Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

at the first rush. The French, who On the morning of the 31st, the very seem to have expected this, endeavour. day of the storming of St Sebastian, ed to render the further advance of the he crossed in great force, and attackassailants impracticable, and to concen. ed the Spanish troops posted on the trate such a fire on the spot as to make hills at a little distance. The attack it impossible to remain exposed to it, was repulsed at once in the most gal. while the confined space of the sum- lant manner, and repeated attempts mit of the breach prevented the assail. had uniformly the same result. In the ants from using any cover against its afternoon, having still the command of effects.

the river, the French passed over an The events of this day are highly additional body of troops, which, joinhonourable and encouraging to the ed to the former, made a new and desa British soldier, as they prove that perate attack on the Spanish positions. when his labour aids his courage by They were instantly driven back in the carrying the approaches completely to same prompt and gallant manner as forthe wall, and when the assault of the merly; and the enemy, losing all hope, breach is duly supported by a close entirely withdrew his troops. Lord fire from the trenches, his success is Wellington, who had not hitherto plaensured. The advantages must then be ced full confidence in the Spanish all on his side ; and how shall a few armies, posted a British division on word-out and dispirited men, exposed each of their flanks ; but their own vato a murderous fire every time they at- lour was equal to the occasion, and no tempt to stand up, resist the attack of aid was necessary. This day, in shorti enemies elated with success, and requi- may be considered as finally retrieving ring only one effort more to crown the tarnished reputation of the Spatheir labours. The old and tried maxim

nish arms. on this subject cannot, however, be too When the French made this attempt much attended to," at a siege never to penetrate by the high road to St to attempt any thing by force which can Sebastian, they about the same time be obtained by labour and art." The crossed the Bidassoa higher up, with regular mode of gaining a breach is so a view of gaining the place by a circertain, so simple, and so bloodless, cuitous route through Oyazzun. They that it is much to be preferred to any attacked a Portuguese brigade, which other, and forms so advantageous a was stationed at that place, and which, contrast to the open assaults in Spain, though reinforced, was unable to mainunaided by fire from the trenches, that tain the position, but fell back upan there are few who will not regret the another, which equally covered St Seinability of the British army to have bastian. The enemy finding all his adopted it on all occasions.

attempts fruitless, withdrew behind the Soult made another unsuccessful ef. Bidassoa. The immediate fall of the fort about this time. A force, chiefly fortressrendered it unnecessary to make Spanish, was drawn up along the left any further efforts. bank of the Bidassoa, in a position Some discussions of an unpleasant which covered all the approaches to nature took place about this time beSt Sebastian. As the enemy occupied tween Lord Wellington and the Spathe height which overhangs the op. nish government. His lordship had posite banks, and which he had forti- advanced into Spain in the confidence fied with cannon, he could command and with the understanding, that the at any point the passage of the river. army of that country should be placed

[merged small][ocr errors]

under the command of officers, on which the enemy was evacuating, a whose co-operation he could rely duty which Castanos could not have He had particularly stipulated, that discharged had he been literally at the the chief command of the provinces head of the 4th army,—that it was through which he was to pass, and himself and not General Castanos, who of the armies levied from them, should suggested the propriety of his excelbe entrusted to Castanos, an officer, lency being employed in this manner not perhaps of very shining abilities, that the conduct of the Spanish gobut of great worth, integrity, and vernment in this respect was a direct candour. The dignity of his charac. breach of the contract which had in. ter, and his conciliatory manners, ren

duced him to take the command of the dered him an admirable instrument Spanish armies,—that, however great for conciliating the British and Spani. his desire might be to serve the Spanish ards. It was in this capacity Lord nation, he could not submit to such Wellington wished to employ him. injurious treatment, and that the conWhile the Gallician army was ably led tract must be fulfilled, if it was desired by General Giron, Castanos went that he should retain the command.through the provinces, maintaining or. His lordship also complained of the der, and forwarding supplies. An ad. removal of General Giron without any ministration unfriendly to him having reason assigned. But although Lord come into power, took advantage of Wellington in the first instance adhis military inactivity to remove him dressed this letter to the regency, he from the command which he held ; had the magnanimity not to suffer his while other changes were made, contra private wrongs to interfere with his ry, as Lord Wellington conceived, to exertions for the public cause, and conthe engagement originally entered into tinued to conquer for the nation which with him, and without his advice or thus injured him. concurrence. Such conduct to such Every thing now indicated the ina man, and a man to whom Spain was tention of the British commander to so deeply indebted, can admit of no cross the Pyrenees, and to carry the war justification. Lord Wellington, in a into the heart of France ; this measure letter to the Spanish minister of war, was delayed only until his rear should remarked, that the local situation of have been secured by the fall of Pamthe 4th army prevented its being form- pluna. In the meantime it appeared ed into a corps, at the head of which expedient to Lord Wellington to cross the captain-general could be placed, the Bidassoa, and

drive the enemy from with any, regard to propriety, con. the posts which he was fortifying besidering the dignity of his office,—that hind that river. on this account, and at his (Lord The left of the allied army crossed Wellington's) request, General Casta. the river on the 7th October, in front nos placed his head-quarters with his of Andaye, and near to Montagne lordship's and those of the Portu. Verte. The British and Portuguese guese army,—that General Castanos, troops took seven pieces of cannon on besides commanding the 4th army, this part of the line, and the Spanish was captain-general of Estremadura, troops, who crossed the fords above the Castile, and Gallicia ; and that among bridge, one piece. At the same time the duties of that high office was that Major-General Baron Alten attacked of establishing the Spanish authorities the light division at the Puerta De in the different districts and cities Fera, and Don P. Giron attacked the enemy's entrenchments on the moun- destruction, was raised io the hightain of La Riuna. These troops car. est pitch of glory! In 1803, the Paried every thing before them until they risians were amused with the exhibiarrived at the foot of the rock, which tion of some old tapestry, representproved inaccessible. On the morning ing the successes by which William of the 8th, the attack was renewed on 1. obtained the government of Engthe right of the enemy's position by land ; and the casual finding of this the same troops, and the point was relic was hailed as the omen and foreinstantly carried in the most gallant runner of other atchievements on the manner. The enemy then withdrew same ground. In 1813, the Parisians from all parts of his position. The ob- were studying the operations of these ject was nowaccomplished; France was

very
British
upon

their own plains of entered ; and that country, which, for Gascony; while, instead of the French twenty years, had never been trodden fag waving victorious upon the banks by hostile foot, now saw a mighty in- of the Thames, the British standard rading army established within its was advancing in triumph to the borfrontier.

ders of the Garonne.-Base must have A new epoch in the war was now been the mind which did not exult celebrated,-a victory had been gained over such a scene of glory!-No thirst by a British general and army within of conquest had directed the career of the French territories. How many England—no desire of enlarging her reflections crowded at once upon the territories led her on to battle ;- but mind! About ten years before, Great the ambition of doing good-the deBritain was arming her whole popula. sire to rescue a nation from its opprestion to resist a French invasion, and sors, had nerved her arm. For this now her troops had invaded France. holy object, and in this sacred cause, In 180, no man doubted that a descent she fought and conquered. Spain and on the British shores would be attempt- Portugal were saved—and France, the ed; and the legislature was exclusively invader and oppressor, was herself deoccupied in devising the means of re. feated and invaded. pelling it. In 1813, almost the first pro- On the 31st of October, Pampluna ceeding of the legislature when it met, surrendered after a blockade of four was to vote thanks to the brave troops months. The garrison became priwho had defeated the enemy upon his soners of war, and all the artillery and own territories, and established a Bri- stores were given up:- Nothing there. tish army on the fields of France. In fore now detained Lord Wellington 1803, Buonaparte had constructed an from pushing his victorious career into immense fleet of boats within 25 miles France; and the enemy, who had so of the British coast ; the means of in- lately aimed at the entire subjugation vasion, the troops to be employed in it, of the peninsula, sought only to de. were visible daily from our own shores. fend the approaches of his own terri. In 813, when the naval force of tories. He formed two successive France was destroyed, her feets rot- lines of defence; the one along the ting in her ports, her colonies gone, river Nivelle, the other immediately in her trade ruined, her projects baffled, front of Bayonne. These lines, ever her armies beaten in every encounter since the battle of Vittoria, he had when her troops had been driven out been diligently employed in fortifying, of Portugal, driven out of Spain,- and until he was driven from them, the this same England, once destined for British could not advance into the in. terior of the kingdom. The better and wounded, besides Spaniards, of to provide for defence, a decree had whose loss no regular account has been been recently issued, by which a new given. levy of 30,000 conscripts was to be The enemy now retired into his last drawn from the provinces immediately line of defence, which was formed by bordering on the Pyrenees ; and the the entrenched camp in front of Bayreinforcements derived from this source onne. The left occupied the peninwere already assembling.

sula formed by the confluence of the Lord Wellington's advance was de- Adour and the Nive, whence it comlayed for a few days by the heavy rains municated with the army of Catalonia; and the bad state of the roads; but on the right and centre extended from the 10th of November, the whole army the left bank of the Nive to the Adour was brought forward, and was enabled below Bayonne ; and the front was to commence its attack upon the French here defended by an impassable morass. entrenched position along the Nivelle. Lord Wellington, on surveying a poThe right of this position was on the sition thus defended by nature and art, Spanish side of the river, in front of judged it impregnable against any di. St Jean de Luz, while the centre and rect attack. A movement to the right left extended along the opposite bank, to threaten the rear of the enemy, and and occupied the villages and moun. his communication with France, seemtains situated in this vicinity. The ed to afford the only chance of success. right 'had been fortified so strongly Operations were again delayed by the that an attack in front was judged im- condition of the roads; but on the 8th practicable; but it could be turned, of December, Generals Hill and Be. if the centre were forced to give way. resford were, in conformity with Lord Against the centre therefore the main Wellington's plans, directed to cross attack was directed. It was conduct. the Nive with two divisions. ed by three British and one Spanish The only serious operation on the division; and, after a desperate resist- 9th was the passage of the Nive at

the enemy were driven from all Cambo and Usturitz by Sir Rowland the strong and fortified positions which Hill and Sir Henry Clinton, who they occupied on the left of their cen. obliged the enemy to retire from the tre. The heights on the Nivelle being right bank of the river towards Bay. thus carried, and the enemy's centre While this operation was prodriven back, Lord Wellington imme. ceeding, another division of the army diately directed troops to advance upon attacked and carried the village of the rear of their right; but before this Ville Franche and the heights in the movement could be completed night vicinity. Meanwhile Sir John Hope, intervened. The enemy took advan- with the left division, after driving in tage of the darkness to quit their fine the out-posts at Biaritz and Anglet, positions and retire upon Bedart, leave and reconnoitring the right of the ene. ing the whole ground which they had my's entrenched position, retired in occupied in possession of the allied the evening to the ground he had ocarmy.--As the affairs of this day con- cupied before the reconnoisance. --The sisted wholly in the storming of en- effect of the first day's operations was trenched positions, and lasted from to clear the right bank of the Nive. day-light till dark, the loss was neces- The operations of the 10th com. sarily considerable. It consisted of menced with a movement by the right 2500 British and Portuguese killed of the allied army, under Sir Rowland Hill, who, moving his right from the marked by the defection of the Dutch Nive, placed it on the Adour, his left and German regimeres of Nassau and leaning at Villa Franche on the Nive. Frankfort, which came over to the -He thus kept up the communi- allies. cation with the centre under Marshal The 11th was marked by no operaBeresford, which was removed from the tions of much importance. The eneright to the left of the Nive, to be my's grand army remained in front of ready to sustain the left wing under the British left, and made some attacks Sir John Hope, upon which the enemy in the afternoon upon Sir John Hope's meditated his main attack. A bri- posts, but was repulsed with loss. gade of dragoons, and Murillo's Spa- The right and centre of the allies were nish division, meanwhile observed and not attacked.-On the 12th, the eneoccupied the force under General Pa. my again attempted to drive the Briris, which had moved from St Jean tish right from its positions, and the Pied de Port towards St Palais, to be conflict lasted from the morning till in readiness to support the operations the afternoon; but being again reof the enemy on the Adour. pulsed, he retired within his entrench

ance,

onne.

Soult was aware, that unless some ed camp, and abandoned all thoughts vigorous measures were taken to ar- of making any impression in this rest this movement, his position must quarter. soon become untenable.

Not only On the 13th, Soult resolved to must he lose his communication with make an entire change in his operaFrance, but the navigation of the A. tions. Having shewn so much perdour, by which his supplies were trans- tinacity in his attacks against the Brimitted, must fall into the hands of tish left ; having, by so many efforts, the British. He determined instantly produced, as he thought, a firm perupon the most vigorous operations. suasion in the mind of Lord Welling, His project was to attack with his ton, that his whole attention would still whole force that part of the allied be directed to this quarter, he deterarmy which had not passed the Nive, mined to move his whole force suddenand'thus induce the British generally through Bayonne, and fall upon the to recall his advanced divisions. British right, under Lieutenant-Gene

Soult issued from his entrenched ral Sir Rowland Hill. This detercamp with all his force, except that mination does credit to the skill of which was opposed to Sir Rowland Soult; but he found in this instance, Hill, and made a desperate attack as he always did before, that he had to upon Sir John Hope's and General contend with a general who anticiAlton's divisions at Biaretz and Arcan. pates every movement of his antago. que. His great object, as already men- nists, dives into all their plans, and tioned, was to compel the British to provides for every emergency. Lord abandon a position which gave them Wellington expected this attack, and the command of the sea-coast, and of reinforced Sir Rowland Hill. But it the road from St Jean de Luz-an appears that even if his lordship had attempt, which, if successful, might not entertained this expectation, Soult have rendered it necessary for them, would have failed in his attempt; for not only to quit the banks of the Nive, Sir Rowland Hill's troops alone debut also to repass the Nivelle, and fall feated the enemy with iminense loss, back to the Bidassoa. Soult, how. Thus beaten at all points, the French ever, failed completely in this attempt. retired upon their entrenchments. The termination of the action was Such was the issue of these con

« PoprzedniaDalej »