wretched cold situation, it being an unusual hard frost. He was a German, and informed me that the French were quite destitute of bread and many necessaries; all his appointments, as well as his horse, were much inferior to ours.
DEC. 15.- Rode along the waterside for some distance, which divides our lines from the French. They had a regular chain of picquets to a great distance. Their vedettes frequently called to me and I to them.
DEC. 16.- Remained as usual in readiness to turn at a moment’s notice till 8 o’clock; the weather, except in the middle of the day, very cold.
DEC. 17.- Rode to the flat where we had been quartered some short time before, where were several good races ran between horses belonging to officers of the army; among the number I had one.
DEC. 18.- Went on picquet where I had been before, was kindly entertained by some officers of the 52nd, who were quartered near my picquet.
DEC. 19.- Went with the troops a foraging, being orderly officer. We were obliged to go more than eight miles for straw.
DEC. 20 to 24.- Remained at the outposts.
DEC. 24.- Was relieved by the 3rd Dragoon Guards and took up our cantonment in Cartaxo. The best place I could get into for a quarter was a large house without either a door or window-shutter, the French and our soldiers having destroyed every bit of wood they could get hold of for fire,
To JAN. 14.- Remained at Cartaxo.
JAN. 14.- Relieved the 3rd on the advanced posts and took up my former cabin for quarters; found the river which divided the French from us much swelled with the heavy rains which had fallen during the last three weeks, the weather was very cold.
N.B.- There was excellent shooting and coursing, as the country here abounds with game.
JAN. 19.- Got orders at 7 o’clock in the evening to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment’s notice.
JAN. 20.- The baggage marched at 5 in the morning one league to the rear and the regiment turned out. I went on picquet; in the course of a few hours the regiment got orders to turn in and the foraging parties to go for straw. The alarm was in consequence of the French having appeared in great force on our left and taking Rio Maior, a town situated near our lines; however, they evacuated it in a few hours.
TO FEB. 4.- Remained at Povoa [da Isenta].
FEB. 4.- Marched to Cartaxo, where I remained to the 25th; weather rainy and cold.
FEB. 25.- Marched to Altalaia, a small village situated about a league from Povoa [da Isenta], to the left of our lines; it was able to contain but the one troop.
TO MARCH 6.- Remained at Altalaia.
March 6. – Got orders at 3 a.m. to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment’s notice. At 4 a.m. got orders to cross the river which divided our lines and march to Santarem, which had been evacuated by the French; about six hours; we found the town in a very ruined, filthy state. We halted near a small town called Pernes, four leagues, and took up the same ground that the French had done; their fires were still lighted.
MARCH 7.- Marched to Torres Novas, four leagues, a large town; the French had left it about two hours; encamped near the town, the ground quite wet, and the night very cold.
MARCH 8.- Marched at 5 a.m. to Tomar and encamped near the town. We found the town full of troops; the evening turned very wet. We were compleately exposed to it, having not the slightest shelter but trees; three leagues.
MARCH 9.- Halted, and was billeted in an immense convent situated on a very high hill above the town†; it was once very well worth going to see, having a large library, with some fine pictures and other curiosities. The building on an immense scale and commands an extensive prospect. We found a great number of native inhabitants in the town, being surprised by the French when they marched down.
MARCH 10.- Marched at 4 a.m., three leagues, and encamped near a few small houses called [Cacharies?]; the evening became very wet, and we were all wet for several hours; still, the men slept round the fires with the rain pouring on them.
MARCH 11.- Marched at 4 a.m., and about 9 came up with the rearguard of the French; a very severe skirmishing took place, and they occupied the town of Pombal; they lined the heights and kept possession of it for some time. We were able to bring some artillery to bear on them with great effect. They took up a strong position a small distance from the town and maintained it during the day, as but a small portion of our infantry came up till late in the day. We encamped near the road. The town remained in flames the whole of the day; four leagues.
MARCH 12.- Marched at 4 a.m. and passed through Pombal; there were several dead bodies of the enemy lying in the streets and road. The skirmishing commenced immediately and the enemy being hard pressed on their march, halted, when an immense firing commenced. On our march we saw numbers of dead bodies of the enemy, many of whom had their brains blown out, as the French murdered all the sick who could not get on. In the hospital of Tomar were numbers of dead lying in their beds as they had died by the hands of their own people; in no instance do they bury their dead on a march. An English soldier who had been taken prisoner by them was not able to move, informed me they had orders to shoot him, but were prevented by our pressing them so hard. About 11 a.m. the French retired from a large fir wood they occupied, which ran on each side of the great road for some distance, and drew up in great strength on a fine plain about a mile and a half long and there waited our approach. The British Army was drawn up in three lines. In the rear, about the centre of the first line, was drawn up a brigade of guns, the Royals, 3rd, 4th, and 14th Light Dragoons; at one time the whole was put in motion, consisting of about 40,000. We moved on in slow time, as if at a review, as our lines were at too great a distance to commence fire, except with artillery. The French had two 4-pounders and a howitzer on two small hills, at the further extent of the plain. Some part of the time their fire was directed at the heavy brigade, being exposed, and being in line. We had only two horses killed and a sergeant’s leg broke. A finer sight was scarce ever witnessed than the formation and motion of our army on the plain; there was not a shrub or object to break the sight, and the whole could be seen at one view. The day was very clear, and the sight of the lines with the colours of each regiment flying, was grand to an extreme. On the close approach of our first line, the French began to fall back, when an immense firing commenced which continued for about an hour, after which a sharp skirmishing continue till night, about 4 p.m. We marched to our camp ground; the night was fine. We took three officers and about one hundred men. The ground in many places was covered with dead bodies.
MARCH 13.- Marched at 5 a.m.; our march was very much retarded by the infantry, who were on the same line of march. About 12 a.m. we halted about three miles from Condeixa [a Nova], in consequence of the French having occupied the heights above the town, and appeared in great force; at 4 p.m. advanced within a mile of the town, and encamped in a grove of olives; the night fine; four leagues.
MARCH 14.- Had orders to halt; the skirmishing commenced shortly after daylight, and continued very severe till night. The troops engaged of our army was principally the Light Division, consisting of the 43rd, 52nd, 95th British and three regiments of Portuguese Cacadores. The country being very hilly and thickly enclosed with walls about 4 feet high, the enemy, to retard our advance, lined every wall and height, and at times poured large vollies on our light troops, when at extended order, by which means they had an opportunity of picking out the officers; our loss was considerable, having eight officers killed and wounded in the three British regiments, which is unusual in skirmishing.
MARCH 15.- The Heavy Brigade got orders to march for the Alentejo to join an army under the command of General Beresford, who was on his march to Badajoz, which was besieged by General Mortier. The Alentejo is a country better suited for heavy cavalry, being flat and even; on the contrary the line of country through which Lord Wellington’s Army had to pass, was very hilly and totally unfit for cavalry. The French first endeavoured to cross the Mondego at Coimbra, but found the bridge blown up by General Trant, who marched from Oporto with a large body of Portuguese militia. They attempted to repair the bridge, but failed in consequence of a very heavy fire of small arms and some pieces of artillery which we opened on them from the town. They then took the road for Guarda, by Miranda de Corvo and Ponte da Mucella. We halted in our former camp ground near Pombal. Met on our march numbers of the poor refugees returning to their homes.
MARCH 16.- Marched at 6 a.m. and took up our former encampment.
MARCH 17.- Marched at 6 to Tomar.
MARCH 18.- Marched at 4 a.m. to Tancos, three leagues; crossed the Tagus by a bridge of boats and halted in a neat, good village (one league from Tancos on the other side of the river) [Portela?]. The town was full of inhabitants, and plenty of groceries, etc, were to be sold. The houses well furnished and everything shewed for contrast between a country ravaged by a merciless enemy and one enjoying the blessings of peace.
MARCH 19.- Halted, weather very warm.
MARCH 20.- Marched to Ponte de Sor, seven leagues, over one of the largest and evenest flats I ever crossed. A neat, small village.
MARCH 21.- Marched to Crato [e Martires], a good large town, six leagues; roads hilly and narrow.
MARCH 22.- Marched at 6 to Portalegre, three leagues, found the town full of troops. In the course of the evening General Cole’s division marched in, consisting of about 7,000 men; the 13th Light Dragoons marched out on our coming in.
MARCH 23.- Marched at 7 to a neat, small village, Assumar, three leagues from Portalegre and five from Campo Maior, which is in the hands of the French, having surrendered by capitulation after 12 days’ investment and five bombardment. The town being situated low, with commanding heights overlooking the walls, suffered very severely. It was deserted by its garrison, on the approach of the enemy, it being composed of Spaniards, on which a lieutenant-colonel of Portuguese militia collected a few ordenanza† and bravely defended it till the last effort could be made.
MARCH 24.- Marched at 5 a.m. two leagues on the road from Assumar to Elvas, being on the right of the road from Arronches to Campo Maior, on which a column of infantry was advancing; when we came near a good town, Santa Eulalia, we took the road for Campo Maior and encamped about a league and a half from it, where was also encamped most of the army.
MARCH 25.- Got orders to turn out at 8 a.m., but did not march till 10. On our march we passed the whole of our army on its march. When we got within a mile of the town the skirmishing commenced between our light dragoons and the skirmishers of the enemy’s cavalry; on coming close to the town we found the enemy had evacuated it and retired to a small hill about half a mile from it near the road from Campo Maior to Badajoz; on the near approach of our cavalry they began to retire, on which the cavalry, consisting of the 3rd, 4th, 13th, and a brigade of Portuguese, had orders to form a half moon so as to annoy their rear and only flank them; after trotting pretty constant for near an hour we got close upon them, and pressed them very sharp. The light dragoons charged their flank cavalry several times, and on seeing our intention was to charge the column if we could get them open, they halted several times, put their cavalry in the rear, and formed a solid square, at which time three six pounders played on them as quick as they could fire. We continued close pressing them till within a league of Badajoz, when a column appeared marching to their support, and as our infantry was not come up, we were ordered to halt. The enemy left in the road seven tumbrils, two forge carts, one howitzer, and all the plunder from Campo Maior which they could not get off quick enough, such as sacks of corn, bread, cloathes of all kinds, besides a great deal of camp equipage and personal baggage. There were in the charges made against the enemy, as well in the rear of their column, number of horses and mules taken. When we were ordered to halt we were about 200 yards from their column, but sustained little injury as they reserved all their fire for our charge. In the evening we returned to our camp ground near Campo Maior. It was both a distressing and singular sight to see the different objects which presented themselves to us on the road back to the town, both friends and foes lying alongside of each other as they fell. In one group lay six Frenchmen who had been killed at the same instant by a shell, and some of the most dreadful gashes that could be inflicted on the human body by a sword. The brutality of the scene was heightened greatly by the Portuguese, who cut and mangled all the unfortunate wretches who came within their reach. I had the satisfaction of preventing a Portuguese dragoon from destroying a wounded Frenchman with his carbine as he lay on his back in some bushes with his hands stretched out imploring to be spared.
MARCH 26.- Went out with a squadron of the 4th to reconnoitre a league and half on the road to Badajoz. We advanced till we came in view of the enemy’s vedettes. On our return I halted a little in the rear to choose a set of poles for my tent, cut a number which lay in the road, in doing which, my party got out of sight. I had two peasants assisting me; in the midst of our business we heard the voices of two people approaching us from the back of a small ascent in the road, and in a little time two tall fur caps made their appearance, and shortly after two French dragoons, on which I commenced my retreat till I got to a small height two or three hundred yards from them, on which I halted. I was much surprised to find they did not quicken their pace on seeing me, or fire at me. On their near approach I took up another position about an equal distance from them, and drew my sword, on seeing which one of them sounded a trumpet which proved them a flag of truce. I rode up to the officer, who very civilly saluted me and informed me he came with a letter for General Beresford. As he spoke Spanish very well, and Portuguese tolerably, we were able to keep up a pretty good conversation. He informed me he came to inquire after his brother, who was Colonel of the same regiment (the 26th Dragoons), and was seen to fall off his horse in a charge. On our coming towards the place where the charge was made the trumpeter pointed the place out, and shortly after we discovered a body lying quite naked on its face, which they both recognised to be he. The Colonel’s brother got off his horse and wept over the body for a considerable time. As it would be improper to allow the flag of truce to approach our lines, so as to be able to make any observations, I requested them to halt till I went forward with information of their being on hand, which I brought to General Cole, commanding in Campo Maior, on which two of his staff accompanied me back again. As I understood my regiment had marched, I took off my hat to wish the French officer good day, on which he came up to me, and giving his hand, requested me if by any chance I became a prisoner in General Mortier’s Army, I should consider I had a friend in the Lt. Colonel of the 26th Dragoons. I did not get to the quarters of my regiment till between eight and nine, as they had marched about two leagues from Campo Maior, and were cantoned in some small villages and quintas, the principle of which was Aldea de St. Vincente [St Vicente de Ventosa?], the quarters of my troop and two others. I was wet for about four hours this day, and was scarcely dry when I got into quarters.
MARCH 27.- Rode to Elvas (one league and a half), where was all kinds of sutlery and other things to be sold. It is almost the only town in Portugal which had not been deserted by its inhabitants. On the contrary, was an asylum to refugees from all parts, being so strongly fortified as to be considered one of the strongest places in Europe. The fortifications were planned by a French count of the name of Lippe and are considered a complete masterpiece. There is a fort which commands the town, and from its strength of situation adds to the town security, commanding the leading passes to the town, and also rendering it impossible for an enemy to retain the town if taken. This fort is called after the maker, La Lippe. It has two walls, and a deep fosse with redoubts, besides the governor’s house which stands insulated from the rest. There is an abundance of good water in the fort, with a large store of provisions and ammunition; the ascent to this fort on all sides is very steep. On the road from St. Vincente [St Vicente de Ventosa?] to Elvas you can see Campo Maior, Badajoz and Elvas from the same spot very plain.
MARCH 28, 29, 30, 31.- Halted in Aldea de St. Vincente [St Vicente de Ventosa?]; was attacked by a fever.
APRIL 1.- Marched to Vila Vicosa, four leagues; still ill.
APRIL 2,3.- halted; getting better.
APRIL 4.- Turned out to march at 5, but did not move off till 7, during which time I had an opportunity of seeing the town palace belonging to the prince; has a fine front of great extent; the town has several good streets, and kept unusually neat. Marched to Juromenha, a small village situated on a height, having a fort which overlooks the river Guadiana, under which was constructed the bridge for transporting our Army into Spain, so as to besiege Badajoz. We encamped.
APRIL 5.- halted in consequence of the river having rose, which obliged floats to be constructed, which was a very dilatory method of transporting troops.
APRIL 6.- Halted; weather cold and rainy.
APRIL 7.- The regiment crossed the river in small floats and encamped on a flat without a tree to tie our horses to, being obliged to drive our swords into the ground to tie the breasts ropes to; the night unusually cold.
APRIL 8.- Halted on the flat; about 11 o’clock a.m. it began to rain and sleet, with the coldest wind I ever remember, which continued with little interval till near daylight; not a man had a dry shelter.
APRIL 9.- Marched at 5 a.m. towards Olivenza, one league. When we got near the town we were saluted by some artillery from the ramparts, as the French had left some garrison in the town, but from what we could discover, they were but few. The town was once a frontier town of Portugal, but was ceded to the Spaniards at the Peace of Amiens. It is regularly fortified and stands un-commanded by any height, as the ascent grows gradual up to the town. In the course of the day our army took up positions round the town, and the garrison was summoned to surrender, which it refused. The day was unusually cold, with sleet and rain. We encamped at night about a mile and a half from the town. During the morning the French fired at every object that presented itself.
APRIL 10. – marched at 2 p.m. and encamped near a small village called Valverde [de Leganes], one league and a half from Olivenza and four from Badajoz. From the reports in the army, Soult had drawn most of his troops from Badajoz, leaving but a small garrison in the town, and marched by the road for Seville to attack General Graham, who was marching from Cadiz towards Badajoz, in consequence of which Marshal Beresford left the siege of Olivenza to General Castanos, commanding an army of about 2,000 Spaniards, the relic of the Marquis of Romana’s Army, and marched with the intention of attracting Soult in the rear. It was supposed that Castanos would be able to make a breach in the walls of Olivenza in one day, as eight pieces of artillery of 24 each were expected from Elvas. The appearance of the people in Valverde[de Leganes], with the construction of the houses, instantly bespoke our transition once more into Spain.
APRIL 11.- Marched at 11 a.m. near [La] Albuera, a small village (three leagues). We found the village compleately destitute of inhabitants, and the houses nearly pulled to the ground, scarce a roof was left standing. Near the town was the remains of a large cavalry encampment of the French, which had been occupied the day before; the huts were small but built with a great deal of trouble and ingenuity. As my squadron was first for duty we were ordered out before we got to our camp ground to reconnoitre a league and a half on the road to Seville, towards a town called Santa Marta. We got information a small party of French cavalry had passed that road a few hours before, but met no body of the enemy.
APRIL 12.- Was ordered to turn out at 5 a.m. with my squadron to patrol to Santa Marta, three leagues. On arriving there the whole town came out to meet us, bringing us bread, olives, and other articles to eat; they informed us a picquet of the enemy had left that town about 2 that morning, and that one major, one lieutenant, 53 privates, 65 horses belonging to the 13th Light Dragoons, who had been surprised and taken prisoners the day after our army crossed the Guadiana, had been marched through that town two days before. The inhabitants informed us the prisoners were very severely cut about the head. We returned to our camp ground about 3 p.m.
APRIL 13.- Marched to Santa Marta and were put up in quarters in the town till evening, when we marched a small distance from the town and encamped. This order for us to move out of the town was in consequence of the brigade being three leagues in advance of our army, and the enemy having a large force of cavalry a short distance from us.
APRIL 14.- Remained in camp.
APRIL 15.- Marched into the town at 7 o’clock and went out to camp at half-past 5 in the evening. The town was occupied by Marshal Beresford, his staff, and the general officers of General Stewart’s Division†.
APRIL 16.- Marched at 2 in the morning with the division of cavalry and a division of infantry for Zafra, five leagues, when we came near a town called Los Santos [de Maimona], half a league from Zafra. We got information that two regiments of French cavalry were near the town, the 2nd and 10th Hussars; that they had ordered 1,000 rations of bread, meat, and wine, and were waiting for the bread to be baked. The cavalry instantly advanced at a quick trot, and on our passing the town a small distance we saw them drawn up in column ready to receive us; the 13th was in the centre, and the heavy brigade on the right flanks. The French charged the right squadron of the 13th on our advancing near them, which was returned. We then went up to charge them on the flanks, on which they went about and galloped off as fast as they could. We pursued them for about two leagues, most part of which time the French were compleatly dispersed, and as their horses brushed up we picked them up. We took on the whole 107 prisoners, two officers and about 200 horses. We should have destroyed most part of them had we not come off a march of five leagues, without corn, and the French having in the head of their column a considerable start of us. On our return to the town I went on picquet and remained in the road leading to Villafranca [de los Barros], standing to our horses’ heads till daylight. We were relieved at 10 in the morning; we had gone nine leagues the day before, being 17 hours on our horses, and the day scorching hot.
APRIL 17.- Came into the town of Los Santos [de Maimona], got the account of the surrender of Olivenza with 400 prisoners.
APRIL 18.- Halted.
APRIL 19.- halted; weather very rainy and cold.
APRIL 20.- Marched to Vilafranca [de los Barros], two leagues from Los Santos [de Maimona], 10 from Badajoz, and six from Merida. Vilafranca [is] a large town full of inhabitants. The French had been quartered in it for a considerable time and seem to have done little injury to the inhabitants.
APRIL 25.- Rode to Zafra, once a town much resorted to by the upper class of people from Seville. The town seems much improved by its communication with Seville, both in the appearance and manners of the people, as also in the shops, which abound with everything.
MAY 11.- An account came in that the French were advancing and had drove in the Conde de Penne who commanded 800 Spanish cavalry at Llerena as an advanced guard to our army. They fell back three leagues to Usagre, a small town where the right wing of the 4th had been stationed as their support.
MAY 12.- The whole of that division of Spanish cavalry with our right wing was drove from Usagre to Vilafranca [de los Barros], four leagues; went on picquet.
MAY 13.- Got information when on picquet that the French were advancing both on the road my picquet was stationed on, as also on the high road from Seville, through Los Santos [de Maimona]; was called in at 12 a.m. and found the brigade and all the troops had marched from Vilafranca [de los Barros]. The French were entering the town at one end as I went out at the other. I came up with my brigade near a large town called Almendralejo, three leagues, halted for several hours, and continued our march to Santa Marta, two leagues, and encamped.
MAY 14.- Halted at Santa Marta; went on picquet with my squadron.
MAY 15.- The French made their appearance on the heights above the town in the early part of the day. We retired to [La] Albuera and encamped on the heights near the town with a small river in our front. In the course of the day the advanced guard of the enemy came in sight and continued to multiply in every part of the wood near our lines. In course of the evening our lines were formed on our position which was some high ground which formed near a crescent with the river in our front which was only fordable in a few places; the town was on the left of our lines, near which was a bridge over the river. In the front line was drawn up, on the left some Portuguese, in the centre a part of General Blake’s Walloon infantry, next them the 1st Division of British infantry commanded by General Stewart, the next them General Cole’s division of British infantry. The second line was formed of the remainder of General Blake’s, General Ballesteros and the Portuguese. Our army consisted of 10,000 British, 8,000 Portuguese, and 10,000 Spanish. We had three regiments of British cavalry, two of Portuguese, and about 900 Spanish cavalry. We had about 35 pieces of artillery. The French proved to have 21,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, and 52 pieces of artillery. Their army was commanded by Marshal Soult, next to him in command was Mortier. Their infantry kept themselves concealed under cover of a large wood.
MAY 16.- Early in the morning the enemy was discovered placing their army in order of battle, and shewing every appearance of an intention of attacking us, particularly as they were seen bringing their artillery in front; at 8 a.m. they moved the whole of their army in front of our lines on the other side of the river and commenced their attack by attempting to pass a large column of cavalry across a ford near the centre of our lines; as the ford was narrow they could only pass over it with a small front. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were drawn up in front of the ford, and charged the head of the column, on which the enemy retired across the river; this attack seems to have been intended as a feint, as their serious attack was aimed at our right. They advanced against that point in three immense columns, with about 3,000 cavalry on their left flank, so as to turn our right; they came on with such rapidity that they had gained the height our first division was to have been formed upon, before it had been compleatly formed, and began to pour down on us like am immense torrent; at this instance nothing but British steadiness and bravery could stand; the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division, consisting of the 3rd, 48th and 66th, formed up, and after several tremendous vollies on both sides the British charged them at the point of the bayonet. The French being strongly supported stood firm, and a more awful scene was never witnessed; it was a perfect carnage on both sides, bayonet against bayonet for near half an hour; as the brigade which at that time was principally engaged had pushed rapidly forward, they were a considerable distance in front of their support, which the enemy seeing, they moved a large column down on either flank, and surrounded them, at the same time a large body of cavalry commenced a charge on them, as they began to retire, and cut them down in all directions, the whole brigade, 3rd, 48th and 66th, became prisoners, when the right wing of the 4th Dragoons got orders to charge their cavalry, which they obliged to retire leaving a great number of their prisoners. The enemy continued to push forward their columns through the interval where the brigade stood. When a part of General Cole’s division came up a tremendous cannonade, and fire of small arms, continued for several hours, in some instances at ten paces asunder; each party charged with the greatest bravery, and the day was for a length of time bearing an awful unfavourable appearance. Had their cavalry, which was three to one of ours, charged round our right flank, which they might have done, and so came in our rear, the day was lost. They attempted it, but was checked by a brigade of Horse Artillery, which mowed them down in six and ten at a time; however, had they pushed forward we could have shown them no opposition. After a determined contest for about four hours, in which all our infantry was engaged, with most of the Spanish and Portuguese, the enemy began to give way, when an immense cannonade was opened on them as they descended the hill, and they retired in considerable confusion. Had we a sufficient body of cavalry to charge them as they fell back, they must have been entirely cut up, but as the attack still continued on our left, we were obliged to keep a large portion of our cavalry to keep in check a column which menaced that part, and seemed determined to force the bridge. I was stationed near the bridge with the left wing of my regiment, and a squadron and a half of the 13th, to cover some guns and defend the ford against a column of cavalry in our front. We had a brigade of Portuguese cavalry in our rear as our support. The enemy moved forward with the intention of attacking us, on which we advanced near the ford, when an immense fire of artillery was opened on us, every shot told; however, our advances had the effect of checking their cavalry. We remained for five hours exposed to a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. We had nine guns playing from the church over the bridge, which did great execution. We had also near us a brigade of German rifle men. The uproar and confusion was dreadful, each party cheered when they came to the charge, and every inch that was gained could easily be discovered on which side it went by the immense shout of the parties engaged. They were like an immense body of water ebbing and flowing. Had a man time to reflect, one’s situation must have been dreadful, but each man had his point to watch, which took up his whole attention. Wretched objects in all shapes and descriptions were to be seen in every direction, some creeping on their hands and knees, with both their legs shot off, and others in equally a distressing situation. What made our situation more critical, three-fourths of our army were composed of Spaniards and Portuguese, the former of whom were greatly deficient of discipline, and from frequent defeats by the French had an utter dread of them. However, Providence inspired all our united force with steadiness and courage; and both the Portuguese and Spaniards endeavoured to follow the glorious example of the British troops. Our loss was dreadful. In one division, which consisted of 4,000 men, we had killed, wounded, and prisoners 2,990, the two first in command killed, and an equal proportion of officers; our whole loss out of about 8,000 or 9,000 British amounted to 4,000, with 2,000 Spanish and Portuguese. The French were supposed to have lost between 7,000 and 8,000 men, with two generals killed and three wounded. We had in the charge of the right wing of the 4th two captains and one lieutenant taken, and one captain and one lieutenant severely wounded, with a great proportion of men and horses killed and wounded. In the left wing three men dangerously wounded, one having his thigh shot off, with eight or none horses killed. The charge of our right wing was made against a brigade of Polish cavalry, very large men, well-mounted; the front rank armed with long spears [lances], with flags on them, which they flourish about, so as to frighten our horses, and thence either pulled our men off their horses or ran them through. They were perfect barbarians, and gave no quarter when they could possibly avoid. However, they confess to have lost 300 men. A sharp skirmish continued all night. The whole army kept in their lines close by their arms. A more dismal sight was never witnessed; the baggage of the whole army was leagues in the rear and not a man had a dry stitch on him, as it rained with a cold wind and sleet most part of the day. The hill we lay on had not a twig to make a fire with; and the ground was ankle deep in mud. The dead and wounded lay in heaps through our lines, as all lay exactly on the spot we fought on; and the groans and screeches of the wretched, few of whom had been removed, made it an awful scene, together with a prospect of the engagement being renewed at daylight, or an attack under cover of the night. Much was to be dreaded, as we had a most experienced general (Soult) to guard against, who had an utter contempt of the Spaniards, who formed one-third of our army.
MAY 17.- The morning for several hours was very foggy and dark, so that we could not discover the enemy’s intentions; this was an interesting time, the whole army stood to their arms, every moment expecting a renewal of the engagement, and the morning was so cold, with sleet and rain, we could scarcely sit on our horses. However, as it cleared up we could discover a column of the enemy moving towards our left, as if either inclined to attack that point, or move off. The cavalry, consisting of about 4,000, continued drawn up in the course of the day; deserters came in, who gave information that the enemy had commenced their retreat towards Seville. I rode over the field of battle, where lay between 5 and 6,000 dead and wounded, most of whom were compleatly naked; in some places they lay so thick a person could have supposed they had been collected for the purpose of being buried. The wounded met one’s eyes entreating assistance, many of whom lay covered with mud and wet for ten hours without their wounds being dressed. British officers lay mortally wounded, in many instances stripped of their cloathes for hours before they were dead. This piece of inhumanity was to be attributed to the Spaniards who plundered the whole of the night after the battle, without respect to rank or persons. The different attitudes of the dead could not fail striking a man’s eyes. The British universally lay with their arms in the position of charging, and the countenances of both parties, even in death, bespoke a fixed determination to conquer or fall. On an average, two-thirds of the British officers were either killed, wounded, or prisoners. The Buffs [3rd Foot], which went in 600 strong, could only muster 40. The 48th and 66th about the same. The two latter lost their Colours. The enemy failed in raising the siege of Badajoz.
MAY 18.- The cavalry of the enemy appeared in front of their lines forming in column, and moving off alternately, on which the Spanish cavalry crossed the ford and commenced skirmishing. They returned by slow degrees, frequently driving the Spaniards back as they approached too near. As General Lumley†, who commanded the cavalry, had instructions on no account to get his cavalry engaged with the enemy, as they were three to one our number, we moved on with a troop of Horse Artillery, keeping some distance in the rear of the Spaniards, who continued skirmishing with them the whole of the day. We halted and encamped about a league from [La] Albuera.
MAY 19.- Marched at 3 a.m.; made but small progress, as the enemy were able to move on but slow, on account of their immense number of wounded.
MAY 20.- Encamped a short distance from the ground we occupied the night before. The Spaniards met with a pretty sharp rebuke for their rashness in getting too close to the enemy; they charged amongst the Spaniards, who fled off in every direction; they did not collect till night.
MAY 21.- Advanced to Solana [de los Barros], two leagues; the Spaniards and Portuguese continued to skirmish close in our front. We fell back for the night, two miles.
MAY 22.- Marched at 7 and encamped near Almendralejo.
MAY 23.- Marched at 3 a.m. and encamped near Villafranca [de los Barros]; the French had just gone out.
MAY 24.- Marched at 3 a.m. through a large village (Ribera) six miles from Villa Franca and continued our march to Usagre, four leagues. When we came near the town we found it occupied by a large body of French cavalry; we advanced to the heights near the town, and pushed a body through it; the enemy fell back three miles to a small village called Villagarcia [de la Torre] between Usagre and Llerena. We remained in front of the town till dark, and then retired across a defile near the town and encamped.
MAY 25.- At 3 a.m. took up our positions in rear of the town, having a small river in our front; its banks being steep and craggy formed a ravine only passable for artillery by the bridge leading into the town and for cavalry in another place. At 6 a.m. the enemy appeared in strong force of about 2 or 3,000 cavalry with five guns and drove in our picquet and advanced posts in front of the town. Their army occupied the heights on their side, and our cannon on our part, having a distance of about 8 or 900 yards between. The first movement of the enemy was an attempt to push a large body on our left flank, so as to turn it, to prevent which was sent two 6-pounders which was concealed behind some high ground till their column came within reach, when a fire was opened on them, with such effect that they were obliged to retire, leaving a number of men and horses on the field. They then advanced a column in rear of the town, and as our troops advanced to meet them, the cannonade opened so warm on us of shot and shell which did some execution, we retired a few hundred yards, and the 3rd and 4th formed up in line, in front of the bridge. The enemy advanced across and formed up, with a wall in their rear; the column was composed of three regiments, the 4th, 20th and 26th. The 4th and 26th were horse grenadiers with tall fur caps, the 20th with brass casques; they made in all about 600; they advanced against the 3rd and 4th. We charged them with great rapidity, having a good descent in our favour; we broke them with the shock and they retired in the greatest confusion. Those in front of the 3rd endeavoured to go over the wall, and were nearly to a man cut down or taken prisoners; the 4th cut them down in the lane leading to the bridge, till it was blocked up with men and horses. Numbers made their escape by leaping off their horses and getting over a high wall into an olive grove. We took in all one colonel, one major, three lieutenants and 95 men with 75 horses, and killed about 250. The remains of the column retired through the town, leaving some skirmishers in the streets. Immediately after the action I was ordered to take a dispatch of the affair to General Beresford to Almendralejo, seven leagues. The weather was intensely hot, without a breath of air. My horse cast a shoe on the road, which obliged me to take one of the French horses. I got a fresh horse at Villafranca [de los Barros] and returned to it from Almendralejo by 4 p.m. As the weather was intensely hot, and I had rode fast, I gave orders to the man at Villafranca [de los Barros] not to water my horse, but he misunderstood me, and when I got on his back to return to Usagre I found him unwell; he knocked up in about half an hour, and I was obliged to leave him in the road, taking my saddle bags and appointments on my back. The night was quite dark and I continued to walk out as quick as I could till my unlucky stars brought me to some of the baggage belonging to the 13th Dragoons who were ordered to join their regiment. We all set out together, but took the wrong road out of the camp; we wandered about for several hours and returned to the camp some leagues in the rear of their regiment. As my dispatch from General Beresford was the orders for the ensuing day, it was of the greatest consequence I should deliver them before daylight. I set out on the right road and reached our lines just as they were turning out at 3 a.m., with my feet all blistered and quite knocked up; however, my dispatch was just in time as the orders were giving out. The regiment we chastised was the 4th Grenadiers.
MAY 26.- As General Beresford did not wish a general engagement with the cavalry, and as they brought up seven fresh pieces of artillery, 12-pounders, we fell back some distance from the town and late in the evening retired to Ribera [del Fresno]; it appears to be the intention of the enemy to occupy Llerena with their infantry and retain Usagre as an advanced post for their cavalry. Ribera [del Fresno], four leagues from Usagre.
MAY 27.- Marched to Villafranca [de los Barros] and encamped near the town in an olive grove, which was the only instance we had a camp with either wood or water since we left it, not having a twig to fasten our horses to. Those who did not link their horses in line, were obliged to fasten them to their swivels.
MAY 28.- came into the town; found it much racked by the French.
FROM MAY 28 TO JUNE 13.- remained at Villafranca [de los Barros], during which time we turned out with our baggage on the alarm post every morning at quarter before 3 o’clock, having the main body of the enemy’s cavalry at Usagre and their picquets advanced some distance near us. In the course of the time we remained there we had several turns out in consequence of alarms from the different movements of the enemy; the officers had orders to be constantly at hand and the horses saddled day and night. The duty of picquet came to my turn about every third day; the weather intensely hot.
JUNE 13.- About 10 o’clock a.m. we got orders to repair to the alarm post with all expedition in consequence of the enemy having drove in our advanced posts on our right, by entering Zafra and Los Santos [de Maimona], which had been occupied by Spanish and Portuguese cavalry. As their advance had been expected for some time, for the purpose of cooperating with a corps under the command of Drouet, which we had information was coming from Massena’s Army to re-inforce Soult, by the road of Merida, our cavalry had instructions to fall back. We retired on the Almendralejo road and halted a league from Villafranca [de los Barros] to support some patrols we had sent out to observe the motions of the enemy, and also to withdraw our picquets. A patrol of an officer and 30 men was sent from the 2nd German Hussars, who had joined us a few days before with about 250 men; a corporal and four from a picquet of the heavy brigade joined the patrol, who were also ordered to patrol towards Los Santos [de Maimona]; a short distance from Villafranca [de los Barros] they fell in with 60 of the French cavalry who were also patrolling; each party drew up with a determination to dispute the road, and charged with great impetuosity. Our superiority soon became manifest. The French were broken and fled; they had six men and nine horses taken and many killed. The Germans had the officer and four men wounded, one of whom had his hand cut off at a stroke, and one prisoner taken by his horse running away with him; the corporal and one private of the 3rd wounded. It was a gallant affair. We remained in all the heat of the day exposed to the sun on the road to Almendralejo and retired at night near to a small village called Aceuchal, three leagues from Villafranca [de los Barros], where was also encamped the whole of the allied cavalry.
JUNE 14.- Retired near a small village called Solana [de los Barros], two leagues from Aceuchal; weather intensely hot.
JUNE 15.- Fell back a league on the road to [La] Albuera, near Corte de Peleas; went on picquet on the road to Santa Marta; the weather immensely hot, without a breath of air.
JUNE 16.- Turned out at 3 a.m. and marched to [La] Albuera, two leagues, and encamped during the early part of the day in the same part of the wood which had been occupied by the French cavalry; their huts were standing. I had a great wish before our move to ride over the field of battle, but as the regiment was under orders to march, it was not in my power. At 3 p.m. we marched from the wood, crossed the river, and encamped near the village, on the road to Badajoz; the ground was covered with the remains of the bodies which had been burned by the peasantry, who were sent from all parts for that purpose. I went within a few hundred yards of the ground where I was stationed on the 16th. I also rode over the spot where the French guns were stationed, which saluted us the whole of the day; they had two 9-pounders and two 6-pounders and a howitzer which threw 24 pound shells. The effects of our guns which played on them was manifest; two mules and three horses and several human bodies lay on the spot. That spot occupied my particular attention on the 16th, as I could see every shot that was directed at us, and their ammunition waggons arriving several times in the course of the day with fresh supplies; bodies lay in every direction, half roasted, and the trees were covered with eagles and birds of prey. Our position appeared a formidable one from the French side, but I must agree with the general opinion of the army that the greatest blame is to be attributed to General Beresford for not occupying sooner his position, which enabled the enemy to get possession of the strongest heights in it, and obliged us to be the assailants; this caused the almost destruction of that brigade, composed of the 3rd, 31st and 48th, who were obliged to push forward with such rapidity that they left their support behind and so got surrounded; they lost five Colours and had 716 taken prisoners, with a great proportion killed and wounded. Our loss, had our position been occupied, would have been inconsiderable, and that of the enemy still greater; to this great loss of the British is to be attributed this present retreat. Lord Wellington is supposed to be highly indignant at it.
JUNE 17.- The whole of the allied army crossed the Guadiana nearly opposite to Elvas, and so gave up the whole of Spain without having raised the blockade of Badajoz. We had withdrawn our guns several days before, as it was found we could not storm the town, even though we had effected two large breaches, in consequence of the enemy having dug large trenches within the breaches and fortified them with strong batteries. We made during the siege two unsuccessful assaults on Fort St. Juan Christoval, a strong place on the Portuguese side of the bridge, over the Guadiana; the fort was in a commanding situation, and if taken by us, would have enabled us to destroy the town; by its batteries we lost in the whole about 700 English and 500 or 600 Spanish in the siege. Great praise is due to the gallant conduct of the governor and garrison. They made several sallies with good effect, and took many prisoners. We encamped in an olive grove near Elvas on the 16th; the advanced guard of the enemy’s reinforcements from the same direction arrived at Campo Maior, also two squadrons of the 11th Dragoons, which had lately disembarked at Lisbon, arrived at Elvas, the other two was to arrive the subsequent day. The early part of this day was more intensely hot than ever I recollect, without a breath of air. The sun was so strong that it was with pain a man could take hold of the scabbard of his sword, being so hot. In the course of the evening the sky began to lower, and in a little time an unusual heavy thunderstorm with torrents of rain came on, which continued for several hours; about 10 at night the storm commenced again, with stronger lightning and thunder than ever I witnessed; the rain poured as if out of a spout, and continued all night, there was scarce a dry thing in the camp; the rain beat through the officer’s tents and everything in the morning wore a dismal, drowned appearance; the weather had been very close and lowering for several days.
JUNE 18.- halted at Elvas.
JUNE 19.- Marched at 5 a.m. two leagues towards Campo Maior and encamped in a wood.
JUNE 20.- A order came from Lord Wellington to reduce all the cavalry regiments that had been out in this country from the first commencement, from four squadrons to three, breaking up two troops to strengthen the other six, and ordered the two captains and junior lieutenants to England, leaving two lieutenants and a cornet per troop.
JUNE 21.- I was put in orders among the number to go to England, being the junior lieutenant in the regiment but one.
JUNE 22.- An alarm came about 10 o’clock, with an order to turn out; shortly after we heard some sharp firing; we marched towards Campo Maior, near which was drawn up about 3,000 French cavalry. They had detached eight strong squadrons towards our direction, which the heavy brigade got orders to keep in check, and if they advanced to charge them; they continued to extend towards us, till we drew our swords and advanced to meet them, on which they filed off towards the road to Badajoz; we should have followed them and pressed them to the main body had they not been protected by eight pieces of artillery. In the course of the evening the whole began to file off towards the right flank of our army, and I being the first officer for duty was ordered out with four privates of the heavy brigade, four Portuguese, and a Portuguese officer to reconnoitre their movements, and find out where the head of the column halted, which I ascertained about dark. I did not return to camp till half-past 12 at night. I was obliged during the day to make my party keep up a sharp skirmish at intervals, so as to drive in the different straggling parties of the enemy who left the main body in quest of plunder and who would have surrounded me had I allowed them to get on my flanks; they generally consisted of 15 or 20.
JUNE 23.- Marched to our alarm post and remained till a patrol from the front brought in word all was quiet. Had an auction and disposed of all my heavy baggage and articles I had no further occasion for.
N.B. On the 22nd a picquet of the 11th Dragoons, consisting of a captain, two subalterns, and 40 men were surrounded by the enemy and taken; we also lost 40 or 50 of the German Hussars, killed and wounded, being attacked by a very large body of cavalry. The captain of the 11th was Lutyens†, a very good officer and lately married to a woman of large fortune, this was the first picquet he had mounted. We took about 30 of the French cavalry, and killed and wounded several.
JUNE 24.- Turned out at 4 a.m. and remained in front of our camp ground till patrol returned with report that all was well. Was mustered late in the evening; an order came for the officers and men destined to go to England to march next morning.
JUNE 25.- Took leave of my regiment, with a considerable deal of regret, as leaving what had been my home for near three years, but the prospect of seeing England so soon, over-balanced every reflection. Marched with one lieutenant and the non-commissioned officers belonging to the troops broken, with several other non-commissioned officers and privates. We were to take up a captain and one lieutenant at Lisbon. Halted at a large post house, called [Alcarravissas?], three leagues.
JUNE 26.- Marched to Estremoz, two leagues.- 27th. Halted. Estremoz, a neat, large town situated on a high hill; it was once fortified, but being commanded by a height near the town, the guns have been removed. It is very well supplied with water, having a large basin of clear spring water in the middle of the town deep enough to swim a horse; there is a flagged walk round it, for the purpose of swimming horses, which is a usual custom in Portugal, being a great preventative against fever cases. There is also a large fountain, and a basin flagged for washing.
JUNE 28.- marched to a small village, two leagues.
JUNE 29.- Marched to a good neat town, Arraiolos, three leagues; roads good and weather cool.
JUNE 30.- Marched to Montemor-o-Novo, a large town (three leagues and half), the streets cleaner than the generality of Portuguese towns. There was an immense number of cars loaded with provisions for the army constantly going through the town, frequently one hundred in a string.
JULY 1st.- halted. 2nd, marched to Vendas Novas, a small village, three leagues, 3rd, marched to Pegoes, two leagues; a few houses; in the evening marched to [Aldea Galega?], six leagues, and got into quarters by 11 at night.
JULY 4.- Went by water to Belem, three leagues, got a billet in a large convent.
JULY 7.- Embarked on board a large ship, the Hornby 187, with seven horses, four officers belonging to the 4th, and 15 men.
JULY 8.- Weighed anchor and sailed; crossed the bar at 11 a.m., with a brisk north wind being quite against us. We sailed for six days without changing our tack; on the seventh day the wind changed rather more in our favour. We had a succession of cross winds and frequent calms, till the morning of the 1st of August, when the wind came quite in our favour with a fresh breeze. We fell in with, on our voyage, a fleet of merchant men bound for the Mediterranean; and on the morning of the 1st with a large fleet of transports; at 10 p.m. we made the leg and lights.
AUG 2.- Was off Eddystone Lighthouse by 9 a.m., at 11 cast anchor in Cawsand Bay; the whole of our voyage which was 27 days sail, we were without any fresh meat, it being Sunday, when we embarked and the shops were shut. The weather was fine, the ship was large and clean, with a commodious cabin and very civil people.
AUG 3.- Rode at anchor in Cawsand Bay; was very well supplied with fresh provisions of every sort; the town a small dirty place close by the water edge. Cawsand Bay forms a part of Plymouth Harbour, six or seven miles from Plymouth. It is an excellent road for ships, being a deep basin, and good anchorage.
AUG 4.- Weighed anchor at 5 a.m. with a strong S.W. wind, and sailed for Portsmouth, 45 leagues. We sailed for 14 hours at seven knots an hour, having all our sails set, and made Portland lights by 8pm., where we got orders to lay to, to avoid over running the port. The sea was very high with strong gales and squalls of rain, which rocked us severely.
AUG .- At first light we made sail, and cast anchor in Spithead, at 9 a.m., making two years four months and five days since we embarked.
Madden retired from the Army in 1812