A RECORD OF THE 29th FOOT by Colonel Charles Leslie, K. H. (1807 to 1813)

Colonel, then Lieutenant, Leslie joined the Depot of the 29th Foot in 1807 and remained with the Regiment until 1813, when he transferred to the 60th Rifles. The following is his personal account:

In February, 1807, I received orders to join the depot of my regiment in the Isle of Wight.

There was at times an immense assemblage -of officers at Parkhurst Barracks. Many of these officers proved to be very disorderly in their habits. This chiefly arose from a wrong system then pursued of allowing officers who had got into scrapes in their own corps to exchange into other regiments, instead of bringing them to trial in their own, in order to save its credit. These persons always found respectable officers belonging to regiments quartered in unhealthy stations who were willing to give them a large sum to exchange. Consequently, a young man, on joining the depot, required to act with great prudence and circumspection, and to be guarded in his choice of acquaintances and associates. Fortunately for me, I found there two very respectable young men, also belonging to the 29th Regiment—A Mr. Duguid and another gentleman. We formed a little mess, and dined together.

Two or three weeks after my arrival, although I had never done any duty, and had not even attained the length of the goose-step in the way of drill, I was ordered on detachment to Niton with a party of the New South Wales Corps, under the command of Captain Cumming. This hero, I found, had tried his luck in several corps, but had never remained long in any. It appeared that he knew little or nothing of his real professional duties. He aspired to be a great martinet, especially in petty barrack detail. Nothing would satisfy him but that he must have the soldiers' rooms washed and scrubbed out every morning. He issued an order that man, woman and child, and every article of bedding, furniture, etc., should be turned out into the barrack-yard every morning at daybreak. This was a sharp order for any corps, but it fell particularly hard on the New South Walers, inasmuch as every man of them had a wife, and many had two, three, or more children—they having been expressly permitted, as married men, to volunteer from other corps to go to that colony.

After the second morning, the men began to grumble, and on the third, a cold, bleak day, they swore it was all nonsense to be so humbugged.

Location of Parkhurst Barracks (Albany Barracks) - Isle of Wight

On the fourth day they positively refused to obey the Captain's orders. They put on their accountrements, knapsacks, etc., and paraded with their arms in marching order, and determined to march back to the depot. I then knew nothing of military affairs, but common sense told me that all was wrong here. I ventured to interfere, first expostulating with the Captain, and then, by a short harangue to the mutineers, I brought both parties to reason, and the soldiers returned to their duty. After ruralising two or three weeks in this romantic part of the island, to my great satisfaction I was released from my post, and I returned to Newport in April.

One day I observed a dashingly dressed, gentlemanlike young man brought into barracks handcuffed under a military escort. A court-martial was immediately ordered to assemble, and the young man was accused of desertion, and was found guilty. I was present in court. The Hue and Cry was produced, in which he was advertised under a dozen different characters. He was sentenced to be flogged, and he received FIVE HUNDRED LASHES.

On the 30th July I went on board the headquarter ship and reported myself to the commanding officer, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel White. All were then in full expectation that the regiment would be employed in the expedition then assembling in the Downs, and which shortly afterwards proceeded to Copenhagen, and took that capital. But to our great disappointment, a few hours afterwards the 29th Regiment received orders to disembark, and occupy the barracks at Deal. We afterwards learned that the reason why we were ordered to remain was that the authorities at the Horse Guards supposed the regiment could not be in a fit state for immediate service, owing to its having been so long in North America. Never was there a greater mistake. All the general officers who beheld its disembarkation declared that it was one of the finest corps they had ever seen.

All the officers were present with the head-quarters of the regiment on the
1st of August and 1st of September, except where otherwise specified.
1st August
On board "Dominica" Transport at Sea
1st September
Sobral de Monte Grape
Colonel Gordon Forbes, LG. Absent with leave, His Majesty's permission.
Lieut.-Colonels Fred Maitland, MG.  Absent with leave, His Majesty's permission.
Honble. G. A. F. Lake Killed, Rolica, 17th August.  -
Majors Daniel White, lc. - -
Gregory Way Wounded, 17th Inst. Prisoner of War.
Captains Thos. Egerton, m. Severely Wounded, Sick in Portugal.
  17th Inst.  -
Andrew Creagh, m. Wounded at Vimiero, 21st Inst. Sick in Portugal.
- - -
John Tucker Absent. Brigade Major, Nova Scotia.
L. Augustus Northey Absent. ADQMG., England.
Peter Hodge Wounded, 17th inst. (Arm broken.) Sick in Portugal.
Saml. Gauntlett - -
George Tod - Prisoner of War.
Eugene Nestor - -
Chas. W. Davy - -
Andrew Patison Wounded, 17th Inst. Prisoner of War.
Lieutenants H. Birmingham Absent. Prisoner in France.
Walter Birmingham - Prisoner of War.
Robt. Birmingham Severely wounded, 17th Inst. Died of Wounds, 10th September.
Ambrose Newbold - Prisoner of War.
John Humfrey - -
Wm. Wade, Adjt. - -
Charles Smyth - -
Thomas Gell - -
Thos. Langton Wounded, 17th Inst. Prisoner of War.
St. John W. Lucas Wounded, 17th Inst. Prisoner of War.
Elmes S. L. Nicholson - -
James Nestor Recruiting at Killashandra, Ireland.
Robert Stannus Wounded, 17th Inst. Prisoner of War.
James Brooks - -
Wm. Duguid - -
Adam Gregory - -
Charles Leslie - -
Thos. Popham - -
Wm. Penrose Absent. Not yet joined. -
Charles Stanhope - -
Wm. Champain Absent without leave. -
Wm. Elliot Absent. Not yet joined. -
Andrew Leith Hay Absent. Not yet joined.  -
Ensigns Thos. Lewis Coker - -
Henry Pennington - -
Samuel Hardy Recruiting at Manchester. -
Alexr. Young - -
Benjn. Wild - -
John Marshall Absent. Not yet joined. -
Henry Reid Absent. Not yet joined. -
Pay Master Thos. Stott - -
Adjutant Wm. Wade - -
Qr. Master Wm. Gillespie - -
Surgeon Geo. Guthrie - -
Assistant Surgeons Edwd. Curby - -
Lewis Evans Attending the Sick on board the Transports.

The 29th Regiment embarked in four transports. The headquarter ship, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lake, took four companies; the second, under Captain Richard Egerton, took two companies; the third, under Captain Nestor, two companies; and the fourth, the John transport under Captain Gauntlett, took one company and the weakly men—this being also the hospital ship. In this latter ship I embarked. We had the pleasure and advantage of having on board with us the regimental surgeon, the eminent Mr. Guthrie; also Lieutenant Humphrey, a clever, amusing Irishman, and Ensign Alexander Young, who played Scotch reels on the violin with great vigour, to our amusement. This gentleman had been a captain in the Aberdeenshire Militia, and had volunteered to serve in the regular army.

The convoy was detained by contrary winds after the day fixed for sailing. The wind being from the west proved that our destination lay in that direction, and not to the eastward. During this delay an officer from the regiment was sent on shore every day to receive orders from the office of the Adjutant-General of the expedition. On one occasion, it being my turn to perform this duty, I had to take a copy of a code of private signals established for the expedition, and the officers commanding each transport received three letters, each sealed, marked private, and numbered I, II, III.

On the 20th December 1807, the wind having chopped round to the eastward, the convoy, consisting of about three hundred sail, got under weigh, and passed through the Needles. On the 22nd we were fairly in the Bay of Biscay. Next day the wind failed. It became a dead calm, and the sea was as smooth as glass, so that we lowered our boats and exchanged visits with the other transports. During the night the wind began to rise, coming from the south-west, directly in our teeth. I happened to be on the midnight watch. The night was pitchy dark; suddenly I observed a round red light, and called the attention of the mate to it. He said, "It is the Commodore's light, but how on earth can it he so near us, for just before dark I saw him a long way ahead ? " While in this wonderment, the light suddenly enlarged, and moved two or three times quickly up and down, and then vanished, leaving us in still greater amazement. It was a meteor, which proved to be a bad omen. The wind increased in violence. All sail was shortened. It was evident that a gale of wind had commenced. The gale was so bad on the 25th—Christmas day—that we could only get a small quantity of meat cooked, and we were obliged to eat our food seated like Turks on sails on the cabin floor. This tremendous storm continued for some time with unabated fury. The fleet was much dispersed, and we were buffeted about for three days without being able to make an inch of headway. On the 28th December, the Commodore hoisted a blue and yellow check flag. This puzzled our ship-captain, and also our commander. No one could make anything of it. When I saw that they all gave it up, I suggested that they had better look into the code of private signals, and they would find that it meant to repair to the rendezvous No. 1. They did so, and I was right. The sealed order No. 1 being opened, it was found that the fleet was directed to rendezvous off Lisbon.

We were, if possible, more anxious than ever to get on, but we were doomed to disappointment. The hurricane still raged. On the 31st December only two vessels remained in sight. Our vessel, which was by no means of large size, was straining very much. No fire could be lighted, and no progress could be made. We were therefore obliged to lay too. The ship-captain represented all the difficulties to the commanding officer, and recommended that we should bear up for Falmouth. This was accordingly done, and on the morning of the 1st January, 1808, we found ourselves scudding back to England under almost bare poles, much against our inclination. We were driven past Falmouth, and then tried for Plymouth, but as the storm still blew furiously, no pilot could reach us. We therefore proceeded to Portsmouth, and arrived at the Motherbank on the 5th January 1808.

The fleet sailed from Falmouth with a fair wind on the 23rd February 1808. In two or three days we were nearly across the Bay of Biscay, which, although as usual very rough, was comparatively smooth to what it was two months before. During one of the nights there was a vessel not far from us firing signal-guns of distress; but the sea was so rough that no boat could venture to go to her assistance. Fortunately the weather moderated after daybreak, and the vessels nearest the one in distress succeeded in rescuing the troops and crew on board; and well they did so, for the ship went down head-foremost soon after being abandoned. A heroic action deserves to be recorded; two ladies, officers' wives, on board the distressed vessel sat on deck during the whole night, cutting up flannel petticoats, and made them into cartridge bags.

We kept a southerly course, and on the morning of the 28th February 1808, we made the Rock of Lisbon; and in the evening we passed outside the English fleet blockading the port, the French being then in possession of the country. We continued running down the coast of Portugal, and late on the 1st March 1808, we made Cape St. Vincent. Here the wind became light, so that we made but little way for some days. Then we found that our course was taking an easterly direction. The ship-captain informed us that we were off Cadiz, and that as there were no orders to stop there, we must be going up the Straits. His surmise proved correct. Next day we were off Trafalgar, of glorious memory, and at daylight on the morning of the 12th March we beheld the pillars of Hercules. There lay the verdant highlands of Spain on the left hand, and the bold blue hills of Africa on the right. The Channel gradually closed, and we were about to enter the gut, when we observed another large convoy bearing down upon us from the southward. This was a fleet of merchantmen, also from England. It was a grand and magnificent sight to see five or six hundred vessels, all under the British flag, passing in proud defiance within gunshot of the hostile shore.

I found it a great relief to be once more on terra firma after such a long confinement on board ship.

No place is more worthy of the traveller's notice than Gibraltar, and to a military man it is particularly interesting from its natural and artificial strength. In approaching it by sea its formidable and picturesque appearance is very striking. The stupendous height of the Rock rising abruptly from the flat sandy plain on the north, or Spanish, side, the cragged peaks of the upper ridge, the length of rock extending towards the south, and ending in the lower rocky ground of Europa Point, present a panorama which cannot be rivalled. The town presents a gay appearance, situated as it is on a declivity on the north-west corner of the Rock. It is built like an amphitheatre, ranges of building towering one above the other, all the houses being painted various colours. It is surmounted by an ancient Moorish castle. Long lines of fortifications run along the sea-front. The various quays and moles are crowded with shipping of every size and description, British and foreign. The general bluish-grey appearance of the stem rock is enlivened by the rich verdure of the evergreens, and various sorts of fruit-trees embellish the neat gardens attached to the various houses, some of which are built on ledges seeming to overhang the precipitous rock, and others are situated on gentle slopes. Such is the external appearance of Gibraltar.

Nor is it less remarkable within. The diversified nature of the fortifications, their immense extent and impregnable strength, strike every observer. The north front of the rock towards Spain presents an almost perpendicular face. This is pierced with galleries, one above the other, cut out of the solid rock, having port-holes for cannon. These tiers of guns look like the broadside of a man-of-war. On the top of the rock, where it is tolerably level, there are mortar batteries and magazines, high in air. All these batteries command the neutral ground. Each gun has its range marked, so that a column approaching, or being in any particular spot, can be hit with certainty. Beneath this commence the regular fortifications of the Land-port and Water-port, on the north-west angle, and which are continued southwards along the whole sea-front, facing the west, to Europa Point, about two or three miles. From the Water-port a long battery, mounted with heavy guns, runs out into the bay in a northerly direction, flanking the neutral ground, and, being on a level with it, sweeping it completely by a cross fire. These formidable works are called by the appropriate name of the Devil's Tongue. This, however, is but a meager outline of the numerous artificial and natural defences. Viewed as a whole, the rock inspires awe and admiration. The immense storehouses, the vast magazines, the piles of shot and shell lying in every direction, the grand reservoir for water, the order and regularity with which everything is arranged, prove that every preparation is made and held in readiness for a resolute defence.

There are many peculiarities in the town, which strike a stranger—such as the various styles of building; but nothing strikes one more than the motley appearance of the inhabitants. These are composed of all nations from every quarter of the globe. All are dressed in the fashion of their several countries. One sees numbers of Arabs and Turks, in their rich loose dresses and morocco slippers; dark Moors, in their white camel-hair cloaks; multitudes of Jews, in their small sealskin caps, blue cassocks, and with bare legs; Greeks, in their splendid costumes; Genoese women, in red cloaks with black spots; Spanish beauties, in their native attire, says and mantilla, pacing gracefully along; English and French, in every variety of fashion; military uniforms of every shade, without uniformity, from the kilted Highlander to the dark-green rifleman. In fact, the public square at any time of the day represents the most perfect bal costumé that can be imagined. It must be allowed, however, that behind this fancy scene there are some drawbacks. The streets are narrow, and in general by no means clean. A horrid smell of garlic pervades them during the dinner hour.


We arrived off Cadiz next day, the 18th May, and joined the blockading fleet under Lord Collingwood and Admiral Purvis. We stood off and on for a day or two, and were then ordered to anchor close inshore. From our position we could clearly see every ship of the enemy's fleet, because, from their lying in the upper harbour, there was only the low, narrow strip of land, which unites Cadiz to the mainland between us and them. The combined fleet consisted of five or six French ships of the line, with some frigates, under the command of Admiral Rossilly, six Spanish sail of the line, and some frigates.

Being anchored pretty much inshore, many of the inhabitants came off to welcome us, shouting, ‘Viva, viva, los Engleses!’ and expressing most earnest wishes to unite with England in driving the French from their town and country. Hundreds of fishing boats now resumed their former occupation. Their sharp, angular latteen sails gave them the resemblance of an encampment on the ocean.

We left Cadiz on the 12th June 1808, and arrived on the 14th at the mouth of the Guadiana, which here forms the frontier separating Spain from Portugal. The object of our expedition was to make a demonstration against the French, and to cover and protect the Spanish insurrection for freedom, which had just commenced at Ayamonte, that it might not be obstructed or put down by the French forces in Portugal in that neighbourhood.

Lord Collingwood

As our troops were in want of fresh provisions, the Spanish Governor, anxious to oblige his new allies, promised to procure them for us. Accordingly, the General commanding permitted each ship to send a boat on shore. I had the good fortune to be the officer sent in charge of the one from our ship. But not being aware that the mouth of the Guadiana consisted of several branches, and that the enemy was in immediate possession of the Portuguese branch, we entered the main channel. On passing a battery, which commanded the entrance, we were challenged. But taking no notice we pushed on and soon entered a branch on the Spanish side, by which we reached Ayamonte. I then learned the escape I had just made of being taken prisoner, as the battery we had passed was occupied by the enemy. The other boats had entered by a channel in the Spanish territory. We being the first English who had landed in Spain since the breaking out of the patriotic cause, were received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants. The governor invited all the officers to an entertainment in the evening, and had provided for us billets in all the best houses. The Spanish officers, both of the army and navy, almost crushed us in their raternal embraces, and insisted on carrying us from house to house, and introducing us to all fhe pretty ladies in the place. These dark beauties gave us the most cordial reception, and sang patriotic songs and warlike hymns, accompanied on the guitar or piano. Some of the naval officers, who had been in England, repeatedly sang 'God save the King' and ‘Rule Britannia.' Their admiration of England's prowess seemed unaffected. In many houses we observed busts of Mr. Pitt. Everyone extolled him as the greatest man in Europe, and they acknowledged that his policy was the wisest that could have been pursued, and that his causing the Spanish ships of war bearing treasure from South America to be intercepted showed his great foresight, although viewed by them at the time as a breach of international law, because they admitted that the whole of the money was destined as a subsidy for France to be employed by Napoleon against themselves. The Governor's supper went off with great harmony. Mutual toasts were given, and bumpers were drunk to the perpetual union of the two nations. We took our departure next morning amidst many regrets at our short acquaintance.

From the extreme heat of the weather, we could do little else after early parade than pore over our Spanish grammars. Morning calls were not much the fashion, for in this climate the people rise early to enjoy the cool of the morning. The ladies first walk to church ; and after breakfast, which consists of a cup of chocolate and a morsel of bread, washed down with a glass of cold water, remain at home; lounging generally in loose deshabille, or seated in the Moorish fashion on mats, working, or playing the guitar, until the dinner hour, which is usually about two o'clock. Immediately after this, man, woman, and child take a siesta for a couple of hours. The ladies then adorn themselves for the amusements of the evening, which consist in promenading, attending the theatre, tertulias, &c. As the day declines, one sees the elegant forms of the pretty signoratas slowly, but gracefully, pacing along, with erect carriage, to their favourite public walk, they being always in advance of their mammas or the old duenna, who follow at a short distance behind. They still adhere to their national dress, which is certainly unique, and most becoming, being well calculated to display the symmetry of their persons to advantage; and the fair Gaditanas flatter themselves that they excel in dress, figure, and fortunes all the rest of their countrywomen. Their pretty little feet, in tight silk hose and the neatest slippers in the world, show advantageously under the black saya, always put on previously to going out over their undress. It is of satin or silk, ornamented with flounces of network, composed of black jet beads and silk tufts or tassels; the lower hem all round is loaded with small shot, to keep it close to the figure. The bodice, which is likewise richly trimmed with network at the shoulders and cuffs, where there are gold buttons, is closely fitted on. Their fine dark hair is tastefully dressed and adorned with choice flowers having a high comb inlaid with gold devices. Over this is thrown the graceful white lace mantilla, so placed in the comb as to leave the face and forehead bare. The flowing ends are crossed in front of the chest, and held close by the left arm. In the right hand is held their constant companion, the fan, which they handle with a dexterity peculiar to themselves, playfully tossing it open, or shutting it with great rapidity, or, at times, courting the gentle breeze by fanning themselves; at others, it supplants the parasol, being employed to keep off the sun. When closed, if they look at you and shake it, held upwards, it means How do you do? If held pointing downwards, Come here; I want to speak to you. When in a rage they flirt it open, and close it in a hasty manner, to show their indignation; in fact, they have a complete fan language.

The final dispositions for attacking the enemy having been made, the army was put in motion. The only audible order I heard given was by Sir Brent Spencer, who shouted out, “Bring up four hundred of those ragamuffins here, and let them march off to the right.” He meant our allies, the Portugese, who, poor fellows, had little or no uniform, but were merely in white jackets, large broad-brimmed hats turned up at one side, some having feathers, and others none, so that they cut rather a grotesque appearance. We now had every prospect of having what the army had so long and so ardently looked for—an opportunity of meeting the enemy.

The army having broken up from the encampment at Caldas at daylight on the morning of the 17th August 1808, was assembled in continguous columns on the plain of Obidos, where the final arrangements having been made for the attack, the army was put in motion. Soon after passing through Obidos the columns struck off into different routes to reach the ordered points of attack. That under General Ferguson went to the left, and General Hill's to the right. The centre column proceeded on the main road. The third brigade, consisting of the 29th and 82nd Regiments, under General Nightingale, was in front, and the 29th the leading regiment.

We continued to march direct for the enemy, whom we discovered apparantly in three columns posted on an elevated plain beyond the village of Mamed, having the commanding heights of Rolica at a short distance in their rear. We made a momentary halt; the men were ordered to prime and load; we moved forward through the village of Mamed; after crossing a bridge, formed line and advanced, expecting to engage every moment. When we arrived at the position where we first saw the French posted we found they had retreated. Their right was filing to the rear, masked by a cloud of skirmishers, posted on some rising ground covered with brushwood at the foot of the mountains, and warmly engaged with General Fane's riflemen. Their left had retired through the village of Columbeira, and occupied the heights of Rolica or Zambugeira, which ran in rear of and commanded that village.

Our artillery took up a position near a windmill on an eminence to the left of the village, which commanded the aforesaid rising ground, and opened a well-directed fire on the enemy.

Lieut.-Colonel Lake

The 82nd Regiment being ordered to another point of the attack, the 29th broke into open column, and advanced in column of sections through the village of Columbeira, led by the gallant Colonel Lake. They were now much galled by the enemy's sharpshooters from the heights, particularly from a high pinnacle commanding the village, and by a cannonade of round shot on the left. It being observed that the regiment was so much exposed, the left wing was ordered not to follow the right through the village, but to move round it to the left, and hence it did not reach the entrance of the pass until a considerable time after the right wing. The light company of the 29th was also detached with those of the 5th and 82nd Regiments to make a demonstration on a pass farther to the right. On leaving the village the right wing turned to the left through some vineyards, and advanced along the foot of the heights in order to gain the pass, exposed to a flank fire the whole way, from which we suffered considerably.

We now entered the pass, which was extremely steep, narrow, and craggy, being the dried-up bed of a mountain torrent, so that at some places only two or three men could get up at a time. The enemy kept up a tremendous fire at point-blank upon us, to which not a shot was returned; but we kept eagerly pushing on as fast as circumstances would admit. About half-way up there was a small olive-grove, in which we halted to form, and the men were ordered to take off their haversacks, greatcoats, etc., which was done under a continual shower of bullets. The pass turned again very difficult; we could only advance by files, but no disorder took place, the men showing a laudable anxiety to push forward.

The farther we advanced the more the ravine receded into the centre of the enemy, and numbers were now falling from the continued fire on all sides.

Colonel Lake's horse was shot about this time, upon which Major Way dismounted, and gave up his horse to the Colonel.

After clearing the narrow defile, we entered some open ground, thinly wooded, under shelter of which the officers lost no time in forming the men; the whole then pushed forward, and at last gained the wished-for heights; but we were now obliged, under a heavy fire, to take ground to the right, previous to forming in line, in order to give room for the rear to form as they came up, there not being at this time above three or four companies in line, and these much reduced from casualties. When the enemy, who appeared to have been lying down behind a broken earthen fence, which ran rather in an oblique direction along our front, suddenly rose up and ovened their fire, their officers seemed to endeavour to restrain them, and apparently urged them on to the charge, as we observed them knocking down the men's firelocks with their swords, but they did not advance.

Colonel Lake called out, ‘Don't fire, men; don't fire; wait a little, we shall soon charge’ (meaning when more companies should come up), adding, the bayonet is the true weapon for a British soldier, which were his dying words, for, as he moved towards the left to superintend the line being prolonged, he was marked and killed by a skirmisher (as will be shown), and his horse galloped into the French lines.

The right (in consequence of his death), not receiving any orders to advance, opened their fire, and a desperate engagement ensued. Some of the enemy in front of the extreme right, either as a ruse or in earnest, called out that they were poor Swiss, and did not wish to fight against the English; some were actually shaking hands, and a parley ensued, during which the enemy's troops who had been posted on the side of the ravine, finding we had forced it, and that they were likely to be cut off, began to retire, and coming in the rear of our right dashed through, carrying with them one major, who was dismounted, as before stated, five officers, and about twenty-five privates.

Owing to this accident, and the enemy continuing a tremendous fire from all sides, being left without support or a superior officer to command, and our numbers decreasing very fast, Brevet-Major Egerton, seeing the impossibility of making an effectual resistance, ordered us to fall back upon our left wing, which was still in the rear. We accordingly retired and got under cover of the wood.

On observing this the enemy set up a shout, and then, but not till then, advanced upon us, as if with a view to charge; some individuals on both sides got mixed, and had personal encounters with the bayonet; they, however, did not venture to press us, nor to follow us into the woody ground, where we formed on the left wing, which had now come up, being also joined by the 9th Regiment (which was sent to support the 29th when it was found that they were so seriously engaged). The whole now rapidly pushed forward and cleared the front of the enemy, who, after an ineffectual resistance, were driven from their position.

The 29th were then halted, and on mustering the regiment, there were found one lieutenant-colonel and one lieutenant killed, two captains severely wounded, one major and seven officers and 25 men prisoners, and 177 rank and file lying on the field killed and wounded—making a total of 214, exclusive of several officers who were hit, but were not returned as wounded. The whole of those taken prisoners belonged to the 3rd or 4th right companies, and not any from the left wing. There were but three officers remaining in the right wing, of whom I was one.

That Colonel Lake was killed by a sharpshooter was ascertained by the officers who were taken prisoners. There were two brothers named Bellegarde, forming part of the escort, which conducted them to the rear. These brothers were eagerly disputing which of them had the honour of killing the Colonel one declaring that he was lying under a bush close to Colonel Lake, and deliberately shot him while he was giving orders and forming the line. The horse, as stated, sprang forward into the French line, where he was taken, and was afterwards returned to the regiment in the most handsome manner by General Laborde, when we were doing duty in Lisbon with the French army, previous to their embarkation, in consequence of the Convention of Cintra.

To show that the regiment was not in disorder when we arrived at the top, I may state that after clearing the wood where we had re-formed, and were advancing in column of sections, a ball knocked off the steel of a sergeant's halbert, who was leading the section in front of me, which came flying backwards and struck Major Way, who, being dismounted, was walking alongside. Soon afterwards, when we were forming line, I saw his sword broken by a ball, whilst in the act of waving it and cheering the men. When he was taken prisoner, as before related, General Laborde gave him permission to retain the hilt of his sword, in which a part of the blade was still remaining; however, the escort (who behaved very brutally to him) afterwards made him throw it away.

We afterwards understood that it was not intended the 29th should have so soon attacked the strong pass, nor penetrate so far as we did, but were merely in the first instance to have occupied the village of Columbeira, and make a demonstration on the enemy's centre, whilst General Ferguson on the left, and General Hill on the right, should attack and turn his flanks. By some mistake, however, the order was misunderstood, and our gallant Colonel pushed on.

This account of the battle of Rolica, the correctness of which can be established by the testimony of several officers, I deem sufficient to prove:

I. That the 9th Regiment did not force a separate pass;
II. That the 29th Regiment did not arrive in disorder at the top; and,
III. That the French did not break through the midst of the regiment, slaying the Colonel and making sixty prisoners, as was asserted by Colonel Napier in his History of the Peninsular War.

On the next day, the 19th, we proceeded to Vimieiro, a small country town situated about a couple miles from the coast, in order, as we understood, to cover the disembarkment of a reinforcement of troops under Generals Anstruther and Ackland. The army was posted on a circular chain of heights, which runs betwixt the town and the sea, and then stretches eastwards into the country. The town is situated on a rising ground in front, having a flat low space between it and the foot of the heights, on which were placed the parks of artillery, commissary stores, bullock-carts, oxen, etc. The whole had an imposing and picturesque effect, particularly at night, when illuminated with the glare of the camp-fires on the heights, and those of the artillery and stores, surrounded by groups of soliders and peasants, drivers, and others, in the low grounds, and the advanced guard beyond the town.

Hitherto we had slept without any cover, because the woods we had passed through were principally olive-groves, which we had positive orders not to cut down. But there being a fir-wood in this vicinity, many of the officers got huts erected.

About eleven o'clock on the night of the 20th August the alarm was given that the enemy was advancing. All the inlying piquets were ordered under arms, and a brigade was ordered to occupy some heights on our left, and the rest of the army lay down by their arms. Nothing, however, occurred, and we got a quiet nap. We were on the alert an hour before daybreak on the 21st, and the expected reinforcement under General Anstruther marched into the camp about six o'clock a.m., after which we were dismissed. I ordered my servant to have breakfast ready about eight o'clock, and then threw myself down to get another nap. I was aroused about eight o'clock by the bugles sounding the alarm, the drums beating to arms, and the general cry of "Stand to your arms." This we accordingly did. I had just time to devour a morsel of bread, and swallow a tin of bad tea, while the men were falling in. We then observed a column of the enemy's cavalry on the top of some heights about a mile in our front, and moving to the left.

Vimeiro (1808)

Our brigade, consisting of the 29th and 82nd Regiments, under General Nightingale, were ordered to support the force under General Ferguson, who were posted on the heights to the left of the town, and towards which the enemy's column was pointing. Our men were directed to leave their knapsacks in the camp under charge of the quarter guard.

On reaching the foot of the heights the road was found to be so steep and heavy that two companies of the 29th Regiment were ordered to assist in dragging the guns up in addition to the artillery horses. After gaining the ascent, the 29th, being the leading regiment, moved along the edge of the heights, which sloped abruptly to the valley below. After advancing some distance we were deployed into line. From this point we had a grand view of the country to our right below. We could distinctly observe every movement made either by our own right wing, which was posted partly in the town and along a rising ground to a wood on the extreme right, or those made by the enemy, then forming preparatory to their grand attack, while the light troops and riflemen were warmly engaged.

It was a most inspiring sight to see the enemy advancing to attack. They were formed in two lines, the second supporting the front one. They moved with great rapidity and admirable regularity, pushing on in the most gallant and daring manner, apparently making a dash to force our centre. It had been thought that the first attack would have been made on the left, where we were, and every preparation had been made accordingly. Sir Arthur Wellesley and General Spencer were riding through our ranks, but on their observing that the centre was attacked with such vivacity, their attention was turned to that point, particularly when it was found that a column of the enemy emerging from a wood was attempting to penetrate down the valley which separated our heights from the town and our right wing. General Spencer exclaimed, "Can nothing be done to save our centre?" He immediately ordered the Grenadier and another company of the 29th Regiment, whose right rested on the verge of the height commanding this valley, to retire to the rear, and brought up two or three pieces of artillery, which opened a well-directed fire. This, with the imposing attitude of our right companies, effectually checked the column of the enemy, who would have been exposed to a flank fire had they persisted in advancing. They went to the right about, and retired in haste. While watching with intense interest the progress of the enemy's attack on our centre, we observed a party of the 43rd Light Infantry stealing out of the village and moving behind a wall to gain the right flank of the enemy's lines, on which they opened a fire at the moment when the enemy came in contact with our troops in position. The French had been allowed to come close, then our gallant fellows, suddenly springing up, rapidly poured on them two or three volleys with great precision, and rushing on, charged with the bayonet. We soon had the satisfaction of seeing the enemy broken and retreating in the utmost haste and disorder, closely pursued by our small force of cavalry, under Colonel Taylor, who made a brilliant charge, in which he fell. About this part of the action I first observed Sir Harry Burrard making his appearance. He had just disembarked, and assumed the command.

Scarcely was this victorious achievement and repulse of the enemy accomplished by the right wing, when we on the left wing were attacked with great vigour. The enemy attempted to turn the extreme left of our lines, so that the 29th Regiment, being on the right, had at first little to do. But the light companies of the 29th, 82nd, and 40th Regiments were warmly engaged in skirmishing close in our front. Our men were ordered to lie flat down on the ground, yet we lost considerable number. We found it rather difficult to keep the men still, as they were impatient to get forward, particularly as they were under a galling fire, and were not allowed to return a shot. We at length received orders to advance against a column of the enemy. Their artillery opened a very sharp fire upon us, but as our line was descending, they did little execution, although every shot passed close over our heads. On our approaching the enemy we were not allowed to fire, but we marched steadily on, ready to charge. They began to waver, retired some distance, and fired about. But on our continuing to push on, they rapidly retreated before we could close with them, and abandoned all their guns.

We were then halted, and as the enemy appeared to have gone completely off, our men were allowed to stand at ease. While resting in this manner we suddenly observed a column of the enemy, which, it seems, had suddenly concealed in a village on the opposite heights, make a dash down as if they meant to attack us, while a body of cavalry at the same time appeared on our right flank, threatening to turn and attack us in that flank. We were instantly ordered to form four deep, which formation afforded the advantage of showing a front to meet the enemy in line, and at the same time of sufficient strength to resist cavalry. On the enemy approaching the low ground a destructive fire was opened upon him by the 71st Regiment, and the light companies of the 29th and 8th Regiments, which had been lying there concealed by the willow beds and bushes, unknown to us, much less to this column of the enemy, whom, after returning an irregular fire, broke and fled in the utmost disorder up the hill again to the village. Our artillery opened a well-directed fire upon them, and we beheld the poor fellows scampering off in all directions to avoid the shot and shells continually falling among them. They made an attempt to rally in the village again, but our guns made it too hot for them, so they continued their flight right over the hill, and disappeared from our view. The cavalry, which had threatened us, on observing the discomfiture of their infantry, rapidly retired. This was the last expiring effort on the part of the French that day. We afterwards observed the shattered remains of their various columns concentrating again at a point nearly two miles off. We now learned that our right wing had been equally successful, and had defeated the enemy. From the description of this battle it will be observed that, from the nature of the ground, it consisted of two distinct actions, both fought nearly at the same time, and about a mile or two apart.

I took advantage of our halting at Caldas to make a pilgrimage to the Heights of Rolica, of such glorious memory to our regiment. The day unfortunately proved dull and misty, and was consequently very unfavourable for a proper inspection of the whole position. However, I went step for step over the ground and up the steep ravine, which had been so daringly forced. It was melancholy to observe the bones, hair, and pieces of uniform of our brave comrades and gallant enemies lying strewed about. Ravenous wolves had scratched up the graves of friend and foe, and had devoured the remains. Although eight months had elapsed since the action, there were quantities of French shakos, pieces of broken muskets and other arms lying about. Our regiment had a memorial monumental stone, with a suitable inscription on it, erected here in memory of our gallant Colonel Lake, to mark the spot where he fell. A handsome monument was also erected in Westminster Abbey. Both of these were defrayed by subscription of so many days' pay from officers and men.

GRIJO, 1809
We were under arms long before daybreak next morning, the 11th May. Our piquets reported soon after dawn that the enemy had disappeared from their front. We immediately advanced in pursuit, but they had got the start of us so much that we saw nothing of them until we reached a wood about ten miles farther on. Then we observed the enemy's advanced posts. Two companies of the 29th Regiment, to one of which I was attached, were thrown into the wood on the right of the road, as a patrol of discovery, and also as a flanking party to protect the flank of the advanced column, by clearing the wood of any parties of the enemy. We had a Portugese guide with us, and I acted as interpreter. We extended a subdivision, and advanced in skirmishing order, but the enemy's party withdrew without any resistance. We, however, held the wood until we were relieved by riflemen of the German Legion under Major-General Murray, when we were withdrawn and rejoined our regiment.

The enemy, about 5,000 men, were posted in position on the heights above the village of Grijo, which is situated in a valley. The woods in the low ground and the village were occupied by their light troops, all under General Marmont, who had been pushing on for Oporto on his learning that the British were advancing.

We halted on a height on the side of the vale directly opposite to them, the 29th Regiment being formed in line, the 16th Portugese on our left, and the cavalry and artillery on the right, on the main road, all ready to move on to the attack. Our light troops, consisting of the light company of the 29th Regiment, with the detachments of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments, and the 95th Rifle Corps, all under the command of Major Way of the 29th Regiment, dashed on, and were soon warmly engaged with the enemy in the woods below. During this we were ordered to lie down. Sir Arthur Wellesley and his staff were immediately in rear of our colours. The enemy's shot was passing through and over us pretty thick. One passed between myself and an officer who was in the act of handing me a cup of wine, nearly dashing it from his hand, and it fell just in front of Sir Arthur's horse.

The skirmishing still continuing with great obstinacy, and the enemy not seeming inclined to give way, Sir Arthur Wellesley said, " If they don't move soon, I must let the old 29th loose upon them."

About two o'clock in the morning on the 12th May, we were aroused by the noise of a loud explosion, which shook the ground. We immediately got under arms, and soon afterwards learned that the enemy had retired across the Douro, and had blown up the bridge of boats.

It was now clear that our commander was determined to force the passage of the Douro, and to drive the enemy from Oporto. By some mistake no orders arrived for our moving on, and we were kept waiting for some hours in an anxious state of suspense. However, orders at length arrived, and we proceeded with great expedition to Villa Nova, which is a suburb of Oporto, situated on the left bank of the Douro. We were halted in the steep narrow streets, and the column of sections well closed up. The inhabitants told us that from the top of their houses they could see the French under arms in the streets and squares in the town opposite, seemingly without any apprehension that a formidable enemy was so near them. We could not venture to go up to look at them, because in the interim the regiment might have moved on. Word was passed from the rear to open right and left to let the Guards pass, but we resolved that no one should go before us, and passed the word back that we were so crowded that it was impossible to open out to let anyone pass, so we remained at the head of the column, and near the edge of the water, concealed from the view of the enemy only by some houses.

In the meantime Sir Arthur Wellesley had ordered the artillery to take post in the garden of the Convent of St. Augustine, which is situated on a commanding height at Villa Nova, and commands the city on the other side of the river. We soon afterwards heard a partial cannonade, and then volleys of small arms. This, we learned, proceeded from General Hill's division, which was crossing over immediately above the town, under protection of our artillery, while a division of Germans, under General Murray, crossed the river four miles higher up at Avintas.

Soult now observing that the attack became very serious, and that his retreat might be endangered, began to evacuate the town. This being observed, we were ready to take advantage of it. Signs were made to the inhabitants, some of whom, availing themselves of the confusion in the enemy's army, instantly brought over several boats. The 29th Regiment immediately jumped into them, and pushed across in the frail barks, for many of the boats were in a dangerous state, being much shattered by the explosion the previous night. We succeeded in gaining the opposite shore with no other opposition than a few straggling shots, as the enemy hastily retired to the upper part of the town on our landing and forming on the quay. We immediately entered the town, and advanced up the main street, amidst the acclamations of the people, and the ladies, who from the upper windows and house-tops kept cheering, waving their handkerchiefs, and shouting, “Viva ! Viva !” The doors and shops were all closed, and the streets as we advanced were strewed with French baggage which had been abandoned in their haste. On gaining the upper part of the town we observed some of the enemy through an opening. We then turned down on our right where the high road enters from Valenza, on which the enemy was retreating to Amarante. Here our leading company, the Grenadiers, began to fire upon them. They made little resistance, and made off in haste and confusion, abandoning a brigade of artillery and some ammunition waggons, and many were killed and wounded by our fire. We left sentries to protect the wounded, as the Portuguese mob was threatening to kill them.

During our stay at Placentia, a sergeant of our Grenadier company being appointed orderly to the Adjutant-General, the Honourable Sir Charles William Stewart, afterwards Marquess of Londonderry, he used to go into the town every morning, and returned again in the evening. One day on his way back, just on quitting the town, he was met by two persons, one of whom spoke English remarkably well. They addressed him, saying that an English soldier was lying intoxicated at some distance off, and offered to accompany him to show him where the man was. To this the sergeant agreed. They took the direction to some high broken ground, covered with large rocks and brushwood. After searching about for some time, and getting more and more into a remote lonely hollow, they alleged that they were tired, and sat down upon a large stone. The sergeant did so likewise. After some conversation relating to the English army, in which they endeavoured to discover its numbers, and what place they were likely to go to next, finding that the sergeant evaded their questions, they turned fiercely upon him, and presenting pistols, declared they would shoot him if he did not disclose everything he knew. They told him that they were aware that he was employed by the Adjutant-General, and that he must know the number of brigades, the names of the Generals, and the destination of the army, whether going to move on Madrid or go through the passes to the north. They kept urging him until nearly daybreak next morning, and on his still refusing to answer their questions, they said, “Now we must be off, and we shall shoot you!” Both started up; one of them presented his pistol, on seeing which the sergeant threw himself back, in doing which his right hand was raised. A ball went through it. Fortunately he put his hand to his face, which being covered with blood, the men imagined that he was mortally wounded, and also, no doubt, dreaded that the report of firearms might bring someone to the spot. They ran off in great haste, and were soon out of sight from the sergeant's description of the two men, one must have been a French officer in disguise and the other a regular spy.

After a few days good wine became scrace, owing to the great demand made for it by our army. I strapped on my canteen one day, and went into town. While strolling about in search of a place likely to afford the desired beverage, I spied an elderly, portly-looking signora peeping out at the wicket of a large gateway. So I asked her, "Do you sell wine?" She at first hesitated, and seemed shy of answering my question, but on looking about and seeing no other military near, she stepped back and, making a sign with her hand, said, "Enter, signor," and immediately bolted the wicket. She then led the way across a court, and opened a cellar door. I took off my canteen and gave it to her to fill, and remained at the door, not wishing to intrude into her secret depot. On perceiving this, she came back and begged me to come in, saying, “Pray enter, signor; do not fear anything, we are old Christians” — Viejos christianos (not "converted" Jews).

During this campaign there appeared in our bivouac a peculiar race of men, retailers of lemonade, who continued to accompany the army throughout the whole war as regular followers. They were fine large muscular fellows, of swarthy complexion, expressive dark eyes, black bushy hair, all natives of Valentia, and dressed in a most unique costume. They had sandals made of a sort of wild grass, or of goatskin, on their feet, their legs bare, short, wide petticoat trousers scarcely reaching to the knee, like a kilt, jackets made of some light-coloured cotton stuff with slashed sleeves to admit the air, large red sashes encircling their loins, their bronzed necks perfectly bare; a broad-brimmed sombrero, or hat, shaded their open, manly countenances. Each had a ticket stuck in front of his hat, indicating his name and number, so that no spies under such disguise could enter our lines. On their backs by a cross-belt were slung a sort of long slender barrels of churn form, having a tube and turncock near the bottom, and a basket with glasses of various sizes. This was their stock-in-trade. They promenaded the camp or accompanied the column on the march, vending at a moderate price their cool and refreshing beverage, bawling out, "Limonada ! Limonada fresca !” The chief of each party had a donkey loaded with common sugar, &c. They resorted to the coldest springs before daylight, and there prepared their lemonade. When our ration wine was bad, or so hot as not to be palatable, which was but too often the case, we indulged in a glass of punch-royal, which was most easily made. We hailed one of these lemonade sellers, and purchased a quart or two of his lemonade, to which we added a portion of his Majesty's ration rum, with a glass or two of suttler's brandy, and our punch was made.

The Spanish army, taken as a whole, presented the most motley and grotesque appearance. Many corps were regulars, and many more were irregulars. Their uniforms were of every variety of colour, their equipments and appointments of the most inferior description. All were deficient in discipline and regular organisation. One could not but lament these defects, for the men were remarkably fine, possessing the most essential qualities to make good soldiers, being individually brave, patient, and sober, capable of enduring much fatigue, while their officers in general were the very reverse. The infantry regiments of the line were generally in blue uniform with red facings. The provincial corps, styled volunteers, were mostly dressed in the brown Spanish cloth of the country, with green or yellow facings; some had chakoes, others broad-brimmed hats with the rim turned up at one side, and all had cap-plates of tin announcing their designation. Some had belts, others had none. They had no pouches, but a broad band of soft brown leather in which was placed a row of tin tubes, each holding a cartridge, and having a fold of leather to cover them, fastened round the waist. There were several Swiss regiments, also dressed in brown. Two or three regiments, which had formerly been composed of Irish, still retained the name of Regiments d'Irlanda, de Hibernia, &c., in red uniforms with blue facings, and a harp on the collar of the jacket. They had only a few officers, who were Irish or of Irish extraction. The most efficient corps were the Walloon Guards, who were all supposed to be Flemish Walloons, but they were principally German Swiss, with a number of other foreigners. They wore a blue uniform with red facings, bordered with white lace, and they had silver epaulets and ornaments. The cavalry consisted of heavy and light dragoons, with some regiments of hussars. Some were tolerably well dressed, in blue uniforms with red facings, others in yellow with red facings. Some had boots, but many wore long leather leggings, which came up several inches above the knee. The horses in general were small, active, and hardy, of the Spanish Barbary breed.

Everything indicated the appearance of an antiquated system; nothing of the new schoo1 in the art of war seemed to have been adopted in the Spanish army. The proud Castilians seemed still to believe that they were the same energetic race who maintained a high degree of celebrity in Europe, and became the conquerors of the new world. They still clung to the ancient customs and prejudices, and seemed to be altogether unconscious of their inferiority.

To understand the positions on the field of battle, it may be stated that our line of defence ran from the Tagus on our right to a conical hill about two miles on the left. The town of Talavera, situated on the left bank of the river, was about half a mile in the rear, and the Madrid road running east from it was parallel to the Tagus at a short distance from its bank. On this road, and nearly half a mile from the town, stood a church, in front of which field-works were thrown up, and a battery of Spanish heavy guns placed on it so as to command the road and the space between it and the Tagus. This point became properly the right of our position. From this, and for a mile towards the left, the country was level, but covered with gardens, olive-groves, and vineyards, and was much interersected by thick earthen walls, which rendered it very defensible. Here the Spaniards were posted.

29th Regiment at Talavera (1809)

From the edge of these wooded enclosures the ground was open, and began to rise gradually, until it reached the summit of a conical point of a range of green hills on the left. Beyond these hills, which were very steep, on the other, or north side, there was a valley, and beyond that commenced a broken rocky mountainous country, impassable for troops, which enclosed the position on that flank. The whole space from the enclosure to the hills was occupied by the British, who formed the left wing of the army, while some light troops and cavalry were placed in the village beyond.

Near the British right flank, and just clear of the olive-groves, was a large knoll, on which some works were begun to be thrown up, and a brigade of British guns was placed there in battery. The bed of a dried-up stream, coming from the mountains, ran along the whole front of the position down to the Tagus.

Between four and five o'clock in the afternoon our brigade moved off, left in front, between the Spanish lines. The Spaniards appeared very valiant, and cried out, “Rompez los Franceses.”

We could now hear smart musketry firing going on between our advanced guard and the enemy. The sound of cannon and small arms seemed approaching us very rapidly. On getting clear of the enclosures and gaining the lower slope of the hill, our brigade, the 29th Regiment, one battalion of detachments, and one battalion of the 48th Regiment, was drawn up in rear of the front line. We could now see our advanced guard retiring across the plain, closely pursued by the enemy. A portion of the advanced guard moved directly towards us, and passed through our line, and proceeded to the different places in position. During this the French kept up a continued fire against them of shot and shell, which were now falling thick and fast amongst us. While this cannonade continued we were ordered to lie down. As the evening was now closing, and darkness began to prevail, we could discern the shells and time their course from the moment they left the mouth of the howitzers by their fuses burning like brilliant stars as they rose in the air, then rapidly descending right down upon us, or breaking over our heads. Many of us made narrow escapes, but on the whole no very serious loss was occasioned. The firing ceased, and all seemed hushed and quiet. We lay on the ground with our arms in hand. The night became very dark and gloomy. We had continued in this way nearly an hour, when in a moment, about nine o'clock, there opened a tremendous fire on the top of the hill on our left, and which seemed to have been taken up and ran down the first line in our front. It was now evident that the enemy had made a dash at this, the key of our position, and were in possession of the top, as we could, by the blaze of fire-arms and the flashes of light, distingusih the faces of the French and those of our own troops returning the fire.

The 29th Regiment was immediately thrown into open column, left in front, and instantly moved up the hill to attack the enemy, directing our march between the fire of both parties. Without halting, our left made a dashing charge, and after a short but desperate struggle drove the French off the summit of the position. We then wheeled into line, advanced obliquely to our left, and opened our fire on the French reserves, which were pushing up in support of their discomfited comrades. This decided the affair; the enemy was completely overthrown and fled in confusion, leaving the ground strewed with their dead, dying, and wounded, among whom was the colonel of the 9th French Regiment, and quantities of arms and accountrements. During this affair, when we formed into line, our right companies were some way down the slope of the hill. We could see the French column moving up across our front, their drums beating the charge, and we could hear their officers giving orders and encouraging their men, calling out, “En avant, Francais !” En avant, mes enfants I But our well-directed volleys and cheers of victory stopped their progress, and their shattered columns returned in dismay. The wounded and the prisoners informed us that they were part of General Ruffin's division. The 29th Regiment took possession of the top of the hill, our colours being planted on the summit.

It was evident that the troops posted on the hill had been surprised, owing, no doubt, to the neglect of the common precaution of throwing out piquets and a chain of sentries along their front. We understood that the corps consisted of the German Legion. General Donkin's brigade assisted us to repel another attack made during the night on our position.

How we, the 29th Regiment, who were the right regiment of the brigade, got so gloriously into the fight I could not tell; but this I know, that as we were advancing up to the attack we came upon our next left regiment, the battalion of detachments, who appeared to have got into confusion, and we pushed our way through them to rush at the enemy. The gallant soldiers of the battalion seemed much vexed; they were bravely calling out, “There is nobody to command us ! Only tell us what to do, and we are ready to dare anything.” There was a fault somewhere. We afterwards found, on re-forming, that we had been the centre regiment, the first battalion of the 48th Regiment being on our left, and the battalion of detachments on our right.

We had the good fortune to rescue our General Hill, who, in leading us to the attack, and being anxious to see what was doing in front, gallantly dashed on a little too far and got into the French ranks. They had seized the reins of his horse, and would have had him prisoner had we not immediately charged on and this rescued him. But Major Fordyce on his staff was killed, and Captain Gardiner mortally wounded.

As soon as the 29th Regiment had established themselves on the hill, and we had reformed our line in a proper position, a corporal and three men of each company, under an officer, were thrown out as a piquet in front, and a portion formed a chain of sentries, while our line lay down, each man with his arms in his hands, and all upon the alert. Nor were these precautions unnecessary. The French piquets frequently during the night ducked up at various places, gave loud huzzahs, fired a volley, and then as hastily retired again. Indeed, we were so close that we could hear the French sentries challenging their visiting rounds, and calling out, “Qui vive !” On these salutes taking place we always stood instantly to our arms, and when the advanced piquet announced all quiet we lay down on the ground again. In some instances several advanced sentries of some of our regiments, being young soldiers, fired, so that the word “Stand to your arms” was frequently passed along the line.

The Spaniards had also their alarm on the right, about midnight, but whether real or imaginary never could be ascertained. It was not confined to one spot, for it spread right and left, and they opened a running fire along their whole line, which lasted for some time, until many corps, scared by they knew not what, fled to the rear, and it was only with great difficulty, we were told, that they were brought back into their places in line again.

From our commanding position on the hill we had a grand and sublime view of this midnight scene. The lengthened blaze of the Spanish fire, running up and down the lines, and the flashing of their artillery had a magnificent effect. While looking towards the enemy in our front, we beheld a kind of illumination moving in advance in certain directions. This was caused, no doubt, by a number of flambeaux, which they carried at the head of their reserves and artillery to enable them to find their various routes to their proper places in their position. About one or two o'clock in the morning of the 28th July the moon began to give some light. As it became stronger we could see black patches moving in the plain immediately in front of us, and then become stationary directly opposite to us. This was no other than their columns forming in mass for attack. We could also hear the noise of wheels and the cracking of whips as they brought up their guns to plant them against us. All this was extremely splendid and exciting, but nature will under all circumstances have her sway. No sooner was any alert over than we sank down and dropped asleep. Although I had no greatcoat or covering of any kind, and only an old tin pot which chance threw in my way for a pillow, yet I got two or three profound naps during the intervals we were allowed to rest.

It may be naturally supposed that we looked most anxiously for morning, and as the day began to break all eyes were strained to discern the disposition of the enemy. As things became more visible a very imposing sight presented itself to our view. The whole disposition of the enemy's force could be clearly distinguished. In the first place, immediately beneath us was formed a heavy solid column on the brink of the ravine, with reserves in its rear, with field batteries on both flanks, and the guns already pointed towards us, while light troops were thrown out as tirailleurs to cover their front and prepare the way for a grand attack, which was evidently to be directed against us on the hill. At some distance to the right were formed other masses in like manner. Others were also formed in front of our allies the Spaniards. The columns of reserve, cavalry, spare artillery, and baggage extended a long way back in their rear.

Our own lines presented an animated but not so formidable appearance, owing to the nature of our formation. Our front showed an extended line only two deep, with the reserve placed at various distances along its rear. The disposition made by our experienced commander seemed most perfect to meet the meditated attack, and as, after the enemy's first attempt on the previous evening, all our troops had got into the proper place assigned to them in our position, everything appeared in complete readiness for whatever might happen.

As the sky began to redden with the first blush of the morning sun, a gleam of animation was thrown over both armies, which our elevated position enabled us to survey. The piquets in front were withdrawn, and our light company, and others of the brigade, were thrown out as skirmishers to cover our front. The still of the morning was broken by no warlike sound. A solemn silence prevailed on both sides. Our view was extensive, and the scene before us was most imposing and sublime. While we were contemplating this, Sir Arthur Wellesley rode up in rear of our regiment, the 29th, and then going to the front seemed to survey the enemy with great earnestness. Much about the same time we could plainly discern Joseph Bonaparte and a large suite of staff in his train coming up at full gallop in rear of the French masses in our front.

All was yet breathless silence, when we perceived the smoke of a gun curling up in the air, and heard the report of a single cannon. This appeared to be the signal for putting the enemy's columns in motion. We were not detained long in suspense. In a moment a tremendous cannonade opened upon us on the hill, and on the regiment stationed on the lower part of the slope to our right. We could then see the French skirmishers dash up and push rapidly on, while the columns immediately in front of us got in motion, advancing towards us. It was now evident that the enemy intended if possible to turn our left, and to storm and seize the hill, the key of our position, which they had taken and lost the night before. General Hill, seeing the overwhelming force that was coming against us, gave orders that the light troops should be recalled, and the bugles sounded accordingly. The skirmishers were closing in and filing to the rear with all the regularity of field-day and parade exercise, which the General observing, called out, “D_____n their filing, let them come in anyhow.”

In order to cover the advance of their columns the enemy continued the terrific cannonade, which became so destructive that we were ordered to lie down flat on the ground. The shot flew thick and fast about us, but it went principally over us, the guns being too much elevated; but not so with the 45th Regiment below us on the right: we could see large gaps made at times in their ranks by the round shots.

At length the French column of attack, which had pushed vigorously on notwithstanding the well-served fire of our artillery directed against them, began to approach us. We took no notice of them, but allowed them to come up pretty close to us, when our Brigadier-General, Richard Steward, said, “Now, 29th! now is your time!” We instantly sprang to our feet, gave three tremendous cheers, and immediately opened our fire, giving them several well-directed volleys, which they gallantly returned; but we checked their advance, and they halted to continue the battle with small arms. We then got orders to charge, which was no sooner said than done. In we went, a wall of stout hearts and bristling steel. The French did not fancy such close quarters. The moment we made the rush they began to waver, then went to the right about. The principal portion broke and fled, but some brave fellows occasionally faced about and gave us an irregular fire. We, however, kept dashing on, and drove them all headlong right before us down the hill into their own lines again. We kept following them up, firing, running, and cheering. In the midst of the exultation, about seven o'clock A.M., I received a ball in the side of my thigh, about three inches above the right knee. The sudden and violent concussion made me dance round, and I fell on my back. I immediately put my hand on the wound, which was bleeding profusely, to feel if the bone of my leg was broken, and, to my great satisfaction, I found that it was not. As I found myself unable to rise, I called for assistance, but from the noise and hurry of battle no one seemed to take notice of me. At length my friend, Andrew O’Leith Hay, perceived me. He raised me up, and then, taking the musket out of the hand of Corporal Sharp of my company, he directed him to conduct me out of action, and to find out the surgeons. With his assistance, and that of another man, who was wounded in the arm, I limped off. In quitting the field, I passed near Sir Arthur Wellesley, the Commander-in-Chief. He looked at me, seeing the blood streaming down my white trousers, but he said nothing. I then passed through our second line, which, without, of course, being able to take any part in the action, was suffering much from round shot and shells falling amongst them. Indeed, I was nearly knocked over, and I made a narrow escape of being killed even at some distance in the rear. A shell came whizzing close to our heads, and alighted a few feet in front of us, throwing up the earth in our faces, but it fortunately bounded to the left down the slope of the hill, when it exploded. I soon afterwards reached my friend, Dr. Guthrie, who with his assistants were actively employed in amputing legs and arms.

I have collected from the reports of various friends the following account of the continuation of the battle after I was wounded, and obliged to quit the field.

Our regiment, the 29th, and the battalion of detachments pursued the defeated enemy even across the ravine where the reserve was formed. Our troops were recalled, but in retiring up the hill again they were exposed to a destructive fire from the enemy's guns. They reformed line again a little in rear of the crest of the position, so as to be covered as much as possible from the effects of the cannonade, which still continued along the whole line for upwards of an hour. However, on its ceasing, men from both armies were sent out to collect the wounded. They intermixed in the most friendly terms. Lieutenant Langton, of the 29th Regiment, gave to a French officer two crosses of the Legion of Honour, which had belonged to officers killed far up the hill. The destruction we had occasioned in the French ranks was evident to everyone. The whole face of the hill was covered with the dead and dying.

All symptoms of strife had now ceased. The enemy lighted fires and evidently commenced to cook, while our brave fellows had only their morsel of biscuit and a mouthful of rum or wine.

About twelve o'clock noon the enemy begun to get in motion again. Their reserve were seen closing up from the rear. It was evident a renewed attack was about to take place. Heavy masses were formed in front of the centre. Two large columns pointed to the valley on the left of the hill, and a body of light troops were seen moving to gain the distant range of hills on the other side of the valley, clearly demonstrating that they would endeavour to turn our left flank while they attempted to force our centre. To cover this disposition, about one o'clock P.M., they opened a general cannonade along our whole line, and a vigorous attack was made on our centre. The guards allowed the French column to come up quite close to them. When the guards advanced with a hurrah to meet them with the bayonet, they would not stand, but giving a rambling fire, they turned and fled. Flushed by this success, the guards followed them up too far, and left their flank exposed. Of this the enemy took advantage, and opened a destructive fire of guns and small arms. The guards, not having recovered their order after the charge, were in rather a perilous position. Sir Arthur Wellesley seeing this, ordered the 29th Regiment down to cover them; but as the regiment had suffered so much during the previous attack, the 48th Regiment was sent instead. Under cover of this corps the guards made good their way to the rear, where they re-formed, and again took their place in the position. Simultaneously with this attack on the guards, the enemy likewise attacked positions held by the 7th and the 53rd Regiments.

While these several attacks were going on in the centre and right, the enemy also renewed their attempt on our left. A Spanish corps under General Basscourt was moved across the valley to keep the column, which had outflanked us in the mountain ridge in check. In this they effectually succeeded. After their defeat in the morning, the enemy did not venture to attack the hill again, but they endeavoured to push two large columns into the valley on its left, with a view of turning our position. To prevent this threatened movement, General Anson's brigade of the 23rd Light Dragoons and the German Legion received orders to check the advance of the French. The cavalry advanced gallantly, regardless of the fire of several battalions of French infantry. Unfortunately, the front of the enemy was protected by a deep ravine, which was found impassable for horses. A considerable body of the 23rd, however, succeeded in crossing it, and fell on two regiments of mounted chasseurs, which at once gave way. The 23rd was then charged by the Polish lancers and the Westphalian light horse, and was surrounded, broken, and half of them destroyed. However, this desperate charge and brave conduct of our dragoons so astonished the enemy that, seeing our other corps of light cavalry also formed ready to advance in the same manner, they brought their columns to a stand, and no further attempts were made to gain possession of the hill.

The enemy being thus repulsed and defeated at all points, and having sustained a fearful loss of men, twenty pieces of cannon, and several thousand stands of arms, towards evening made dispositions for retreating, by drawing off their infantry under cover of their numerous cavalry, and before daylight next morning, the 29th July, they had all retired across the Alberche. General Robert Crawford having joined the army with the light brigade during the night, was instantly pushed on in advance, and he established his outposts on the right bank of the Alberche. The enemy continued their rear-guard on the opposite side until the 31st July, when they retired to Santa Ollala.

The 29th Regiment had the honour of securing two banners, or small silk standards, termed in French fanions, belonging to the column which they defeated. On the top of each staff were plates with screw-holes, indicating unquestionably that eagles had been attached to them. The bearers, on finding their corps outed, had unscrewed the eagles and concealed them about their persons. The banners were picked up lying amongst the dead in front of our regiment. On their being carried to the commander-in-chief he most handsomely desired that the regiment should keep them as a memorial of their gallant conduct.

When I went to the rear after being wounded and found Dr. Guthrie, our surgeon, he examined my wound and pronounced it to be very severe, but he trusted that it would not prove dangerous.

In about an hour afterwards, perhaps nine o'clock A.M., Lieutenant Stanus of our regiment was brought in also severely wounded.

I found our new billet as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Our landlord, a kind-hearted person, procured everything for us we desired. But our wounds began to be very troublesome. Suppuration was proceeding, and sloughing took place, so we were obliged to keep applying bread poultices. I however had the good fortune to have a most charming nurse, no other than a daughter of our host. She was a nun of the Order of Saint Clare. The French having destroyed the convent, the establishment was broken up, and she had returned to take refuge in her father's house. She was dressed in a coarse grey habit. She was young, extremely beautiful, mild and noble in countenance, had a charming disposition and most engaging manner. She did everything in her power to assist us, getting bandages for us, preparing poultices, bringing in chocolate, and amusing us with cheerful conversation, relating to us curious stories of these eventful times.

Fortunately, I understood a little the dressing of wounds. Our only medical attendant was a Spanish barber, who, according to the custom of the country, combined also the profession of surgeon. We employed him to operate on our chins, but dispensed with his attendance in his surgical capacity. After shaving me one morning, he produced a case of rusty instruments, and told me he was going to perform an operation “mui pelegroso,” no less than to take off the arm of a wounded soldier, out at the socket.

I accompanied the army on a vehicle of the most primitive construction, being no other than a few planks nailed on a rude frame, with a pole in front, to which oxen were yoked. The frame was placed in two low wheels, each consisting of solid pieces of wood, into which the axle-tree was blocked, so that instead of the wheel going round the axle-tree, they all went round together, there being two pieces of wood under the frame on each side scooped out to fit the axle tree. The friction was very great, and occasioned a noise when in motion like the drone of the bagpipes. On this miserable machine we placed some straw covered with our blankets, and we were then laid upon it, with our small modicum of baggage for pillows. Four sticks were stuck into holes in each corner of the frame, and a blanket fastened on them, to form a canopy to protect us from the scorching sun; and two lean kine with slow and measured steps dragged us along. Such was our equipage.

While at Badajos, the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Wellington, paid a high compliment to the 29th Regiment. It had suffered great loss at the battle of Talavera, and Lord Wellington, in a letter to Lord Castlereagh, 12th September, 1809, says :
“I wish very much that some measures could be adopted to get some recruits for the 29th Regiment.
It is the best regiment in this army, and has an admirable internal system and excellent non-commissioned officers.”

My wound was now quite healed up, but a general stiffness of the limb remained, accompanied at times with considerable pain, owing no doubt to some of the tendons having been injured, or the ball, which still remained in, pressing on some tender part. I however determined to rejoin my regiment, and accordingly on the 5th November I proceeded to Badajos. I got a billet in a handsome house, and found the lady of the mansion equally so, being a very interesting pretty young woman. She received me most graciously, showed me to a commodious apartment, and assured me that her husband would be happy to have me in his house. On my enquiring what her husband was, she replied that he was a colonello reformada—a colonel on the retired list. On my expressing surprise that one so young as she was should be the wife of an old veteran, as I supposed her husband to be, she with great naiveté replied, “He is a retired colonel, to be sure, but he is very robust, and very loving, still.” He proved rather a gruff person, nearer sixty than fifty. They very kindly cooked my dinner for me, making several savoury additions to my ration beef, and they sent me fruit and wine. Next morning they provided me with an excellent breakfast, and urged me to pass another day in their house, but duty called me to go on.