Obrazy na stronie


Rot a single original treatise on sieges ; The happy insular situation of Great all our knowledge of the subject is at Britain, and her maritime superiority, tained from foreign writers, and their have diverted the attention of British maxims, whether well or ill adapted to officers from this art, and the service the physical and moral powers of our connected with it. The expeditionary men, are implicitly followed. Many mode of warfare adopted during the British officers, at different periods, greater part of the last century, conacquire much knowledge and experi- tributed greatly to the same result; ence in the art ; but, as they never and so much has the establishment for communicate that knowledge to the sieges been overlooked, that the corps public, it dies with them ; and each of officers who are kept in pay for the succeeding generation is obliged to professed object of attacking and deacquire its skill without a guide, and 'fending fortresses, have always been at the expence of much blood and trea. without the necessary assistance to ren. sure to the country. Thus it happens der them efficient. that there is no general understanding

If we look back to the commence. on the subject, and no acknowledged ment of the war in 1793, we shall find authority, as in other arts, on which to the infantry, cavalry, and artillery, all rely. Hence also there are no rules equally inferior ; but in the course of por regulations for the conduct of an service, their several defects were ob English siege : Each officer, accord. served and remedied, and those three ing to his abilities and experience, re- arms are now superior to any in existgulates the attack ; no note nor memo- It happened that in the course randum of any former operation is ever of fifteen years of war, the English produced, to direct and guide the as. never attempted any great siege, and sailant in future ; the errors and the the deficiencies of the establishments, skill displayed in all prior attacks are for that service, were not so apparent ; alike buried in oblivion, and each suc.' nothing was done, therefore, to imceeding siege is conducted without ex- prove them; and at the commence. perience.

ment of the campaigns in the peninsuBesides the general impression al- la, the engineer department was the ready mentioned, that the science of same as it had been previously to the defence has of late received some great The first sieges undertaken in improvement, the events of the sieges Spain shewed its numerous deficienin Spain have given rise to opinions cies ; some of which have since been peculiar to the British army. Among remedied, but many improvements are these may be enumerated the false no- yet required, to render that arm equtions that great loss and uncertainty ally efficient with the others. Such are inberent to the operations of a perfection, however, it may be hoped, siege ; that the French possess supe. will ultimately be attained, from the rior knowledge in the art of defence ; exertions which have been made to efthat they fight better behind walls fect it. than in the field ; and that the English The superior courage of the officers are not fitted for such undertakings. and soldiers of the British army is too These notions, however, seem to be well known and established ever to be totally unfounded ; and the defects of questioned. Their feats in arms are our military establishments alone, not too numerous and brilliant ever to be an inferiority in the art, gave rise to forgotten ; and their fame is top firm. the occurrences on which they are ly fixed for them to wish that their grounded.

failures should be concealed,


The radical fault of the sieges in count of the great expence and difficul. Spain has arisen from our not carrying ty of bringing it up. The chief care the works sufficiently forward to close of those who fortified towns, was, by with the enemy; and a little reflection height of situation, and lofty walls, to will prove that every miscarriage, and render them secure from escalade ; and all the losses sustained, may be traced places built prior to that period are to this source. To rectify this defect, invariably of such construction. The therefore, and to introduce a closer simplicity of the places to be attacked mode of attack, is the object which gave the same character to the operaclaims the chief attention. Should we tion itself; and every thing was then be prepared at all future sieges to gain effected by desperate courage, without the ground inch by inch, till securely the aid of science ; but when the use posted on the summit of the ramparts, of artillery became more common, such the hitherto constant evils attendant on exposed walls could no longer oppose such operations would be remedied, a moderate resistance, even to the imand the just rules of attack would be perfect mode of attack which was then scrupulously observed.

practised ; and to restore an equality The system of making a breach

to the defence, it became necessary to from a distance, and of hazarding all screen the garrison from distant fire. on the valour of the troops, rather than The attempt was scarcely made, when insur.ng success by their labour, has the genius of one man, (Vauban,) per. become habitual to the British army. fected a new system, which gave to the They have in this way generally suc- defence of towns a superiority over the ceeded in their colonial wars, where attack, by rendering them unassailable the nature of the climate justified such by all open efforts, such as were at that a mode of attack, delay being often time practised. more fatal than repulse. The extreme Unfortunately for mankind, Vauhazard of such a proceeding is not so ban afterwards served a prince bent on apparent, therefore, to the English as conquest ; and, turning his great tato the people of other nations.—The lents to the aid of his master, he, with authority of history, as well as the evi- an unhappy facility, in a few cam. dence of recent events, is against such paigns, perfected a covered mode of a mode of attack; and it has been en. attack, by a combination of science tirely abandoned by the great continen- and labour, which rendered easy to tal powers in their operations against the steady advances of a few brave men, French garrisons since the modified or- the reduction of places capable of dedonnance of 1705, (commanding go. fying for ever the open violence of mulvernors to stand at least one assault in titudes. Since that period all the conthe body of the place,) has been enfor- tinental powers have made such men ced ; before that period the practice an integral part of their armies, and was pretty general, and, when resisted, they have thus rendered the success of was usually attended with the same re. their attacks on strong places nearly sults as at present.

certain. England, however, remained In the 16th, and beginning of the alone for one hundred years without 17th centuries, the art of disposing the imitating her rivals ; and hence it is different works of a fortress, so as to that in the 19th century, her generals cover each other, and to be covered by were driven to the same hazardous exthe glacis from the view of an enemy, Pedients for reducing places as those of was either unknown or disregarded. Philip the Second, in the 16th. Had Artillery was then little used, on ac- a British army, under these circum. stances, been opposed to a place fully availing unless seconded by powerful covered, according to the modern sys- means in artillery, stores, and materials. tem, all its efforts to reduce it would The want of these, particularly of the have been unavailing, and no period of latter, deeply injured the operations in time, nor sacrifice of men, would have Spain ; and was, without doubt, a prineffected the object.

cipal cause of their uncertainty. But, Since the introduction of science, as on most occasions the siege establishthere is, perhaps, no military under- ments, even in the peninsula, were taking so certain in its results, as the unequal to a full 'use of the other reduction of a fortified place ; every means, if provided, such deficiencies other military event is in some degree have not been much regarded. Nothing governed by chance, but the result of is more certain than that the reduce a siege is matter of sure calculation. tion of a town must be paid for ei. The art of attack has been rendered so ther in materials or men, as the one or much superior to that of defence, that the other shall be made the chief sacrino artificial work can resist beyond a fice. It must be remembered, however, limited time ; bravery and conduct will that every saving in the former has the serve a little to retard its fall, but can. double inconvenience of an additional not long prevent it. Shells, and an expenditure of time as well as of life. enfilade fire à ricochet, are irresistible In Spain, a combination of unfavour-the timid and the brave alike fall be able circumstances occasioned a great fore them. Such certainty in a siege, sacrifice of life at the sieges ; an exhowever, depends on an exact adhe. hausted country without carriage—an rence to the rules of art ; and when engineer's department without a driver, these are departed from, all becomes horse, or waggon belonging to it-a confusion ;-time, life, and success, are superior enemy in the field, and a conthen put to imminent hazard. To this sequent necessity for secrecy-all these cruel alternative it is apparent that circumstances combined to prevent the Lord Wellington has been driven in British army from receiving due supall his attacks, from the want of means plies. It is improbable, however, that and of a due establishment to carry such complicated difficulties should into effect his own more just ideas. again occur ;-and as many of them

It is time, therefore, that we should may be removed by care and attention mature our infant establishments ;- in the outset, the sieges which

may that our officers should study the theo- future be undertaken by our armies ry of attack, and our soldiers be in. will be brought to a speedy and more structed in the details. If a period of, prosperous conclusion. peace is duly improved, we shall attain

As many of the impediments to sucsuch perfection, that, in the next con- cess in Spain were either local, or such test, there will be no plea for a recur. as may easily be avoided in future, to rence to former modes of attack ;- acquire immediate efficiency in carrying wherever adequate armaments can act, on sieges, nothing remains but to obviknowledge will be united to physical ate the imperfection of our mode of atpower ; and sieges being carried on by tack. We must learn to aid bravery the British army with science equal to by science, and to gain by labour what. its bravery, they will be rendered cer- ever is denied to force. It is satisfac. tain, simple, and comparatively blood- tory to observe how slight the changes less.

are which will be required to place the It must ever be recollected, that no army on an efficient footing. When exertion of science or bravery will be this shall be effected, and the close


mode of attack pursued, we may hail the interior? It is not, therefore, too the commencement of a siege as the much to conclude, that, so soon as the sure forerunner of a national triumph. superior courage and force of our men To carry on a siege we possess advan- shall be seconded by the superior means tages far greater than the French, and we liave it usually in our power to supother continental nations ;-our sol. ply, and when, by scientific direction, diers are stronger and braver than as much benefit shall be drawn from theirs,- our instruments of attack are their labour as from their bravery, the better,-andin quantity of ammunition, British soldiers must prove superior to stores, artillery, &c. how can they any in Europe, in besieging a fortress ; come into competition with us, who but so long as the present imperfect can convey them to their destination mode of attack continues to be followby water, with little trouble or ex- ed, any covered work will seriously pence, whilst

among our enemies every impede it, and may prove an insur. thing must move by a tedious and ex. mountable obstacle to the best and pensive land-carriage, from arsenals in bravest efforts of the assailants.


Operations of the Anglo-Sicilian Army in the East of Spain. - Sir John Murtay undertakes the Siege of Tarragona, which he afterwards raises abruptly. -Lord William Bentinck takes the Command of the Army.

FROM the brilliant career of the allies Yesla and Villena. It appears, howin the north of Spain, we must now ever, that these different corps had not turn to the operations which took been in a state of proper combination ; place on the eastern coast of the pe. and Suchet soon discovered the advanninsula. In Catalonia and Valencia tage which might be derived from this the French still maintained a very large oversight. Collecting his whole disforce, and were in possession of nume- poseable force, he, on the 11th of rous fortresses, some of which ranked April, attacked the corps of General among the strongest in Europe. Su. Elio, unsupported by the rest of the chet, who commanded this force, occu- allies ; drove it, with some loss, from pied a position in front of Valencia, at Yesla, and, having invested the castle St Phillippe, on the line of the Xucar. of Villena, compelled that place, with -The allies, on the other hand, had its garrison of 1000 men, to surrender collected a very considerable force in next day at discretion. Having thus and near Alicant. Several British and succeeded against the Spanish army, native regiments had been withdrawn he proceeded to the attack of the Brifrom Sicily; and a large force collected tish positions; and, on the 12th, at from the population of the neighbour. noon assailed their advanced posts at ing provinces had been organized in Biar. The resistance was vigorously the Balearic islands, under British offi- maintained against superior force for cers.—This corps could act in combi- five hours ; and the troops at length nation with the second Spanish army fell back upon the main body, only in under General Elio, which was drawn compliance with the orders of General up along the frontiers of Murcia. The Murray. Suchet, however, not distroops remained, however, in a state heartened by this reception, proceeded, of inaction till the middle of April, on the following day, to attack the when the Anglo-Sicilian army, uns position at Castella, where the British der Sir John Murray, left Alicant, were concentrated. At noon on the and advanced to Castella : General 13th, after having displayed all his caElio, at the same time, took post at valry, he advanced a corps of 2000 in

« PoprzedniaDalej »