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Title: A British army, as it was,--is,--and ought to be

illustrated by examples during the Peninsular War; with observations upon India; the United States of America; Canada; the boundary line; the navy; steam warfare, &c.

Author: Lt. Col. James Campbell

Release date: January 18, 2024 [eBook #72747]

Language: English

Original publication: T. & W. Boone, 1840

Credits: Brian Coe, Graeme Mackreth and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


New original cover art included with this eBook is granted to the public domain.















BART., G.C.B., &c. &c. &c.


As a soldier who has seen much service in all parts of the world, and commanded large bodies of troops in the field, you can decide if my views are correct or not. As a General of the 3rd division, you must know whether I have erred (certainly unintentionally) in my statements; and I also trust you will be able to bear me out when I say, that the honour and renown of my companions in arms, and the good of the army in general, are my sole objects in appearing before the public.

I wish to dedicate the fruits of my experience to you, as a trifling tribute of the gratitude I feel for the friendship and kindness you have shown me on many occasions.

I can with truth say, my motives in the following work are pure and disinterested; but my views are not those of the generality of writers of the day. I know, as well as they do, that British soldiers will always follow their gallant officers in any attempt, if even requiring the most supernatural efforts; but I am not, as they almost all seem to be, blind to the great imperfections of too many of those allowed to enter our regiments. I can gladly leave them the reputation of possessing the most undaunted courage of any soldiers in the world, and the nation the honour and glory their deeds in battle have acquired. Let both pride themselves, as they have a right to do, upon these; but for the time to come, we want, and ought to have, the good and true men of the British Empire brought into the ranks of our armies; and of whom many—very many—can be found, if called upon, as they should be, to serve their Sovereign and their country as they might hereafter be served by a British army, formed, as it ought to be, to suit the times.

I have the honour to be,


Your truly devoted humble servant,


Ravensdale, June 10, 1840.


What a British Army was, is still, and the commencement of certain introductory matter, intended to show in part what it ought to be 1
Continuation of the subject, and pointing out what is required to render the army more suitable to the times 31
Continuation of the subject, and showing how essential it is that corps for East India service, and for our colonies, should be formed, with a view to rendering the regular army perfectly efficient.—Various changes recommended and reasons assigned for them being necessary.—Some observations 60
Continuation of the subject, with observations upon various matters connected with the efficiency and discipline of the army.—Veterans unfit for service in North America.—Remarks upon proposed changes in our militia.—Attention called to various subjects.—Improvements in system, &c. suggested.—Numbers of men taken away upon service from corps as bat-men, &c., its evil effects, and a remedy proposed.—Baggage and followers of an army in the field, &c. 88
Introductory observations upon the staff of an army.—Remarks upon the état-major of the French army.—The staff wanted for a British army.—Remarks upon the battle of Talavera.—Staff of an army continued.—An efficient and highly respectable police for an army in the field recommended.—Some of its duties alluded to.—Important remarks upon military police and courts-martial.—Staff duties continued.—Medical department and its establishments in the field.—The commissariat department in the field.—Observations 126
Farther observations.—Insufficiency of allowance of practice ammunition for corps.—Hints for the maintenance of discipline in quarters and in the field.—Attention to the religious and general education of regiments strongly urged.—A plan for this purpose proposed.—Various necessary observations, &c.—Lord Wellington's letter to generals commanding divisions and brigades, with remarks.—Useful observations upon the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo.—Remarks and general order relating to the 3rd division in the retreat from Elbodon to Guinaldo.—Storming of the castle of Badajoz.—Conduct of our troops there given to show the composition and conduct of a British army in the field 171
The escalade of the castle of Badajoz held up as an example to future commanders of such enterprises.—The part performed by the 3rd division under Sir Edward Pakenham at Salamanca, with remarks, &c.—The French generals and état-major before the lines of Torres Vedras, &c.—Marshal Soult and his état-major before the battle of Toulouse, &c.—The 3rd division at Toulouse, &c.—Part performed by the 3rd division at Vittoria, with remarks.—Some occurrences at the Nivelle, with useful observations.—A few necessary remarks upon the battle of the Pyrenees. The 3rd division at Orthes, and shewing its style of fighting there, and upon other occasions.—This farther illustrated at the Vic Bigore, with other matters 219
Observations upon the United States of America.—Their present position as regards Great Britain, the Canadas, &c.—Attention particularly called to that country, with observations upon naval and military matters.—Expedition to Plattsburg, with other matters of importance; such as the question of the Boundary line, &c. and some official documents respecting our North American territories.—Instructions of a military nature, respecting Lower Canada in 1814, with useful hints and matters of consequence to be attended to by Great Britain.—Future combined naval and military enterprises, with necessary and useful observations.—Concluding general remarks 264

[Pg 1]


&c. &c.


I have imposed upon myself a task which may probably expose me to much annoyance, or perhaps severe criticism; so much so, that I am almost deterred from entering upon it, in consequence of feeling that although I may fancy I understand the subjects I intend to write upon, yet at the same time I greatly fear I am unequal to do them that justice which they require; but something I shall neither attempt to describe, nor analyze, urges me on in what I consider, as an officer of some experience, I ought to undertake; and let the consequences be what they may, I have the consolation to think, that my motives, at all events, are pure and disinterested.

Many well-meaning men, and many mischievous men, have for years past been exerting themselves, with unwearied assiduity, to have the corporal punishment of flogging done away with in our army; but no experienced officer, or person acquainted with the subject,[Pg 2] when he considers its former and present composition, can for an instant entertain such an idea, unless some other mode of punishment can be thought of, as a substitute, equally prompt, and which, from its consequences, would keep the transgressor as short a time from the performance of his duties as flagellation does.

I do not presume to say, that the conduct of all corps of cavalry, infantry and artillery, were alike; but such officers as have been much employed with a British army in the field, must be aware of what he had to contend with, to prevent irregularities, and above all drunkenness, and the crimes arising out of its demoralizing effects, into which our soldiers invariably fell; so much so, that the greater part of them could never be trusted out of the sight of those who had the charge of them; and the annoyances and sufferings of the unlucky officers who had too often to bear the blame for their disorderly conduct, especially in going to and returning from the several hospital stations, and upon escort, and other duties, which took them away from their corps in Portugal, Spain, and other countries, cannot have forgotten what they had to encounter, and they must fully bear me out when I say, that it was perfect misery to have any thing to do with them; and nothing but the certainty of being flogged, if caught by the Provost absent from their corps, kept many of them in the line of march, or in their camps afterwards; and as for their conduct at sieges, and upon other occasions, when they had the power of breaking loose, or from under the watchful eyes of their officers, the less that is here said by me upon the subject the better.

[Pg 3]

This is really a melancholy picture to draw of most of our soldiers; but I lament to say it is a true one, and I am also reluctantly obliged to admit, that the almost only redeeming quality which they possessed, was undaunted courage in battle. But to show that I do not make these assertions on slight grounds (and I would never have been induced to do so without an important object in view), I must beg that the words of his Grace the Duke of Wellington, upon several occasions, may be duly considered.

In the month of May, 1809, he thus, in general orders, addresses his army—"The Commander of the Forces is much concerned to be obliged again to complain of the conduct of the troops; not only have outrages been committed by whole corps, but there is no description of property of which the unfortunate inhabitants of Portugal have not been plundered by the British soldiers, whom they have received into their houses, or by stragglers from the different regiments of the army. The Commander of the Forces apprehends that the interior discipline of the regiments is materially relaxed, &c. &c."

After establishing certain regulations for the maintenance of discipline, his Grace further observes that, "the object of these visitings is to see that the soldiers conduct themselves regularly in their quarters, to ascertain if there are any complaints by their landlords, and of whom, and that the men are in their quarters, instead of marauding in search of plunder." And after calling upon officers of all ranks to perform the duties[Pg 4] required of them, he thus concludes—"The people of Portugal deserve well of the army; they have in every instance treated the soldiers well; and there never was an army so well supplied, or which had so little excuse for plunder, if any excuse can in any case exist. But if the Commander of the Forces should not by these and other measures be enabled to get the better of these practices, he is determined to report to His Majesty, and send into garrison those corps who shall continue them, as he prefers a small but disciplined and well-conducted body of troops to a rabble, however numerous; and he is resolved not to be the instrument of inflicting upon the people of this country the miseries which result from the operations of such a body. The regulations of these orders are to be understood as applicable to the dragoons and the artillery as well as the infantry."

Again, in the month of June, 1812, we read—"The soldiers must not be allowed to quit their corps to plunder, and Assistant-Provosts attached to divisions must see that the orders of the army on this subject are not disobeyed. The Commander of the Forces is sorry to observe, that the outrages so frequently committed by the soldiers when absent from their regiments, and the disgraceful scenes which occurred upon the storming of Badajoz, have had the effect of rendering the people of the country the enemies, instead of being the friends of the army. It is the duty of all officers to prevent the soldiers from plundering, and the Commander of the Forces calls upon them to perform[Pg 5] it. He declares his determination to punish any person who may be found plundering on any occasion, and to make the soldiers give up any money or other valuable articles that they may have plundered.

"As these acts of outrage are generally committed by parties of men, the parties shall be put under stoppages to make good the damage which they shall do upon any occasion," And His Grace concludes this order by calling upon the officers, and non-commissioned officers, to assist in putting a stop to such disgraceful crimes and irregularities.

We again read in the General Orders of the 31st of July, 1812:—

"The Commander of the Forces requests to have returns of the several men missing from their regiments in the march of the 10th instant. It is reported to the Commander of the Forces that the enemy have in their power above a hundred men, British soldiers, taken on that day, straggling in the rear, and in the flanks of the army. As the army did not march more than ten or twelve miles on that day, and the country was perfectly open, the straggling of the soldiers, and their being prisoners, must be attached to the neglect of the officers of their regiments. It is quite obvious that if the soldiers cannot be made to march in their ranks at all times, the army cannot effect a march in face of an enemy, and it is so far unfit for service, &c. &c."

I do not at present wish to give many extracts from the Duke of Wellington's orders; but another dated Paris, the 9th of August, 1815, will be sufficient to prove[Pg 6] that the character of British soldiers had not changed from 1812 up to that period.

No. 4. "The Field Marshal receives constant complaints of the robberies committed on the road from Neuilly to Paris, and he therefore now desires that guards may be mounted by the divisions encamped at Neuilly, and in the Bois de Bologne, so as to have sentries in communication with each other from Neuilly to the barrier de L'Etoile."

I consider it also necessary to give here two division orders nearly to the same effect:

"D.O. Madrid, 28th August, 1812.

"1. The officer commanding the escort of prisoners furnished by the 3rd division, which rejoined this morning, has reported that the men composing that detachment, were extremely irregular while absent, and some individuals were disobedient to a great degree.

"2. The disobedient non-commissioned officers and soldiers are to be tried by a Division Court Martial, and the soldiers composing the remainder of the detachment are to stand under arms from six o'clock every evening till nine at night, for seven successive days, when they are to be marched into their quarters, to which they are also to be confined for the same period.

"3. No soldier of this detachment is to be suffered to take his duty for seven days, but must make it up afterwards.

"4. Any man of this detachment who shall fall sick[Pg 7] before the expiration of punishment, must stand under arms after recovery.

"5. The British Brigade will ultimately furnish three sergeants to superintend this disgrace under the orders of the Provost-martial, who will correct, on the spot, any soldier who may commit further irregularity.

"Severity and shame are required to bring soldiers to a sense of duty, who forget every principle when detached, and require force to command them."

"D.O. Moimenta de Beira, 24th Dec. 1812.

"1. The detachment of recovered men that left Celorico on the 15th instant, were irregular and disobedient.

"2. So much has been said on the subject of soldiers forgetting their duty when detached, that Major-General Pakenham, for the present, gives up the idea of bringing the troops to a sense of discipline by reason.

"3. When punishment has made the unprincipled sensible of their crimes, and the good soldiers know they will be supported if they will take the lead, then reason shall again be referred to.

"4. The soldiers composing the detachment of Lieutenant Walsh, 5th regiment, are to be assembled at the head-quarters of their respective brigades, for the purpose of being kept under arms, for ten days, from daylight till nightfall.

"5. The said soldiers are afterwards to be drilled for one month with the young soldiers, and they are not to have either spirits or wine for the whole period.

[Pg 8]

"6. The Provost-martial and assistant will frequently visit this punishment and notice any impropriety.

"7. Officers commanding brigades will report the manner in which the detachment joined the several battalions on the 22d instant."

Many more of Lord Wellington's observations upon the conduct of soldiers might be adduced, but what I have given, and the orders of Sir Edward Pakenham, are deemed sufficient for the object now in view. But his Grace throughout the whole of his campaigns threw most of the blame for such outrages occurring upon the officers, whom he constantly accused of neglect of duty, or such crimes could not have been perpetrated. I beg leave, however, to observe, and I am alone induced to do so in some measure to justify officers in general, that many of them were both active and zealous in the performance of their duties, but the men they had to deal with were very incorrigible; and those who were then subalterns must well remember that the chief responsibility rested most heavily upon them; for the soldiers were almost never allowed to leave their camps but under their charge; for it was too well known, and I regret to say it, that many of the non-commissioned officers could not be much more trusted than the privates.

As a regimental officer of long experience, not only at home and abroad, but also in the field; as a staff officer during the greater part of the Peninsular war; and with the army of occupation in France, and in other[Pg 9] parts of the world, I unhesitatingly declare, that corporal punishment as now inflicted in the army, cannot be dispensed with, but at the risk of the total subversion of all discipline: indeed the hampering commanding officers in this respect, as has been the fashion of late years; and its being fancied, or pretended, that he is the best commander of a regiment, who returns the smallest number of soldiers punished, is, to say the least, very impolitic, and most injurious to the interests of the army; for crimes which should have called for punishment, must in consequence have been passed over, or so inadequately visited upon the offenders, that other men could not have been deterred from being guilty of similar conduct, and the effects of this, I fear, must in the end be dangerous; for what we frequently hear of and read respecting military punishments, in some of the newspapers, can scarcely, when coupled with an unavoidably relaxed state of discipline, be expected to have any other tendency. Solitary confinement, to be at all efficacious in preventing or punishing crimes in the army, keeps the soldier too long away from his necessary exercises and duties, and if it takes place in our common jails, whatever he may have gone into them, he certainly must come out matured in crime, from being the associate of criminals of the worst description; for what jail can contain sufficient cells to separate all who may be sent there. Offenders' lists, common and marching order drills, confinement to barracks, &c. &c., are all well enough, in these quiet times, for trifling offences or irregularities at home or abroad, so long as the soldier[Pg 10] knows that he can be brought to the halberts for any act of insubordination on such occasions; but in case of war, and should it be necessary for our army to take the field, this system would never answer. I must beg, however, that it may not be supposed, that I am by any means an advocate for continuing corporal punishments, or that I have any intention of extenuating or justifying what was sometimes practised by officers, under generally, I feel convinced, a mistaken idea, that they were only doing what their duty required of them; but my surprise often was, how officers who composed courts-martial, could by their sentences, always so readily lend themselves to the views, or perhaps badly regulated feelings of their commanders: indeed the trials I have witnessed were sometimes little else than mere matter of form, and they could not well be otherwise, for I have seen a soldier receive two or three hundred, or even more lashes, inflicted with great severity, under a sentence awarded by a drum-head court-martial, after an investigation of a few minutes duration of the charges brought against him. Such arbitrary proceedings as these, were generally abuses of power, with which many men are unfit to be entrusted; and from habit we really thought little of such matters, and the soldiers themselves were only thereby rendered the more callous. I declare, however, that I am at a loss to say, which is preferable—the prompt manner of acting in our navy, where a captain when he orders the punishment of a man, does so on his own serious responsibility, or that of a commanding officer of a regiment, who can[Pg 11] generally act as he pleases, whilst all he does is sanctioned by a court martial.

I could easily bring forward many occurrences which would show in the strongest light, how much a serious consideration of both our old and present system in the army, as regards punishments, is required; but so heartily do I detest flogging, that my thoughts have been long directed to devise means of getting rid of it; but I always tremble at the obvious alternative—capital punishments—which must be resorted to, and I should fear, very frequently, as in the French armies, especially upon service, as a substitute for flogging for the maintenance of discipline; for an army without it, is, as the Duke of Wellington observed in one of the orders I have given, a rabble, and must be far more dangerous to the country to which it belongs, than formidable to its enemies.

For years past, I have given this subject most serious consideration. I have weighed all its difficulties, and I can see no way of doing away with flogging in a British army, so long as it is composed of the present description of men. But I am inclined to hope, and I must now beg that all I have to say may be heard with patience—that this most desirable object may be attained by a completely new organisation of our regiments, and bringing into their ranks a totally different description of men, from those who generally offer themselves as recruits—men with other ideas, and altogether other feelings.

But as I wish to bring the subjects I intend to discuss,[Pg 12] candidly and fairly before the reader, I must beg leave to transcribe what Sir George Murray lately said at a great public meeting in London, as taken from "the Times." "The British Army did not consist of the constrained conscripts of arbitrary power, but of citizens voluntarily in arms to defend their country, to obey and respect her laws at home, and to resist and repel, with their utmost energy, every effort of her foreign foes, &c. &c." Sir George Murray, as the world knows, and as the British Army in particular knows, is a most able and accomplished Quarter Master General; but as such he could not have had much to say to the maintenance of discipline, for that comes under the Adjutant-General; yet still he will no doubt be looked upon as good authority in such matters, so much so, that I have been induced thus to give what may be considered as his opinion, and which the sequel will still more show to be contrary to mine: indeed, if I were not borne out by the evidence I have even already adduced, my attempting to do any thing towards improvement in our army would seem to be unnecessary and uncalled for.

An intelligent writer observes, that the French campaigns of 1792, 93 and 94 astonished military Europe. At first the French armies had neither discipline, nor order, and but little instruction. The regiments were without organization. National intelligence put in motion by exalted feeling, for the moment did every thing. The conscription had brought more knowledge into a single French regiment, than there was to be found in[Pg 13] a whole enemy's division. This was certainly the case, but I am very far from wishing to establish a conscription in Great Britain like what exists in France; but the times, we may depend upon it, will compel us, and that too before long, to think of getting, with greater facility, another description of men into our armies; if it were only to enable us to meet our enemies in the field on fair terms; and I would, therefore, at once beg to propose to overturn entirely the present system of enlistment for regiments of Dragoons, Artillery, the Line, and the Marines; and in its stead, a plan could be introduced for calling forth those warlike energies of the people of Great Britain and Ireland, which they so eminently possess; but for safety to our liberties, which we ought ever carefully to cherish, I would still keep the powerful means I have in view, under the control of Parliament both as to men and money.

Suppose a law were enacted, extending and improving our militia system, and permanently establishing amongst our millions of people, two descriptions of soldiers; in place of our present inefficient mode of calling out that force for service in Great Britain and Ireland only; and exempting clergymen, all seamen serving, or who may have served in our navy, or such as have been duly apprenticed to our merchant service; and certain individuals employed in the Civil departments of the state, every man, no matter how high or low his rank in life may be, should be made liable to be called upon to serve his country as a[Pg 14] soldier, but by Act of Parliament only; and for this purpose, all those at a certain time of life should be required to have, under a heavy penalty, and according to their means, or at the risk of imprisonment, or treatment as vagrants, known places of abode, or belong to a parish or district where they could be found or heard of; for my object is, that the wealthy, who for their own gratifications might think fit to reside abroad, may not be able to evade the law.

From the effective part of our male population, between the ages of seventeen and thirty-five, I would propose to call out once each year, (or oftener when necessary) by lot or ballot, and according to registers to be publicly and fairly kept, so that every individual coming under the act, could be aware that he might expect to be drawn for, a certain number of healthy men, about a fixed height—say 5 feet 5½ inches—to constitute or keep up the first, or regular army of Great Britain and Ireland, liable to serve in any part of the world, for ten years only, when, having so served, they must be discharged, whether at home or abroad, unless their characters are so good, as to render it desireable that they should be kept longer in the service, and should it be also their own wish to remain in it. If they are kept, it ought to be for five years more. At the end of that second period, they must, if they desire it, be discharged; but they should then, if their conduct has continued good, be entitled to receive a pension for life of nine-pence a day, and also to a medal of superior merit, and they ought now to get[Pg 15] both, whether they are to be again kept in the service or not. If it is still desirable that they should remain in it, and that they are also willing to do so, it must be for another or third period of five years; at the end of which—that is to say 20 years—if they have maintained the respectability of their characters, they should receive, on now retiring from the service, an additional three-pence per diem, making in all the full pension of one shilling a day for life, together with what should be termed the grand medal. If non-commissioned officers, they of course should get a superior description of medals and higher rates of pensions, whether corporals, serjeants, or staff-serjeants. But all discharges—and I consider this of vast importance—ought to set forth distinctly their characters as soldiers, whether good, indifferent, or bad, and should invariably be delivered to them publicly, in presence of, at least, one magistrate and a clergyman of the city, town, or parish to which they formerly belonged, when they could not again be called upon to serve as soldiers.

If the character of the men who have served for ten years only, show that they have been brave, honest and regular during that period, they should also receive publicly a medal of merit, and thus become entitled, along with those who have served longer, and have received pensions, to the privileges of freemen in the cities, towns, and parishes, to which they originally belonged. They should also, together with other advantages, have a right to vote at all elections of Members to serve in Parliament, and likewise at the appointment[Pg 16] of persons to the corporate bodies, and should be themselves eligible to fill situations in or under such bodies, in the cities, towns, or parishes, to which they belonged. If their conduct as soldiers had been bad or disreputable, all these advantages should be withheld from them. Some of them, according to character, ought to be sent off without remark upon their conduct, but others, if they deserved it, should have the words "Disgraced Soldier," stamped in large letters, by their commanding officer's orders, upon their discharges; and thus soldiers would be deterred from disgracing, not only their regiments, but also their families, to whom they would know, that when they were to be discharged, they would always, and under all circumstances, be sent back.

It being most desirable towards attaining the object I have in view, that no soldier should be permitted to remain in the army, whose habits would bring disgrace upon the corps to which he might be attached; when it was therefore found, that a soldier had committed a serious crime, or that his conduct had become bad or disgraceful, he should either be handed over to the civil power, or brought to trial before a Court-martial, which should have the power, besides transporting him as a felon, or making him serve as a soldier for life in any part of the world, to sentence him to be turned out of the regiment, with every mark of infamy, and to be sent back, under escort, to the place from whence he came, to be there discharged, in the manner already pointed out, and also imprisoned, if thought necessary[Pg 17] for the sake of example, in the common jail, for any period not exceeding two years. If this system is ever established, merit will be distinguished and rewarded, and bad conduct publicly stigmatized or punished.

As the regular army should at all times be complete in numbers, and efficient in every respect; when vacancies occurred in corps, they should be supplied yearly, from the city, town, or rather district, from which the several regiments would be kept up. Great Britain and Ireland would, therefore, if this plan is carried into effect, have to be divided into districts; but for this purpose, counties and cities would nearly answer, and each district being required to furnish men for a particular regiment of cavalry (and this should be an agricultural one), or of artillery, infantry of the line, or of marines; the cavalry or infantry regiments should take the name of that district, as well as retain its own particular number, together with such designations, badges, or honorary distinctions, to which it may be at present entitled.

The second army, to be officered as our present militia, and to be embodied upon the same system, and managed and disciplined as the first, and styled either Militia, or the Army of Reserve, could be called out to serve in Great Britain or Ireland only, when the country, either from being at war, or in case of commotions, might require its services; or should it be deemed necessary, that this force be embodied for a fixed time.

The men for the Reserve might be taken at a lower height, and from the age of sixteen to forty-five; but[Pg 18] serving in the Reserve should not exempt individuals from taking their turn if drawn in the mean time for the First or Regular Army. When the Reserve, or a part of it is embodied, a few officers and non-commissioned officers (receiving additional pay when so employed), should be taken for a short time from the Regular Regiments, to assist in the formation and drilling of the corps; but any permanent staff for this purpose must be found not only useless, but expensive. A Quarter-master alone could be required to take charge of stores of any kind belonging to the battalion when embodied.

Any man, who by ballot, becomes liable to serve in the First or Regular Army, must do so, or find within a given time, and at his own expense, a proper substitute of good character, or else pay down the sum of, say fifty pounds, for exemption: and finding a substitute or paying the stipulated sum, ought to exempt the person for the future from serving; but any individual who may have joined the corps for which he has been drawn, ought not afterwards to be discharged, but by the authority of the Commander-in-Chief.

Finding a proper substitute of good character, or paying down say—twenty pounds, under the same rules as those established for the regular army, should entitle individuals to exemption from serving in the army of reserve. And it might fully be expected, that the reserve regiments, under officers so patriotic and zealous as those of our militia always were, would soon become like battalions of the line, and so highly disciplined as[Pg 19] quite to equal them, as was the case with many of our militia corps last war. I am, therefore, decidedly of opinion, that it would never again be necessary to add second battalions to regiments of the regular army, nor to raise at great expense fencible corps. The plan of second battalions was in general found to be even as objectionable as our present inefficient depot system, for it too often afforded only very inferior supplies to first battalions, of half disciplined soldiers.

To commence this system of the ballot for the regular army (which, by allowing the finding of substitutes, or the paying a sum of money for exemption from serving, completely removes the idea of arbitrary conscription,) I beg further to suggest, that commanding officers, under the superintendence of generals selected for the purpose, should have the power of rejecting, and recommending to be discharged from their corps, all men whom, from character, health, or other causes, they may consider objectionable; and the remainder should be allowed to come under the new regulations, as to the period of ten years service, dating from the time of their enlistment; and this being carefully and judiciously arranged, upon the responsibility of commanding officers and regimental surgeons, the numbers required for corps of cavalry, infantry, artillery, or marines, to complete them to their respective establishments, should be called out at once by ballot, and thus the immense expense of bounties might be saved, and a sum for a complete equipment for each soldier of the regular army would only hereafter be required from the country.

[Pg 20]

This new and more constitutional mode of recruiting the army, would bring into its ranks, and in a manner so little objectionable, such a different description of men, and would so vastly increase the respectability of the service, and give such a high tone of national, and also local interest and feeling to our regiments (for they ought ever after to be kept up by men from the same districts), that the idea of subjecting such soldiers, who could no longer be considered as mere mercenaries, to the corporal punishment of flogging, should, I trust, be abandoned. It may, however, be said, that corporal punishment was found to be necessary to keep up discipline formerly in our militia; and it might be asked, were not the men then called out, and as I now propose, of much the same description as those who composed the militia regiments? I answer—that men who could conduct themselves so as to deserve flogging—which was too much the fashion in those days, ought to have been turned out of the regiments, or got rid of as I have already pointed out.

It may be supposed, that some of the soldiers after having conducted themselves well for ten years, might not think fit to take advantage of the opportunity which would be offered them, of remaining in the service, so as to obtain pensions at future periods; but having accepted of their discharges, had returned to their homes, where, finding out that military habits had become more powerful with them than they supposed, they might again wish to return to the service. Now, although these men would have got beyond the age[Pg 21] at which substitutes might be taken, yet they should be allowed to become such, provided they offered themselves within one year from the date of their discharges, and having served reputably for ten years more, I would propose so far to give them credit for their former ten years service, as to allow them, on being discharged, pensions of nine-pence a day, but no more, for not having availed themselves of the opportunity of remaining in the army, when they might have done so, other men had to be called out and equipped at the expense of the country, to replace them in their regiments; and it would also be presumed, that they had been paid for becoming substitutes. It might be expected that such men, after ten years service only, would make excellent policemen, or non-commissioned officers for the Reserve when called out.

If it were necessary to advocate in the strongest possible manner, the advantages of corps possessing national, or rather local feelings, I would have nothing to do but to instance some of the Scotch regiments, which were raised and kept up from particular parts of that country, whose conduct in all situations, and under all circumstances, was so praise-worthy. These corps, whilst they were proverbial for their gallantry in the field, were known to have been for long periods without a single instance of corporal punishment.

An army composed, as that I have in view, ought not to be officered by men who can get forward, as at present, by purchasing over the heads, too often, of much better soldiers than themselves, in point of gallantry,[Pg 22] military science, and experience. And how strangely also, and inconsistently, are honours conferred upon officers in our army—not for alone distinguishing themselves in action, but because they happened to hold a rank sufficiently high to entitle them to a certain command, or to be the head of a department, and to which the greater part of them had attained, perhaps, by money, well backed by interest; for an officer may have been in every action of importance, from the beginning of the present century up to Waterloo; may have frequently distinguished himself, and may have been even promoted to the rank of Major, and Lieutenant-Colonel, for services in the field, and yet not be entitled to either a clasp or medal, because he did not happen to hold that which would bring him within a fixed regulation on this head. I do not, however, pretend to say, that many of those who commanded corps or detached bodies, and who had arrived at that honour by means of money, were not excellent and gallant officers, but others, over whose heads they, perhaps, had got, could have been pointed out, whom, from not possessing that mainspring, money, or from want of opportunity of applying it, had been obliged to submit to the, perhaps, annoying questions of a genteel, though not rich, and consequently uninfluential family—such as—pray, Colonel, how comes it, that you have neither a clasp nor a medal, nor any thing else to show, although we know that you were present in so many battles, and at so many sieges; when there was at the Mayor's feast the other day (and yet we never heard much of him)[Pg 23] General Sir Richard Sam, the son of old Dickey Sam, who, years ago, did his best to bring in —— for ——, who was quite covered with clasps, medals, and ribbons, and he is also a Knight Commander of the Bath into the bargain. Well might it have puzzled the Emperor Napoleon to conceive how a British army could have been kept efficient, and in the state it was, in which high minded gentlemen were subjected to so galling and absurd a system of obtaining rank and honours; especially when it was also seen, that through the effects of our strange brevet system, a Captain of a Company, from being, perhaps, a senior Lieut.-Colonel in the Army, could in garrison, or when acting with a mixed body of troops in the field, take the command of the whole, and likewise of the Lieut.-Colonel of his own regiment,—and I have known instances of this kind—but probably the very next day, when the corps came to act separately, or when a senior officer took the command of the troops, the Lieut.-Colonel of the corps, or its major, or any of its captains, who happened to have seniority in the regiment to the Brevet Lieut.-Colonel, could drill him in the ranks to their heart's content, and thus teach the teacher of the previous day respect for his—very likely—superior in wealth. All this is, however, very ridiculous, and shews our brevet system to be bad, and that it should, as well as the present mode of purchasing promotion, be abandoned.

The matter could be easily settled, and the mischief obviated for the future, by the country refunding to[Pg 24] those who purchased promotion, if they think fit to retire from the army, the regulated sums they are supposed to have paid; and, under other heads, I hope to be able to show, should any avail themselves of this offer, how savings can be effected to meet this or any other outlay I may venture to propose; for it is too well known to be denied, that many an officer, who bought promotion in former times in this undeniably injurious manner to the service, pledged his word of honour, that he would not give more than the regulated price, whereas he had, perhaps, at the moment agreed privately to pay double for the step; and what must be thought of a system, when even those in power had not probably the necessary information to enable them to check such evasion, and almost open defiance of orders.

The Sovereign alone, at the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief, should have the power of rewarding and honouring conspicuous gallantry, and high merit, by marks of distinction, or by promotion out of the regular routine of seniority; but this prerogative, I think it will be allowed, ought, especially as regards promotion, to be very rarely exercised; and putting an end to such a disheartening and disgusting a practice, as that of officers being able to get forward by money or interest alone, would wonderfully improve our regiments of the line, and infinitely more those of our cavalry.

I have just had my attention called to some of the points which appear to have been brought under the consideration of the Naval and Military Commission, from whom so much was looked for. I confess that I[Pg 25] am greatly disappointed; for they seem to me to have only tried how they could best repair an old defective system, in place of proposing, as might have been expected from so many experienced officers, something new, and more suitable to the times, and the wants of the country; but this, I conclude, has been occasioned by the manner in which the several points were submitted for their consideration; and I am not, therefore, deterred from proceeding in the task I have assigned myself, and must remark, in continuing my subject, that if what I propose is adopted, we might probably hear of promotion being expected to be too slow; but what I have still to beg attention to, may greatly obviate any such objections; yet, when officers saw that justice was done impartially, it would make them patient and contented, even if promotion were slow; but let me ask, where were such officers to be met with in any army, as our highly educated and enlightened officers of Engineers and Artillery, though for many years situated with respect to promotion, as I wish all our officers nearly to be in future.

Granting the brevet rank of field officer to regimental captains is of little advantage to them individually, and has often been found injurious to the service; and would be still more so under the proposed system; and it ought in consequence, to be (as I have before suggested) abandoned, or at all events as seldom conferred as possible. In order that regimental field rank may be sooner attained, I would venture to recommend, that no lieut.-colonel should be obliged to[Pg 26] remain in the almost always unpleasant and most responsible command of a regiment, longer than a fixed number of years; when having so served, he should, as a matter of course, become a major-general on the effective list—that is, he ought to receive a fixed pay, though not employed. Or perhaps it might be preferable, when a lieut.-colonel had commanded for the required number of years, if he thought proper to retire altogether from active service, with the rank however of major-general, to allow him a superior retirement from the country to what may be the pay of major-generals on the effective list; and this being added to what he would receive from a military fund, which I intend yet to propose, would induce many to avail themselves of the opportunity, especially if they had little hope of being actively employed, or no chance of getting a regiment. This would remove any apprehension from being entertained of our generals on the effective list becoming too numerous.

I am aware it may be said, that this plan is defective; for there is no arrangement made, so as to remove one of the great objections to our present mode of promotion, with regard to officers of engineers, artillery, and marines; but I take a very simple view of this matter; for I would merely look to a list of officers of the regular army of all ranks, and to the dates of their commissions; and when a cornet or ensign of any regiment became by the regular routine of promotion a lieutenant, I would, as a matter of course, make any officer of engineers, artillery, or marines of the same standing, a lieutenant also, yet[Pg 27] without giving him the additional pay till a vacancy occurred in his own corps; and I would do the same through the different gradations of ranks, until the officers of engineers or artillery had become lieut.-colonels. I would then style them, and cause them to act as chiefs of engineers or artillery, and which rank they should hold for the same number of years as lieut.-colonels commanding regiments, when, like them, they should become major-generals; and enabling them also to take advantage of the retirement from the country, and of the system to be proposed for the military fund, these accomplished officers, if they thought fit to remain upon the effective list, could become available for staff or any other appointments the same as other generals, and at the same period of life. Out of the effective list of major-generals, lieut.-generals, or generals, the Commander-in-chief, as at present, could select those whom it might be deemed advisable to employ upon the staff of the army, or for any particular object, and as it is to be presumed that their services might be constantly required, especially in our foreign possessions, few of them would be found an unnecessary burden upon the country.

Many objections might be started as to our present plan of unattached promotion; and if what I propose is adopted, these would be greatly increased. Staff officers alone should be allowed to hold unattached rank, and their promotion should progress in the same manner as I have suggested for the engineers and artillery. But if unattached promotion is to continue, it should[Pg 28] be very rarely resorted to, and never but as a reward for very distinguished services; and if such officers must be brought into regiments, their being so would be infinitely less objectionable and annoying, than if they had got over the heads of their brother officers by money alone. My alarm on this head is on account of the interest or patronage which might be exerted. But I do not see how unattached officers can, with any degree of justice, be brought into regiments, unless it were done when vacancies occurred by deaths, or when officers were dismissed the service by the sentences of courts martial; and in the former case not allowing such steps to go in the corps, in which they took place, would be considered very unfair dealing. It might probably be said, let the unattached officers who have to be brought in, pay to retiring officers the whole sums usually given on such occasions—as will be pointed out when the plan for the military fund comes to be considered—but I must object to this, as it would be restoring the system of purchase, even in a worse and more objectionable form than it assumes at present.

A very essential duty should be performed by major-generals, for whose travelling and other expenses on such occasions a suitable allowance ought to be made; viz. that of superintending the ballot of the men for the regiments in the several districts. Assisted by at least two magistrates or civil authorities of the district, who could be supposed most able to afford information respecting the people, these major-generals ought to see the process of balloting carried on in their presence, and[Pg 29] thus all bribery, or any kind of unfairness could be guarded against. They should also be required to see and approve of such men as were produced as substitutes. One major-general could superintend the ballot in a number of districts, but he should not be sent for two years following to the same places; so that the people might be satisfied that any kind of collusion was impossible; especially as our medical staff (also never going for two successive years to the same district) stand too high in rank and public estimation, to admit of its being for a moment supposed, that they could be induced by any means to pronounce a man fit or unfit for service, unless he really were so; and as for a man's height or appearance, the general could not be easily deceived in these respects.

The present expensive recruiting establishments throughout the United Kingdom might be greatly reduced, as in future they could only be required for certain colonial corps, which I shall have to speak of hereafter.

The cruelty of this system of ballot, although rendered almost as mild as that at present in force for the militia, would no doubt be much talked of by pretenders to philanthropy; and the people might be made to suppose, that it was intended to introduce as many horrors into it, as attend a Russian conscription; but the cases would be widely different. In Russia public opinion is of no weight, and is openly set at defiance. In Great Britain it is all powerful, and must be respected. I will not even talk of a French conscription, in which the[Pg 30] youth of France gloried in the days of Napoleon. It may probably be asked, would you take away a father, and leave a large and perhaps helpless family to starve or become a burden upon the parish; or would you take away the only son of a widow, or her only one fit for agricultural purposes? I answer—that I intend to do no such thing—but let these philanthropists, and the parish or district, and especially the wealthy part of it, make timely arrangements to find substitutes for such fathers or sons, if they have not the means to do so themselves; and thus such contingencies could be easily met, by what would only be a charitable duty, which one man owes to another, if he presumes to say that his heart is influenced by correct christian feeling.

[Pg 31]


Young gentlemen not under the age of sixteen, and not above nineteen, who may have prepared themselves for the army, by studying at any military college, academy, or other institution, should be selected for appointments to engineers, &c., but they ought always to be subjected to a previous examination, in order that it may be ascertained that they have been properly educated. Non-commissioned officers, who may bear high characters in their regiments, ought also to be occasionally appointed to ensigncies, provided they have been so well educated as to pass an examination, but not otherwise, however meritorious their conduct may have been. But I am decidedly of opinion, and many will agree with me, that no captain should ever be promoted to the rank of Field Officer, who could not pass a much stricter examination before a board which should be established for this purpose, and also for examining candidates for first appointments to cavalry, infantry, engineers, and artillery; and this would obviate the necessity of having expensive institutions for public military education.

One of the best educated officers I ever met with, had never been at any military school. He had been taught enough of his own language, in which so many[Pg 32] are deficient, and Latin; but the study of the latter had not been allowed to occupy too much of that period of life, when boys can be best instructed in what is much more useful. At a respectable school, he had made considerable progress in the higher branches of arithmetic, also in Algebra, Geometry, History, Drawing, &c., and had acquired a perfect knowledge of what is so essential to an officer, viz. Geography, in all its various bearings; such as the dimensions, boundaries, aspect, climate, soil, mineral, and other productions, resources, commerce, &c. of countries; together with the genius, or bent of mind of their inhabitants; their education, habits, government, the reputations of their armies and navies, productive industry, internal communications, such as canals and roads, &c.; information upon all which points being what ought to be looked upon as constituting a considerable part of a military education. Under the able head of the school alluded to, who was aware of his wish to become an accomplished soldier, he went through fortification, chiefly according to Vauban's system; and he even acquired a slight knowledge, but sufficient for an infantry officer, of the theory of gunnery. Whilst thus occupied, and which was not uncommon in those days, he became an Ensign, and then a Lieutenant in a regiment of the line by purchase. He was also at this time able to avail himself of the advantages to be derived from the assistance of a scientific and practical French officer, who, on account of his loyalty, had been obliged to emigrate, after having served in the army of the Prince[Pg 33] of Condé. By him he was advanced in the knowledge of the French language, and likewise made to understand, and how to apply usefully, what he had been previously taught. The military features of a country were pointed out to him; and wherein the strength or weakness of positions consisted; and other matters such as the effects of concentration and extension of force, &c.; and which should be understood by officers who have any pretensions to being considered scientific.

I hope the reader will excuse me for having been so minute in giving the history, trifling as it may appear, of this officer's instruction; but it has been done solely with the view of showing, in some measure, what I mean by a military education, and also what those should have undergone, who aspire to become field officers in the British army. In young gentlemen desirous of entering the army, I would in their previous examination expect to find, at least, the germs of such accomplishments; but the officer I allude to had mastered, without ever entering a military school, nearly the whole I have mentioned before the age of seventeen; and he had thus acquired habits of study, which were not only agreeable, but useful to him afterwards through life.

I beg here to remark, that it has always greatly surprised me, why it should be deemed indispensable, that a young gentleman must have a first rate education, in order to his being admitted into the artillery; whilst any one is allowed into our cavalry and infantry, without it being ascertained whether he can either read or[Pg 34] write. Surely the latter may be supposed to want even a better education than the former, if it is expected that he should be able to manœuvre, or direct the movements of troops correctly, either upon a confined or large scale; or to act properly, or as a scientific officer in the field, as he may often have to construct field works, and perform other military operations, when well educated engineers are not at hand.

The examinations of captains might be allowed to take place at any period after they have attained that rank, but should they fail to pass after two attempts, they ought not to be allowed to present themselves again before the board, for this purpose. This last examination I consider as most important, for from amongst these officers must be taken our future commanders of regiments, who may reasonably look forward to become our generals, to be afterwards intrusted with important commands, and even with the civil government of portions of our foreign possessions; for which their high tone of honourable military feeling, and strict habits of discipline, as well as respect for civil authority, must render them so superiorly calculated, as to leave no comparison between them and civilians in general for such appointments; but if most of the allowances, and emoluments formerly attached to these governments, are not restored, and which were in general not more than sufficient to enable those who held them, to support with becoming dignity their stations as representatives of majesty, it would be perhaps as wise to yield to the fancies of a[Pg 35] few turbulent and disloyal men, whose understandings seem to be obscured by wild speculations upon colonial affairs; and to allow them to rule in their own way, or as advised or instigated by that indefatigable organ of economy, our distant but valuable possessions—doubly valuable to Great Britain, for in the ships employed in our colonial trade, many of our seamen receive those early lessons which afterwards fit them, according to the present system, for our navy.

I would have been better pleased were it in my power now to proceed to other subjects, rather than have to touch upon what is really unpleasant to me; for I know that I am about to tread on very ticklish ground, and to offend the aristocratical notions of many; and I am also aware, it is very likely, that I shall in consequence be set down as a mere plebeian, or even accused of being wanting in that loyalty, which, as a British soldier, I should possess; but still I feel that I ought to go on steadily, in order, if possible, to accomplish what I have in view, that is to say—in endeavouring to do all I can so as to have our army the finest in the world, for which we possess ample materials, and as an essential step towards this, I must venture to propose to make certain changes in our regiments of guards; and I do not see how I can avoid recommending that they should, in a great measure, be converted into battalions of regular cavalry and infantry, so as to be supplied, in future, with recruits from (selected) districts, the same as other corps; for without this, they could only be composed of an inferior[Pg 36] description of men: yet in point of rank they should, of course, be placed at the head of the list of British regiments, for their gallantry, on all occasions, well entitles them to this distinction; but the privileges and the advantages of their officers, in, I must say, improperly obtaining rank, can no longer, it appears to me, be tolerated by those noblemen and gentlemen, who, I trust, would, under the proposed system, officer our regular army. It can be of no consequence to the country, that a few of our young nobility, and the sons of wealthy men, who wish to go into exclusive corps, for a short time only, were prevented from getting too rapidly forward in rank, through the means of money and interest, to the discouragement of real soldiers. I must, however, in fairness, bring before the reader what a good soldier, Lieut.-General Sir Charles Dalbiac, says upon the subject.


"My dear Sir Henry,—The army estimates for the ensuing year being now under the consideration of the House of Commons, I am induced to trouble you with a few remarks upon a point to which I have always attached considerable importance.

"It has been much the practice in previous years, when in committee of supply upon army estimates, for certain Hon. members of the House of Commons to raise objections against the establishment of our household troops; and in the session of 1836 the hon. baronet the member for East Cornwall moved as an amendment to[Pg 37] the vote proposed by the Secretary at War (for a sum of money to be granted to His Majesty to defray the expenses of His Majesty's land forces), "that the Foot Guards be placed on the same footing as the infantry of the line." I feel quite assured that Hon. members could never entertain a proposition of this nature were they thoroughly acquainted with the difficulties and the consequences that would attend the conversion of the household regiments into regiments of the line; and an anxiety to aid your endeavours to disabuse Hon. members in this matter, should fresh occasion need, and thereby set the question at rest, must be the apology for my present letter.

"I may premise, not indeed, for your information, but for that of others, that the brigade of household cavalry consists of the two regiments of Life Guards and the royal regiment of Horse Guards (Blue). The brigade of household infantry consists of three battalions of the Grenadier Guards, two battalions of the Coldstream, and two battalions of the Scots Fusileer Guards, in all seven battalions.

"The grounds of objection taken against these corps have been,—

"1. That the maintenance of household troops creates an additional and unnecessary charge against the public.

"2. That the household troops are exempted from the ordinary tour of colonial service.

"3. That the officers of the household troops enjoy privileges in respect to rank which are not enjoyed by the officers in regiments of the line; and that such[Pg 38] exemption from the ordinary tour of colonial service, and such enjoyment of privileges in respect to rank, engender invidious feelings between the officers of the different services.

"First, as to the plea that the maintenance of the household corps entail an additional and an unnecessary charge upon the public.

"It will be found by reference to the army estimates for the military year now expiring, that the charge for the three regiments of household cavalry is stated at the sum of 85,757l., and a little calculation will show that the charge for corresponding numbers of cavalry of the line amounts to about 62,757l. the difference being 23,000l. It will also be found that the charge for the brigade of Foot Guards amounts to 192,104l., and a little calculation will show that the charge for corresponding numbers of infantry of the line amounts to about 159,854l., the difference being 33,250l. It would thus appear, upon a first superficial glance of the army estimates for the current military year, that by converting (or changing) the household regiments into regiments of the line, a saving would accrue to the public of about 56,250l. per annum.

"It becomes very essential, however, to inquire by what process such proposed conversion could be carried into effect: and here I would again advert to the amendment moved by the Hon. baronet the member for East Cornwall in 1836, "That the Foot Guards be placed on the same footing as the infantry of the line," the particular wording of which amendment implies a[Pg 39] supposition that the House of Commons or the Sovereign possessed the power of converting the household troops, as at present constituted, into troops of the line. But I humbly presume that any such conceived power would be subject to question; because it is quite unnatural to imagine that either the Sovereign or the House of Commons could ever commit a breach of faith with any portion of Her Majesty's forces.

"It is well known that the commissioned officers, the non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the household troops have, one and all, engaged or enlisted to serve Her Majesty in those particular corps, and in those particular corps only. And in consideration of the very privileges which are peculiar to the household corps have the officers thereof been induced to submit to extraordinary sacrifices in the purchase of their respective commissions, the regulated price of a lieutenant-colonelcy in the Foot Guards being double, the price of every minor commission more than double the price of corresponding commissions in battalions of the line. The supposition therefore that the existing establishments of the household troops can ever "be placed on the same footing as the troops of the line" is entirely out of the question; when they are no longer to be maintained as at present constituted, they must be disbanded altogether.

"Let us, then, commence with the commissioned officers. The contract under which the officers of the household corps engaged to serve Her Majesty having been annulled, the officers will be entitled, in common[Pg 40] fairness, to be placed in the same pecuniary situation in which they stood prior to their having entered Her Majesty's service. They will accordingly require to receive back the regulated value of their respective commissions. Now, according to the scale of prices fixed by His Majesty's regulations of the 8th of April, 1824, the value of the commissions of the officers in the household brigade of cavalry, taken collectively (exclusive of the three colonels, who are general officers), amounts to the sum of 201,285l., and the value of the commissions of the officers in the brigade of Foot Guards, taken collectively, amounts to the sum of 610,600l., which two sums, being added together, form a total of 811,885l. But, as an appropriation in aid of the said sum to be provided, there will be the value of the commissions in the new levy of regiments of the line, which will be raised to replace the household corps. The regulated value of the commissions in three regiments of cavalry of the line amounts to 126,840l., and the regulated value of the commissions in six regiments of infantry of the line (which number of regiments will exceed the establishment of the brigade of Foot Guards) amounts to 242,400l.; and these two sums being added together form a total of 369,240l., which total being deducted from the previous total of 811,885l., leaves a balance against the public of 442,645l. as the difference between the value of commissions to be paid for and the value of commissions to be sold.

"There will then require to be raised a new levy of 6,279 men to replace the non-commissioned officers and[Pg 41] men of the household corps who are to be discharged; the bounty money for which new levy, with expenses prior to joining (officially stated at 5l. 2s. 6d. per man), will amount to 31,475l.; and this sum being added to the previous balance of 442,645l. will swell the amount to be provided by the public to 474,120l. for raising regiments of the line to serve as substitutes for our present household troops.

"Next with respect to contingencies. The charge on account of army contingencies is stated in the estimates at 101,148l., of which sum the proportion of 65,000l. appears applicable to the troops stationed in the United Kingdom, their amount being about 37,500 effectives. But the said contingencies are not applicable to the household troops when employed on the London duties, except to a fractional amount; and the ordinary average of the household troops so employed may be taken at 5,000 men. This brings the expenditure on account of contingencies to about 2,000l. per annum for every 1,000 men. If, then, the military duties of the metropolis are to be performed by regiments of the line in lieu of the household troops, there will be an increase of charge on account of contingencies to the amount of 10,000l. per annum.

"One item of extra charge for the household troops comes under the head of clothing (and accoutrements), which exceeds the charge under the same head for corresponding numbers of the line by nearly 11,000l. But it may be asked whether the clothing or the equipment of the household troops surpasses in respectability[Pg 42] or in splendour what is due to the seat of Royalty and the seat of Government, or what is consistent with the pageantry which should belong to the Sovereign of these kingdoms, or what the nation would desire to behold upon occasions of state or of Royal parade? If not, the same allowances with respect to clothing must be granted to the troops of the line when employed on the London duties as are now granted to the household regiments.

"Another item of extra charge for the household troops is on account of pay. The pay of the privates in the battalions of Foot Guards is 1d. a-day more than in battalions of the line, and there is a considerable increase of pay in the household cavalry above the pay of the cavalry of the line; but a great portion of that increase is in consideration of the additional cost and the additional wear and tear of those articles of cavalry equipment which the non-commissioned officers and men of the household cavalry are required to provide out of their own pockets. And here again, if the troops of the line are to be brought up for the duties of the metropolis, where every article of life is dearer than in the provinces, and if the non-commissioned officers and men are to be subject to greater disbursements on account of the additional wear and tear of more costly appointments, it will not be accounted unreasonable if, when they shall be expected to maintain the same appearances as those which are now maintained by the household troops, they should also expect to receive the same consideration with respect to[Pg 43] pay which had been enjoyed by their predecessors.—Under the circumstances above stated, especially the circumstance of an original outlay of nearly half a million sterling, together with the interest to be paid thereupon, it may reasonably be questioned whether any advantage could accrue to the public, even on the score of expense, by substituting troops of the line for the performance of the London duties in lieu of the household regiments. In every other respect but that of expense, the transmutation would be productive of incalculable detriment to the public service.

"I proceed to the second objection raised against the maintenance of the household troops—namely, 'that the household troops are exempted from the ordinary tour of colonial service.' It will presently be shown that exemption from a portion of colonial service must, of necessity, take place in favour of any body of troops (whether household or of the line) which shall be appointed to the London duties, provided the said duties shall continue to be carried on, as heretofore, with perfect efficiency and with perfect safety to the public service. Upon all other occasions (save in a portion of the colonies) the battalions of the Foot Guards have taken their full share of foreign service with the regiments of the line. The proud memorials which are borne upon the colours of those distinguished battalions afford abundant testimony of their achievements in the field throughout the late war, from the memorable plains of Lincelles, under their late revered Colonel-in-Chief, the Duke of York, to the post of Hougumont,[Pg 44] where, to use the words of the Duke of Wellington, the battalions of Guards 'set an example which was followed by the whole British army,' in that eventful struggle when it belonged to a comparative handful of English, Scotch, and Irish soldiers to restore the balance of trembling Europe! Nor have the Guards been spared since the peace upon occasions where prospects were held out for service in the field. In the year 1826, when an expedition was suddenly despatched for Portugal, a brigade of Guards was placed on ship board in less than 48 hours. In 1838, when it became expedient to augment our forces in North America, the first troops that embarked were a brigade of Guards.—Nor was it amongst the least of the advantages to be drawn from the establishment of our household troops, as at present maintained, that the battalions of the Foot Guards are held at all times in a state of the most perfect efficiency, and available at any moment for service in the field, whilst it will often occur that scarcely a single battalion can be drawn from amongst the regiments of the line, serving at home, in a state perfectly efficient for field service abroad. Nor can this be wondered at when it is considered that the battalions of the line which are stationed in the United Kingdom consist only of those which have recently returned home from the East or West Indies, or other of our colonies, in order to recruit, to refit, and reorganize, and at the end of four years to be despatched again to some foreign station. But if the household troops are exempt from taking their turn of duty in certain of the colonies, there[Pg 45] are other duties which press far more severely upon the brigade of Foot Guards than upon any other portion of the British army. Let a course of 25 years' service be taken, and let a comparison be made between the number of night duties performed, the number of nights when the soldier has been kept out of bed, in a battalion of Foot Guards, and the number of similar duties performed in any battalion of the line, and the balance will be as three or four to one against the Guards.—Hence is it that the casualties produced by consumption and other pulmonary diseases are exceedingly more numerous amongst the battalions of the Foot Guards than amongst any other battalions in her Majesty's service.

"I come now to the third objection that has been raised against the household troops—namely, 'that the officers of the household corps (especially of the Foot Guards) enjoy privileges with respect to rank which are not enjoyed by the officers of regiments of the line.' No doubt the privileges with respect to rank which are enjoyed by officers of the household corps are high privileges. But the question is, whether the Sovereign of these kingdoms shall be despoiled of the prerogative which has been so long exercised by the Sovereign, of maintaining near the Royal person a select body of household troops, and of conferring upon the officers of such select body some especial mark of Royal favour? I deny that the privileges accorded to the officers of the Guards, with respect to rank, have engendered invidious feelings amongst the officers of the army at large. Individuals,[Pg 46] no doubt, will be found in every service to complain of wrongs and of grievances. But the said privileges have not been of ex post facto creation. They have been productive of no breach of contract or of faith with the officers of other corps. Every officer now serving in the line accepted his commission subject to the disadvantages which might arise from the privileges accorded to the officers of the household troops with respect to brevet rank and brevet promotion.

"The most important question of all remains to be considered—a question which, I am persuaded, can never have presented itself to those Hon. members of the House of Commons who would advocate the disbandment of our household corps. By what description of troops, and by what course of service, are the military duties of this metropolis to be regulated and carried on when the household corps shall have ceased to exist?

"It has already been explained that the battalions of the line, which are stationed from time to time in the United Kingdom, are, generally speaking, amongst the least effective of any of Her Majesty's service. The evil is unavoidable, owing to the inefficient state in which regiments usually return home from colonial or other service abroad. Such, then, would be the description of troops to which the London duties would be assigned in the event of the household corps being disbanded. Moreover, it is the general rule of the service, that regiments shall change their quarters every year; but suppose an exception were made in[Pg 47] favour of the regiments performing the London duties, and that such regiments were retained in London two years, instead of one, still what would be the consequence?—That just as they were beginning to be inured to the duties of the metropolis, they would be marched off, and be succeeded by other regiments, whose apprenticeship would then have to commence. Woe to this vast and opulent metropolis upon the day of riot or of actual disturbance, when the public peace and the protection of property shall be committed to raw and inexperienced troops; and all troops must be accounted raw and inexperienced (however high their qualifications in other respects) which shall have been nowise initiated in the peculiar duties which they are called upon to perform. Had the celebrated light division of the lamented Moore—had the famous fighting division of the gallant Picton, landed at Portsmouth at the termination of the late war, fresh from the fields of all their glory, flushed with the pride of all their victories, and thence been ordered to take the London duties—had they been accompanied with the cavalry brigade which La Marchant led in the onset at Salamanca, or by the cavalry brigade which Ponsonby headed in their charge against the column of 12,000 at Waterloo, I would have accounted the whole of those distinguished corps, from the moment they had crossed Westminster-bridge, as raw and inexperienced troops in respect to the duties upon which they were about to enter, so utterly different are the military duties required by the garrison of London from the military duties performed[Pg 48] by the British army in any other part of the world. You are aware that no portion of my military service has been passed in the household regiments. I entertain no favour or affection towards those corps above that which I bear towards the whole army. I set no higher value, as soldiers, upon a battalion of Guards than upon a battalion of the line. It is solely on account of the apprenticeship they have served—it is because, in addition to their general duties as soldiers, they have been trained from their enlistment to the peculiar duties which belong to a London garrison—because they have been instructed in the delicate and the critical position in which they are often placed whilst on duty—because they have been taught to bear and forbear—because they are conversant with all the arts, and intrigues, and temptations of a London populace—because they are familiar with all the public departments, the public offices, and the public authorities, as well as with all the localities within the bills of mortality,—it is on these grounds that I pronounce the household corps to be by far better fitted for the London duties than can ever be the case with any other portion of her Majesty's troops. To the foregoing advantages, I would add the perfect understanding which has been established and cemented between the household corps and the metropolitan police. The beautiful manner in which their reciprocal duties are blended on every occasion of being brought together amounts to a piece of mechanism, which no exertions could ever preserve under a continued introduction of fresh and inexperienced troops.

[Pg 49]

"The household corps of the British army represent a body of troops which, for appearance, for discipline, for intelligence, and for respectability, are unequalled by the troops of any other nation upon earth. They reflect credit upon the Sovereign, upon the Government, upon the service, and upon the nation at large. They serve to impress every foreigner who visits this country with a high opinion of our military character, and of our military power. Yet have propositions been entertained for disbanding these household corps. The result that would follow upon their disbandment is manifest. That, whereas the military duties of London are now, and have been hitherto, conducted in a manner the most perfect and the most efficient, they would be committed henceforth to different portions of Her Majesty's troops, which, by reason of their frequent relief, and their consequent want of experience, could at no time be expected to carry on the military duties of London with equal efficiency for the maintenance of the public peace, and the protection of public property; and in the event of any serious disturbance arising (which God avert!) the disbandment of our household corps, and the dissolution of that unity of service which is at present so happily established between the military and the civil forces of the metropolis, might be productive of consequences fatal to the security of the metropolis itself, and to the interests of the empire at large.—I remain, my dear Sir Henry, with the greatest respect, yours most faithfully,

"J.C. Dalbiac, Lieutenant-General.

"13, Albany, March 9, 1840."

[Pg 50]

Sir Charles Dalbiac's letter is certainly a strong appeal to the army and country; and as one of the staff of Picton's division, I particularly feel it. What Sir Charles says, as to the soldiers of that division taking the duties of London, I readily admit to be quite correct. My objection is not to the Guards, but to the unnecessary and injurious privileges possessed by their officers. Perhaps, however, the desirable object I have in view, may not be considered attainable; and should this prove the case, it might not be unreasonable to expect, that these corps should be kept perfectly distinct from the regular regiments; and that no exchange shall ever be allowed between officers of the Guards and those of the regular army. If they must continue a privileged body, to the injury of the service, their privileges ought not to be allowed to hurt even the feelings of the latter.

All regular regiments of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, should, as before observed, be liable to serve in any part of the world, in case of war or commotion; but they should from many parts of it be invariably and immediately re-called, as soon as the causes for which they were sent out had been removed; but these regiments might be stationed wherever it should be deemed expedient, and for any period; for instance, in such countries as North America, the Cape of Good Hope, the islands in the Mediterranean, &c.

Service in the regular army being limited to ten years only, there could be no necessity in future for burdening the country with any other pensions than[Pg 51] those already proposed for well behaved non-commissioned officers and soldiers, except in cases of severe wounds, or loss of health in the service; but both these should be placed under very strict regulations; and my object for so limiting the period is, that when the time for discharging a soldier arrives, he would not be too old to return to and resume his former occupation or trade; for, I am sorry to say, that old soldiers, in general, are rather addicted to drunkenness, and consequently have become unfit for the quiet walks of life; and practice in war also teaches us, that experienced officers, and young but well-disciplined soldiers, always achieve the most brilliant and enterprising feats of heroism in battle or at sieges; and even in skirmishing I have never found that veterans were to be preferred. There were exceptions occasionally met with, but those who have seen much of modern warfare, will, I think, coincide with me in these opinions.

To effect some of the objects I have in view, it should be permanently settled, how many corps of cavalry, infantry, engineers, artillery, and marines, are to constitute the regular army of Great Britain and Ireland; and their respective establishments in officers should likewise be permanently fixed upon; for I am most anxious, and I consider it to be practicable, to do away with half-pay to officers; and although the peace and war establishments of corps, as to non-commissioned officers and privates, may vary, I do not see, if officers are not unnecessarily and improperly taken away from their regiments, why their numbers should ever be increased[Pg 52] or decreased; for the whole being efficient, and well instructed, they could, in a very short time, with the aid of intelligent non-commissioned officers, train such recruits as it might be found requisite to call out to augment the establishments of corps; and thus a considerable saving to the country may be effected.

Situated as Great Britain now is with regard to other nations; and considering the number of troops likely to be at all times required in some of our foreign possessions, together with the state of Ireland, and also how very few corps are now available for home service; and even bearing in mind our fine army of reserve, but which ought not unnecessarily to be called out, and likewise what I have yet to propose in regard to the East Indies and some of our foreign possessions, I cannot suppose, that our regiments of cavalry ought to consist of less than 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 2 majors, 8 captains, 8 lieutenants, 8 cornets, 24 sergeants, 32 corporals, 16 trumpeters, 560 privates. And to insure our having really effective corps of infantry, they ought to have 1 colonel, 1 lieut.-colonel, 2 majors, 10 captains, 10 lieutenants, 10 ensigns, 30 sergeants, 40 corporals, 20 buglers, 760 privates. Both cavalry and infantry should, of course, have the usual number of regimental staff officers and sergeants, including a school-master, sergeant, and a trumpet and bugle major.

The establishments of corps of engineers, artillery, and of marines, should also be finally decided upon; as likewise that of a permanent staff, which I intend to propose for the army.

[Pg 53]

I am aware that objections have been made to the plan of a military fund, yet I have never heard a good reason assigned by those who made them against it. To such as ask if it would not render officers too independent, I would not even deign to give an answer. I see, therefore, no cause why I should not venture strongly to urge that a military fund be established under the sanction and approval of Government; and to promote so desirable an object, the country, as it would thus soon be freed from the great expense of half-pay to the officers of the army, ought, in common justice, to contribute a certain sum annually, and especially at first, towards it; for it should be borne in mind, that, comparatively speaking, very few pensions would be hereafter required for soldiers, and, I may say, none whatever for officers.

All officers, according to their rank, should be obliged to contribute a certain small sum monthly towards the fund, which could be regulated in proportion to the assistance afforded by Parliament, and likewise by what might be expected to arise from such officers as were desirous of retiring from the army being required to pay a fixed but moderate sum, according to the rank they may hold at the time, into the fund; but I expect that the whole amount in any manner contributed, or which will accumulate at interest in the public fund, would produce annually sufficient to enable those who may be intrusted with its management, to allow retired officers, after a certain number of years service, considerably more than is at present granted in the shape of half-pay.

[Pg 54]

At present, officers sometimes receive fixed sums, according to their rank, for going upon half-pay; but I propose to reverse this as to retirements; and my reason for so doing is to quicken promotion; for I wish to make it the interest of every officer under the individual desirous of retiring (who ought to be allowed to retain his rank) to make up the sum amongst them, which he would have to pay into the fund, in order that he might be entitled to a retirement, and something besides to go into his own pocket, and which he should be permitted to take openly; for a step would, by this means, be gained by all those under him in the corps; and this would greatly remove the apprehension of promotion becoming too slow, and officers would no longer be exposed to the present galling and disheartening system of purchase. A considerable sum might thus be produced annually for the fund, out of which, as I calculate, even general officers should receive retirements at the same rate as lieut.-colonels.

Something of this kind is, I find, adopted by officers in the service of the East India Company, who contribute so much monthly towards a purse given to retiring officers, by which their promotion is found to be quickened.

If wounds, or ill health, acquired in the service, should compel an officer to retire from his regiment, or should he have served for fourteen years, he ought, without any payment to the fund, to be allowed the full retirement to which he would be entitled according to his rank, whether those below him were willing to contribute for him to the fund or not; but should[Pg 55] these officers have done so, in order to induce him to retire, and an attempt be made to conceal the transaction, the retired officer, if it was afterwards found out that deceptions had been practised, ought, by an unalterable regulation, to be deprived of his retirement.

The senior Cornet or Ensign, Lieutenant, Captain or Major, as the case might be, would find it their interest to subscribe a much larger sum than the other officers, for him who was to retire, as he would thus acquire a higher rank in the corps and also an increase of pay.

With respect to pay-masters and surgeons, as a plan has already been adopted by Government for their retirements, after a certain number of years service, it would be unwise to interfere with such an arrangement, but they should, nevertheless, be permitted to subscribe to the military fund, although they could not, like the other officers, be expected to pay towards it on retiring; and unless their monthly payments to the fund were increased, which would not probably be desirable, they must be satisfied with smaller retirements from it; but all such points should come under the consideration of a board of management, as well as the amount of retirements for regimental quarter-masters and assistant-surgeons, but officers ought not to be allowed any retirements whatever until after seven years service; and till they have completed their fourteen years, (or twenty years when there should be another increase) it ought to be only on a very moderate scale. It might also be a point requiring consideration-but[Pg 56] it strikes me, that for obvious reasons, a general Court Martial by its sentence ought to have the power of depriving an officer of any retirement he might have become entitled to.

Some of our best commanders of regiments had objections to married officers remaining in the corps, and often did their best, but without injuring them, to have them removed; for they always found, that at the very time when their thoughts ought to have been entirely given to their profession, they were quite distracted from it, by the care of the world, and anxiety about their families; now the fund I propose to establish, would enable those who had become so situated, or such captains as might be apprehensive that they could not pass the examinations required before they could get the rank of major, to retire, without being obliged to do so, to the quiet of domestic life. I must beg also to observe, that it has long been a common saying as to young men, that the most talented of a genteel family ought to go to the bar, the next into the church, and that any dunce would answer well enough for the army or navy; but if the examinations I have suggested are strictly inforced, this reproach will be removed, and taking into account what I am so anxious to establish for the benefit of officers, not only as regards a military fund, but also with respect to promotion, the army would be rendered a much more desirable and suitable profession for young men of talent than it is at present, and would make it well worth their while to exert themselves to get into it.

[Pg 57]

There ought not to be any difficulties started as to the appointment of a board of management of the military fund, and as it is to be presumed that no member of Her Majesty's Government could have a wish to interfere, or to have any control over the board; I have now to propose (and I think this will satisfy all parties) that the Commander-in-Chief should have the nomination of the president and board, which should consist of at least two, if not of four efficient members, removable only by the authority which had appointed them to it, and which should also have the power of choosing as secretary, a gentleman of habits of business, who would require the assistance of a certain number of clerks. An annual report of the state of the military fund should be made out and submitted for the information of Government, the Commander-in-Chief, and that of every corps in the army.

The officers of the board and secretary for performing what cannot be otherwise than troublesome duties, all the details of which they would have to regulate, and as they must have considerable responsibility attached to them, probably requiring security to be given, I conclude they would be allowed respectable fixed salaries. The clerks will also be of course well paid. I may be sanguine, but I confess I feel very confident, that the plan would be found, under the management of an able board, to work well. I have been more minute than I could have wished, but my object in being so, was to obviate many of the objections which are likely to be started. I regret much, however, that[Pg 58] I cannot now see how to include the officers of the navy in it; for, unless it were so arranged, that they could contribute towards the fund, as retiring officers of the army are made to do, I fear that so desirable an object cannot, as they are now situated, be effected for them.

By establishing this military fund, Government would not only be able to do away with half-pay, but also to discontinue the practice of granting pensions, excepting in particular cases to officers of the army, their widows and children, as I conclude that they would all in future be provided for under the regulations to be made by the board of management; and what a relief to the minds of officers, and what a proud and proper feeling it would be for them to indulge in, that they could at such a trifling sacrifice, and on such easy terms, provide for themselves; and for those about whom they must naturally be so anxious, without becoming a burden to the country; and would not this plan give them a stake in it, which must perpetuate (though it cannot for a moment be supposed, that in such feelings and principles they can be wanting,) that attachment to their Sovereign, and to our free and admirable constitution, which they have ever so strongly evinced; and thus an additional and powerful barrier would be formed against the dangerous designs of men, who apparently wish to see our excellent institutions destroyed, and the country thrown, to suit their own selfish purposes, into such confusion, as could only end in a despotism of some kind or other.

[Pg 59]

I am not blind to the circumstance, that if what I am endeavouring to establish for the good of the service is accomplished, a severe blow must be given to the patronage of the army, but I trust that this will not be allowed to become a stumbling-block in the way of so much general benefit. I, however, willingly leave the cause of our gallant army, with which I am now, I may say, almost unconnected, to public opinion, which fortunately in this country is so powerful, as not to be easily or long withstood; and we may, I will venture to say, be certain, that if what I have presumed to propose, is practicable and desirable, the Commander-in-Chief will readily meet the wishes of the country and the army, with all that good will and zeal which he has on so many occasions evinced for the welfare of both.

[Pg 60]


What I have next to propose, will I think be allowed to be of importance; for I wish to free our army from much inconvenience, and at the same time to insure its efficiency. I have therefore to recommend, that the East India Company should have the power of raising, as usual by bounty, in the United Kingdom, such a number of regiments as they may require for their service; to be commanded by their own officers, in the same manner as has hitherto been the custom in their European corps; so as to enable them to maintain their ascendancy in the East, without the aid of Her Majesty's troops, except in cases of great emergency; for I am most anxious that any of our regular regiments sent there, as I have before observed, should be immediately ordered home, as soon as the cause for which they may have been sent out had been removed.

I am convinced that the Honourable Company's native armies would be greatly improved, and rendered fully competent to contend with any troops in the world, if several corps of Malays were formed for their service, and officered in the manner now practised in Ceylon, and when in the field made to act along with the Sepoys; and for very unhealthy parts of India, where[Pg 61] the heat is almost unbearable, some corps of those always effective, and light-hearted beings—Caffres, would be found most admirably calculated for service, either in garrison or in the field. I am however aware that prejudices exist against both Malays and Caffres, but they should be got over.

From what I have seen of Malays, I believe them to be the bravest people of the East. The only resistance, worth talking of, which our troops met with in taking Ceylon from the Dutch, was from a battalion of Malays in their service; and I am convinced, that Sir Stamford Raffles did not speak too highly in their praise. It was however, a sad mistake, our having relinquished so much of their country, and I fear too without their consent, to the tender mercies of the Dutch; for they were always greatly attached to us, and it is well known that they make excellent faithful soldiers. They are also very healthy in almost any situation, and this alone should induce us to prefer them to every other description of troops, which could be employed in Indian warfare. Ought we not to look forward, and that too before long, to the Company's wars increasing in number and importance; for does not history and experience show us, that conquerors cannot easily stop in their conquests, and say, this river, or that range of mountains shall be our future boundary, and we shall go no farther; do we not almost invariably find, that before they had long endeavoured to halt, and when they had just began to expect, in rest and peace, to enjoy the fruits of their victories, that they were either[Pg 62] again obliged to go forward, or else to retrace their steps. These historical facts are particularly applicable, even at the present moment, and ought to be considered as timely notice to beware of rendering our already vast Eastern Empire too extensive, unless we are prepared to support our high pretensions, by powerful and well organized fleets and armies; and that our chief object is to disseminate the blessings of pure and reformed Christianity throughout the East, for the long neglect of which we have, as a nation, so much to answer for.

I well remember looking upon it as a hopeless business to expect that the Portuguese could ever be brought to stand before French troops; and in making this remark, I more particularly allude to the period when Marshal Soult occupied Oporto. I could then have got, most advantageously, as many did, into the Portuguese army; but having, by chance, witnessed what took place on that occasion, and on some others, nothing could induce me to have any thing to do with them. I certainly came to a wrong conclusion, and I did not calculate, as I ought to have done, that British officers can make almost any men in the world fight; at all events, when they have an opportunity of seeing how British troops set about their work.

I should greatly fear, that it cannot now be safe to employ—at least in some of our West India Islands—corps composed of Blacks; I must therefore beg leave to recommend, that regiments should be raised by bounty in the United Kingdom, for service in that part[Pg 63] of the world, and in some of our other foreign possessions; and none of our regular regiments should be required to serve there, but in cases of emergency; and they ought always to be immediately re-called from such countries, when the cause for which they were sent out had been removed. Such an arrangement would obviate many objections to the plan of the ballot, and would be found the means (so desirable an object in these times) of keeping our regiments in a very high state of discipline and efficiency; for they would be then very superior in these respects to any troops we can now, or even could avail ourselves of; and if what I suggest be adopted, a vast saving of expense to the country would be the consequence, which is incurred in constantly relieving the number of regiments we are obliged to have always stationed abroad.

In order to shew in the strongest manner, how serious a drawback such prolonged service in tropical climates is to the British army, I shall here take the liberty of stating, that in the year 1820, the regiment to which I then belonged arrived in the East, complete in officers and men. It lately returned to England, without having lost, I believe, any individual in action; but the climate alone had produced great changes in its ranks; and although volunteers from other corps were added to it, and many recruits had been sent out during the period of its absence from home, to keep up its strength, yet when it returned it could scarcely be called a regiment. Some of the officers had certainly[Pg 64] exchanged into other corps at home, or had sold out; but only one or two reached England of all those who had embarked with it. This is most injurious to the discipline and efficiency of our army; for, according to present arrangements, and from unavoidable circumstances, a corps can only be at home for so short a period, that there is not sufficient time allowed to bring it into that state in which it ought to be for service; and when regiments arrive in foreign stations, they are too often so much detached in small bodies, that notwithstanding all the zeal and exertions of officers, a certain degree of relaxation in discipline necessarily takes place, and generally increases the longer a regiment, always hoping to be re-called—is kept abroad. This feeling, or anxiety about home, at least to any considerable extent, could not be supposed to exist in Colonial corps; for those who voluntarily entered them, would have, in a great measure, made up their minds to consider such foreign stations as their homes, at all events, for a certain number of years, which both officers and men can, in most instances, contrive to pass both profitably and agreeably.

The officers of Colonial corps should be kept distinct from those of the regular army, and there ought to be no exchanges permitted from the one to the other; and it might perhaps be thought advisable, that Colonial officers should receive a higher rate of pay or allowances, and they ought to be allowed—as the same system of promotion is supposed to exist in such corps as in the regulars—to join the latter in making a provision[Pg 65] for their retirement from the service, upon the plan I have endeavoured to establish. But fixed rates of pensions for service in the Colonial corps should be established for the non-commissioned officers and privates, which ought invariably to be in proportion to good conduct, and to the period spent in those generally unhealthy climates. In these stations, and in the East particularly, I have observed that soldiers of regiments of the line, were very liable to be cast down, in consequence of the expectations they had formed of the pleasures they were led to look for, not being by any means realized; and being exposed to temptations which they could not resist, especially that of drinking, they were more likely to become slaves to it, and reckless, than in other parts of the world; it would therefore be a point requiring serious consideration, how far it might be prudent, when the composition of these Colonial corps is borne in mind; to dispense entirely with corporal punishment; it ought not, however, to be permitted to take place, but when called for by the strongest possible causes, and a special report of the circumstance, should invariably and immediately be made, by the officer commanding the corps, for the information of the Commander-in-Chief.

The establishments of Colonial corps ought to be fixed according to the service likely to be locally required of them; and where their officers obtained the rank of generals, they could, of course, be employed in any manner, or upon any service for which the Commander-in-chief[Pg 66] might think fit to select them; but their knowledge of these countries would eminently qualify them for colonial commands, and thus this branch of the service would not only be rendered highly honourable, but it would also hold out many advantages to those who entered it. They ought, therefore, to be obliged to undergo before appointment, and afterwards before they get the rank of major, the examinations to which the officers of the regular army must submit.

I must now request attention to what I shall next bring before the reader—that is to say—as no one would hereafter, according to the plan proposed, be permitted to enter our regular army, who was not of a certain height, and of a sound constitution, I must strongly urge, that the old fashioned fancy of having grenadier and light infantry companies to regiments should be discontinued; for it takes away the best, or the picked men from the others, to gratify the vanity of two of the captains, at the expense of the feelings of the rest, and which also most seriously affects the general efficiency, and ruins the appearance of regiments: and how galling and discouraging it is to a corps, but especially to its commanding officer, to have these companies placed under the orders of probably a stranger; who may have sufficient influence or interest with a general commanding an expedition, so as to be able to induce him to form grenadier, or light infantry battalions, for a particular service, and which any regiment, or part of it, ought to be as well able to perform.

A battalion, or any body of troops, which is not perfect[Pg 67] in the exercises and duties of light infantry as well as in the less rapid movements of the line, should be looked upon as unfit for modern warfare. All regiments of infantry ought therefore to be like the old 43d and 52d; and I must, at whatever risk, presume to say, that officers unable to make their corps, if not altogether, at least almost as efficient as these were when they came from the hands of Sir John Moore, ought to be considered incapable of commanding them. I have also no hesitation in adding, that during the late wars, these corps and the Rifles, far surpassed all others in many respects.

We all know that the celebrated Marshal Saxe, who was looked upon as a high military authority in olden times, is reported to have said, that the whole art of war was in the legs. This, to a certain extent, is true; but he then, of course, only spoke of the trade and not of the science. I have no doubt but that some of our ancients may be inclined to think they got on well enough without exerting much activity in their day; yet I must say, that officers unfit for rapid movements on foot should be recommended to retire from the service, as their unfitness in this respect might render it indispensable that they should not be allowed to remain a burden upon it. And I would likewise take the liberty of suggesting, that all regimental officers, according to their rank, should be dressed and appointed alike; and all the soldiers of the ten companies alike.

If all our regular regiments were made light infantry, which they ought to be, it might no longer be considered[Pg 68] advisable to encumber them with the large colours now in use. Once upon a time, a commanding officer of a light corps (not belonging to the famous light division), expecting next day to be engaged, actually came to the strange determination of burning those of his regiment; but when acting in line, I would propose (though some one else might think of something very superior), that there should be substituted as rallying points, and to which should be attached the same importance as to colours, two golden-lions, which might be ornamented by a scroll, upon which could be emblazoned, or inscribed, the actions in which the corps may have distinguished itself—these should be screwed on to light staffs; those for English regiments, being near their heads, adorned with Roses; those for Scotch, with Thistles; and those for Irish, with Shamrocks: these standards in the field should be consigned to the care of the two youngest lieutenants, and they should be made strictly responsible for them; for I once knew an ensign, who, in action, actually threw down one of the colours of a renowned regiment, and made off to the rear, without thinking more of it, from having been hit rather sharply by a spent ball. These are likely, I fear, to be thought too trifling matters for a work of this kind; but I hope the reader will excuse me for having introduced them; and also for adding, that in order to keep pace with improvements made by other nations in modern warfare, ought it not to be well considered whether our slowest movements, in what is termed ordinary time, would not be improved, if the[Pg 69] soldier was required to take a greater number of steps, say 87, of only 30 inches in length in the minute; and if what is called quick time was made 126 paces of only 30 inches each per minute, which would make him pass over the same extent of ground in the same space of time as he does by the present plan. At least, I have no doubt, and I speak, as an old adjutant, and as an officer long practised in the movements of both small and large bodies of troops, that all manœuvres would be performed at these paces with much less chance of confusion, and with more ease to the soldier, especially in action, than according to the present mode.

It would lead me far beyond my present intentions if I were to enter extensively upon the subject of military evolutions; but I beg leave to say, that to simplify and render their execution easy, ought to become the primary object of all modern tacticians.

In manœuvring, especially large bodies of troops, rapid movements in columns at quarter distances ought to be much more attended to than they are.—Masses of such columns, or close columns, as practised by the Duke of Wellington at Paris or elsewhere, can be quickly and scientifically placed or prepared for advancing or retiring in any direction, or for deployment, by simply, when put in motion, marking time and bringing up the shoulder; and by this means gradually producing a change of position or of formation of the whole mass. Deployments can be made from such columns in quick or double-quick time, and with the[Pg 70] greatest accuracy, by merely moving in threes or fours to the right or left. What an advantage an army thus instructed would have over one proceeding in the old heavy manner, in seizing hold of a position, or of a point, presenting evident advantages, and that too with perfect safety; for, in case of a sodden attack of cavalry, a quarter-distance column is in security in square in an instant. This column also possesses many advantages over the close column, not only in the superiority and rapidity of its movements, but likewise in its being much less liable to get into disorder in broken ground, or to suffer from cannon, which very soon, if well served, destroy a perfectly solid mass, especially if steady battalions of infantry are also firing into it, as was the case at Talavera, when our Guards in the afternoon made a gallant but injudiciously-directed charge; and when the 48th regiment, on the one hand, and the 45th on the other, taught the French, that breaking through an enemy's line in dense columns would not answer with a British army.—Echelons of these quarter-distance columns would, in many instances, be very superior to lines of battalions or brigades, as they could be moved with rapidity to the points of formation in a new line or position, and without any risk of getting into confusion; commanding officers of corps, their majors and adjutants having only carefully to attend to, judge, and preserve their respective distances; and even in common drill or manœuvres of a single battalion, this ought always to form an important part of the practice and instruction of[Pg 71] these officers, who in regimental tactics are, in general, not sufficiently occupied, and consequently are too often found ignorant of their business when obliged to act in brigade, and with this object in view every movement should be performed as if in reference to a corps supposed to be upon either or both flanks, with which they ought to work in unison. Now I must beg the unmilitary reader to imagine a large body of troops thus manœuvring in columns at quarter-distances, or in open columns, or lines formed from them, covered by clouds of sharpshooters, supported by these columns or lines, cannon and cavalry, and he will have at once before him a chief feature in modern warfare, in which science and experience on the part of generals and staff officers must be so essential and indispensable.

In thus endeavouring to bring certain matters under consideration, and in doing so I fear I may exhaust the patience of the reader, I hope I may not give offence to some of those interested in their remaining as they are at present; but I must proceed in the task I have assigned myself, and observe, that I look upon it to be a point of importance that the present mode of furnishing clothing and accoutrements for regiments should be altered, and that upon a general being appointed colonel of a regiment, he should receive a fixed income as such; but all clothing and accoutrements of every description, ought, under proper regulations, to be supplied through the regimental agents, upon the responsibility of the colonels, but it should be so arranged that neither could have any interest in the articles being procured[Pg 72] at a cheap rate. The granting, however, a fixed income to colonels need be no additional expense to the country; for what are the off-reckonings which go to colonels of regiments but an over-payment on the part of Government for clothing, &c. &c. Some colonels are very liberal to their corps, but many more cannot afford to be so; an alteration, whatever it may be, ought therefore to come under the notice of some board or other, so as to be kept, if possible, out of the hands of Mr. Joseph Hume and his liberal associates.

To all who saw much service during the late wars, it must have been obvious under what disadvantages, owing to the colours of their dress, our soldiers had often to contend with the French, but especially with the United States troops in skirmishing. The latter were certainly, from having much practice, good marksmen; and thickly wooded America was very favourable to their irregulars; for our brilliant scarlet coats, white belts, and bright belt and cap-plates, enabled the enemy to discover, whether in a wood, at the back of a hedge, or wherever they were posted, our unlucky soldiers, who were too apt to expose themselves, and many of them were in consequence laid low; whereas the French, or wary Yankees, almost entirely escaped; and that much owing to their being dressed in dark colours, which enabled them easily to conceal themselves. But officers who served in our Rifle brigade, and in that also experienced corps, of which I saw so much on many occasions, the 5th battalion of the 60th, could give the best information, and a correct opinion upon[Pg 73] this head; and I feel certain that they would join with me in recommending that a change should be made in the dress of our army, so as to make it more suitable for modern warfare, in which light troops are so much employed. I must beg, at the same time, to say, that I often regretted that these fine regiments were not armed with superior muskets in place of rifles, for they are seldom to be preferred to muskets, and never but when loaded with great care, and this, in action, takes up too much time.

We every day hear of experiments and improvements in the construction of fire-arms; and the country can surely afford to supply our army with a superior musket, with a proper elevation, and a percussion lock. The present old fashioned firelock, with which nearly all our troops are still supplied, is very imperfect, and heavier than it ought to be. But would it not be well to consider, whether the new musket should not be considerably longer in the barrel and smaller in the bore; and that the bayonet should be much reduced in size; and I would also arm the soldiers, I have in view, with a sword, of the shape and size used by the ancient Romans; for we may depend upon it, that our brave, powerful men, would follow their officers, sword in hand, into the midst of their enemies. The musket could be then carried either in the left hand or slung upon the soldier's shoulder, and the bayonet could be fixed to it if preferred. It might be necessary to weigh well the consequences before we so armed our impetuous soldiers, for it would be certain to lead to a new[Pg 74] era in war; and would expose troops so fighting, which must be in a degree of loose order, to be charged by cavalry; yet the Romans fought in that manner, and with great success, though equally liable to be so attacked. Every thing would, however, depend upon so high a state of discipline being established amongst the troops, as would enable officers to keep them in hand, and at all times obedient when commanded to resume their places; and our dragoons ought always to be at hand, ready to support infantry so acting. Such views as these are, I suppose, entertained by those officers who seem to be so anxious to have broad sword and bayonet exercises, introduced. I do not wish to enter farther into this discussion; yet I beg leave to say, that, though I am certain our soldiers would have closed with their enemies, yet, in all my practice, which was tolerably extensive, I never saw two bodies of troops fairly charge each other with the bayonet; for one side or other (and generally it was that attacked) gave way. I have certainly seen a few instances of individuals, French and British soldiers, actually attacking each other with the bayonet; and at the battle of Roliça, I remember seeing a soldier of the 29th regiment, and a fine-looking Frenchman, lying on the ground close together, who had, judging from the positions in which they lay, evidently killed each other with their bayonets; but such occurrences were, I believe, very rare.

The introduction of the percussion lock into the army will necessarily cause a change to be made in part of the musket exercise; but it will simplify the motions[Pg 75] and expedite the firing. I, however, hope, that before any thing of this kind is decided upon, the following remarks may be allowed to have due consideration.

The pouch might be differently constructed, and advantageously converted into a magazine, to carry securely a certain quantity of powder in bulk, in an air tight tin canister, with a screw stopper, to insure its being, at all times, and in all situations, kept perfectly dry; and this is a very essential point, as many cartridges are destroyed or rendered unserviceable in the men's present pouches by rain, a damp atmosphere, and even continued friction; and this is too often only found out at the moment when they are required for service, and when there is, perhaps, no opportunity of exchanging them; and as this magazine ought at all times on service to be kept full of powder, the officer when inspecting his company or detachment, could easily ascertain if any of it had been made away with: indeed, the stopper might be safely sealed over, or otherwise secured; and thus the soldier could be made, without inconvenience, to carry such a supply of ammunition as to render it unnecessary that recourse should be so constantly had to that carried in reserve for the army. The pouch should also be made to contain, besides the powder, a sufficient supply of percussion caps, and a proportionate number of balls, to the quantity of powder in the canister; and every ball should be separately, thinly, yet sufficiently covered with a kind of stuff similar to soft leather, so as to make it fit tightly when rammed down into the barrel of the musket, and[Pg 76] it would thus become a good wadding over the powder. For what is called blank cartridge firing, waddings of the common kind, and of the proper size, could be used.

The pouch thus contracted, would hold the soldier's reserve ammunition, which would amount to a much greater number of rounds than it contains according to the present plan. But to effect what I have in view, every soldier should be supplied with a good powder flask, with a proper measure to suit the musket, according to the most improved method, and similar to that which Mr. John Manton usually supplied along with his guns; having the measure forming an angle to one side, so as, in case of explosion, if such a thing could happen in loading, the right hand would not be much, if at all, hurt. This flask could be made to contain a sufficient quantity of powder, say for twenty rounds, at all times on service ready for use, and which, for the reason I have already assigned, ought, when the soldier is required to have ammunition in his possession, to be likewise kept full; and should it at any time be suspected that the powder in it had become damp, it could be easily aired by simply dipping the flask in boiling water.

I regret that I am obliged to be particular in my descriptions of such trifles; but this flask should, I conclude, be carried for convenience on the left side or breast, and secured from falling when the soldier is in movement, by a slight chain attached to the belt, to which the flask might also be steadily fixed by some[Pg 77] simple contrivance; and to render this the more easily done, it ought to be rather flat in shape, and not larger than to contain the quantity of powder I have mentioned; and twenty rounds are quite as many as can be wanted at reviews or field days. In action, if these twenty rounds are expended, I need scarcely observe, that if no other reserve powder be at hand, the flask could be replenished instantly from the magazine; but under an apprehension that ammunition might be made away with, the quantity in bulk should be touched as seldom as possible, and if any of it be used, it ought to be immediately replaced. A small pocket might be made in the right side of the soldier's coat, which should be only sufficiently large to contain a number of covered balls in proportion to the quantity of powder in the flask; and a flap should button over this pocket to prevent the balls from falling out. Each soldier would likewise require to be equipped with one of those brass cases for holding percussion caps, which, by a spring inside, forces each cap out in succession as it is wanted. Those I use contain thirty caps. This case should also be attached to the belt, but upon the right side.

The buck shot, I before mentioned, can easily be made up so as to serve for wadding, in place of the covered ball; and a sentry upon his post, especially at night, in many situations, would have more confidence with his piece so loaded, than if he had only a single ball in it. A better method than that which I have ventured to propose, may very likely be pointed out; but whatever it may be, the admitting of the knapsack[Pg 78] being carried somewhat lower and easier to the soldier, ought to be kept in view; and he should not be obliged, as at present, to take cartridges with so much inconvenience out of his pouch every time he loads his musket; and the new exercise introduced on account of the percussion lock, must of course be made to suit the alterations.

Should the soldier be supplied with a well-constructed musket with a percussion lock—and if he be required to use a muzzle stopper, a charge though a day or two in the barrel, will go off almost as well as if just loaded, and this too in any kind of weather. Our commanding officers when going into action, or rather on supposing that they were about to do so, in general made the soldiers prime and load too soon, for this, I may say, is the business of a moment; and how often after the regiments had loaded, have they never had an opportunity of firing a shot the whole day. At night probably the soldiers bivouacked, and it rained heavily, so that in the morning not a firelock, if it had been attempted, would have gone off. Darkness had prevented it from being done the night before, and when the charge had next morning to be drawn, it was found to be a very difficult job, when the ball was held tight by wet paper. And then the barrel required to be well washed out, which took more time than could be allowed for the purpose, and consequently it was badly done. I need, therefore, now scarcely observe, that the percussion lock, in a great measure, obviates, by a very little attention, such serious inconveniences and defects.

It may very likely be deemed great presumption for[Pg 79] me to propose so many changes; yet, having spoken of an alteration in the uniform of the regiments, I shall now venture to mention what has been suggested to me as likely to be a great improvement; but I do not by any means pretend to say that nothing superior could be thought of or invented. But if people take the liberty of finding fault with fashions or systems, whether old or new, it is but fair that they should be required to point out remedies or improvements.

Suppose that the uniform of the regular infantry was nearly assimilated to that of our Rifle Brigade (with Her Majesty's Guards I don't venture to interfere). It is generally allowed, that the dress of both officers and men of these corps is soldier-like, handsome, and far better adapted for service than that now worn by the rest of our army. But I am most anxious that the soldier's coat should be made for comfort as well as for appearance; and I should, therefore, greatly prefer that it was made in the shape of what is usually termed a frock, but to have a stand up collar, and to come down nearly to the knee. Both coat and trousers could, at a very trifling additional expense, be made water-proof. But soldiers ought never again to be overloaded on service with blankets, and let the reader only imagine their being obliged, as was often the case, to carry them when wet. But to make up for the blanket, they should be furnished with a large sized water-proof cloth great coat; in these they could sleep sufficiently warm and secure from any damp that might rise from the ground, and which in campaigning is of such importance towards preservation of health. The[Pg 80] country would also be saved expense if this plan were adopted, by not being obliged to provide and convey bulky blankets to the points where they were to be delivered out to the troops; and these water-proof great coats being of a very durable material, would last much longer than the old fashioned ones.

Many of the absurdities which once existed in the dress of our infantry officers and soldiers; such as the powdered heads and long pigtails, and white pipe-clayed tight buckskin breeches, and large jack-boots of the former; and the soaped hair with finely feathered sidelocks, as they were termed, and long highly polished leather queues, tight white cloth breeches, and long tight gaiters of the latter, have long been done away with; and why not go a step farther, and in the way hinted at, in order to secure to our infantry great and decided advantages. Many may remember the strange figures, which most of our soldiers cut in Paris after the battle of Waterloo, in their dirty red coats, and ugly shaped caps; the former much stained, and the latter become brown and disfigured by exposure to rain and weather; the consequence was, that our army made, I do not hesitate to say, the worst appearance of all those assembled in and around that capital.

I do not intend in this work to make many remarks upon our cavalry, but I must say, that I hope yet to see some of our lights made heavier, and mounted on powerful yet sufficiently active horses. I confess I am not one of those who admire what are called hussars, &c., because I know how to value our heavy cavalry, and am therefore induced to draw a comparison between[Pg 81] the two; and I boldly assert, that no cavalry in the world can stand before our splendid heavy dragoons and their noble steeds. One regiment—and I am enabled to judge from what I saw of them upon several occasions—would with ease cut their way through all the Cossacks of the Don, or any such Lights, which are seldom of any other use but to follow up a beaten enemy; and, I must say, that it has often surprised me, how we could think of copying the inefficient cavalry of any nation. Sir Thomas Picton, but he was an infantry officer, was also no great admirer of our light cavalry, and some of them may, perhaps, remember an opinion he publicly expressed of their efficiency at Roncesvalles, when he, in his emphatic way, and, I must admit, not very politely, drew a comparison between them and the dragoons of the German Legion, who were not only excellent and experienced, but always effective. We were all greatly attached to the German dragoons, and for nothing more, than for their literally making companions, or playfellows, of their fine English horses, which they always thought of, with respect to care and food, before they did of themselves.

At the opening of one of the campaigns, a body of these German dragoons, so much and deservedly admired by Picton, which had been attached to the third division during most of the previous one, returned to us from their cantonments, when we were again close up to the enemy, and hourly expecting to be engaged; officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, turned[Pg 82] out in a body to welcome their old friends, who passed through the camp to where they were to be stationed for the night, amidst the cheering and congratulations of the fighting division—and Picton's division knew well who were good soldiers. In making these remarks, I by no means presume to say any thing against our light cavalry, but I must protest against a system of mounting brave men upon horses unable to carry them through their work on the day of trial, and in this respect foolishly aping foreigners, who would give the world for such horses as we possess; and who are doing all they can to improve their breeds in order to be able to meet us at a future period. The plan, however, which I have suggested for promotion in the army, would wonderfully change matters in our cavalry regiments, into which many officers would no longer go merely for the day, and for amusement, but into a profession to which they were to belong for life. But mentioning these German dragoons, reminds me of a welcome Sir Thomas Picton himself met with on his return to the 3d division in the South of France, after an absence occasioned by severe illness, and to which the following letters allude.

"Valley of Bastau, August 27, 1813.

"Dear Sir,

"It has long been the wish of the officers of the three brigades, which we have had the honour to command under you in the 3d division, as also of the divisional staff, to have an opportunity of offering you an[Pg 83] ostensible mark of their high respect, gratitude, and esteem, which we so sincerely feel in our hearts.

"Every objection seems now removed, in point of time and otherwise, when on the recurrence of severe illness, which has in four successive seasons assailed you; you at present only await a sufficient degree of convalescence, to admit of your trying change of climate, with but too little prospect, we lament to think, of your returning to your command in this country.

"Services such as yours, cannot but have been acknowledged before this, by the offering of one or more swords from your attached military brethren, or a grateful country. We therefore, for ourselves, and those who have desired us to represent them, request you will do us the honour to accept of a piece of plate with a short inscription, commemorative of the circumstance, and of the corps which composed the 3d division under your command in the Peninsula.

"With most sincere wishes for your early convalescence, followed by your confirmed good heath, on leaving a climate that has proved so unfriendly to you, we have the honour to subscribe ourselves,

"Dear Sir,

"Your ever faithful Servants,
(Signed,) "C. Colville,
Thomas Brisbane,
M. Power.

"For the Staff of }
the Division
, } F. Stovin, A.A. Gr.

"Lt.-Gen. Sir Tho. Picton, K.B.
&c. &c. &c.

[Pg 84]

"London, 18th Sept. 1813.

"My Dear General,

"In the extreme weak state to which I was reduced previous to my leaving the Peninsula, my feelings were too powerful for my spirits, and it was not possible for me adequately to answer the kind letter of the general officers commanding brigades in the 3d division, which you did me the honour of forwarding to me from the Valley of Bastau, on the 29th of August last.

"I cannot but highly value the testimony of gentlemen, to whose talents, zealous co-operation, and gallantry on every occasion, I feel myself indebted for the honours that have been conferred upon me, and for the degree of reputation to which I have risen in the service; and I shall receive any memento of their esteem and regard with corresponding sentiments and feelings of the heart.

"The period of my life to which I shall always recur with the greatest satisfaction, is that which was passed at the head of the 3d division, when I always experienced such a spirit of unanimity and heroism, as never once failed of success in any of the difficult enterprises we were employed upon. Though I may never again have the honour of commanding so distinguished a corps, I shall ever feel myself identified with the 3d division in all its operations, and shall take as strong an interest in its success as I ever did, whilst I had the honour of presiding at its head.

[Pg 85]

"Accept my many acknowledgments for your kind attention, and of my sincere and constant wishes for your success and prosperity on all occasions.

"Your devoted and faithful,
"Humble Servant,

(Signed,) "Thomas Picton, Lt.-Gen.

"To the Hon. Major-General Colville,
Major-General Brisbane,
Major-General Power,
Lt.-Colonel Stovin, &c.

The day upon which Sir Thomas Picton unexpectedly rejoined his division, the 45th regiment was lying down at the head of Sir Thomas Brisbane's brigade, which was concealed behind a height, ready for an intended attack. The enemy were posted at a bridge on the right bank of a brook, and occupying, advantageously, a few houses close to it. Our sentinels and theirs were within ten yards of each other, when to this corps delight, which had so long served under him, up rode their favourite chief: in an instant, and under strong and general impulse of feeling, which could not be suppressed, they to a man stood up, and gave him three hearty cheers, which were immediately responded to by the 74th and 88th regiments; thus discovering where they were to the French. "Well 45th, you have let the enemy hear you, you may now, if you please, let them feel you," was Picton's smiling reply; and at the same instant he ordered the attack, which I need scarcely say was completely successful.

[Pg 86]

I hope I may be excused for giving here another trifling anecdote. I remember well Colonel Guard, whose adjutant I was at the time, being most anxious that the 45th regiment, which he for some years commanded, should be made Light Infantry, and also to have had them styled, "The Sherwood Foresters." He, however, for what reason I know not, failed in the objects he had in view. Not long after, the 45th was brigaded in England for exercise with the 87th and 88th regiments. Colonel Guard had constantly, and much to his annoyance, and more particularly on account of his recent failure, heard these corps called to attention by their appropriate local designations, in place of their numbers; but one day he could stand it no longer, and when Colonels Butler and Duff loudly and proudly exclaimed, "Prince's Irish," and "Connaught Rangers,"—he in a very shrill voice, called out at the same instant, "Nottingham Hosiers," attention. His brother chiefs, who seemingly had not heard, or understood what he had said, looked all astonishment, when the whole brigade burst into an irrepressible, and unmilitary fit of laughter. I fear that in this instance, like old soldiers in general, I have been led away by the love of telling my story, and must therefore apologize for the liberty I have taken with the reader; yet, if I am not mistaken, I think I have shown, that a particular designation, however acquired, is considered by many, as of more importance to a corps, than a mere number; I therefore look forward to the day, if my views are adopted, when a district will have just[Pg 87] cause to be proud of its regiment; and to a regiment never hearing it named but with a feeling of revived affection, and a determination, that their home shall never be disgraced by any act of theirs.

[Pg 88]


Other causes besides those arising from the description of men generally enlisted into our army, tended greatly to keep soldiers what they were—that is to say, difficult to manage, and always ready to avail themselves of any opportunity of getting away from under the eyes of their officers, with the view of indulging in irregularities whenever it was possible to do so; as, I trust, I shall be able hereafter to point out. I cannot, however, undertake to say, what may be the custom in the present day; but a soldier, in former times, could not commit a greater offence than to presume to think or act for himself; and I remain still in doubt, when, or at what rank, an officer was supposed to be capable or had a right to think. And as for education, too many entertained the strange notion, that beyond reading and writing, which were allowed to be useful to non-commissioned officers, the less soldiers knew of such matters the better. After this need it have surprised any one, that intelligence of any kind was but rarely to be met with in the ranks of a British army; and that it was constantly found in those of the French, into which the conscription necessarily introduced it; and when evinced, it was sure to meet a due reward.

[Pg 89]

I remember, years ago, being visited by a brother-adjutant. As he entered my barrack-room, a young soldier placed a book upon the table and retired; which my visitor, a few minutes after, took up, and being surprised at what it indicated as its contents, he asked me, in seeming astonishment, what a private soldier could have to say to such a work? I replied carelessly, that the soldier who had just left the room, was a young man of considerable ability and great promise; and that I wished him to read useful books; so as to be fit, at a future period, for any station he might attain. He looked at me again, and seemed by no means satisfied by what I had said, nor with the book, and thus in a very friendly way addressed me:—"You are a very young man, the youngest I ever saw made an adjutant—I have myself risen from the ranks, and have consequently had much experience amongst soldiers; and know them well. You may therefore take my word for it, that books containing such information, only tend to make soldiers question the wisdom of their officers; and to fit them for being ringleaders in any discontent, or even mutinous conduct in their companies: and it also causes them to be disliked by the non-commissioned officers who have to teach them their duties, and especially the drill-serjeants, who are always jealous of those who are likely to become rivals." This certainly surprised me as coming from my visitor, but he had been for many years an adjutant, and it has often been remarked, that no officers are so severe, or have so little consideration for the feelings of soldiers as those who[Pg 90] have risen from the ranks. With this as a kind of text, and also requesting that the reader will bear in mind what was shown at the commencement of this work, by excellent authorities, to be the character of our soldiers in general, I shall now proceed with my remarks, some of which may probably be thought trifling.

The French plan of carrying the knapsack, though not so smart looking, is in the opinion of many, superior to that adopted in our army; as it has much more the ease and comfort of the soldier upon a march in view. Our present mode, which binds the soldier so tightly within the slings and straps of the knapsack, as almost to prevent the free circulation of the blood, is certainly far from judicious, but we have been long accustomed to it, and like it on account of appearance. But in olden times, we had many ways of trying the tempers and dispositions of our soldiers; such as making them, though kept at drill, or at exercise in the field the greater part of the day, to burnish the barrels of their firelocks, to their serious injury, till they were made to shine like silver, and to polish their pouches, and oddly shaped caps, so as to render looking-glasses quite unnecessary. How often have I, when a zealous and enthusiastic adjutant, cracked a pouch with the head of my cane, when it was not bright enough to please my practised eye, with the kind intention of affording the owner a pleasant week's occupation to get it again into order. And how often have I, on my well-practised horse, placed camp colours as points of movement, till the whole "Eighteen Manœuvres" were gone through;[Pg 91] many of them, if the commanding officer was dissatisfied, with the regiment's day's performance, two or three times over; having previously had the delight of marching past repeatedly, in quick and slow time, to please the spectators, or because the soldiers did not make the ground sufficiently resound by the firmness of their steps; thus altogether agreeably occupying from five to six hours of the officers and soldiers time, with the prospect before them of a long evening parade, or inspection, because they had not been so steady under arms as they ought to have been during the morning's occupations.

I sincerely hope we shall never again hear of such things being practised in a British army; and no commanding officer should be allowed to keep his regiment longer than an hour and a half, or two hours at a time under arms, which will be found quite sufficient, if well occupied, for every useful purpose of instruction; especially as at almost every parade, a battalion ought to be made to perform a movement or two before it is dismissed. I however look upon it to be of the first importance, that a soldier should be accustomed to consider his knapsack and accoutrements, I may say, as parts of himself, and that he should be so habituated to them, that whether marching or not, he could perceive little or no difference; and to effect this, he should never appear under arms without his knapsack; but I hope, if this plan be enforced, as it ought to be, to hear of an improvement being made in the mode of carrying them.

[Pg 92]

Our soldiers were greatly overloaded, especially on service, when they had to carry, besides their arms, accoutrements and ammunition, their canteens, haversacks, and well-filled knapsacks, their great coats, and often wet and consequently very heavy blankets, and sometimes in addition two or three days bread, and generally ten extra rounds of ball cartridges. Overloading soldiers in this manner was down right madness, especially if we had considered the description of men we too often had to deal with; and this will never answer in the more rapid modes of carrying on war, to which we must hereafter look forward.

I saw it not along ago announced in a daily paper, that the recruiting of the army had been very successful, 13,000 men having been raised for the line, and had joined their corps in the course of 1838. Of that number, more than 4000 were passed in the London district, and this was exclusive of men raised for the East India Company's service. By this it would appear, that London alone furnishes about a third of the men raised to fill up casualties in Her Majesty's regiments.

It is very likely that the editor of the paper, who seemed so pleased at being able to afford us this intelligence, is a zealous advocate for doing away with flogging in the army; but if such be the description of men of which it is chiefly composed, any person of common sense must see that it is impossible to do so, for what are these men in general but the vitiated and debilitated part of our population.

[Pg 93]

I have no doubt but it is very desirable that the country should get rid of such subjects, who are mostly unfit for any military purpose whatever; but why, at a great expense, burden the army with them? Would it not be much better to allow the worthy Yankees to have many of them at once, as emigrants or soldiers; and if sufficient authority were given to our Police Magistrates, they could very soon, by only threatening such fellows, with what a certain Colonel once upon a time practised in Ireland with so much success, make volunteers in plenty, and thus save our sympathizing friends the trouble and expence of enticing them to desert from their corps in the Canadas. I am well acquainted with their proceedings in this way, and can therefore speak from experience, having been for some time employed upon the staff of the army stationed in that part of the world. I certainly had at that time no trifling task assigned me to make arrangements, so as to have a good look-out kept all along the extensive frontier of the lower Province, to prevent desertions, to which our soldiers were much addicted, and encouraged by promises of both money and land, but which were seldom intended to be fulfilled; indeed, most of those who got off had nothing else left for it, in order to keep themselves from starving, but to become once more soldiers, and to fight against their old comrades.

It was supposed by some officers, that shooting a number of them (I saw six shot in one day at Chambly), who were caught in attempting to cross the boundary[Pg 94] line, would have put a stop to this disgrace to our army, but it had no effect whatever; indeed nothing we could devise produced any change in this respect, until it was made the duty of commanding officers to give me immediate information whenever a man was missed from his corps. Small detachments of dragoons were posted at certain points to convey to me at St. Johns the necessary intelligence. Upon receiving it, the out-posts were instantly informed of the circumstance. At the same time parties of Indian warriors were sent out in all directions in search of him, and a reward was held out to them for bringing him in. These arrangements being made known to the several corps, and the deceptions of our kind neighbours being pointed out to them, a complete stop was thus put for the time to desertions. But are men who would so readily desert, those Great Britain should have in her armies? I ought here however to mention, to the honour of my old friends, the 88th, or Connaught Rangers, that they were exempted, by Sir Thomas Brisbane, from witnessing executions for this crime, as not a man of that corps had deserted to the United States.

In order to show what little effect executing men for desertion had upon others, I shall take the liberty of mentioning what took place upon one occasion at St. Johns. My General being absent at Montreal, as Brigade-Major attached to the troops, most of the melancholy duty of superintending such executions fell to my share. A private of De Meuron's regiment was at this time to be shot. The troops were formed in three sides of a[Pg 95] square, at the other side towards the forest the grave was dug, and the coffin for the criminal to kneel upon, was placed, as usual upon such occasions, beside it. The Provost, with the firing party escorting the prisoner, and with the band of the regiment at their head playing the Dead march, entered the square—when, to my surprise, there proudly marched the prisoner—coolly smoking a cigar. Seeing at once the bad effects likely to result from such evident contempt of death, painful as it was to me, I called the Provost, and ordered him to take away the cigar from him. On approaching the grave, the prisoner walked quietly, but steadily forward, looked into it, and turning round to me, said, in French, "it will do." But still more to my surprise, yet with equal calmness, he walked up to his coffin, and before I was aware of what he was about, with his middle finger and thumb he measured its length, and turning round again to me, he said, in French, which his corps generally spoke, "it will do also." This was so far beyond any thing I had ever before witnessed, that I found it necessary to direct the Provost to proceed with the execution as quickly as possible; he therefore went up to the prisoner with a handkerchief, and, as is customary, offered to bind up his eyes. He however, pushed the Provost aside, exclaiming, in French, "I am a brave soldier, and have often looked death in the face, and shall not shrink from it now." The Provost then desired him, or rather made signs to him, to kneel upon his coffin, but he replied, "I prefer standing, and shall do so firmly." "Vive L'Empereur,[Pg 96] vive Napoleon," were his last words. The party fired, and in an instant he ceased to exist.

He was a Frenchman, and had been a prisoner of war for a considerable time in England, but had been very improperly allowed to enlist into De Meuron's regiment; which he had, no doubt, entered with the intention of deserting the first opportunity which should present itself.

I have yet to mention our North American possessions; but it would appear, that it is now in contemplation, to employ corps of veterans upon the Canadian and our other North American frontiers. It is, however, evident that whoever can have suggested such a scheme, must have altogether overlooked, or be ignorant of the rigorous nature of a Canadian winter, and must likewise have forgotten, that almost all our veterans have spent a great portion of their lives in tropical climates, which cannot be supposed to have prepared their constitutions to bear up against such cold as is quite unknown in any part of Great Britain, as indicated by registers of the thermometer kept during a residence there; where it ranges from zero to 10, 20 and even 35 degrees below it; and should a strong wind prevail along with such cold, any one exposed to it is very likely to be frost-bitten. It may also be supposed, that the proposers of such a plan, are not aware of its being often necessary during winter in Canada, to have sentries relieved, or at least visited every half hour; for if they be unfortunately overcome by the severity of the cold, and in consequence fall asleep, it[Pg 97] is certain death. Are worn-out men, many of them already martyrs to rheumatism, or must soon become so, fit for service in such a country, and to which they may be sent from their homes, probably reckoned upon as permanent, contrary perhaps to their wishes, and very likely only to suit the economical notions of penny-wise theorist and grumblers, who grudge old soldiers and sailors, even the pittance their services entitle them to, whilst they would handsomely reward the author of a mischievous pamphlet? But are these poor veterans, I again ask, fit to guard such an extensive frontier, constantly menaced by hardy and restless men, inured to a North American climate?

I have no doubt but that prejudiced men, and such as are always ready to cavil at any change proposed, be it good or bad, will at first be inclined to look upon what I have suggested for keeping up our army, as not only a wild and visionary, but also as an impracticable scheme; yet all I request is a full and fair consideration of what I have said and brought forward; and it ought now, I think, to be obvious, that our regiments must be composed of a superior description of men, if the country is to be served as it ought to be in our future wars, as will, I trust, more fully appear as I proceed.

I shall now beg to remind officers, in general, of the numbers of soldiers who arrived in Portugal and Spain, who went into hospitals before we had many weeks carried on military operations in those countries, many of whom, as might have been expected from[Pg 98] their early debilitating habits, never rejoined their regiments; and throughout the war when fresh battalions arrived from England, nearly the same thing invariably occurred, and with detachments of recruits for corps already in the field, it was still worse, so much so, that we could never calculate upon one-third of the new comers remaining fit for duty with their regiments, even for a short time after their first arrival; some of them, however, as they became more habituated to campaigning, turned out to be good soldiers. Now many of these were men who had been probably raised, according to our present system of recruiting, in London, or in our manufacturing districts, and thus the country was put to an enormous but useless expense.

The soldiers we could chiefly depend upon, were those who originally belonged to the corps, or had come to us from many of the militia regiments, and particularly those who had been brought up to early habits of labour in our agricultural districts. I am aware that many of the men we got as volunteers from the militia, had been called out from our manufacturing population, but their habits and health had been much improved by being obliged to relinquish debilitating practices, by good feeding, and regular military exercises for a length of time before we got them. A long peace has probably brought into our corps a more robust description of men, than we had often to make the best we could of during the late wars, and many of whom were frequently most wretched creatures, so[Pg 99] much so, that it was unfair to expect that British officers, however zealous they might be, could always be successful in battle against the finest men of France, which the conscription brought into the French ranks; but if an immediate increase of the army, to any considerable extent, should become requisite, and if the present system of recruiting is to be still pursued, the same generally unprofitable and expensive materials must be resorted to, for augmenting or completing the respective establishments of our old, and also of any new corps which it might be necessary to form, and many of whom must be again found to sink under the fatigues and hardships of war, and the weight of their knapsacks. I must, however, declare that none of the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland are deficient in courage. But let us reflect upon the state into which Sir John Moore's army (which almost set him distracted) had got in the retreat to Corunna. Almost all the corps had become completely disorganized in every respect, and had nearly lost the appearance of regular troops. An opportunity of fighting presented itself, and in a moment steady and well disciplined British battalions appeared in the field. Such were the strange beings British officers had to manage as well as they could.

It would appear that a new plan is about to be adopted for re-organizing and training the militia, and that the men are in future to be raised at a small bounty to serve for a period of five years; and that the whole are to be formed into battalions, of one thousand[Pg 100] strong each. The training to take place annually, in portions of two companies at a time, for 28 days, under the adjutant, or permanent staff; which in future is to consist of an adjutant, a serjeant-major, eleven serjeants, one drum-major, and five drummers: one Serjeant to do the duty of quarter-master-serjeant; and it is intended to allow a part of the men to volunteer annually for the line.

This appears to me an exceedingly bad plan. In the first place, the corps of militia must hereafter be composed of a very inferior description of men to what they were of old; and flogging must, as a matter of course, be persevered in; but why in these times are the militia to be embodied and badly trained at a considerable and unnecessary expense to the country; for it is quite time enough to think of calling out this force when the country may be threatened by an enemy with invasion; for with the fine regular army I have in view, the tranquillity of the United Kingdom can be completely secured; and such militia corps, as those that seem to be in contemplation, must be the very worst description of troops which could possibly be employed in case of commotions. I must sincerely hope that the old and constitutional mode of calling out the good and true men of the nation to serve in the militia regiments will never be abandoned, and I yet trust to seeing it extended, as I have proposed, to the Guards and regular army. Surely I have shewn plainly enough the evils of our present recruiting system to dissipate the notion of extending it to the militia. I[Pg 101] have long entertained a dislike to the plan of enlistment, unless every possible inquiry were made into the characters of the men who offered themselves as recruits; and I endeavoured to act in this manner some years ago, when commanding a depot at Glasgow. I had an old friend in that city, who had been one of its magistrates, and could look back to the period when only herring boats could come up to the Broomilaw, and who knew every body. I never took a recruit without the approbation of my friend the Bailie; but he rejected so many, who were instantly taken by other depots, of which there were several at the time in Scotland, that I was at last called upon to say why I did not get on quicker with the enlistment of men for the regiment. I gave as my reason, that I was anxious to take only men who could prove that they were respectable in character; but this was not deemed satisfactory, and I had no longer any thing for it but to take such as presented themselves; and then I certainly got on fast enough with recruiting.

Not very long after this, the Bailie came to see me, and I happened at the time to be superintending the drill of several strong squads of my newly enlisted recruits. The Bailie looked closely at them all, and I could not help fancying that I read alarm in the countenances of many of my prizes. "Well, Colonel," said the Bailie, "the city of Glasgow is infinitely indebted to you, for you have freed it of many deserving characters;" but observing that I became rather chop-fallen, he added, "Never mind, man—they'll fight—they'll[Pg 102] fight like devils. Was there ever a better fighting regiment in the world than the ——, and they were nearly all raised in Glasgow, which was, to my certain knowledge, very peaceable for many a day after they were gone from it."

I am at this moment reminded, by what occurred upon the retreat to Corunna, of the state into which many of our men were brought upon that and other occasions from want of shoes. I may venture to say, that we had seldom taken the field a fortnight—and our armies had even more than once to halt on this account—when the greater part of the soldier's shoes had gone to pieces, and others could not always be got to replace them. This destruction of shoes was in a great measure occasioned by the previous injudicious practice of highly polishing them with injurious kinds of blacking, which I suppose must continue to be the fashion in these quiet times; and I hope I may be allowed to say, that whenever a corps of infantry is ordered upon service, this practice should be positively forbidden. Two good pairs of boots—not such clumsy concerns as some of the Russian soldiers wore in France—should be properly prepared for every man—that is, well saturated with the water-proof stuff, now so much used by sports-men, and they should never after have anything else put upon them but some of this composition, which not only softens, but also tends to preserve them for a considerable time. Such boots will certainly not look so well as those now in general use; yet for grand occasions, the soldier might be made to carry another finer polished pair; but with the boots I want, and[Pg 103] good stockings, every soldier should be furnished, or he cannot march as he ought to do, and is, therefore, so far unfit for service. Some people may consider this trifling, but experienced soldiers will think otherwise.

The plan I have suggested of calling out the regular army, of course, overturns the present defective depot system, which seems to me to be only calculated to give officers habits of idleness and restlessness; and their frequent removals from the companies abroad to those forming the depots, requiring others to be sent out to replace them, afford opportunities of indulging in such pernicious habits. Depots are but very inferior schools for the instruction of officers, non-commissioned officers, or privates. The ten companies assembled form a fine battalion, well adapted for all kinds of military movement and instruction: a depot is quite the reverse of this.

There are now before me notes upon certain points, which I wish to bring under consideration; but if they should appear to some readers tiresome, or uncalled for, I can only regret that they should seem so, and I must request that they will arm themselves with patience sufficient to enable them to accompany me to the end of the chapter.

Regimental bands are looked upon as very pretty and necessary appendages to corps; but as it is most essential that as few soldiers as possible should be taken out of the ranks, it might be advisable to consider whether it would not be wise to place them upon a different footing. The present plan takes away from[Pg 104] their companies perhaps twenty soldiers to make second-rate musicians; as more men are almost always occupied in this way, (at least it was so formerly) than regulations would admit of; and supposing that all our regiments were made light infantry, there would, I conclude, be neither drummers nor fifers; but, in place of them, one sergeant as bugle-major, and two buglers per company, and two extra buglers to accompany (when necessary) detachments, the whole to be clothed almost the same as the other soldiers; and I would also arm them with light muskets—indeed, those which belonged to light companies generally contrived, when in the field, to arm themselves. These muskets might be slung over their shoulders when they were required to cheer the regiment on a march, or to attract the fair to the windows as corps passed through towns; and most delightful strains, at least, to a military ear, can be produced by key bugles, French horns, trumpets, &c. There should, however, be one good sized drum, on the new principle, allowed to mark the time; and surely twenty-three men per regiment are quite sufficient for such purposes, especially if some of them were also taught to perform upon a few other instruments.

The corporal and ten pioneers per regiment, who are generally nothing else but so many attendants upon the quarter-master and his sergeant, should be done away with; that is, I would keep the men hitherto employed in this way where they ought to be—in the ranks. If men are wanted for fatigue, as it is termed,[Pg 105] the soldiers should be employed on it as a duty, and their time can never be better occupied than in all kinds of labour or works, especially those which may tend to instruct them in what is likely to be required of them at sieges, or during campaigns; and above all, they should have a knowledge of the best and quickest methods of making roads, temporary bridges, &c., and even of preparing food, and lighting fires; if they were also taught to be boatmen and good swimmers so much the better. It certainly would be very desirable that soldiers had more practice in this way than is the fashion in our army. But having mentioned preparing food, I think it important to say a few words upon the subject.

The comfort in which the men of the 5th battalion 60th regiment (who were chiefly Germans,) lived upon service was very striking, when compared with the wretched diet of the generality of British soldiers. I must, however, preface my remarks upon this subject by the following division order which was issued by Major-general Colville, at Moimenta de Beira, in Portugal, on the 29th March, 1813, respecting this corps:

"No. 9. A detachment of the 5th battalion 60th, has arrived at head-quarters under the command of Captain Kelly, and which having left Lisbon consisting of fifty men, has brought up all but one man who was left sick at Coimbra, and no prisoners.

"This is so unlike the report of any detachment of the British part of the division that has arrived at quarters since the Major-General's taking the command of[Pg 106] it, that he cannot help mentioning the mortifying distinction, in the hopes that there may be yet left among the good men of the division regard enough for their own honours to keep a check upon the conduct of those of an opposite character."

It seemed to be settled amongst themselves, that every man of the mess of the 5th battalion 60th, had to carry something, that is say—highly-spiced meats, such as sausages, cheese, onions, garlic, lard, pepper, salt, vinegar, mustard, sugar, coffee, &c.; in short, whatever could add to or make their meals more palatable, nourishing, or conducive to health. As soon as the daily allowance of beef was issued, they set to work and soon produced a first-rate dinner or supper, which were often improved by certain wild herbs which they knew where to look for, whereas, in attempting this, I have known instances of our men poisoning themselves; and what a contrast to this were the ways of our too often thoughtless beings who rarely had any of the above articles—day after day they boiled their beef, just killed, in the lump, in water, which they seldom contrived to make deserving the name of soup or broth. This and their bread or biscuit was what they usually lived upon. But I lament to be obliged to add, that their thoughts, of course unconnected with military matters, were too often directed to ardent spirits and to the means of procuring enough of it; for though a certain allowance, usually of rum, was issued daily, this was not sufficient to satisfy their longings for more. And it was always known when the rum was about to be given out when[Pg 107] we heard a shout in the camp, and from many voices a cry of "turn out for rum!"

Our mode of messing in barracks is extremely regular, and much in the style so carefully exhibited in Russia to visitors of importance, and is well calculated to produce effect. In general (at least in former times,) cooks were hired, and the soldiers' wives were sometimes engaged for this purpose, so that most of the men were kept almost in ignorance of learning the simple art of boiling beef and potatoes: they only knew, that at fixed hours daily, they were sure of a breakfast and dinner; and although this was to be admired in quiet times, it sadly unfitted soldiers for what they were afterwards to turn their minds and hands to in the field; and it also sometimes left them more money than they could spend with propriety. But if their thoughts could now be more directed to the German and French style of living it would be attended with the best results, and we should hear less of drunkenness and the crimes arising from out of it in our regiments. These hints might, perhaps, be thought useful to those interested in the welfare of our population in general, whose early habits are too often very pernicious and demoralizing.

The observations of his Grace the Duke of Wellington, on the 1st and 3rd of October, 1812, at the siege of Burgos, will shew the necessity of our soldiers' being accustomed to labour and the consequences of their not being habituated to it:—"The Commander of the Forces is concerned to state, that the working parties in[Pg 108] the trenches do not perform their duty, notwithstanding the pains which have been taken to relieve them every six hours, &c.;" and his Grace adds—"The officers and soldiers of the army should know that to work during a siege is as much a part of their duty as it is to engage the enemy in the field; and they may depend upon it, that unless they perform the work allotted to them, with due diligence, they cannot acquire the honour which their comrades have acquired in former sieges." The Guards were exempted from the censure contained in this order; indeed their conduct was most exemplary on all occasions. And we can again read in a general order, dated Cartaxo, 4th March, 1811:—

"No. 2. As during the two years which the brigade of Guards have been under the command of the Commander of the Forces, not only no soldier has been brought to trial before a general court-martial, but none has been confined in a public guard; the Commander of the Forces desires that the attendance of the brigade, at the execution to-morrow, may be dispensed with."

This ought surely to convince the country, that though the changes I have proposed, as to the officers of the Guards, may be necessary for the general good of the army; yet the idea of disbanding such troops can only be entertained by an ignorant and absurdly prejudiced mind.

I have often wondered it has never been deemed indispensable, that an uniform system of regimental economy was adopted for the whole army. This most desirable object is by no means attained by the book of general[Pg 109] regulations and orders; for although there is to be found in it much that is useful, still a vast deal more is required to come up to what is necessary for the guidance of a regiment in the various situations in which it may be placed; and the want of such a well digested plan is the reason we see such a difference in the state of corps; some being in every respect in the highest possible order, whilst others are the very reverse. The former is entirely owing to their being commanded by talented and judicious officers; the latter is evidently occasioned by their being under men who are themselves ignorant, inexperienced, and yet very likely self-sufficient. Many regiments have good standing orders if they were steadily acted up to; but much depending upon the will of the commanding officer, he most probably adopts something of his own, which is often injudicious, or even injurious; or as much only of the old standing orders as he thinks fit; or perhaps he allows the whole to become a dead letter. A matter of such importance as this should not be left to whim or caprice; but a simple, uniform, and sufficiently comprehensive system should be established for the whole army, for the guidance of regiments in barracks and quarters at home and abroad; upon a march, or when on board ship, or in any situation, but especially when employed in the field. If this were done, and positive orders given, that there should not be the slightest deviation from the system laid down, on the part of commanding officers, we should hear less of corps being[Pg 110] more annoyed and teazed by one commander than another; and we should not be able to observe that remarkable difference to be met with amongst them, both in appearance and discipline.

There could not be much difficulty in effecting this most important object. The standing orders of some corps, though in general too diffuse and complicated, and requiring too many returns or reports from companies, &c., would afford ample ground-work for all useful purposes, except in what is essential for the field; in which respect, all those I have seen were totally defective; but uniformity in every point is as necessary in this as it is in military movements; and if judiciously adopted, would be found as strikingly beneficial, as the changes were from the fancies of every commanding officer to the well known "eighteen manœuvres."

Having proposed to do away with regimental pioneers, to make up efficiently for them, two men of good character should be enlisted—but that only for service in the field, to take charge of and lead a bat-horse each, to carry on well fitted pack-saddles a few of such useful tools as might be required for ordinary military purposes. The surgeon, at such times, also requires a man and a horse of this kind for his instruments and medicines; and so do the pay-master and adjutant, for the conveyance of money, books, and various indispensable papers and returns. These ought always to march in the rear of the corps to which they belong. Thus, by doing away both with generally indifferent musicians and[Pg 111] misappropriated pioneers, I would save to each regiment about thirty soldiers, or about half the effectives of a company of the present day.

It will surprise those who know nothing of war, and even many military men, when I mention how many soldiers are lost, I may say, to the service, taken out of the ranks of corps to be employed as non-combatant clerks, servants or bat-men, horse-keepers or grooms, &c. The head-quarters and staff sweep off numbers in this way beyond belief. The general officers and staff of divisions and brigades, including engineer officers, staff surgeons, commissariat, &c. if allowed, quite as bad. Then come field officers and regimental staff, and perhaps forty captains and subalterns per regiment, all of whom must be supplied; a few with two, for taking care of their chargers and pack-horses or mules, and all with at least one each to look after pack-horses for the conveyance of baggage; most of it probably indispensable, if it is expected that these gentlemen are to be kept efficient. But there is another demand of a man per company for the care of pack-horses for the carriage of tents, &c. as wheel carriages for such purposes ought never to be allowed upon the line of march.

For these various occupations, I have no hesitation in saying, many hundreds of soldiers are taken away from where they should be, and corps are thus deprived of their best men, and greatly weakened before they come into contact with an enemy.

This must appear almost incredible to many good[Pg 112] people, who will naturally be surprised what Mr. Hume, that mirror of economists, could have been about; but who, they may depend upon it, invariably contrives to have, at last, the candle burnt at both ends. But how indignant they must now be to hear, probably for the first time, that they were obliged to pay for such a number of soldiers, who only made a figure upon paper to the disadvantage of the general's reputation who commanded the army in the field, who was supposed to have had, perhaps, 30,000 men to act with, whereas in reality he could not bring into action 25,000; and when a battle took place, there were a few more drains from the ranks besides the killed and wounded; for the latter and sick required attendants at the several hospital stations, and also on the road to them; and how often have I, as a Brigade-major of the 3d division, had to encounter the cross looks of commanding officers of regiments, when I could not avoid calling upon them for officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, for such purposes, when the enemy had, perhaps, sufficiently thinned their ranks.

I would suggest that money should be allowed, and, if possible, no soldiers whatever for any of these purposes at home or abroad, and certainly not upon service; and even at home it would be advisable to make officers a proper allowance for private, or non-combatant servants, so that an end might at once be put to the custom of taking away soldiers from their duties to be employed as such. All servants should however, be regularly enlisted as soldiers are at present, but for[Pg 113] a limited period only; and they should be bound to accompany their masters abroad, or upon any kind of service; and commanding officers of regiments should have the power of discharging, at their master's request, these servants if found guilty of bad or improper conduct, and of enlisting others to replace them, of course, such servants come under martial law; but what I have proposed, in this respect, is nothing new, for does not history tell us, of non-combatant servants being of old attached to armies; and allow me to ask, with what intention is it, that officers receive at the commencement of a campaign, and at fixed periods afterwards, bat and forage money? If the sums granted are insufficient—which they undoubtedly are—for providing servants, field equipments, pack-horses, &c. more should be given, as it must be admitted, that they are all indispensable. It could never, however, have been intended, that the number of muskets and bayonets in the ranks, were to be so much reduced, as I have shown is the case, to supply men for the purposes enumerated, when by a trifling comparative increase of the expenses of a war, our armies could be kept efficient, and in such a complete state, as to enable a General to carry it on with that vigour, which is always so essential towards its successful and speedy termination.

But the necessity of what I have just recommended being adopted, appeared in so strong a light, to one of our best officers, that we read in a general order, dated Tholen, 20th of December, 1813, as follows:—

[Pg 114]

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces being desirous to render the army for the field as effective as possible, directs that all soldiers acting as servants to officers, shall always appear in uniform, and carry their arms and accoutrements on the march. The servants of regimental officers to be in the ranks on the march, and the Commander of the Forces calls upon the General and other officers in command strictly to inforce this order."

"No. 2. With a view to diminish, as much as possible, requisitions on regiments for soldiers as servants, General Sir Thomas Graham authorizes any officer who is entitled by the usage of the service to appear mounted and keep a horse, to hire a servant as bat-man in lieu of a soldier, for which he will be allowed at the rate of 4s. 6d. (quite insufficient) per week and a ration; but it is distinctly understood, that the allowance is not to be extended to any persons attached to this army, who, by the custom of the service, are not entitled to soldiers to wait upon them, and whenever it is drawn, an effective soldier is to be thereby restored to the army."

"No. 6. The Commander of the Forces strongly recommends to all general officers of the army to return immediately any bat-men they may have to their corps, and to direct their staff to do the same, at all events no officer of any rank is to employ more than one soldier of this army to attend upon him, whether he acts as his own personal servant or bat-man."

"No. 7. Field officers of regiments are entitled each[Pg 115] to a servant and bat-man, and of course to draw the allowance for each, when men from the ranks are not employed."

"No. 9 Announces that such servants come under martial law."

I believe that I could not any where, more conveniently or properly, introduce some observations, I consider it necessary to make upon the baggage of an army in the field, and upon some other matters connected with it, than at the close of this chapter, and I feel convinced that experienced officers will allow, that is a difficult subject to enter upon. It must, however, have been obvious to many, how much the quantity of baggage gradually increases as a campaign advances. Various articles are accumulated in all sorts of ways, but chiefly by servants upon the line of march, in the towns they pass through, in the field of battle, and above all at sieges.

We unluckily have many wants, almost unknown to the people of other countries, arising out of our early habits of indulging in many comforts; indeed, so many and so productive are they of enjoyment, that in spite of what some philosophers may say to the contrary, we cannot easily divest ourselves of the remembrance of them, for with most of us they too frequently become indispensables, or in other words, they are apt to make us rather selfish. But a General who may wish to keep such wants within reasonable bounds, or who is determined not to be overwhelmed with baggage, followers, and animals of burden, must be wholely uninfluenced[Pg 116] by any other feeling than that of the good of the public service, and must cut off, at once, with an unsparing hand, all superfluities of every description; and he must endeavour to keep the whole under due restrictions. All the odium of this ought not, however, to be thrown upon the Commander of any army about to take the field, as it must, to a certainty, render him unpopular with many; but it would be much wiser that a British army should have, at all times for its guidance, established regulations, which no one could, on any account, be allowed to deviate from.

Selfish feelings never, I believe, show themselves more strongly than amongst landsmen on board ship, and amongst too many men in the field. Some, I have no doubt, have seen individuals retire to a snug corner, to enjoy unobserved something good which they had in their haversacks, lest they should be obliged to offer part of it to hungry comrades. Others have been known to sleep sound, warm, and dry in their tents, having probably offered shares of them, but in such a way to the officers of their own companies, that even they could not accept of their liberality, and preferred reposing at the roots of trees, or behind hedges, exposed to the pitiless storm. My only object in alluding to such trifling matters is, in the first instance, to show that these things do sometimes occur, and, moreover, to try to inculcate, if I can, into such badly brought up men, at least a little feeling for the wants of others. Yet I would not leave it in their power thus to enjoy their comforts—at all events in such situations,[Pg 117] for I would make the officers of a company live and sleep in the same tent or hut, and be partakers of the same fare whatever it might be.

A regimental mess at home or abroad, is admirably calculated to keep up respectability, by insuring a proper degree of genteel economy; but of this the officers of corps cannot avail themselves in the field, and then it becomes requisite to act upon established regulations. The officers of a company should be made to have in common, a tent of a particular size and shape, and they should all three contribute towards its purchase, as well as towards the procuring of two horses or mules, which they should be obliged to keep. I would also fix upon a trunk or rather a portmanteau for each, of a certain size and shape. One of the horses should carry, on a well-fitted pack-saddle, the two subaltern's portmanteau, and the tent between them. The other horse should carry the captain's portmanteau, which might be a very little larger than those allowed to subalterns, but care should be taken that its size was also fixed upon; and this should be balanced upon the horse's back by a canteen (bought also amongst them) for the use of the mess, and between them a bag of a certain size, made of some water-proof stuff, could be placed, in which might be conveyed some useful articles for general comfort, especially such as might be considered necessary, when the country, the seat of war, could afford but few supplies.

It appears to me that the officers of a company could not possibly contrive to get on, for any length of time,[Pg 118] with less than those two animals; but in the portmanteau should be carried, besides their clothes and a blanket each, their mattresses made air tight, so as to be inflated when necessary, and which can be rolled up into very small compass, when not wanted for use; and such mattresses not only make excellent beds, but also secure those who use them completely from damp from the ground. This is all that could or ought to be allowed to company officers in the field; and positive orders should prevent any other article whatever from being put upon the horses, as all good purposes are at once defeated if they are permitted to be overloaded; and even the private servants or bat-men should be made to carry their own knapsacks, in place of fastening them, as they will always try to do, upon the loads. I at the same time conclude, that the baggage of a company, regiment, brigade and division, marches in proper order, and if one overloaded or sore backed animal knocks up, the whole is most annoyingly and injuriously detained in consequence upon the road. In any arrangement, however, of this kind, I should expect that the baggage and animals allowed to field officers and regimental staff, and to commissariat and medical officers, &c. were likewise strictly brought under regulations, and the name of the owner, or the number of the troop, company, and corps, being conspicuously painted on a water-deck or cover, to go over the load of each animal, any irregularity, and the individual who might occasion it, could be at once ascertained.

[Pg 119]

It is quite impossible to make arrangements for company officers who may be taken ill, and obliged to go to the hospital stations in the rear. A company in the field is what must be kept in view in any plan of this kind. The medical department, with the means I have yet to propose to place at its disposal, would have to look to such casualties. I must, however, here observe, that in Portugal especially, we had often far too many officers at such stations—for instance at Lisbon, or rather Belem, Coimbra, &c. where it was well known many of them staid so long, that Lord Wellington had often to give them very broad hints, that it was high time they should remember that their regiments were in presence of the enemy. Some of these gentlemen, when absent from their corps, had well supplied their wants, and returned at last to their divisions, nicely mounted on a horse, probably purchased in Lisbon, attended by a soldier, and perhaps a Portuguese boy, leading a mule or two heavily loaded with the good things of this world. Thus the baggage and animals with the army were always increasing. The mule or horse had very likely soon to be sold, from want of food and people to look after them, so that the good things brought up being consumed, the temporary campaigner again fell so sick, that it became indispensable for him to revisit an hospital station, to recruit his health and replenish his supplies. This is by no means an over-drawn picture; and when it was sometimes asked by those with the army, what had become of so and so, the common answer was, that he had taken up a strong[Pg 120] position near Lisbon, his right upon the Tagus, and his left at Belem; or that he was teaching the good people of Lisbon to cross the river in cork boats,—for these gentlemen were not without their amusements. It however strikes me at this moment, that as many of these frequenters of hospital stations were really seriously ill, it would be desirable, that when young gentlemen presented themselves to be examined for commissions, it should not only be ascertained that they had been educated, but also that they were fit for service. But I must proceed with other matters. The large bell tents now in general use for soldiers in the field, accommodate certainly a great many of them at night, when well packed with their feet to the poles; but they are much too heavy to be carried on the backs of animals when wet, or when they must be struck before sunrise, saturated with heavy dew. The baggage mules were often knocked up by them in this state. It is a bad plan that of carrying the large iron camp kettles upon animals for the use of companies; the light tin ones carried in turn by the soldiers themselves, in a bag made for the purpose, are greatly to be preferred, as they are always at hand.

It must altogether depend upon circumstances, but it would at all times require serious consideration, whether company officers should be allowed to keep riding horses or not. When they are allowed to ride on the line of march, they are certainly enabled to go unfatigued into action, and to look more closely after their men at the end of a day's work; but I beg to ask[Pg 121] (servants being along with the baggage) who are to take the charge of their horses, when they must dismount when near the enemy, on going into action; and no soldier should be taken out of the ranks for such a purpose; how can any country be supposed capable of furnishing the enormous quantity of forage required for such increased numbers of animals, after regiments of Cavalry, Infantry, (I mean those that must be kept by them) Artillery, and the other departments have been supplied? Here therefore an almost insurmountable difficulty presents itself, and it becomes wise to curtail as much as possible in time, for every animal allowed to be kept, must be fed in some way or other.

The fewer women permitted to accompany an army the better, for they are generally useless, and tend immensely to increase the number of animals and quantity of baggage. I once knew a general, who, in an order he issued, was so ungallant, as to style these ladies, "his advanced guard of infamy;" and I must admit that he had too often just cause to style them so.

His Grace the Duke of Wellington was often greatly annoyed at the enormous consumption of forage by his army, and found it necessary to issue many orders upon the subject, of which I shall now give a few.

"G.O. San Pedro, 19th May, 1809.

"No. 10. As the Commander of the Forces has reason to believe many horses and mules are kept by[Pg 122] even the soldiers of the army, and maintained by means entirely inconsistent with discipline and good order, he desires officers commanding regiments and brigades, to inquire into the number of horses and mules which are attached to the regiments under their command, and to enforce the immediate sale of those not allowed to be kept by the regulations of the army."

"G.O. Zarza Mayor, 4th July, 1809.

"No. 17. The Commander of the Forces requests the attention of general officers commanding divisions and brigades, to the general orders of the 4th and 5th of March, by the late Commander of the Forces, relative to the use of mules allowed for conveying camp kettles, in any service, except for the carriage of camp kettles.

"No. 18. The consequence of loading them with other baggage is, that they are unequal to carry the kettles which they are given to convey, and the loads are so ill put on, that they fall from the mules, and the camp kettles do not arrive from the march till after the hour, at which they ought to be used by the troops."

"G.O. Merida, 25th August, 1809.

"No. 3. The army must not forage for themselves, but must get it from the Commissary according to the usual mode, by sending in returns of the number of animals for whom forage is required, and receiving from him the regular rations; or if forage cannot be provided in that mode, and it is necessary it should be[Pg 123] taken from the fields, it must be taken according to the general orders of the 17th of June, 1839."

"G.O. Villa Formosa, 13th April, 1811.

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces requests, that, if possible, the green corn may not be cut for the horses, &c. belonging to the army; and that they may, if possible, be turned into the grass fields in preference to the green corn. It must be understood, however, that the horses, &c. attached to the army, must be fed, and must have the green corn, if they cannot get grass."

"G.O. Nave de Rey, 16th July, 1812.

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces particularly requests the attention of the commissariat attached to divisions and brigades of Infantry, and to regiments of Cavalry, and of the general officers of the army, and commanding officers of regiments, to the orders which have been issued regarding the cutting of forage.

"No. 2. He desires, that whenever it is possible, grass may be given to the horses and other animals, instead of straw with the corn in the ear.

"No. 3. The Assistant Provosts must be employed to prevent the plunder of the corn-fields, and their destruction by turning cattle into them."

"G.O. Frenada, 25th November, 1812.

"No. 4. The Commander of the Forces has taken the precaution of having the grass mowed, and saved as hay, in many parts of the country in which the troops are now, or may be cantoned, which resource is[Pg 124] ample for the food of all the animals of the army during the winter, if duly taken care of, and distributed under the regulations of the service.

"No. 5. The Commander of the Forces is sorry to learn, however, that much of what was thus provided in this part of the country, has been already wasted, or trampled upon and destroyed, and in particular 35,000 rations of hay, which were at Espeja, and of which Lieutenant Holborne took possession, has been destroyed.

"No. 6. He entreats the attention of general officers, and commanding officers of regiments, to these orders, as they relate not only to the hay provided by the orders of the Commander of the Forces, but to the forage, and other resources of the country."

Much more might be given and said upon this most important subject; but being apprehensive that I have already exhausted the patience of many readers, I shall only farther observe, that in the French armies they act in a very summary manner with respect to carriages and animals kept contrary to the rules of the service. All such carriages and animals, and the persons along with them, are laid hold of by the police, and taken to head-quarters, to be delivered up to the provost, who reports the circumstances to the major-general, and who commonly orders the transgressors to be punished by the provost-corporals, and the carriages and animals to be sold for the benefit of the captors.

[Pg 125]

It now becomes necessary to consider other subjects connected with the higher branches of the military profession, and which require to be so well weighed, that I may, if possible, give offence to no one; at least it shall be my study to endeavour to avoid doing so.

[Pg 126]


There are many schools in which officers should study in order to gain a perfect knowledge of the military profession, but certainly none can be selected superior to that of experience, in which previously acquired science or theory can be usefully exemplified. But the best of all teachers is decidedly Cæsar, who still speaks to soldiers in a language which they can understand; and of this Napoleon was so well aware, that he always expected his officers to have carefully studied that great general's Commentaries, and which are so well translated into French by General Toulongeon. As an instance—selected out of many to be found in that finely written narrative—what can possibly be a more admirable piece of military policy, than when Cæsar, as he tells us, having found that his army had become alarmed at the accounts received of the warlike appearance, and desperate valour of the Germans under Ariovistus, he decides at once, to allow all who had no stomach for fighting to depart, if they thought fit to do so; and which instantly produced the effects he so wisely anticipated. And let me ask, if a British army were again to get into a scrape, like that in which the 3rd division, and part of our troops, found themselves on the Garonne, just before the battle of Toulouse, and had at least four to one pitted against[Pg 127] them; and if our General announced, that those who did not like the appearance of matters might go home; how many would go?

Cæsar perfectly understood the feelings of a Roman army, and knew how to act upon them; but let us see what were those of even a commander of a British regiment.

Colonel Forbes was left by order of Sir Thomas Picton, after the 3rd division moved up the Garonne towards Toulouse, with the 45th regiment, to guard the pontoon bridge across it, where a considerable part of the army had passed. He had reason to think that a battle was about to be fought; and the idea of his remaining in the rear in command, even of such a regiment as the 45th, and though employed upon an important duty, was intolerable. Almost every hour I received a letter from him, urging me to represent to Sir Thomas Brisbane how unhappy he and his regiment felt, at being left in such a situation; and entreating that he might be allowed to give up his post to some troops more in the rear, or to detachments coming up to join the army. His impatience was for some time laughed at; but at last I had the pleasure of sending him orders to abandon his post, and to replace himself and his regiment at the head of the right brigade of the 3rd division. He came up just in time for the battle of Toulouse; and in it he fell, gallantly leading on his regiment in the unfortunate attempt made to force the passage of the canal.

To be able to take advantage of the proper moment[Pg 128] for acting upon national feeling or character, is a strong proof of an officer being qualified to command. But a Commander-in-Chief cannot give the world a stronger proof of his fitness or unfitness for his high station than in the men by whom he surrounds himself or employs—if the choice is left to him—upon the staff of the army placed under his orders.

It is the opinion of many of our best soldiers, that no officer should ever be taken from his regiment to be employed upon the staff, unless his place in it be immediately and permanently supplied by another; for no corps ought thus to be deprived of those allowed for carrying on its duties; and such appointments have often been found to injure, in some degree, the individuals themselves ever after as regimental officers. What a corps might suffer in being thus deprived of its officers, seemed to be always overlooked; and interest or patronage alone too often guided those who had the power of recommending or selecting officers for such important appointments; their fitness to perform the duties attached to them was quite another matter, with which they did not appear to trouble themselves; and I have no doubt but I would be set down as a mere simpleton in the ways of the world, if I were to imagine that they would ever act otherwise.

It must be acknowledged, that our selections of officers for staff appointments were too often injudicious; but I do not allow that they were ever carried to the extent, shewn by an able French writer, that they were brought in France at the commencement of the[Pg 129] year 1792, when the Etat Major of their armies were in so wretched a state, that it was found necessary to re-establish, quietly, but imperfectly, what had been destroyed by a decree of the 5th of October, 1790. The difficulties of the service augmented incessantly, from their ignorance even of the old forms gone through, and which some fancied they could remedy, by multiplying the numbers employed. The power of attaching assistants to the Etat Major consequently grew into a complete abuse; and at last, in the month of April, 1792, rose to such a pitch, that what with the numbers employed, and through the choice made, the Minister of War saw himself forced to try to put things to rights, by a circular letter addressed to Generals commanding military divisions, and which led to the dismissal from their employments of the whole of these assistants. It, however, soon after became necessary to employ the same, or others equally useless; and this letter did not by any means put a stop to the increasing evils of interest and patronage, for there were still appointed to the Etat Major the most improper and ignorant men, and even girls, who had mounted uniforms, and substituted the sword for the distaff. We are told that there is still to be seen a letter from General Dumourier to Pache, the Minister of War, reproaching him for having sent to his army an opera dancer as an adjutant-general. Men of abilities were, as may be well supposed, disgusted, whilst they were overwhelmed with business, to make up for the ignorance of others; and they were necessitated to[Pg 130] use every expedient in order to get through, in any way, the tasks assigned them; and thus the service only presented one mass of confusion, the Minister of War not receiving connected reports or returns; and, as a matter of course, he could not give satisfactory information, when called upon to do so, to those really interested in knowing the state of the army. Another circular was, in consequence, issued by the Minister of War, dated Paris, the 20th of April, 1793; but it had no effect whatever, because it was not only unreasonable, but ridiculous, to require from men what they neither could do, nor knew how to do. The Committee of Public Safety, struck with this state of things, set about putting matters to rights; but two or three of its members, interested that the disorders should continue, found means to overturn all, and the state of the Etat Major was allowed to remain as hopeless as ever. It was not therefore until about the 4th year of the Republic, that they were able in some measure to put things into order, by turning out ignorant and incapable men, and the Etat Major then became composed of some good officers, who established plans to keep its machinery in movement; but France had then had time to see the danger, which there always is, in even slightly disorganizing useful establishments, under the pretence of reforming them. These remarks do not apply directly to us, farther than in the occasional appointment, through interest, of inefficient officers, for the returns of a British army, at least its regiments, were and are still well and regularly[Pg 131] kept. Yet, I must say, that for the guidance of our staff in the field, we can scarcely show that we have a system, or what ought to be considered as such.

The staff of an army ought to be a distinct and permanent branch of the service, and no officers should be employed upon it but those who had received such an education, as is usually given to our engineers, the usefulness of which is so ably demonstrated by experiments and practice under Colonel Pasley, whose establishment for instruction (if we except what the artillery are taught at Woolwich,) is the only one worth keeping up; but it is a great drawback to our military service, that the officers of engineers are not more frequently placed in high responsible situations, and intrusted with high important commands and missions; at all events, officers employed even as Aides-de-Camp, but certainly as Brigade-Majors, or in the departments of the Adjutant and Quarter-Master-General, should have had a first-rate military education; but I repeat, that I would not ask where it had been acquired, whether in France, Germany, or wherever it can be had upon the most reasonable terms, for in England it is far too expensive.

Staff officers ought to be men of talents and of great enterprise and perseverance, and should possess even a certain knowledge of what is considered business, both in a civil and military point of view, which would render them capable of ascertaining and calling forth the various resources of a country. They should also be well acquainted with military police duties, or the best[Pg 132] modes of exercising military law, in all its bearings, and to enable them to do this with advantage to the army, and to the country, they should have attached to them an intelligent mounted police corps. From the want of such an establishment, which it is the work of years to form, how often, and how severely have our armies suffered, and must continue to suffer till a change takes place.

Inexperienced officers, if even well educated, taken suddenly from their regiments, and, according to the fancy of general officers, or in compliance with the wishes of injudicious and interested friends, are unfit for, and must be ignorant of the complicated duties of the staff; and our generals, at least of old, were themselves too often unequal to instruct them. The consequences therefore invariably were, that on first taking the field, nothing could be worse managed than the departments over which our misnamed staff had to preside. The system, if it deserved to be so called, being undefined or ill-digested, the movements or manœuvres of the army, were, as a matter of course, often badly arranged, and nearly as badly executed; its combinations, as far as the staff were concerned in them, were frequently defective. The General-in-Chief had little or no assistance from the generality of them in the time of need, and it was really ridiculous to see how even our common out-posts were sometimes thrown out, leaving the most essential points unwatched, or wholly disregarded.

These are sweeping charges, and I ought to be able to shew that I am justified in making them: for example[Pg 133] then—some may remember that on the 27th of July, 1809, the first day, I may say, of the battle of Talavera, the enemy's light troops broke unexpectedly in upon us at the Alberche river, when our troops were quite unprepared for such an event; some young corps were surprised and consequently did not behave well. Lord Wellington, himself, if I mistake not, and some of his staff were placed in a very perilous situation in an old unroofed house, into which they had gone in order to ascertain from its highest windows what was going forward; and his Lordship had, immediately after, to take upon himself, in a great measure, the direction of the hastily-formed rear guard of infantry, consisting of the 45th regiment and 5th battalion 60th; which corps, assisted by our cavalry, covered the retreat of the advanced division till it reached the position in which the battle of that night, and the following day were fought. But who, that witnessed it, can ever forget the scene of confusion which took place on the night of the 27th, amongst the Spaniards! They literally swept away with them, in their panic, occasioned by the fire of a few French sharpshooters who had followed up to their position, the part of the rear-guard to which I belonged. These untoward events, were, in a great measure, the consequence of the advanced division not being managed by instructed or experienced staff officers; but I can scarcely undertake to say, that even for some time afterwards this branch of our service had become respectable, though it certainly had improved by practice. In short, in point of movement and intelligence on the[Pg 134] part of regimental officers, the British corps of cavalry and infantry were, in general, excellent; but we had not, with a few exceptions, many officers of rank employed, either as generals or upon the staff, who were capable of directing or making use of such troops scientifically, or to advantage. It may be said, that in thus speaking of British soldiers I now contradict my former assertions, but I by no means do so; I here only allude to their discipline and courage in the field, under good regimental officers, and not to what occurred too often upon other occasions.

The French fairly worked us into practical knowledge of war at last; not that the officers of that gallant nation were themselves so greatly enlightened, as was generally supposed, or that they or their troops gained the battles fought—although I often, and especially at first, wondered they did not—but we had almost always to pay most dearly for victory, that is to say, for getting possession of the field of battle, which was sometimes all we had to boast of.

I may not, perhaps, appear to be borne out in the opinions I have ventured to give, by Lord Wellington's general orders after the battle of Talavera; I must, nevertheless, bring it before the reader to enable him to come to a right conclusion:—

"G.O.      Talavera de la Reyna, 29th July, 1809.

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces returns his thanks to the officers and troops for their gallant conduct in the two trying days of yesterday and the day before, in which they have been engaged with, and[Pg 135] beaten off the repeated attacks of an army infinitely superior in number.

"He has particularly to request that Lieutenant-General Sherbrooke will accept his thanks for the assistance he has received from him, as well as from the manner in which he led on the infantry under his command to the charge of the bayonet. Major-General Hill, and Brigadier-General Alexander Campbell, are likewise entitled, in a particular manner, to the acknowledgments of the Commander of the Forces, for their gallantry and ability with which they maintained their posts against the attacks made upon them by the enemy.

"The Commander of the Forces has likewise to acknowledge the ability with which the late Major-General M'Kenzie (whose subsequent loss the Commander of the Forces laments,) withdrew the division under his command from the out-posts, in front of the enemy's army, on the 27th instant, as well as to Colonel Donkin for his conduct on that occasion.

"The Commander of the Forces, likewise, considers Lieutenant-General Payne and the cavalry, particularly Brigadier-General Anson and his brigade, who was principally engaged with the enemy, to be entitled to his acknowledgments; as well as Brigadier-General Howarth and his artillery; Major-General Tilson, Brigadier-General R. Stewart, Brigadier-General Cameron, and the brigades under their commands, respectively.

"He had opportunities of noticing the gallantry and discipline of the 5th battalion 60th and the 45th, on the[Pg 136] 27th; and of the 29th and 1st battalion 48th, on that night; and on the 28th, of the 7th and 53rd: and he requests their commanding officers, Major Davey, Colonel Guard, Colonel White, Colonel Donallan, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Myers, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bingham to accept his particular thanks.

"The charge made by the brigade of Guards, under the command of Brigadier-General H. Campbell, on the enemy's attacking column, was a most gallant one, and the mode in which it was afterwards covered by the 1st battalion of the 48th, was most highly creditable to that most excellent corps, and to their commanding officer, Major Middlemore.

"The Commander of the Forces requests Colonel Fletcher, the Chief Engineer, Brigadier-General the Hon. Charles Stewart, Adjutant-General, Colonel Murray, Quarter-Master-General, and the officers of those departments, respectively, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bathurst and those of his personal staff, will accept his thanks for the assistance he received from them throughout these trying days."

Before the great French revolution, or about the year 1790, some able French officers had given their attention to the formation of an état-major, or staff, for their armies, which would have greatly conduced to improvement in carrying on business in the various branches of their service; and this was proposed to be chiefly accomplished by establishing an uniform, comprehensive, and connected system; embracing objects, to a certain degree, both civil and military; the details of which[Pg 137] would develop themselves, as the several heads of service came to be examined.

These objects, owing to the confusion that arose out of the sudden elevation to power of daring and able, but generally inexperienced men, and the displacing of the old accomplished officers of the royal army were frustrated, or at least lost sight of for some time: but, although the French marched on from victory to victory over the neighbouring panic struck and astonished nations, the want of such an organized department, was seriously felt by the Commanders-in-chief of their armies, so much so, that upon an able work being published at Paris, by General Grimoard in 1809, styled "Traité sur le service de l'Etat-major-general des Armées," it was received with great approbation, and I may say, continued from that period to be a guide to the French Marshals and Generals, in the formation of the staff of the armies put under their charge; and it seemed also to be the system adopted, or approved of, by the Emperor.

Not long before this General Thiebault had also published a very useful work upon the same subject; but not by any means so comprehensive as that of General Grimoard; which I am inclined to think, would afford many useful hints to us in establishing a system for carrying on the duties of this essential branch of our service; but taken as a whole, it would, I am persuaded, be found too diffuse and complicated to be advantageously adopted by any army. I may however observe, that strictly speaking, we have no established system of this kind; for the experience of a few officers, acquired[Pg 138] on service, most of whom are now high in rank, cannot be considered as such; and what a deal an officer who wants information, would have to wade through, if he endeavoured to find it in the several volumes of general orders of His Grace the Duke of Wellington, who must have felt, and evidently did feel, throughout his protracted operations in the field, how hard and wearing it was, not only to command a British army, but also to have so much of the weight and annoyance of attending to minute details of military police, the commissariat, and of almost every thing else, thrown upon him, and requiring his constant superintendence and watchfulness. I am aware, that after they had acquired experience in the field, he received assistance, to a considerable extent, from some of the head-quarter staff, and from the generals and staff of divisions and brigades; but I do not believe, and his orders fully bear me out in saying so—that any of our other generals could have been equal to the task he found it necessary to impose upon himself; for at first he was evidently not much better off, than a commander of a regiment, who happens to have an indifferent adjutant, and who is in the habit of hopelessly attempting to carry on the whole of its duties, and managing all its details, between himself and that functionary, without considering for what purpose he has been furnished with two majors, ten captains, twenty or thirty subalterns, and a number of non-commissioned officers. But it is really wonderful what His Grace had at first to get through, from the want of a properly organized staff for his army, who[Pg 139] could have acted upon fixed principles, or established regulations. From not being able to avail himself of such assistance (and no Commander-in-chief of a British army can ever under present circumstances do so), he was obliged to come too much into contact with divisions, brigades, and regiments, and their minute details; and had even to decide, after having had all the trouble of inquiry into intricate matters, either personally or through the means of a general court-martial, as to the punishment the misconduct of many of our soldiers merited, and even to order it to be carried into effect.

These and many other considerations should convince us, that there ought never to be, what is usually termed a second in command, without a division to take charge of, for he is too often only in the way; but there should be a head, or chief of the staff of an army, in constant and immediate communication with the commander of it; and he ought to possess, in virtue of his office, considerable authority. He should have under him, for carrying into effect the orders or views of the Commander of the Forces, an adjutant, and a quarter-master-general, with a sufficient number of assistants attached to them; and one of each department, according to our present plan, should be appointed to each division of the army; and a brigade-major ought also to have the superintendance of the staff duties of each brigade.

The respective duties of the adjutant and quarter-master-general's departments ought to be clearly defined in every point, and carefully kept distinct; and the strictest system of responsibility, should at all times, and[Pg 140] in all situations, be enforced throughout the whole; and it should never again be necessary for a Commander of the Forces to issue such an order as that which follows, and which shows at once, what must have been at first the composition of the staff of a British army.

"G.O.      Zarza Mayor, 4th July, 1809.

"No. 1. The assistant-adjutant-generals, and brigade-majors of those divisions and brigades stationed in the neighbourhood of head-quarters, must attend at the adjutant-general's office for orders at 10 o'clock precisely.

"No. 2. The brigade-majors will attend at the assistant-adjutant-generals of divisions to receive the division orders at half-past 11 o'clock, and at one, the brigade-majors must give out the orders to the adjutants of regiments, which must be given out to the troops and companies, and read to the soldiers at evening parades.

"No. 3. In case circumstances should prevent the brigade-majors from issuing the general orders to the adjutants of regiments before 3 o'clock on any halting day, they are to receive and issue on that day only the orders requiring immediate execution, of which the general-officers commanding brigades are to make the selection, and on the following day the other orders of general regulation.

"No. 4. All orders received by the adjutants of regiments must, at the first parade, or earlier, if necessary, be read to the troops.

"No. 5. On marching days the assistant adjutant-generals and brigade majors, stationed near head-quarters,[Pg 141] will attend at the adjutant-general's office for orders as soon as the troops reach their ground.

"No. 6. All orders requiring immediate execution issued on marching days, must be given to the adjutants, and read to the troops as soon as possible.

"No. 7. The general orders will be sent from head-quarters to divisions at a distance by the first opportunity, those requiring immediate execution must be issued and read to the troops as soon as received; the others, if not received by the general officer of the division before 2 P.M., are not to be issued till the following day.

"No. 8. The assistant adjutant-generals, or the brigade major, of the division or brigade at a distance to which the general orders will have been sent, must send to the adjutant-general by the first opportunity, a receipt for the orders received, specifying the number for each day.

"No. 9. When pass orders will be sent, directions will be written on the back of them, stating whether they are to be circulated by the person who will have carried them from head-quarters, or to the officers respectively to whom they have been addressed.

"No. 10. Every officer, to whom they are addressed, must sign his name on the paper on receiving them, and insert the hour of the day at which they reached him.

"No. 11. As pass orders invariably must require immediate execution, they must be issued and read to the troops without loss of time.

[Pg 142]

"No. 12. The numberless mistakes which have occurred, and the many instances of neglect and disobedience of orders issued referring to the health, subsistence, or the convenience of the troops, renders it necessary not only to observe the early circulation of orders, but, if possible, obedience to them and their early and prompt execution.

"No. 13. The obedience to orders of general regulations must depend upon the attention of general officers commanding brigades, and commanding officers of regiments, and their determination to enforce regularity and discipline, but obedience to them requiring execution can be secured by other means.

"No. 14. Accordingly the Commander of the Forces desires that officers commanding regiments shall report to the general officer commanding the brigade, that the general orders requiring the performance of any duty, or the execution of any arrangement, have been obeyed."

All this proves that the knowledge and experience of the staff of a British army were, at that period, at a very low ebb; but matters were afterwards greatly improved, and the valuable time of the staff saved, which was thrown away in attending for orders, by Lord Wellington ordering the distribution of printed copies of general orders for departments, divisions, brigades, and regiments; but, still, too much of the time of the non-commissioned officers, who might have been much better employed in assisting their officers in looking after the soldiers, was always taken up in the field, in writing out orders for their respective companies. This[Pg 143] ought to be dispensed with altogether. The corps should be quickly assembled in square, or close column, and the orders or regulations, which should be few in number, as almost every thing could be arranged before hand at the Horse Guards, ought to be read distinctly to them by the commanding officer, a field officer, or the adjutant; and when thus assembled, any explanations, or farther directions, which might be necessary, could be given, and the orders themselves more forcibly impressed upon the minds of the soldiers, which is rarely properly done, if left to company officers, or non-commissioned officers.

This plan would not only save much time, but also prevent many mistakes from happening.

It is not my intention here, nor in any other part of this work, to be unnecessarily minute in bringing matters before the readers; or at present to enter fully into the various details of the duties of staff officers; and I may, therefore, only now observe, and I shall not hesitate in doing so to take advantage of the suggestions, or hints, of any military writer, when it may suit my purpose, that the duties or functions of the staff, which have hitherto, with us, been only determined by what was considered custom, or by some obsolete modes of practice, which, after much trouble, may, perhaps, be found scattered through numerous orders and regulations, which from time to time, have been issued by various commanders, or in books which have no claim whatever to be considered official; and so completely is this the case, that the practice of modern warfare[Pg 144] makes it desirable, and even indispensable, that where any authority may be attached to them, they ought to be annulled or suppressed, and a new system, constructed on a wise, and, if it can be done, on a limited scale, soon promulgated, as the established regulations of the army, which would render it scarcely possible, that mistakes, as to staff duties, could hereafter happen when brought into practice; for, in the field, the slightest misunderstanding, or disputing about points, perhaps in themselves trivial, might destroy that unity and rapidity of acting, which is so essential towards ensuring success in war.

The officer employed as chief of the staff should possess first-rate talents, much military information or experience; great activity, and perseverance. There are very few officers capable of filling this important and responsible appointment; for it demands a complete knowledge of the profession of a soldier. He should be well acquainted with the country about to become the seat of war; with its history, and with the wars which may have been there carried on, either in ancient or modern times; so that the general in command of the army could consult and arrange with him, if he thought proper, as to the best mode of directing his operations, and his suggestions might in many respects be of the most essential service. He should be looked up to by both the generals and the army, as not only intrusted with the plans or views of the Commander-in-Chief, but as also of being fully aware how they were to be executed; so that all the details of service would properly[Pg 145] come from him; and thus freed from much care and trouble, the General-in-chief would more particularly be able to devote his attention to the grand objects of the enterprise in view. But the duties of chief of the staff and those of the several departments under him, being, as far as practicable, clearly defined by regulations; with what little difficulty or danger from the effects of ignorance or inexperience an army handled by officers so taught, and always kept in readiness when called for, could be brought into the field in an efficient state for service; whereas by the way in which we now try to get through matters, a Commander-in-Chief in any future war would have to wade through all the difficulties encountered, and by so much perseverance overcome by his Grace the Duke of Wellington.

I must now observe, and in as few words as possible, that issuing of orders and regulations, and upon all occasions seeing that they were obeyed; keeping an historical journal of the events of a campaign; making out returns for head-quarters, and calling for all those usually required from divisions, brigades, and regiments, and the ordinary correspondence appertaining to such subjects; arrangements for the maintenance of the discipline of the army; furnishing of officers and troops for guards and out-posts; issuing necessary instructions for a well-regulated and mounted police force, whose commander, captains, and subalterns, being well-taught their duties, and competent to perform them, should be entrusted with even more power than was allowed to provost-marshals;—these,[Pg 146] with some other points of service, ought to come under the Adjutant-General and his assistants. But all this, it may be said, is already the common routine of business, and should be known to staff-officers; yet every one of them, I am certain, who has had experience in the field, must have felt the want of an efficient police, and of a better system for their guidance.

No division of the army should ever be without a strong detachment of police, either temporarily or permanently attached to it; and thus crimes would either be prevented through their vigilance, or those guilty of them immediately punished; the resources of a country would then neither be lawlessly seized and frittered away by marauders, nor would the inhabitants fail to bring supplies to the regularly established markets of the army, where they would be sure to find protection from the police. But all sutlers and persons permitted permanently to supply articles in camp or cantonments ought to have licenses from the head of the police, without which they should not be allowed to do so.

As more irregularities are generally committed by soldiers when absent from their corps, either upon duty or otherwise, than at other times; patroles of the police ought therefore to be constantly moving upon the roads in all directions, and should particularly have their eyes upon all guards, and people allowed for the service of the commissariat, either when foraging in collecting supplies of any kind, or in bringing them from the depots in the rear; and this useful corps[Pg 147] should also extend their observations, even as far to the rear as the hospital stations more immediately belonging to the army in the field. These various, important, and indispensable duties if properly performed, and their due performance being shown by simple returns or reports, would require a considerable police force; but as I would expect them to be armed and equipped in all respects as dragoons, they could, upon any emergency, be called upon to act as such, and they must, therefore, in no way be looked upon as taken away from the fighting part of the army; by the regulations they would enforce, and by their preventing all straggling of soldiers or followers of the camp in search of plunder or liquor, the army would be rendered considerably more efficient through their exertions. Therefore, to the establishing of such a corps, which ought to be composed of well-conducted and well-paid men, I beg particularly to request attention.

There is a point too much overlooked, or, at least, but little understood in our army, viz. that of employing spies in order to obtain intelligence; and, as I should expect, that the head of the police is a man of ability and penetration, I would recommend that he should be entrusted with the management of this necessary point of service. If it is properly conducted, most useful information may be procured; especially if sufficient means for this purpose are placed at the disposal of a commander of the forces. There are various classes of spies, but I am anxious to be as brief as possible in alluding to them.

[Pg 148]

1st. Men considered of importance and in high situations, who, through avarice or meanness, yield to corruption. It belongs, however, to the Government of a country to employ such spies, and it is believed that Russia especially has, at this moment, many of them engaged in various countries, and in various ways.

2nd. Men supposed to be respectable in character, priests and intriguing women (I here adopt the words of a French writer), to be almost always found in countries in which war may be carried on; who, through a good use of part of the money, which it may be contrived to remit to them, can procure sometimes valuable information; but the best of such spies are usually found amongst those mentioned, and who are the least liable to raise suspicion.

3rd. Individuals admitted in various ways into the enemy's army—such as servants to general and other officers, sellers of spirits, provisions, and many trifling articles required by soldiers; and some men may through them be induced to desert at particular moments, especially when any important movements are about to take place. Such people can repeat the conversations they may have listened to; they can say pretty correctly where the enemy is in force; what direction he is moving in, as well as what places are occupied by his detachments; but this is generally all that can be looked for from them, their communications being frequently too confused and uncertain to be much relied upon. But some men, for money, as I[Pg 149] know from experience, can be found (indeed they offer themselves) who would perform acts that would scarcely be believed, were I to state them.

4th. Intelligent peasants of the country, of whom there are always plenty to be found; but a good many of them should be sent out at one time, under the pretence of selling various articles in the enemy's camp, or cantonments; also to the detachments on his flanks, and lines of communication and operation. Such men should not, however, be employed at any great distance from their homes, as they soon become ignorant of the country and roads.

5th. Good information can often be obtained from prisoners of war of all ranks, if prudently and judiciously questioned by an officer, such as I suppose the head of the police would be; and correct intelligence was even sometimes, to my knowledge, pumped out of our single-minded officers at the out-posts, by the French, during the Peninsular war.

6th. The best and most useful of all spies, are those, who, though known as such, are employed and paid by both parties, according to the value of the information they are able to obtain. It is at the same time prudent, that they should be closely watched by the police, without their being aware of it, whilst they remain with our army; and it is not difficult to deceive them, and thereby make them convey false intelligence to the enemy. It would, however, be very imprudent at any time, to place too much reliance upon the reports of even the best spies. It is, however,[Pg 150] an established principle, that every possible information should be extracted from spies, without unguardedly opening the mind to them, which too much zeal or anxiety might sometimes lead us into; and it is always wise to employ for the same object, men unknown to each other, so that they cannot concert between them to deceive. Only one spy should be spoken to at a time, and that in the most secret manner. Little should be said to them; but they ought by every means to be induced to talk much. They should also be led astray by seeming to attach much importance to objects which are little cared about; at the same time it requires much attention, to find out whether one is dealing with double spies or not, for without this knowledge, we must be taking unnecessary trouble, and often acting in the dark. Now, no commander of the forces, nor chief of the staff, could possibly be supposed to enter personally into such transactions, nor could they possibly find time to devote to such minute investigations; but the head of the police, whose duty it would be to make them, in the prudent manner I have suggested, could communicate the result of his perseverance in these respects to either, as he might be directed.

Spies should be well paid, especially when it is ascertained that they have acted faithfully; and Frederick the Great of Prussia, who has always been considered good authority, says in his military instructions to his generals, (a work which should be carefully read by all officers,) "a man, who, in your[Pg 151] service, runs the risk of a halter, deserves to be well rewarded."

I beg to apologise for here intruding what may be looked upon as a digression; but mentioning information to be obtained from deserters, has brought to my recollection the extraordinary circumstance—at least I consider it as such—that it should have fallen to my lot, to have had the lieutenant of my company desert to the enemy; the only instance of the kind I ever heard of in the British army. It occurred just before our advancing in pursuit of the French, from what were considered the lines of Torres Vedras. I do not know in what part of Ireland Mr. B—— first saw the light, but he had been sent in early life to Salamanca, to be brought up for the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was, however, I suppose, found that he was unfit for that calling; at least, I understood that he had never been ordained; and having married, some person had most unwarrantably taken it upon himself to recommend him for an ensigncy in the army, for which he was still more unfit than to be a priest, for he was both vulgar in looks and manners; but as he spoke Spanish, and some Portuguese, and announcing himself wherever he went as a good Catholic, he got on, though very ignorant and illiterate, famously, both with the priests and people of Portugal. But he had, on one occasion, very nearly, in that country, come to an untimely end; for having been sent off, in order to get him away from the regiment, with part of the 3rd division's "advanced guard of infamy"—that is to say[Pg 152]—the soldiers' wives, whom it was found necessary to send to the rear, in consequence of the depredations they daily committed; these Amazons, headed by a well known character, rose upon him with the most diabolical intentions, as some may remember, for the circumstance was much laughed at at the time, and he only escaped from their clutches, by jumping out of a window, at the risk of breaking his neck.

As soon as he disappeared, and that it was conjectured he had gone over to the enemy, as captain of his company, I was called upon to report upon the circumstances which could have led to so extraordinary an event; and I was at the same time given to understand, that Lord Wellington was uneasy lest he might have conveyed to the French some useful intelligence; but I conclude that an explanatory letter which I addressed to the officers commanding the regiment, set his Lordship's mind at ease; for I unhesitatingly declared him to be totally unfit to make any observations of consequence, as to the positions or state of the army, or upon the country in rear of the lines; and in this opinion, as we were afterwards able to ascertain, I proved to be quite correct, for Marshal Massena finding him useless, he was altogether neglected, and having been left by the French, in their retreat, asleep in a hut, he fell into the hands of some of our light troops. It was intended that he was to have been tried for deserting to the enemy, and I was in consequence ordered to appear as the principal witness against him; but upon his being brought before[Pg 153] the General Court-Martial by the Provost Marshal, it was at once ascertained, that he had become deranged during his confinement. Upon this circumstance being made known to Lord Wellington, he, I understood, ordered him to be sent home, and I heard some time afterwards, that the unfortunate man died in a lunatic asylum in Ireland. This was a melancholy instance of the consequences of improper recommendations of persons for commissions in the army, which I regret to say, was but too common in those days; and my chief object in giving the story at all, is, that it may cause some gentlemen in future, to consider what they are about, before they take upon themselves the responsibility of introducing such men as Mr. B. into her Majesty's army.

In the French armies, according to the system they pursue, an officer possessing in many respects power not inferior to what I am so desirous that our officers of military police should be intrusted, takes up his station generally with or near the head-quarters of the army, or close to what is to be the line of march of the following day, and, if possible, within a reasonable distance of where he intends the markets to be held, should the army be stationary even for a few days only, and this enables him either personally to superintend what is going on, or else to send his subordinates to do so. He or some of his people patrole the neighbourhood of the camps, in order to protect all who are coming to the markets with supplies, and, on the spot, he punishes any one guilty of infringing the orders of the army.—Upon[Pg 154] the line of march he distributes his police in such a manner as to insure good order amongst the soldiers, bat-men, carters, those attached to the commissariat, sutlers, and even amongst the people bringing supplies to the markets.

As he acts under the orders of the principal officer of the "état-major," or the commander-in-chief, he and his subordinates have the power of inflicting summary punishment, according to the rules of the service; and they are, therefore, even accompanied by executioners, the very sight of whom is conducive to good behaviour on the part of the troops and followers of the army of every description. It is something of this kind, but superior in arrangement, and in the rank of those employed, that the British army so much wants, and what I am anxious to have established upon a most respectable footing; but in all arrangements for this purpose it should be kept in view how beneficial it would be to the public service that a proper provision should be made for the necessities of divisions of the army when acting separately or independently. The French plan seems more particularly adapted to the wants of the head-quarters only, and is therefore so far defective.

In my anxiety to have an intelligent and efficient police established in connexion with the adjutant-general's department, I have been obliged to say more upon the subject than I at first intended, and as everything relating to the discipline of an army comes under that branch of the staff, I must also take the liberty to observe (and in doing so I know that I am coincided with[Pg 155] in the opinion I am about to express by many officers,) that our courts-martial which are, even in these quiet times, almost constantly sitting, have brought matters, as the natural consequence of such a plan, into an unprofitable state, and which cannot possibly from want of time, and for other obvious reasons, exist, on service in the field. The strange system now pursued seems as if intended to weaken the power and influence of commanding and other officers in the corps, and which they must possess, if discipline is to be maintained as it ought to be; and this state of things looks as if brought about to suit the notions of men who are always dragging military matters before the public, whilst they show the world that they are quite ignorant of them. All this can, however, scarcely have any other tendency than to prevent officers from duly performing their duties lest they should be hauled over the coals for so doing, and I greatly fear that this must before long seriously injure the discipline of the army, so much so that if even what I have ventured to propose for its good should not be thought worthy of consideration, events alone may compel the legislature to look to the consequences likely to be produced if the present system is adhered to, and the result may most likely be that our military chiefs will have to be intrusted with greater power than they ever before possessed, especially on service; when far too much of the time of officers was always occupied upon courts-martial of all kinds, which might have been employed in looking after their men, and have prevented the crimes from being committed[Pg 156] which became the subject for investigation, and as a proof of this the books of general orders issued upon service, are almost filled with parts of their proceedings and the observations of Commanders of the Forces upon them.

It is by no means with the view of inducing any one to follow their example I now mention that, in the French armies, before the Revolution, courts-martial were only assembled for the trial of those guilty of very serious crimes; and in the field, even these were often summarily judged and punished, occasionally upon a simple verbal order. The National Constituent Assembly, however, without knowing what they were about, and from a sheer love of novelty, under the pretext of doing away with arbitrary military proceedings, rendered them, as now with us, most vexatiously frequent and complicated, by requiring courts-martial to be assembled for the investigation of even the most trivial offences, in order to award the most trifling punishments; and which commanding officers, as in our navy, could before have ordered upon their own authority and responsibility. The new laws which they made for this wise purpose had soon to undergo many and endless changes, all tending to occupy the time of officers and to make the proceedings of military tribunals more tedious and annoying; and they are now, after all that has been done, no better than our own, and they have attached to them a court of revision in which the matter, in case of appeal, is re-considered. But to make up for being thus hampered, the French état-major[Pg 157] often found it necessary, under the delegated authority of their commander-in-chief, to act in a very arbitrary and summary manner in the field.

Other branches of the service, such as the Post-office, &c., come under the Adjutant-General and his department, but I have already been too minute upon this head; yet I do not see how I can be less so if I am at all to enter upon the Quarter-Master-General's department, and in doing so I must touch upon what is well known to many officers.

All military plans, sketches, &c. especially such as afford information like the following:—

Plan pointing out where are situated, the stone bridges, &c. &c., which exist upon the Ebro, from Reynosa to Tudela.

Wooden Bridges
fit for Infantry
only, when the
river is low.
Ferries. Fords in
Fords in
&c. &c.
&c. &c.
&c. &c.
&c. &c.
&c. &c.

Also the arrangements for the movements or marches of an army; its encampments, bivouacs, quarters, in the field fixing upon the general line for out-posts, supplies of almost every description, and the arrangements connected with them, and various other matters come under the Quarter-Master-general and his department; and it is the duty of these officers to furnish the chief of the staff, for the information of the Commander[Pg 158] of the Forces, and also generals of divisions, when necessary, with comprehensive returns, according to established forms, which would show at one view the various resources of a country in which war might be carrying on. These returns, of course, according to circumstances, should embrace the cities, towns, villages, hamlets, and the number of inhabitants in each. The number of carts, waggons, or other carriages; the number of horses or mules for draught, burden or saddle; the number of bullocks, cows or sheep; the agricultural productions, such as the usual quantity of wheat, barley, oats, &c.; also of hay, straw or green forage; the returns should likewise show the quantity of each absolutely required for the use of the country, and the supplies, if any, also the number of pairs of boots or shoes fit for soldiers, or shoes for horses, which could be provided in a given time, or any other manufactured articles, which it might be supposed were likely to be required by an army.

Such information as this would enable the Commander of the Forces, or the generals acting under his instructions, to employ the commissariat advantageously, and also to order from the cities, towns or country, whatever number of men, animals, &c. might be required for various military purposes; and they would be enabled to decide what part of the resources of the country could be made available for supplying many of the wants of an army, so that considerable quantities of food, forage, &c. might thus be obtained upon the spot, in place of its being necessary to bring[Pg 159] supplies from perhaps distant countries, and even by ships, at an enormous expense, as was often the case during the Peninsular war.

I do not pretend to be able, nor have I any wish to write a regular military treatise; but I beg to observe, that acting thus upon system, and every thing being, if possible, punctually paid for, or good arrangements entered into, in cases of forced contributions, almost any country could be made to contribute considerably towards the wants of an army; but without such arrangements its resources are either plundered or wasted. But nothing of this kind can possibly be effected, unless an army has attached to it, a well organized mounted police, to enforce regularity and punctuality.

The officers of the Quarter-Master-General's department, cannot possibly perform the many duties required of them, without the occasional aid of such a police force as I have in view, and which in the end would be found to be a vast saving of expense, incurred in many ways, by the country; nor without the assistance of a corps of mounted men, usually termed guides; and which ought, if practicable, to be raised in the country, the seat of war; and they should be so well paid and treated as to insure their fidelity.

I must now, however, conclude this part of my undertaking, by remarking, that into whatever parts or branches the duties, services, or the business of an army may be divided, the whole should, as far as possible, be brought under the Adjutant or Quarter-Master-General's[Pg 160] departments, and their correct and punctual performance should be shown by the most simple, yet sufficiently comprehensive, returns or reports, of which the forms should always be given; and they should be similar, in many respects, to that which enabled the Duke of Wellington to know, every day, the exact state or distribution of his army; returns or reports of this kind cannot possibly be dispensed with from the commissariat or ordnance, as the Commander of the Forces, and generals of divisions and brigades ought to know, at all times, how the army, and the parts of it under their charge respectively, are to be supplied with provisions, ammunition, &c. &c.

It may probably, by those who wish to remain independent at the head of departments, be deemed desirable, that the medical, commissariat, and ordnance branches of the army should remain distinct, and that they should continue to communicate direct with the Commander of the Forces; but in this I cannot coincide, and it strikes me that it would be desirable, to place the medical department and its establishments under the Adjutant-General, and the commissariat under the Quarter-Master-General. My reason, in the first place, for the former is, that no where is it so essential, that the strictest discipline should be maintained, as at the several hospital stations, and in every thing connected with the medical department of an army; and in our future wars this must be particularly necessary, from the rapidity with which they must be carried on, as I intend more[Pg 161] fully to show hereafter, when the instant removal of sick and wounded to places of safety will appear to be indispensable.

The Duke of Wellington, a most excellent teacher, says, in a General Order, dated Pero Negro, 23d Oct. 1810—

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces has observed, with great concern, the large number of men returned by the several regiments, as sick in hospitals, compared with the returns received from the medical officers, of the number of men actually on their books in the hospitals.

"No. 2. The former at present is more than double the latter, and it must be owing to some existing abuse.

"No. 3. The Commander of the Forces has besides been informed by many officers, commanding regiments and brigades in the army, that there are many non-commissioned officers and soldiers walking about the streets in Belem and Lisbon, quite recovered, while others are doing the duties of these men before the enemy in the field.

"No. 4. In order to put a stop to these abuses, the Commander of the Forces desires that the following regulations be attended to."

It is unnecessary here to give these regulations, but his Grace repeats the orders which had been so frequently issued, that no officer of the medical department should have any soldier from the ranks as his servant and bat-man, or to attend upon him in any manner; and he declares his determination to bring[Pg 162] to trial before a general-court-martial, any of the medical department, who should make use of a non-commissioned officer or soldier in any menial capacity whatever.

We had formerly attached to the medical department large cumbersome waggons, which could scarcely have answered any wise purpose, even upon our English roads, but which were next to useless in such countries as Portugal; and the tortures and sufferings of the wounded and sick, when sent off to the rear upon commissariat mules going for provisions, or in country carts, drawn by bullocks, were beyond belief, especially when aggravated by the effects of a burning sun, or the severity of the wet and cold seasons of the Peninsula.

It is absolutely necessary that this department should be better organized hereafter, as soldiers are induced to go forward and into battle with much more confidence, when they know that it is enabled, through good management, to remove them with care and kindness, if sick or wounded, to places where they can be properly attended to.

The head of this department ought to be a man of great energy and ability, capable of arranging and carrying into effect whatever plans may have been adopted for the removal and care of the sick and wounded, and above all he should possess, like the celebrated Dr. Larrey, of the French army, not only extraordinary perseverance, but also that kind-hearted benevolence, which insured for him, on all occasions, the respect and affections of both officers and soldiers.

[Pg 163]

Under such a head, there should be placed, to be disposed of as he might deem best, but in communication with the Adjutant-General, or his assistants attached to divisions, who could, through the means of the police at their disposal, afford him great help in carrying their united views into effect, a complete establishment of conveyances, or cars upon springs, calculated to contain, at most, four men each, of a light but strong construction, with covers to them sufficient to afford the sick and wounded protection from the sun and rain. They should only be of such a size and weight that two horses of ordinary powers could draw them and the four patients with the greatest ease, even when required to move with some degree of rapidity, and the generally low condition of horses on service in the field, should not in the calculations be overlooked. The corps, as I may call it, to which these conveyances should belong, ought to consist of steady drivers, one for each car and pair of horses, (but he ought not upon any account to be allowed to ride) some non-commissioned officers and officers having certain military rank and authority. This useful body of men should be formed by enlistment in the United Kingdoms, and the horses either procured there, or in the country to become the seat of war; but the corps and its cars and equipments should accompany any military force whenever it was ordered to embark for service. It should however always remain at the disposal of the medical officer at the head of the department, who could appropriate parts of it, as might be arranged between him and the Adjutant-General,[Pg 164] and as circumstances required, for the removal of sick and wounded from the divisions or brigades to the hospital stations, and they could from thence assist recovered men to rejoin their corps with less fatigue than they might otherwise be too soon exposed to, and the officers and non-commissioned officers of this establishment, occasionally assisted by the police, could take the entire charge of such men, together with the usual lists furnished by officers commanding companies or troops, of the articles of necessaries, &c. sent with them, so that it would no longer be necessary to detach numbers of officers and non-commissioned officers from their regiments, where their presence is always required, to perform this important duty.

The great utility of what I have just pointed out, must be obvious to all experienced officers, who will, I think, coincide with me in opinion, that such an establishment is indispensable in the field, indeed both humanity and prudence most strongly call for it, as it would tend to render an army much more efficient than it could possibly be, if defective in this respect, or if such matters are left merely to chance, or to the generally miserable resources of this kind to be found in most countries.

It appears to me that the commissariat cannot properly or prudently be separated from the Quarter-master-general's department, for all its arrangements must depend upon the intended movements, stations, positions, and views of the Commander of the Forces, to be carried into effect by the Quarter-master-general,[Pg 165] and his assistants, attached to the division. But the commissariat ought to be under the immediate superintendance of an officer of considerable abilities; possessing a mind capable of comprehending, and performing with accuracy his extensive part in all military combinations, for almost every thing in war depends upon the troops being regularly supplied with food.

The officers of this branch of the service, cannot be formed in a day; for they require not only the knowledge and habits of business, but also experience in the modes of ascertaining and calling forth the various resources of countries. Providing transport for supplies of provisions is alone an extensive and difficult part of the duty of the commissariat. There are few countries in which such means would present themselves so efficiently and opportunely, as the brigades of mules did in the Peninsula. It will not answer, entirely to depend upon the resources of countries which may become the seat of war, for such transport; but how far this may be prudent, can sometimes be ascertained beforehand. But I beg here to ask, if it would not be important to arrange how far rice might occasionally be made a substitute for some of the articles usually issued to our troops in the field by the commissariat? A little of it becomes a considerable quantity of nourishing food when cooked, but its great advantage is, that the means of transport required for it is trifling when compared with what it takes to bring bread or biscuit from perhaps a distant point, to an army acting in the field. Soldiers may not like rice at first, but it should be remembered,[Pg 166] that it constitutes in India, the principal part of their food.

It is at all times very hazardous to allow the roads in the vicinity of an army, especially when near the enemy, to become blocked up, but especially in bad weather, by heavy waggons or carts of any kind; so that pack-horses or mules, (the breeds in Great Britain and Ireland of the former have mostly become too large for this purpose) with well fitted saddles, and perhaps panniers, are the only conveyances for provisions or stores, which should be allowed to come up to an army in the field. But all such subjects require much consideration, and also able arrangements, which should, as far as possible, be completed before troops are allowed to quit our shores. The expense is always great to provide even what is indispensable in this respect for an army, but it would cost, in all probability, twice as much, to form such an establishment in a country in which war had already commenced. This naturally leads the mind to form plans so as to meet the difficulties which will certainly present themselves, and to calculate as to the manner in which a well-organized department, with means at its command, can be produced; and though its vast extent may be apt to discourage, yet it ought to be wisely looked into by a Commander of the Forces, his quarter-master and commissary generals. But if the commissariat consists of able, responsible and experienced officers, much apprehension on this head may be removed. The selection therefore of gentlemen qualified for this branch of the service, ought always to be of[Pg 167] primary importance, and their advancement in rank, and consequent higher payment, should depend upon the ability and habits of business they evinced in the discharge of their duties; and to the exclusion, if such a thing can be, of interest or patronage.

I hope I shall be excused for here introducing what I may call a commissariat anecdote; which those who knew Sir Thomas Picton will at once recognize as characteristic of him.

During the splendid movement which Lord Wellington made from the frontiers of Portugal, and which ultimately compelled the French to concentrate their army and fight the disastrous battle of Vittoria; the Assistant-commissary-general attached to one of the divisions, had, through mistake, come into a part of the country, the supplies to be got from which were allotted to the 3rd; and he was waiting patiently, in a neat Spanish village, for the baking of a large quantity of bread, to be finished; which he intended for his own division. Whilst this was going forward, he had taken care, as commissaries usually did, to establish himself in one of the best houses. Sir Thomas Picton very soon learnt what he was about; and ordered that he should be brought before him. "How dare you, Sir, to plunder that village?" "I am no plunderer, Sir, and am only procuring bread for my division," "Neither you nor your division, have a right to any thing in that village; and if you don't instantly be off, Sir, I will order the provost-marshal to hang you up on that tree." The zealous commissary (indeed he was one of the most[Pg 168] efficient in the army, and well known to be so by Sir Thomas, who during the scene could scarcely conceal how much he was amused), set off in great alarm, and without further reply, at speed, to head-quarters; which happened to be not very distant, where, we were told, he requested to see Lord Wellington: "What is the matter?" demanded his Lordship, upon observing the commissary's great perturbation. He told his story; concluding by declaring, "and he was actually going to hang me!" His Lordship, now scarcely able, as the story was told—to keep his gravity, asked with much apparent earnestness, "Did he really say, that he would hang you?" "Yes, he really did." "Then," said his lordship, "take my advice, and keep out of his way, or he will certainly do so." The worthy commissary now began, for the first time, to suspect that he had been made to cut a ridiculous figure.

Sir Thomas Picton, though stern in aspect, possessed a most warm, benevolent, and feeling heart. As an instance of this I cannot help relating what occurred on one occasion in Spain. An officer, commanding one of the regiments of his division, was killed in action. He, like too many soldiers who fell in battle, left his widow and a child in very narrow circumstances. This by some means or other came to Sir Thomas Picton's knowledge, when he sent for a field-officer of the regiment, to find out from him the widow's address; and his feeling remark on the occasion was, "that both grief and poverty were hard to be borne at one time." Having got the information he wanted, he took care[Pg 169] that a large sum of money (being apprehensive of making a mistake, I shall not venture to say how much) was paid to her.

Towards the close of the war in the South of France, the Duke of Wellington had brought his army—not only improved in its staff, but in many other respects—into a complete state for service; indeed he had made it as much so, as a British force, composed as it was and still is, can be; and his plan of giving good commissariat establishments to divisions and brigades, which enabled them to act at all times efficiently and independently, was most admirable, and should, as far as possible, be always imitated whenever our troops, in any considerable numbers, may be hereafter required to take the field; but those, who from experience, could properly form such establishments, may most probably have then passed away, and the advantages which might have been looked for from their practical knowledge of commissariat duties, cannot be available, and I do not know where I could recommend any one to look for correct information upon such subjects. But does not this most clearly point out, the want of established system in this as well as in other essential branches of our service, and for which I do perseveringly contend.

It may appear to some, that to accomplish the various objects I have alluded to, would be attended with vast expense to the country, yet this will not be found, upon a calm consideration, or rather investigation, to be so great as might be imagined; but no one acquainted[Pg 170] with military matters will pretend to say, that they can be dispensed with, if the country is to be served by its armies as it ought to be; and, I trust, that I have already shown in what manner savings can be effected, more than sufficient to meet any increase of expenditure I may venture to propose. I must now, however, leave the subject of the staff of an army for the present, and proceed to other matters which must still be brought before the reader.

[Pg 171]


As I find that I have not yet touched upon some of the subjects which I am anxious to bring under consideration. I must again beg here to remind the reader, that having shown, in several instances, in what manner considerable savings can be effected, I will now go on to point out a very injudicious piece of economy, the consequences of which have been always felt in our regiments, viz. that of never allowing one quarter enough of ammunition for practice; and the result was, that our soldiers, in general, I will venture to say, were probably as bad marksmen as any in the world. Our game laws are in a certain degree the cause that the lower orders of the people are all so ignorant of the use of fire-arms; but this is a subject with which I do not intend to meddle, and shall only say, that when English archers were so formidable, the people were encouraged and even compelled to assemble at various times of the year to practise this to them amusing craft; and the result of this wise policy on the part of their rulers was fully evinced in battle. I must, however, observe, that our old-fashioned heavy muskets recoil, or kick so violently, after firing even a few rounds, that if they then go off at all, they cause a man to think twice, and probably to[Pg 172] raise his eye from the object aimed at, before he ventures to pull the trigger; but since I made a note of this, with the intention of bringing the subject under consideration, I find that an improvement in fire-arms, for the army in general, is actually in contemplation.

I by no means wish to increase the quantity of blank cartridges usually allowed to amuse grown children at mock-fights, &c. but of ball and buckshot ammunition; for it is most desirable that the soldier should know and be able to calculate, at what distances he ought to use both with proper effect.

A general officer, now long in his tomb, entertained certain very odd notions, in which I sometimes fancy that I participate; in one of his usually laconic addresses, or exhortations, in which he was fond of indulging even when going into action, upon one occasion, and rather to the astonishment of the soldiers he led, though accustomed to his ways, and after cautioning them, that he would not give the word fire until he could see the white of the enemy's eyes; and he was very near-sighted—he thus addressed them—"Now, lads, there is the enemy, if you don't kill them, they will certainly kill you; and it is better to break their shanks than to fire o'er the crown of their heads." There was much to be admired in this pithy address, which could be perfectly understood by soldiers. But I must say, that I have often regretted seeing a useless, distant fire kept up, which had no effect whatever upon the enemy, and certainly did not improve the taste of our soldiers for the bayonet, in whose hands it may[Pg 173] be always made a very useful instrument for deciding the fate of battles. I must, however, apologize for taking up the reader's time with these remarks, and also for having so unceremoniously introduced the general, my worthy ancestor, to him; yet I must beg to add, that a very brave and esteemed friend of mine, Major Smith, 45th regiment, who fell fighting gloriously, but too rashly, for he really went up to the French bayonets at Busaco, had also sometimes a very odd way of expressing himself. I remember hearing him on one occasion emphatically observe, "I don't like your prudent officers, Sir, who deal in long shots, and who talk so much of sparing the effusion of human blood—their prudence, Sir, always increases it in the end, Sir." But those who knew him will readily recognize this to be genuine; and it may be well supposed, that he must have come up to Sir Thomas Picton's ideas of what a good soldier should be; at all events, he considered that the 3rd division and the country, sustained an irreparable loss when Major Smith fell. But to proceed—I beg to recommend, that there be erected, as near as may be deemed consistent with the safety of the passers by, and even against the high walls of barracks, sufficient mounds of earth against which to fire with ball; and this should not only be made the means of useful instruction, but also, like the bayonet and sword exercises, conducive to the soldier's amusement; and whilst I would greatly increase the allowance of ammunition for practice, I would also suggest that a sum of money be annually granted to[Pg 174] regiments to be laid out at the discretion of commanding officers, in rewards to the best shots and the best swordsmen. This is very essential, as light troops are so much employed in modern warfare, that their being good marksmen cannot be dispensed with; therefore, with a superior description of musket, having a good percussion lock, serviceable in wet as well as in dry weather, and fire never being uselessly thrown away in action in a volley like a single report, which in former times was considered so fine, our soldiers would be more than a match for the Yankee Back-woodsmen, or any other troops in the world.

I have now arrived at a part of my undertaking in which I am very much interested, and to which I am desirous of attracting attention; for I am sure it will be readily allowed, that amongst any body of men, there will always exist irregularities and misconduct; it is therefore indispensable, that there should be at hand the means of making those guilty of offences promptly feel the consequences of committing them. With this in view, I conclude it will be thought necessary, that there should be several small, dark, dry, and well ventilated cells in all prisons attached to barracks at home and abroad, in which offenders can be separately confined, either upon bread and water, low diet, or otherwise for fixed periods, according to the present system, and to the sentences of courts-martial, for I am obliged to write so as to suit the times, and whilst undergoing this kind of punishment, the inmates should be subjected to the most perfect silence; which, if duly attended[Pg 175] to, will soon be found to constitute the severest part of the punishment, and to produce the most desirable results; every necessary precaution should, therefore, be taken on this head; but it should never be overlooked, that such kinds of punishment for the maintenance of discipline, can never be resorted to when regiments are in the field.

In no regiment that I have ever had any thing to do with, have I yet found the link of responsibility perfectly kept up. For instance, the majors were not made answerable for the state of their respective wings. The captains were almost never interfered with by the majors, who were really little else than sinecurists: indeed, commanding officers in general, did not like their doing so; as they too frequently looked upon it as meddling with what did not concern them; and they too often rendered the captains also mere nonentities with their companies; managing all promotions, &c. (so powerful is the love of patronage) between themselves and their adjutants. It was the same as to granting leave of absence from the regiments, or even from common parades; and thus captains were entirely stripped of influence. It was also much the same with regard to men guilty of crimes or irregularities: their names were found in guard reports; the adjutants were made to inquire into the reasons of their confinement, and they were sometimes sentenced by courts-martial, and even punished, without any reference whatever being made to their captains; and I have heard commanding officers say, that there was no use[Pg 176] in consulting them, as they knew nothing about their companies; but whose fault was that, and why were they not encouraged and made to do their duty, and to look after their men's conduct?

In former days (and I may go back even to the days of Marlborough) captains were men of some importance, and were allowed to exercise much more authority over their companies, than has for many years past been the fashion. They could keep them at drill, or confined to barracks, or camp, if their conduct was irregular, till the offenders were found out, and punished by the soldiers themselves. These offenders were tried by what were then called Company Courts-Martial, which consisted of a non-commissioned officer and four privates. The sentence (nothing else being written) having been approved of by the captain, or officer commanding the company, it was in presence of the non-commissioned officers, and sometimes of a subaltern, privately carried into execution, either by the drummers of the company giving the culprit a certain number of blows, or else all the soldiers had to do so with the slings of their firelocks. This having been properly, and often severely done by themselves, the company was considered as purified, and were then dismissed from drill, or released from confinement to barracks or camp. If a plan of this kind in spirit was properly followed up, how admirably it would be found calculated for service in the field even in our days. When the importance of company officers is raised, so is proportionally that of the non-commissioned[Pg 177] officers; and does not the superiority of our companies of guards consist in the respectability of their non-commissioned officers?

Not very long ago, what, I believe, was called Picketting, was practised as a punishment in our regiments of cavalry for minor offences, and I have heard from old officers, that the soldiers had a great dread of it; they assured me it did not in the least injure their health, or unfit them for immediate duty; and it almost entirely obviated the necessity for flogging. Would it not therefore be well, if the reviving of this kind of punishment in every corps, when an army took the field, were to have due consideration. I am aware of the outcry which most likely would be raised by injudicious men against such a plan, and nothing would have induced me to venture to mention it, but my abhorrence of flogging, and my fear that capital punishments might become frequent and unavoidable, if there were no other mode, of maintaining discipline amongst our troops. I therefore must not shrink from suggesting it, as I feel convinced, that in the field, our military police, might be safely trusted with the power of using it as a punishment; and it would, I have no doubt, deter soldiers from straggling from their corps in search of liquor or plunder.

We are constantly hearing of the horrors of flogging in our regiments, and scarcely an instance occurs, but that some of the newspapers endeavour to hold it up in the most exaggerated language, and strongest colouring, to the detestation of the nation; but after[Pg 178] all, what is such punishment, as now inflicted, to what takes place all over Germany, and in the armies of the Czar? We are told—and it should be known in Great Britain—that the kind of bastinado, by which the flesh is most cruelly torn off by the point of the stick, is so severe in the German and other armies, that few men can stand many blows of the corporals who inflict it; and as for the Russian knout, half a dozen strokes, or even less, can be made fatal by a skilful hand.

Unluckily, by our mode of proceeding, punishment is, in some measure, converted, by its slowness, into a kind of torture; and if flagellation is to be unfortunately allowed to continue in a British army, it most probably would be better if fewer lashes were awarded by the sentences of courts-martial, but to be inflicted more after the manner practised in our navy. At all events, what may be termed the teasing system, which now prevails in regiments, and to which commanding officers, in compliance with existing circumstances, must adhere, cannot be productive of good, and must from necessity, and want of time and means, be nearly abandoned when our army is actually in the field. In what way then, I beg to ask, are officers to maintain discipline, if their power and influence in their companies are not increased?

It has always been the practice in our army to direct attention—and in this commanding officers of regiments had no choice—more particularly to what was necessary for home service, or garrison duty abroad, or their attention was called (as in the Russian service)[Pg 179] to what would produce effect, through a splendid display of neatness, uniformity, and regularity in dress, messing, barrack and other arrangements; which in themselves are much to be lauded and admired; but with regard to what were really essential and indispensable in the field, for which most of this instruction or knowledge, but little prepared them, such matters seemed generally to be left to chance, or to be acquired by both officers and men when once there; and this was one of the reasons why so few regiments did not fall off in every respect, the very first campaign in which they were employed.

One of the chief objects which I have in view being, however, to do away with corporal punishment, and still to insure our having a well-conducted and highly disciplined army, I consider as essential towards securing this, that the utmost attention should be paid to what was formerly so lamentably neglected—that is to say—the religious instruction, and general education of corps. Without this all our efforts must be useless and unavailing.

To expect that such objects can be attained by merely paying the clergymen of towns, where troops are usually quartered, a certain sum annually for performing clerical duties, is altogether out of the question. Every regiment ought to have its own chaplain, and the changes which have of late years taken place in the religious, as well as in the moral feelings of the country, (for we ought not to attend to the wild ideas and effusions of men, who in the present day are[Pg 180] leading the unwary astray,) have rendered their appointment to corps no longer objectionable. The regimental chaplains should be required, before appointment, to produce to the chaplain general, certificates from bishops of the church of England, or from, at least, two ministers of the church of Scotland, setting forth the respectability of their characters, their fitness to discharge the religious duties, and to direct and superintend the instruction of the regiment, to which they might be attached, and in which a higher description of education was hereafter to be looked for.

I must here declare, and I do so after long and serious consideration of the subject, that the consequences of a mixture in corps of men professing Protestant and Roman Catholic creeds have always been, that religion, of any kind, became altogether a forbidden subject, and I firmly believe, that much of the depravity and irregularities committed by our soldiers, may be attributed to this cause; for what could be expected from men, who, I may say, never gave religion even a thought. The officers were almost all Protestants, whilst a considerable proportion of the soldiers, in many regiments, from having been raised in Ireland, were Papists; and it, unfortunately, yet clearly, became the duty of those under whose command they were placed, to show no respect of persons, or to hurt the feelings of either party on account of religious opinions or differences; and thus what is commonly looked upon as sacred amongst men, could not even be named, and much less brought to[Pg 181] the assistance of officers in the management of their men, so that fear of punishment was all they had to depend upon (and even corporal punishment when too frequently resorted to, lost its effects,) for the maintenance of discipline, it was, therefore, to the system pursued, and not to the officers that blame ought to have been attached for much of the misconduct which the commanders of our armies, and Lord Wellington in particular, had to lament and contend with. Much more might be said upon this subject, but I do not wish to pursue it farther.

But let us for a moment look at the effects of unanimity in religious views in a Russian army, in which, however, is to be clearly seen far too much of the old Prussian severity of discipline to be productive of good; and I am also aware, that in consequence of the power that the upper class—themselves exempted from the conscription—possess over their serfs, many bad characters are forced into their ranks; yet their Emperor, generals, officers and soldiers are, I may say, of one mind and of one religion. See the whole joining in its—to them—sacred offices, and imposing ceremonies; and who then can deny, but that their chiefs thus establish a firm hold upon the minds and affections of their soldiers, who may, by this means, be led to respect morality, and to imitate praise-worthy conduct, whilst they are at the same time rendered more formidable as enemies.

Regimental chaplains ought to be married, and should be allowed sufficient means to provide themselves[Pg 182] with suitable lodgings, and when it could be done, outside the barrack walls; and to insure their respectability and fitness for the performance of their important duties, they ought to receive the same pay and allowances as pay-masters.

Very few churches in provincial towns, or villages, can afford proper accommodation for the troops quartered in them, and they ought not to be dependant upon this; and as regiments would thus have their own clergymen, there should be attached to every barrack, at home or abroad, a large comfortable school-house, in which divine service might be performed twice a day on Sundays; so that one wing of a regiment could be accommodated in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.

Every corps ought to have a well paid, and highly respectable school-master, with whom no one should have a right to interfere, but the commanding officer and chaplain; and part of the duty of the latter should be to superintend the school and to direct the system of education to be pursued in it. Every school-house ought to be furnished with a carefully selected collection of books, which should be handed over, in good order, from one chaplain to another, and according to an inventory kept for the purpose. Of course the regiment relieved would have to pay for any books lost or damaged. There ought to be also a sufficient allowance of fuel and candles granted for the school-house; and it would be most desirable that the soldiers should, as much as possible, be induced to spend their evenings[Pg 183] there; and in order to increase this inducement, the books should not only be instructive, but also amusing; and as far as practicable, different at every station. A place of public resort of this kind, where a certain number of non-commissioned officers should be required to be present, would be particularly desirable everywhere, but especially in our North American possessions, where in winter it is so difficult to find means of amusement, for soldiers, and thereby to keep them out of mischief. But all kinds of out-door amusements ought also to be encouraged in every part of the world, and even money should be allowed to commanding officers to provide what is required for them; and every thing possible done, so as to make soldiers feel that their regiments are their homes, and their officers their best friends. With this most desirable object in view, officers must see what vast responsibility devolves upon them, and how much they are called upon to teach by example.

It is well known, that in the United Kingdom, society is very differently circumstanced to what it is in any other part of the world. No nation can boast of such a high-minded and enlightened middle class as we possess; and education and manners place most of them upon a level with the highest. Almost all the officers of our army and navy are taken from this middle class; but I regret to say, that too many of them, as well as the first class, know as little of the habits or feelings of the lower orders, as the latter know of theirs. Thus the very formation of society is against that community[Pg 184] of feeling and interest, which ought to exist between officers and soldiers, or sailors; and to the want of this sympathy among us, may be attributed much of that powerful influence which dangerous men are able to exercise over the lower orders of the people of the present day; for they are generally destitute of the virtues or principles to be found among men in a similar state; and the dependence in which they are held by the more wealthy part of the community, engenders feelings of jealousy and even dislike towards them, which may be expected at any time, when opportunity offers, to burst forth in those acts of open violence, which occasionally disturb the tranquillity of the empire.

The fancies and absurdities of some of our commanders in former times, were most truly surprising; but to us who were their victims they were any thing but amusing or laughable. Some of them ought to be held up as beacons to warn others to avoid them; but doing so, and showing their effects upon those under them, would occupy much more time and space than I can devote to the purpose. But how rapidly an army whose spirit has been already subdued by a too severe system of discipline is vanquished, was clearly proved, by what occurred in the year 1806. On the 7th of October in that year, the Emperor Napoleon announced to the Senate, that he had quitted his capital to repair to his army in Germany. Already had the Prussian army, completed to its war establishment, passed their frontier, in all the confidence of discipline, and had invaded Saxony; and their advanced posts had even[Pg 185] made their appearance not far from the cantonments of the Imperial army.

The French were instantly put in motion to cross the Rhine, and by forced marches, the several corps occupied the points assigned them, and every thing was arranged for advancing against the Prussians. By the evening of the 8th, the French, after several brilliant affairs, in which the Prussians were invariably beaten, had passed the Saale. Events succeeded each other with great rapidity, and according to the Emperor's account of what occurred, Marshal Davoust arrived at Naumbourg on the night of the 12th of October. The Prussian army being thus caught, "en flagrant délit," their left being turned, and many of their depots of provisions taken. The king of Prussia intended to have commenced hostilities on the 9th of October, by moving his right upon Frankfort, his centre upon Wurtzbourg, and his left upon Bamberg; but the Emperor seems to have anticipated this arrangement by marching upon Saalbourg, Lobenstein, Schleitz, Gera, and Naumbourg, when the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, were necessarily occupied by the Prussians in changing their positions, and in recalling their detachments; so that upon the 13th they were, by concentrating their troops, in number about 150,000, enabled to offer battle to the French between Capelsdorf and Amerstadt.

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 13th, the Emperor arrived at Jena; and from a height occupied by his advanced guard, he reconnoitred the Prussian position, and made his dispositions for the morrow.

[Pg 186]

The Prussian army on the morning of the 14th displayed a splendid front of infantry, cavalry, and seven or eight hundred pieces of cannon. All their manœuvres were executed with that precision and rapidity which might be expected from troops who spent their lives at constant drill, and in military evolutions; in all of which the French were very inferior; yet they had been sufficiently taught their business as soldiers, without that severity of discipline having been resorted to, which too frequently dispirits men, and renders them indifferent to events.

The results of this campaign, of seven days duration, and the famous battle of Jena, were 30,000 prisoners, and amongst them twenty generals; upwards of twenty colours, three hundred pieces of cannon, and great quantities of provisions taken by the French. The Prussian loss was estimated at 20,000 in killed and wounded; and the wreck of their army fell back in consternation and disorder, whilst the French admitted only the loss of a few generals, and about 1,500 men killed and wounded.

We are not to suppose that the Emperor Napoleon could have gained such advantages over a Prussian army, manœuvred by such able officers as those who led it, by superiority of tactics, though he evidently wished the world to think so; and we must attribute the results of the battle to the gallantry and superior intelligence of the French officers and soldiers over troops in whom such a spirit no longer existed; for had it not, in a great measure been banished, for the time,[Pg 187] from amongst them, by the severity of Prussian discipline, which is most certainly calculated to eradicate courage out of any army in the world but that composed of English, Scotch, and Irishmen, upon whom its effects were but too long tried; and though it did not exhaust their innate national bravery, and love of war, yet it rendered them at all times ready and anxious to free themselves from the restraint under which they were so tightly kept; and when once they could contrive to get out of the sight of their officers, and to think for themselves,—to do which they perhaps had very few opportunities in the course of their lives—they bade farewell to subordination, and took good care, in every kind of excess, to make up for what they had suffered, under the kind of discipline we had in a great measure copied from the Prussians; and to this I venture to ascribe many of our soldiers' irregularities, and even their crimes.

Let us see the effects of such absurd discipline upon a Russian army. In the month of June, 1807, the Russians occupied Heilsburg, where they had collected vast quantities of provisions, and all that was necessary for an army. Their position was excellent, and during a period of four months every thing possible had been done to render it, by field works, more formidable. The Russians even attempted to be the first to commence hostilities, but they were attacked by the French, and completely beaten with the loss of 30,000 killed and wounded, and 4,000 prisoners; while the French lost (and the results go to prove their statements[Pg 188] to be correct) only 700 killed, and about 2,000 wounded; and I do not hesitate to attribute the loss of the battle of Eylau to the same cause as I do that of Jena; that is to say, the injurious, depressing effects of Prussian discipline; and which system seems to be even to this day followed up in the Russian armies.

In further proof of this, I must beg the reader's attention to what I am going to mention, and which actually occurred in a regiment that shall be nameless.

The day was fixed upon which it was to be reviewed. Its commanding officer was suddenly taken ill, and he was confined to his bed. So far had preparations been carried for this great event, that even the large cards, as was the practice in those days, containing the manœuvres to be performed, had been made out for the inspecting General. This illness of the Lieutenant-Colonel was an event quite unforeseen, and the senior Major, a good-natured old gentleman, whose military career had been in the West Indies, and who was more agreeably occupied at the time than in studying Dundas, was completely thunderstruck when he found that at the shortest notice he had to make up his mind to assume the command on this truly alarming occasion; for the General was well known to be a first-rate tiger. It was, therefore, a very hopeless case with the gallant Major, as he really could not at any time manœuvre a battalion, and much less under such trying circumstances; and what made matters worse, his Lieutenant-Colonel would rarely allow him to try whether he could do so or not, for he was one of those commanders who[Pg 189] carried on every thing himself, aided by his adjutant, and a well trained set of drummers, whom he kept in constant practice.

His Adjutant was a well-meaning man, and in kindly feelings, and good will towards the Major, and in his great zeal for the reputation of his corps, he went with the beautifully written out card of the manœuvres (the produce of many an anxious hour of the Lieutenant-Colonel's valuable time) to the Major, to explain it fully to him, and also comfort him with the hope, that as the regiment had most diligently practised every march, counter-march, and wheel of it, things must go off well, if he would only not be alarmed. Accordingly, that very evening, well prompted by the Adjutant, he actually got the regiment through it handsomely enough. At night the Adjutant went to see and condole with his most yellow, billious-looking commander. "How will ever the poor Major get through with the review to-morrow?" "O, there is no fear whatever of him, for he put the regiment through it tolerably this evening." "Through what, Sir—have you presumed to show him my manœuvres?" "Yes, Sir, but I thought there could be no harm in doing so, as——" "You thought, Sir—no harm, Sir. Go immediately, Sir, and bring back my manœuvres, and let Major —— make out a review for himself—he shall certainly not have mine."

The cards were consequently delivered up to their unselfish owner. But the Adjutant, who flattered himself, that he was also something of a manœuvrer,[Pg 190] though, at the risk of irritating the Lieutenant-Colonel, thought it would be well, before he should terrify the Major out of his senses with this awful intelligence, to sit down and concoct a very pretty review—one, at all events, which would show that the battalion knew how to act against an enemy in its front and rear, and probably upon both its flanks at the same moment. In short, he went that very night with a splendid plan, which he proudly and confidently displayed before the astounded Major; who, at last, after a good deal of trouble, made so far to comprehend it, that he was able next morning, at five o'clock, to put the regiment through it very tolerably. But this was rather sharp work upon all concerned; for the grand review was to take place at 11, A.M.—the Major was quite hoarse—and a new card had to be finely written out for the General.

The review came off admirably—the Major (his voice cleared by the yolks of eggs) was not often wrong; at least this was not observed, and it did not signify, as both officers and men had fully determined to do well, not only on the Major's account, but on their own.

At the long wished-for conclusion, the General came solemnly forward, and in front of the regiment, really covered the blushing, but exhausted, Major with praises and honourable acknowledgments, and approbation of his own and the corps' most admirable performances.

On the return of the Adjutant from the field, he, as[Pg 191] in duty bound, waited upon his Commanding officer. "I suppose, poor —— made a very pretty business of it to-day?" "A most admirable review; and I have, upon no occasion, ever seen the regiment do better; so much, so, that the General expressed in the strongest terms his admiration of our day's performance!"

This was quite enough, but the symptoms of the Lieutenant-Colonel's attack of bilious fever, were not alleviated by the account of the Major's unlooked-for success. Such were the men to whom the command of our regiments was too often confided, and who generally contrived to render soldiers indifferent to events, and reckless in their conduct.

I had the luck to be stationed in the West of Ireland under a General, who considered that nothing tended so effectually to make first-rate soldiers, as to accustom them to prolonged exposure, under arms, to deluges of rain, and to all kinds of weather; and certainly in that part of Ireland, there was no want of his favourite specific—rain. I must, however, at the same time acknowledge, that of this he himself took ample doses. Two other regiments, and the one to which I belonged, and a body of cavalry and artillery, formed his brigade; and the more gloomy and threatening the weather, the more certain were we of a repetition of the General's admired refrigerant system, for his practice in this line was extensive and unwearied; we had frequently, on such occasions, to take up favourite positions, and to make long and fatiguing excursions, over high sand-hills, which were some miles distant[Pg 192] from our cantonments. But, notwithstanding this excellent treatment, our soldiers did not become a whit the more water-proof; and many of them most provokingly went into hospitals with violent pains in their backs, bones, &c. and which, to the General's surprise, often terminated in fever.

How differently were Sir Thomas Brisbane's kindly feelings evinced for those placed under his care (indeed Sir Thomas Picton always wished his commanding officers to act in the same manner). No officer commanding a corps was allowed, under any pretence, to keep his men unnecessarily under arms, especially after a march. As soon as the soldiers reached their cantonments, or ground of encampment, they were ordered to be instantly dismissed, and allowed to go into their quarters or tents to take off their accoutrements, knapsacks, &c. so that they might as soon as possible recover from the fatigues of the march; for keeping men standing, after being heated, till they became chilled, was always found to be injurious to their health.

After the troops came down the river Plata from Buenos Ayres, we were kept in what our Generals chose to denominate, barracks afloat—that is to say—in transports off Monte Video. One of these great officers came unexpectedly on board our head-quarter ship, which was certainly kept in fine order. The moment he set his foot on deck he called for the officer of the day, who happened to be also the senior officer on board, and ordered him to show him all over the ship. I believe he must have been surprised at the man-of-war[Pg 193] style adopted, and at the extreme cleanliness and regularity of every thing (for even in spite of the remonstrances of the masters of the transports, as to their decks being ruined, the soldiers were kept constantly rubbing away with the holy stones), at all events, he found no fault, but unfortunately in passing the ship's coppers, he thought fit to demand what was in them, and being told rice for the soldiers' dinners, he, with great dignity and gravity, inquired of the alarmed officer the quantity of rice in them? The unlucky wight, not knowing well what to say, and being fully aware, that to betray ignorance upon such important points, was an unpardonable crime, answered at once, about 1000 pounds—terrible mistake, at least the threatened consequences were terrible—for this worthy coadjutor of General Whitelock, in an instant, set upon the unlucky miscalculator of boiled and unboiled rice, and declared that he had never met with such a downright ignorant blockhead in all his life; for the hold of the ship (and she was 700 tons burden) could not contain that quantity when boiled; "and now, Sir," continued this great commander, "I shall take care to make you suffer for such ignorance and inattention to your duty, and shall report your conduct upon this occasion to the Horse Guards, in order to have your promotion stopped." Whether he kept his word or not I cannot tell; but I am rather inclined to believe, that he had other matters to occupy his attention, on his return to England, which came more home to himself.

I could bring many more examples of this kind forward,[Pg 194] but I must no longer occupy the reader's attention with such frivolous matters.

But it is impossible to show in a more satisfactory manner, what was the state of a British army in the field than by giving, as I intend to do after a few observations, a letter from his Grace the Duke of Wellington to the Generals commanding divisions and brigades; yet, I trust it will not be deemed presumptuous if I venture to say that the real causes of irregularities and bad conduct on the part of soldiers, are not always perceived or ascribed even by men of the greatest talents and experience to the proper sources; but having, in the retreat from Madrid and Burgos, which is that alluded to by his Grace, had much to do with the part of the rear-guard under Sir Edward Pakenham, who then commanded the 3rd division of infantry, during the absence of Sir Thomas Picton, and having also seen a good deal on many other occasions, I hope I may be considered authorized to remark, that owing to the admirable management and unwearied exertions of Sir Edward Pakenham, the conduct of the division on that retreat was, I may say, tolerably good, except upon the night after we left Madrid; when many a pig was slain in the woods, and the lives of the staff and other officers of the division and brigades seriously endangered in their endeavours, under a sharp fire of musketry, kept up at these animals, to put a stop to such disorderly conduct on the part of the soldiers, as actually left the division, from the hunt having become almost general, at the mercy of the French, had they[Pg 195] known what we were about; for they were close at hand, and must have wondered what could have occasioned the uproar and firing in our camp. But what occurred, day after day, during the retreat amongst the numerous disorderly stragglers from the several divisions, some of whom, in spite of all that could be done, occasionally fell into the hands of the enemy, most clearly evinced very bad conduct on the part of the troops, and also a want of management somewhere; but the irregularities, his Grace laments, were comparatively nothing to what occurred in the retreat to Corunna. In this instance, also, the weather, as usual in Spain, in the month of November, was very severe, so much so, that some men who had been barely able to reach the resting, or rather halting place for the night, which was, perhaps, an open ploughed field, become quite a swamp from the rain, were in the morning found dead, from the effects of cold, wet, and want of sufficient food, much of which, from those having charge of it, not knowing in what direction to move, had gone astray; and in one instance, we, as rear-guard, obtained a supply of biscuit, by taking a quantity of it off the hands of a conductor of a brigade of mules, who, in a few minutes more, had he not been prevented, would have led them in amongst the enemy.

After the troops from Madrid and Burgos met, the army, when there were roads running nearly parallel to each other, marched generally in two columns; but I must say matters were not always well managed, and we had no properly organized police, who could have[Pg 196] promptly, when necessary, enforced discipline, for what were a few provosts with their infantry guards, generally accompanying the baggage? The columns sometimes unfortunately and probably unavoidably, came into contact with each other on the same road, occasioning a certain degree of confusion, which afforded opportunities for some of the soldiers to escape from under the eyes of their officers, however watchful they might be, and to become as usual irregular; and at other times the columns (probably also unavoidably), considering the state of the weather, the nature of the country, and the then bad roads, were at times too far asunder, and the communication not having been kept up as it should have been by either our cavalry or infantry, the army became liable to sudden and unlooked for events; and in one instance of this kind, I believe it was, that one of our generals was taken by a French patrole, that through mistake, occasioned by the rain, and a hazy state of the atmosphere, and a want of proper precaution on our part, had actually contrived to get in between our columns, certainly not very much to our military credit.

When his Grace's letter reached us after the retreat, the feeling of the officers commanding brigades and corps was, that, in this instance, if nothing were said about the pig hunt, the 3rd division, although a few of its soldiers had fallen into the hands of the enemy, did not deserve the censure pronounced against the army in general; and it was thought right that Sir Edward Pakenham should be waited upon, in order to induce[Pg 197] him to point out this to Lord Wellington, for they were besides hurt at the implied superiority of the French in even making fires and in quick cooking. Sir Edward, however, soon settled the matter, by declaring in his usually laconic manner, that "he would do no such thing," and adding, "let whoever the cap fits wear it."

They all knew well in what this supposed superiority of the French lay, for the truth was, they never hesitated to turn a town or village inside out, if it suited their purposes, or to pull down a house, or half a dozen of them, if necessary, so as to get dry wood for their fires, whereas our people had to be marched regularly under officers for beef, bread, water, and wood, and they had seldom any thing else for it, but to cut down, bring in, and use the green branches of trees as fuel to cook with. This accounts for the observable difference between the two armies, for when our soldiers occasionally, and when not a tree was to be seen, got a house or two to burn, which were always paid for, they could then cook as quickly as their practised foes.

"Sir, Frenada, Nov. 28th, 1812.

"I have ordered the army into cantonments, in which I hope that circumstances will enable me to keep them for some time, during which the troops will receive their clothing, necessaries, &c. which are already in progress by different lines of communication to the several divisions and brigades.

"But besides these objects I must draw your attention in a very particular manner to the state of discipline of the troops. The discipline of every army, after a[Pg 198] long and active campaign, becomes in some degree relaxed, and requires the utmost attention on the part of the general and other officers to bring it back to that state in which it ought to be for service; but I am concerned to have to observe that the army under my command has fallen off in this respect in the late campaign to a greater degree than any army with which I have ever served, or of which I have ever read. Yet this army has met with no disaster; it has suffered no privations, which but trifling attention on the part of the officers could not have prevented, and for which there existed no reason whatever in the nature of the service; nor has it suffered any hardships, excepting those resulting from the necessity of being exposed to the inclemencies of the weather at a moment when they were most severe.

"It must be obvious however to every officer, that from the moment the troops commenced their retreat from the neighbourhood of Burgos on the one hand, and from Madrid on the other, the officers lost all command over their men. Irregularities and outrages of all descriptions were committed with impunity, and losses have been sustained which ought never to have occurred.

"Yet the necessity for retreating existing, none was ever made in which the troops made such short marches; none in which they made such long and repeated halts, and none in which the retreating armies were so little pressed on their rear by the enemy. We must look therefore for the existing evils, and for the[Pg 199] situation in which we now find the army to some cause, besides those resulting from the operations in which we have been engaged.

"I have no hesitation in attributing these evils to the habitual inattention of the officers of the regiments to their duty, as prescribed by the standing regulations of the service, and by the orders of this army.

"I am far from questioning the zeal, still less the gallantry and spirit of the officers of the army, and I am quite certain, that if their minds can be convinced of the necessity of minute and constant attention to understand, recollect, and carry into execution the orders which have been issued for the performance of this duty, and that the strict performance of this duty is necessary to enable the army to serve the country as it ought to be served, they will in future give their attention to these points.

"Unfortunately the inexperience of the officers of the army has induced many to consider that the period during which an army is on service is one of relaxation from all rule, instead of being, as it is, the period during which of all others every rule for the regulation and control of the soldier, for the inspection and care of his arms, ammunition, accoutrements, necessaries, and his field equipments, and his horse and horse appointments, for the receipt and issue and care of his provisions, and the regulation of all that belongs to his food, and the forage of his horse, must be most strictly attended to by the officers of his company or troop, if it is intended that an army, and a British army in particular,[Pg 200] shall be brought into the field of battle in a state of efficiency to meet the enemy on the day of trial.

"These are points then to which I most earnestly intreat you to turn your attention, and the attention of the officers of the regiments under your command, Portuguese as well as British, during the period in which it may be in my power to leave the troops in their cantonments. The commanding officers of regiments must enforce the orders of the army, regarding the constant inspection and superintendance of the officers over the conduct of the men of their companies in their cantonments, and they must endeavour to inspire the non-commissioned officers with a sense of their situation and authority, and the non-commissioned officers must be forced to do their duty, by being constantly under the view and superintendance of the officers. By these means the frequent and discreditable recourse to the authority of the Provost, and the punishments by the sentence of courts-martial will be prevented, and the soldiers will not dare to commit the offences and outrages, of which there are too many complaints, when they know that the officers and non-commissioned officers have their eyes and attention turned towards them.

"The commanding officers of regiments must likewise enforce the orders of the army, regarding the constant real inspection of the soldiers' arms, ammunition, accoutrements, and necessaries, in order to prevent at all times the shameful waste of ammunition, and the sale of that article, and of the soldiers' necessaries.[Pg 201] With this view, both should be inspected daily.

"In regard to the food of the soldier, I have frequently observed and lamented in the late campaign, the facility and celerity with which the French soldiers cooked, in comparison with those of our army.

"The cause of this disadvantage is the same with that of every other description, the want of attention of the officers to the orders of the army, and to the conduct of their men, and the consequent want of authority over their conduct. Certain men of each company should be appointed to cut and bring in wood, others to fetch water, and others to get the meat, &c., to be cooked; and it would soon be found, if this practice were daily enforced, and a particular hour for seeing the dinners, and for the men dining named, as it ought to be, equally as for the parade, that cooking would no longer require the inconvenient length of time which it has lately been found to take, and that the soldiers would not be exposed to the privation of their food at the moment at which the army may be engaged in operations with the enemy.

"You will, of course, give your attention to the field exercise and discipline of the troops. It is very desireable, that the soldiers should not lose the habit of marching; and the divisions should march ten or twelve miles twice in each week, if the weather should permit, and the roads in the neighbourhood of the cantonments of the division should be dry. But I repeat, that the great object of the attention of the[Pg 202] general and field officers must be, to get the captains and subalterns of regiments to understand and perform the duties required of them, as the only mode by which the discipline and efficiency of the army can be restored and maintained during the next campaign.

"I have the honour to be, &c. &c.

(Signed)  "Wellington.

"To the Officer commanding  — Division."

The Duke of Wellington in this letter again accuses the officers of being, in a great measure, the cause of irregularities, by their neglect of duty; nevertheless, I still venture to attribute the bad conduct of the soldiers more particularly to what I am convinced was the chief cause, viz. the description of men they had to deal with. As a proof of this, we find what follows in a general order, dated Vizar, 28th February, 1810. "No. 6. The Commander of the Forces draws the attention of the soldiers of the army to the consequences of the crimes committed by the soldiers thus ordered for execution, under the sentence of a General Court-Martial. Cornelius McGuire, of the 27th regiment, and George Chambers, of the 88th regiment, committed a crime, which the Commander of the Forces is concerned to observe is too common in this army; they robbed and ill-treated an inhabitant of this country, whom they met on the road; a crime which the Commander of the Forces is determined in no instance to forgive.

"The soldiers of the army have been invariably well treated by the inhabitants of Portugal, and the frequent[Pg 203] instances which have occurred of their being robbed and ill treated, and of murder being committed, by soldiers who straggle from their detachments on a march, are a disgrace to the character of this army, and of the British nation.

"The Commander of the Forces is therefore determined, in every instance of the kind, that may occur, to have proof adduced of the crime committed, and the sentences of the General Courts-Martial, whatever they may be, shall be carried into execution.

"The Commander of the Forces is concerned to observe, that the crime committed by John McDonough, private in the 58th regiment, is no less common in this army, than robbery and murder, and in respect to this crime, (repeated desertion) he is equally determined to carry into execution, the sentences of the General Courts-Martial, whatever they may be."

We again find in a general order, dated Coimbra, 30th September, 1810, that four soldiers of the 45th regiment were found guilty, and sentenced to be executed, for stopping on the highway, assaulting, and robbing some Portuguese inhabitants, at, or near the bridge of St. Euphemia; and which sentence was confirmed by his Excellency the Commander of the Forces, but who was, as will be seen by what follows, pleased to pardon them. "No. 3. Although the Commander of the Forces has long determined that he will not pardon men guilty of crimes of which the prisoners have been convicted, he is induced to pardon[Pg 204] these men in consequence of the gallantry displayed by the 45th regiment on the 27th instant. (Battle of Busaco.) He trusts that this pardon will make a due impression upon the prisoners, and that by their future regular and good conduct, they will endeavour to emulate their comrades, who have, by their bravery, saved them from a disgraceful end."

I have already stated, that our soldiers certainly possess one redeeming quality, which is undaunted courage in battle; but how lamentable it was constantly to find that this was so much marred by irregularities and crimes, which invariably and instantly followed the most brilliant displays of it. As an instance of this, I beg to say, that upon the night of the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, I was in the trenches with the 45th regiment, which was destined to lead the assault of the main breach. Whilst waiting for the hour fixed upon for this purpose, an order arrived from Sir Thomas Picton, to form a forlorn hope. The officers commanding companies were therefore called together, and desired to bring to the head of the column, six men from each for the purpose. They soon returned, but to my surprise, unaccompanied by a single soldier, all of them declaring, that every man present volunteered for the pre-eminence, and they wished to know how they were to act, for that the oldest soldiers claimed it as their right. Well might officers be proud of such men, who could evince such a spirit with the breach, I may say, yawning for their destruction. The moment for the assault had however arrived—no[Pg 205] time could be spared—the officer commanding knew not well what to do, when the Captain of Grenadiers, (now Major Martin) who was there dreadfully wounded, put an end to all difficulties, by requesting permission to lead as he stood with his company at the head of the column. This was very reluctantly acquiesced in, but there was no time to make any other arrangements, and thus the regiment advanced rapidly, but compactly and in perfect order, towards the breach.

The outer edge of the ditch was soon reached. The 45th, stoutly supported by the 88th and 74th, the other fine corps composing the leading brigade, jumped in upon bags of hay thrown there by the sappers. At that instant a very loud and prolonged explosion took place, seemingly at the foot of the breach, which, providentially, the regiment had not then reached. This did not, even for a moment, stop their progress, and the rugged breach was ascended under a most destructive fire from all points. Many brave men had already fallen. The enemy's fire continued to be most ruinous, and to our horror we saw that the breach was completely cut off, and that there was no possibility of advancing or descending into the city. The left was first tried, but in vain; and although the loss of officers and men of the brigade, but especially of the leading regiment was very great, yet no one supposed that retracing our steps could even be thought of. I had just made my way back, but with great difficulty, from the left of the breach, when I met General[Pg 206] McKinnon, who commanded the brigade, and who had, by some means or other, contrived to get through the dense crowd below; and though I tried, amidst the uproar, to make him understand how we were situated, and that we could not gain ground to the left, yet he seemingly did not understand me, and went on in that direction. Whilst thus situated, another and a most dreadful explosion took place, which shook the ramparts like a powerful earthquake, and destroyed General McKinnon and most of those who had followed him. A short but fearful pause insued, when Brigade-Major Wylde suddenly appeared, coming greatly animated from the right, and pointing in that direction; all followed him with loud cheers, and I will venture to say, that he was the first man, who that night entered Ciudad Rodrigo. In their hurry in falling back from the breach, the French had not had time to remove a few planks laid across the cut to our right, and more were found on the other side; and thus by unflinching and persevering gallantry on the part of the leading brigade of the 3rd division, under a most appalling fire, the city was carried.

I make no remarks upon the gallantry of those employed at the smaller breach, but undaunted courage was unquestionably displayed upon this occasion by the soldiers; but all the corps engaged immediately broke away in search of plunder and liquor, or with the intention of enjoying themselves in every kind of irregularity and excess, and that too in spite of the utmost exertions of their officers, who could not for a[Pg 207] moment be supposed capable of countenancing their atrocities.

I found myself again with the 45th regiment, which had in so noble a manner volunteered the forlorn hope, and had led so gallantly into the breach. A great part of the regiment had been got together, by the officers' exertions, in a large building in which they posted themselves immediately after the city was gained. The officers had begun to flatter themselves, and even to say to each other, that the corps would surely in this instance gain great credit for its proper behaviour; but while some watched one door, and all thought they had the soldiers secure for once, and out of harm's way, they almost all contrived to escape by another, and the officers, however zealous, had nothing for it, but to arm themselves with patience and resignation. Nevertheless several of them were ordered out into the streets to endeavour to bring back the stragglers, but the horrors witnessed, and which could not by any means be prevented, were beyond belief or description. I well remember, looking on in dismay, at a party of these madmen, belonging to all the corps engaged, sitting round a table, in a large house, carousing, singing, cheering, and firing off their muskets. The windows were all open, so that we could see every thing that was going forward, for the house was in a blaze about them. I called aloud, and did every thing possible to induce them to come out, but all in vain; they neither listened to me, nor to several other officers who were equally exerting themselves to save them, and we even ran great risks of being[Pg 208] shot by these idiots, who continued drinking, singing, firing and cheering, and in which delightful occupations, I saw that they were most cordially joined by some of the French garrison.

This noise, however, and the reports of their muskets suddenly ceased; the roof of the building had fallen in, and they were all swallowed up amidst the ruins!

These wretched men were, I conclude, returned by their regiments as killed in the assault of the fortress.

Lord Wellington, I have reason to believe, ordered the 45th regiment, (then under the command of the present Major-General Sir Leonard Greenwell,) such was his opinion of their firmness, at the battle of Fuentes d'Onor, to receive in line, and without forming square, the enemy's cavalry then advancing in force towards them, if they should venture to charge. The experiment was not, however, made, for the French, I conclude, observing such a steady determined front presented to them, thought it wiser to retire, especially as they were at the time suffering severely from our cannon; but I have no doubt, as to what would have been the result, had they ventured to charge; yet this, if even successful, could not have been compared to the splendid achievement of the 5th regiment, in the famous retreat of the 3rd division from Elbodon to Guinaldo, in which I saw that corps receive the charge of the French cavalry steadily and firmly; to my delight and astonishment, however, they in turn charged them, and drove them down the hill with considerable loss. The 5th and 45th were, perhaps, as steady under arms, and as well conducted regiments as[Pg 209] any in the army; yet I have seen both led away at sieges, and upon other occasions, when opportunities presented themselves, like the rest. I feel, however, that I ought here to give Lord Wellington's orders issued immediately after the retreat alluded to.

"G.O.  Richosa, 2d October, 1811.

"No. 3. The Commander of the Forces is desirous of drawing the attention of the army to the conduct of the 2d battalion, 5th and 77th regiments, and the 21st Portuguese regiment, and Major Arentschild's Portuguese artillery, under the command of the Hon. Major-General Colville, and of the 11th Light Dragoons and 1st Hussars, under Major-General Alten, in the affair with the enemy on the 26th ult. These troops were attacked by between thirty and forty squadrons of cavalry, with six pieces of cannon, supported by a division consisting of fourteen battalions of infantry, with cannon.

"No. 4. The Portuguese artillerymen were cut down at their guns before they quitted them; but the 2nd battalion, 5th regiment, attacked the cavalry which had taken the guns, and retook them. At the same time the 77th regiment were attacked in front by another body of cavalry, upon which they advanced and repulsed them.

"No. 5. While these actions were performed, Major-General Alten's brigade, of which there were only three squadrons on the ground, were engaged on the left, with numbers infinitely superior to themselves. These squadrons charged repeatedly, supporting each other, and took above twenty prisoners; and notwithstanding[Pg 210] the immense superiority of the enemy, the post would have been maintained, if the Commander of the Forces had not ordered the troops to withdraw from it, seeing that the action would become still more unequal, as the enemy's infantry were likely to be engaged in it, before the reinforcement ordered to the support of the post could arrive.

"No. 6. The troops then retired with the same determined spirit, and in the same good order with which they had maintained their post—the 2nd battalion, 5th regiment, and 77th, in one square, and the 21st Portuguese regiment in another, supported by Major-General Alten's cavalry and the Portuguese artillery. The enemy's cavalry charged three faces of the square of the British infantry, but were beaten off; and finding from their repeated fruitless efforts, that the brave troops were not to be broken, they were contented to follow them at a distance, and with firing upon them with their artillery, till the troops joined the remainder of the 3rd division, and were afterwards supported by a brigade of the 4th division.

"Although the 21st Portuguese regiment were not actually charged by the cavalry, their steadiness and determination were conspicuous, and the Commander of the Forces observed with pleasure the order and regularity with which they made all their movements, and the confidence they showed in their officers.

"No. 7. The Commander of the Forces has been particular in stating the details of this action in the general orders, as, in his opinion, it affords a memorable[Pg 211] example of what can be effected by steadiness, discipline and confidence. It is impossible that any troops can, at any time, be exposed to the attack of numbers relatively greater than those which attacked the troops under Major-General Colville, and Major-General Alten, on the 25th of September; and the Commander of the Forces recommends the conduct of those troops to the particular attention of the officers and soldiers of the army, as an example to be followed on all such circumstances.

"No. 8. The Commander of the Forces considers Major-General Alten and Major-General Colville, and the commanding officers of the regiments under their command, respectively, viz. Lieutenant-Colonel Cummings, Lieutenant-Colonel Arentschild, Lieutenant-Colonel Broomhead, Major Ridge, and Colonel Bacellar of the 21st Portuguese regiment, and the officers and soldiers under their command to be entitled to his particular thanks, and he assures them that he has not failed to report his sense of their conduct in the action of the 25th September to those by whom he trusts it will be duly appreciated and recollected."

His Grace the Duke of Wellington very rarely bestowed such public praise upon any part of his army; yet how strange it was that soldiers who could, in the presence of their officers, behave so bravely and merit such encomiums should, when out of their sight, act so recklessly. I do not hesitate in saying that the officers of the army deserved more credit for whatever was found deserving of commendation in their men than[Pg 212] was usually allowed them. It was of old a common saying that, "with French officers and English soldiers the world might easily be conquered." Whatever slur this may have been intended to convey against British officers, it certainly no longer exists, and it could be easily proved that they are now second to none; and all they want is a superior description of men to act with, which the United Kingdom can easily furnish, and a better system for their guidance—a system which would allow them to treat those placed under them as beings endowed with reason, and not as mere pieces of machinery.

The castle of Badajoz, after three unsuccessful attempts, was at last carried chiefly through the wonderful exertions, persevering zeal and gallantry of the officers of the 3rd division, several of whom had waited, according to orders, just before the assault, upon Sir James Kempt, then one of its generals of brigade, when a plan of the castle was shown to them, and much pains taken to point out what was to be overcome in order to capture it; and it must have been obvious to those officers, that retreating, when once under the walls of the castle, was quite impossible, and this clearly shows that the idea of a false attack could never have been entertained; indeed it was talked of and considered by many of us as an enterprise fit only for the knight-errants of old.

To these explanations, and to the extraordinary perseverance and gallantry of the officers, I have always chiefly attributed the taking of the Castle of Badajoz[Pg 213] by the 3rd division. But in giving what follows, I cannot avoid again calling the reader's attention to the praises so justly due to the officers, and also to the soldiers for undaunted courage in following them; and I regret to say, to the censure, the next moment, so well deserved by the latter. It may be asked, why I persevere in making such severe remarks upon the conduct of our soldiers? I readily answer, that my only motive is to induce the country, if possible, to employ hereafter such men, as can be called out in the way I have proposed in our armies, and not the inferior and most difficult to be restrained part of our fine and warlike population.

"G.O.  Camp before Badajoz, 7th April, 1812.

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces returns his thanks to the general officers, officers and soldiers of the 3rd, 4th, and light divisions, to the Royal engineers and artillery, and to the Portuguese artillery, for their persevering patience and laborious industry, and the gallantry which they have uniformly manifested throughout the late siege of Badajoz.

"In thanking them for the uncommon gallantry displayed last night in the assault of the place, under the most trying circumstances, the Commander of the Forces must include among those the general officers, officers and soldiers of the 5th division."

"G.O.  Fuente Guinaldo, 16th May, 1812.

"No. 1. The Commander of the Forces has great satisfaction in communicating to the army the following extract of a letter from the Earl of Liverpool, one of[Pg 214] his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, dated Downing-street, 28th April, 1812:—

'His Royal Highness has commanded me to express to your Lordship the sense he entertains of the great services rendered to this country, and to her allies, by the reduction of Badajoz.

'The Prince Regent has perused with most sincere regret the long list of brave men who have suffered in this memorable siege, and particularly in the assault of Badajoz, on the night of the 6th instant. Never, perhaps, was immoveable intrepidity more imperiously required, and never was it more conspicuously and more gloriously displayed.

'The great proportion of officers of high rank who have bled in this tremendous conflict, affords an affecting proof of the zeal with which they pointed out the path of victory to their willing followers.

'The Prince Regent desires that your Lordship will receive his Royal thanks for your conduct throughout these important and arduous operations; and likewise that you would convey his thanks, in the most public manner to the general officers, the officers of engineers and artillery, and to all the officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, (both British and Portuguese) employed under your command, at the siege of Badajoz, for their distinguished services on this occasion, in which their superiority has been so unequivocally and nobly manifested.'"

But we must now, I am sorry to say, turn to the other side of the picture:—

[Pg 215]

"G.O. Camp before Badajoz, 7th April, 1812.

"No. 4. The regiments of the 5th division are to return to their bivouac by regiments, as soon as Lieutenant-General Leith will think proper, excepting the Royal Scots and 9th regiment, which are to remain in Badajoz as late this day, 'till the soldiers will have been turned out of the town and order will be restored."

"After General Order.  7th April 1812.

"No. 1. It is now full time that the plunder of Badajoz should cease, and the Commander of the Forces requests that an officer and six steady non-commissioned officers may be sent from each regiment, British and Portuguese, of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and light divisions into the town to-morrow morning at five o'clock, in order to bring away any men that may be straggling there.

"No. 2. The Commander of the Forces has ordered the Provost-marshal into the town, and he has orders to execute men he may find in the act of plunder after he shall arrive there."

"G.O. Camp before Badajoz, 8th April, 1812,
at 11 o'clock, p.m.

"No. 1. The rolls must be called in camp every hour, and all persons must attend till further orders.

"No. 2. Brigadier-General Power is ordered and held responsible that no British or Portuguese soldiers, except those belonging to the place, or having a passport from a field-officer, shall go into Badajoz till further orders.

"No. 3. The Commander of the Forces is sorry to hear that the brigade in Badajoz, instead of being a protection[Pg 216] to the people, plunder them more than those who stormed the town.

"No. 6. The Commander of the Forces calls upon the staff officers of the army and the commanding and other officers of regiments, to assist him in putting an end to the disgraceful scenes of drunkenness and plunder which are going on at Badajoz.

"No. 7. The Provost-marshal of the army, and the Assistant Provosts of the several divisions, are to attend there to-morrow at daylight and throughout the day.

"No. 8. Brigadier-General Power is requested to place 50 men, with officers in proportion, on guard at the gate of Elvas, and another of the same number at the breaches; and to prevent soldiers from entering the town, or from quitting it with bundles of any description.

"No. 9. British and Portuguese soldiers are forbid to go into Badajoz, and the Provosts are to punish those they may find there as being guilty of disobedience of orders, unless they have a pass signed by a field officer, or the commanding officer of the regiment."

This must surely open the eyes of the most incredulous as to the behaviour of our army; but even long before the Peninsular war the conduct of the British soldiers, wherever they had an opportunity of breaking loose, was much to be deplored, indeed nothing can show this more strongly than the following extracts from a modern publication, and for the correctness of which I think I could answer, from what I myself saw in South America.

[Pg 217]

"We took the cannon and turned them on the fugitives, after which we pursued them into Maldonado, and sweeping from house to house, were in five minutes masters of the town. Then followed a scene of barricading and plunder, such as I have no words to describe. While some ran to fill up the ends of the streets with barrels, cars, and household furniture, others broke into wine and spirit stores, or ranged through the dwellings of the inhabitants, carrying destruction and terror into all their quarters. For our commandant gave his people three hours license, and never surely did men make better use of the opportunities afforded them. It was in vain that the officers flew from cellar to cellar, knocking in the heads of casks, and pouring out the contents into the streets. The soldiers if they could not get at liquor elsewhere, dropped their canteens into the kennel and were soon in a state which set all subordination and discipline at defiance. It was well for us that the Spaniards did not think of returning to the attack. If they had done so, we should have been cut to pieces almost without resistance." We again read in the same publication, "Meanwhile the few among our people who were fit for duty, took the out-posts, and the rest slept where they had fallen down: some in houses, some in the streets, but all in a state of helpless intoxication. Under such circumstances, the night was, to those in command, an anxious one."

I think it must now be allowed, that the object I have in view has been effected; and that I have brought forward sufficient to sanction my entertaining a hope, that[Pg 218] the plans I have proposed for calling out men for our regular army may be deemed worthy of notice; and I also trust that after what I have shown to be the conduct of our soldiers, in spite of the utmost exertions of their officers, the idea of enlisting men at low bounties for the militia will be well considered before it is adopted.

[Pg 219]


The escalade of the castle of Badajoz, ought to be held up as an example to future commanders of such enterprises. Good maps, and plans of fortifications can almost always be purchased, or procured by some means or other, of any country about to become the scene of warfare. If they cannot be purchased in Great Britain, it ought to be the business of some department of the state to endeavour, if possible, to procure them; and the generals and staff of the army about to leave our shores should be furnished with correct copies of such maps; and when necessary, they should be referred to as official documents. All those therefore intended to be used, whether by the General commanding-in-chief, or by any general or staff officer, should be strictly alike; and how easy it would then be to direct the movements of bodies of troops, though even stationed at a distance, upon particular points by certain lines of march, and thereby to insure punctuality and correct performance of all the parts of a combined operation. And what a quantity of writing and explanation would thus be rendered unnecessary. I however repeat, that to the plan of the castle of Badajoz—which had been much strengthened during the time the French held it—and which was, I believe, obtained through the means of a deserter, I attribute our success in that very difficult enterprise;[Pg 220] for by it the officers were shown where to go, what they might expect to encounter, how they were to overcome the obstacles which would present themselves; and they were even encouraged to ask questions, and for explanations upon points which they might not clearly understand. How different was this to the display of consummate wisdom, by some of our chiefs at the attack upon Buenos Ayres in South America; who seemed, I must say, generally to have been selected because they possessed, to say the least of it, most overbearing manners, and truly Prussian ideas of discipline. A field-officer who was to command one of the wings of a regiment in that very injudiciously arranged undertaking, ventured to ask, how he was to act after reaching a certain point, which was a conspicuous building shown him—a general present on the occasion deigned to reply yet in any thing but an encouraging manner, and at the same time turning from the unlucky querist, to the Commander of the Forces—"General Whitelock, the city of Buenos Ayres will never be taken, if our time is to be occupied in answering silly questions." Now all the wings of regiments accomplished what was required of them, and it was entirely owing to such silly questions not having been answered, and to those bodies of gallant troops becoming isolated, and no communications being kept up, or orders sent for their farther proceedings, that the total failure of that ill-fated, and badly managed enterprise was chiefly to be attributed.

I hope I shall be forgiven if I presume to observe, that if the manner of carrying on war since the time of[Pg 221] Julius Cæsar has been necessarily changed, the spirit which a soldier should possess, and the attainments requisite for rendering an officer fit to command-in-chief, or even to be an able subordinate, are still the same.

The art of commanding, and of inspiring that confidence, which Cæsar possessed so transcendently, and which can make men fight, who are not much inclined to do so, are also still the same.

A General should not only have studied attentively the sciences which qualify him for his profession, but he ought also to be an experienced soldier. He should know, with due discrimination, how to appreciate men, and to employ them, so as to reap the greatest advantages from their various talents and acquirements, especially those which fit them for staff appointments. He should know how to act, so as to make the most of both the fear and love of those he leads. He should, like the Duke of Wellington, command the respect of mankind by the uprightness of his public dealings with them; even to the exclusion of his own family or intimates, from appointments, which he could have, even with apparent justice, bestowed upon them. He should possess that rapid coup d'œil, which would enable him in war to take advantage of any error in tactics, which his adversary might commit, and to avail himself of events to the utmost; and whilst he inspired all with confidence in his military skill, in his actions, and in the example he set others, he should not only teach, but also create in them ambition to resemble him.

[Pg 222]

The great Emperor Napoleon, possessed, as a soldier, many of these essential qualities; and carried along with him, not only the hearts and feelings of Frenchmen, but also those of the people of many other countries, even in his most ambitious aspirations; and, perhaps, no period of the world produced two men of greater or more opposite characters, views, and abilities, not only for the welfare of mankind, but also for their bane, than Wellington and Napoleon. In short, I look for talents, acquirements, and many perfections in a soldier, who aims at the distinction of commanding-in-chief, or even of holding a high staff appointment; and amongst others, that confidence in himself, not the fruits of presumption, but of matured experience, which a perfect knowledge of the art of war naturally produces.

How often in his intercourse with his troops did we find the Emperor Napoleon imitating Cæsar. At the battle of Jena, the infantry of the Imperial Guard could not, as he tells us, conceal their annoyance, when they saw all around them engaged, and they themselves kept only as spectators of the battle. He at last heard from many voices the words, "en avant." "What is that I hear?" said the Emperor, "Ce ne peut étre qu'un jeune homme qui n'a pas de barbe, qui peut vouloir préjuger ce que je dois faire; qu'il attende qu'il ait commandé dans treute batailles rangées avant de prétendre me donner des avis!"

As it may serve as a lesson to many a gallant soldier, and show him how to act, if ever it should be his fortune[Pg 223] to be similarly situated, I must now relate, and in as few words as I can, what I saw Sir Edward Pakenham achieve at the battle of Salamanca, in which, during the absence of Sir Thomas Picton, he commanded the 3rd division; and I am anxious also to give the reader some idea of its style of fighting. I shall not indulge myself in giving a description of the splendid movements of the two armies, useful as they might be to the young soldier, which took place previous to that battle—this has already been done by able military writers; and I shall only say, that the 3rd division crossed the Tormes in the forenoon of the 22nd July, and took up a position in the rear, and towards the right of our army. Here the troops commenced cooking, but from what I saw going forward in both armies, I did not expect that the soldiers would be allowed to eat their dinners in tranquillity. The ground we occupied was well selected, and offered many advantages to the part of the army intended to form a rear-guard; in case, as appeared very likely, that we were to fall back on Ciudad Rodrigo; and the manner in which Marshal Marmont manœuvred at the moment, evidently showed that his object was to force us to do so, under certain disadvantages. I, therefore, looking upon the 3rd division as intended for that rear-guard, fully expected hot work before long.

Thus situated, we were able to enjoy a delightful view of what was going on in both armies. We were not, however, destined to remain long mere idle spectators;[Pg 224] but, on the contrary, to take a most active and conspicuous part in the approaching action.

It might have been near two o'clock, when Lord Wellington, followed by some of his staff, galloped up to where the 3rd division was posted; and calling for Sir Edward Pakenham, he gave him certain orders in a very few impressive words, and Sir Edward's reply was quite in character.

Our camp kettles were in an instant overturned, and packed on the mules, which started for the rear; many looking blank enough at having lost their dinners; and venting their ire upon the stubble they had been obliged to use as fuel, and which had made the business of cooking so tedious.

The division was soon under arms, and moved off rapidly in open column, right in front, the 45th regiment leading. To me, as Brigade-Major of the right brigade, Sir Edward Pakenham, in his quick decided manner, pointed out the direction we were to take, and desired me to tell Colonel Wallace, 88th regiment, the officer in the temporary command of the brigade, to move on with as much rapidity as possible, but without blowing the men too much. We soon descended into a kind of valley, or rather hollow, and having brought up our left shoulders a little, we pushed on at a quick pace, but in excellent order, to the right; the side of the hollow towards the enemy concealing our movements from their sight.

The whole scene was now highly animating. The[Pg 225] left brigade, headed by the 5th regiment, was, I saw, marching parallel to the right, so as to be ready to form a second line. The Portuguese brigade followed the right, and the whole of the left flank of the columns was covered by a cloud of sharpshooters, composed of light infantry companies, and riflemen of the 5th battalion, 60th regiment.

Having moved a considerable distance in this order, (field officers and adjutants prolonging the line of march,) the head of the column, by bringing up the right shoulder, began gradually to ascend the hill, on the top of which we expected to find the enemy still extending to their left. At length, having fairly outflanked the French left, the whole formed line, and with Sir Edward Pakenham in front, hat in hand, the brigades advanced in beautiful style, covered by our sharpshooters, the right of the first line admirably supported by the left brigade.

The enemy's skirmishers and ours now set to work, yet we did not wait for their indecisive long shots; but advancing still rapidly and steadily, our right soon came into contact with their left, which had opened a very heavy and destructive fire upon us, and which would have lasted long enough had the brigade been halted to return it, but it was instantly charged and overthrown. It was now evident to us all that Sir Edward Pakenham knew how to handle Picton's division. But at this critical moment some of the enemy's cavalry charged in turn, and most gallantly, the right flank of the 45th regiment, but a well directed[Pg 226] fire from the 5th, which had been brought up, so as to be close at hand, removed all apprehensions in that point, and the enemy's infantry were quickly pursued, chiefly by Colonel Wallace, at the head of the 88th, whose impetuosity was found most difficult to restrain.

The division continued to advance; and though in motion, and still exposed to a heavy fire, order was soon restored in the ranks of the corps which had been so warmly engaged, and with Sir Edward Pakenham still in front, we were again ready for another dash at the enemy, who were trying to reform on a gentle height, a short distance in front of us. But how truly inspiring the scene had now become, and how "beautifully the practice" of Major Douglas's artillery was telling among the French! Another charge was intended; the French would not, however, stand, and retired in tolerable order, but most severely galled by our sharpshooters, who were close at their heels. They then took up another position, in which they were reinforced by a large body of their troops, and many guns, which opened on us.

We were not at the time aware that Marmont had been wounded; but I must say, that I was much surprised to see such a want of skill and combination in all their movements and arrangements; nor can I imagine what had become of their cavalry, for they ought before this to have endeavoured to check us, or it must have been obvious to them that their ruin was inevitable. But our dragoons, with General Le Merchant and Sir John Elley at their head, having come[Pg 227] up to us, the regiments were cautioned, that on no account were they to follow up the enemy when they should next force them to retire; but as soon as the height was carried, they were to halt, so as to admit of our dragoons charging with proper effect. It was now most animating to behold Sir Edward Pakenham. He had again taken off his hat, as he had done at the commencement of the battle; bare-headed, he rode in front, endeavouring by his gestures to restrain the too eager advance of the troops. We soon approached the enemy, who began to waver, being terribly shook by our admirable artillery, and the unceasing fire of our light troops. We at once saw that they would not stand our charge, but as they were going off we sent a rattling fire after them.

Under a heavy fire from their numerous and well-served artillery, and from a very large body of skirmishers, with which the French bravely endeavoured to cover their retreat, our noble dragoons now dashed at them, and such a scene instantly presented itself as has seldom been witnessed.

The 3rd division again advanced steadily. We saw before us our foes completely overthrown. Thousands of them were taken prisoners by the dragoons, numbers were cut down, and the remainder, in total deroute, were running as fast as their legs could carry them towards another height, where a considerable number of their troops were posted, and from whence they kept up a heavy fire upon the divisions engaged upon our left. They soon after, however, began to retire,[Pg 228] under a ruinous fire from our artillery and sharpshooters, who, intermixed with some of our dragoons, gave them not a moment's respite. Our loss, however, had been considerable, for the French, before they gave way, generally contrived to open a very heavy irregular fire upon us, which the battalions advancing in line, and with our light infantry in front, could not return, had it even been desirable that they should have done so. The 3rd division, thus aided and supported by our splendid dragoons, were, however, completely victorious. The enemy's left was entirely discomfited, carrying alarm and confusion amongst their centre and right; and just before darkness hid them from our sight, their right alone seemed to me to maintain any thing like order, though the whole still kept up a heavy fire upon the divisions of our army with which they were engaged. We had, however, committed one mistake, in following up the enemy, for we had inclined too much to our left, and had thereby thrown away the advantage we would have had in still acting even after dark, upon the French left and rear. Had the 3rd division been kept more to the right, instead of coming at dusk almost in rear of the troops engaged with the enemy upon our left; and had it, supported by our cavalry, continued to act even in the dark, I cannot imagine how the enemy could have been able to re-cross the Tormes.

The celebrated Lord Stair being asked by Voltaire, at the Hague, what he thought of the battle of Dettingen, in which he commanded the British under George the[Pg 229] Second, he replied, that the French had committed one great fault, and the allies two. That of the French was, that they did not know how to wait; and the allies, after having placed the French on the brink of ruin, did not profit by the victory they had gained. At Salamanca, French impatience and eagerness to force us to retreat, when we most likely would have done so had they let us alone, hurried them to their ruin; and it being probably unavoidable, that we should have halted on the field of battle for the night, afforded the French, after being completely defeated, time to escape.

I do not even attempt to describe the whole of the battle of Salamanca; and I know but little of the achievements of the other divisions of the army. No officer, actively occupied as I was, could possibly do so; and I have mentioned only what came more particularly under my own eye; and my great object in doing so, is to show the style of fighting the 3rd division was accustomed to, and which, I trust, will be imitated by our troops in future wars. I at the same time hope, that I have said enough to enable any one to understand and appreciate the part so nobly performed in that action by Sir Edward Pakenham. It may be also observed, that I have avoided saying more of particular corps, where all distinguished themselves, than I found to be necessary to make myself understood by the reader, but as the country cannot possibly remember what regiments then composed the 3rd or Picton's division, I shall here beg leave to record them.

[Pg 230]

{ 45th Regiment British } Under Major-General Sir
Thomas Brisbane, during
a considerable part of the
{ 74th do. do. }
{ 88th do. do. }
{ 5th Bat. 60th do. Germans }
{ 5th Regiment British } Under Major-General the
Hon. Sir Charles Colville,
during a considerable part
of the war.
{ 83rd do. do. }
{ 87th do. do. }
{ 94th do. do. }
{ 9th Regiment Portuguese } Under Maj-Gen. Sir Manley
Power, during the greater
part of the war.
{ 21st do. do. }
{ A batt. of Caçadores, do. }
Artillery Brigade of 9 pounders, British Major Douglas, do. do.

Sir Edward Pakenham, upon the retreat from Madrid, and subsequent to the battle of Salamanca, and whilst still in the command of the 3rd division, issued the following orders, which those who had the honour and pleasure of his acquaintance, will at once know as characteristic of him. These orders also confirm, if farther confirmation is wanted, the opinions I have expressed of the conduct of the men who composed our armies.

"D.O.  Guinaldo, 26th November, 1812.

"No. 2. This approval and divisional order of punishment is to give publicity to the example, and to convince the soldiers that no delay from the circumstances of service, shall prevent punishment falling on the individual, who shall basely absent himself from his post or company, when in movement before the enemy.

"No. 3. The 3rd division of infantry has often been led against the enemy's troops, and as often has defeated them. The manly spirit which the officers and soldiers have shown on these occasions has been worthy of record. And it is the more unaccountable, how men of[Pg 231] those corps could, by want of perseverance, allow themselves to fall into the power of that enemy, on a limited retreat, who was unable to take them in the field.

"No. 4. The[1] absentee list is large, and in proportion is discreditable to every corps to which it relates, and which future discipline and efforts on this point of service, is the only means now left to remove."

"D.O. Moimenta de Beira, Jan. 20, 1813.

"No. 1. Major-General the Honourable Charles Colville proposes to assume the command of the 3rd division on the 23rd instant. All reports from that date are to be addressed accordingly.

"No. 2. When superseded, Major-General Pakenham is to join the 6th division.

"Although he cannot allow himself the liberty to regret leaving the 3rd division from a due obedience to orders; the Major-General wishes to be understood, that he will know how to value the corps that compose it, and to remember the personal notice he has acquired from the splendid conduct of those corps in the field, a notice to which, under other circumstances, he could have had no pretensions.

"No. 3. As good conduct commonly commands good fortune, General Pakenham expects to hear of the 3rd division's fair fame, each opportunity bringing new acknowledgments in additional thanks from England; and the increased dread of her inveterate enemy."

[Pg 232]

I believe that I should have, earlier in this work, protested against its being supposed, when I stated, that I considered our army to be deficient in good system in many points, that I have presumed to say, that there were not employed upon the staff of Lord Wellington's army, scientific and able officers; for it was well known, that many of them, as well as our generals, had become excellent; but it was in the school of experience, that most of them had received those lessons which made them so; and what they chiefly wanted was greater assistance, especially from a police force, in performing their duties, and a sufficiently comprehensive and well considered system for their guidance. I will also venture to say, that we were quite equal, and, in some points, even superior to the French in this branch of military service; and the extraordinary mistakes which they often committed, fully justify me in saying so.

Probably the severe check which Massena's army had received at Busaco, had rendered him and his état-major more cautious than Napoleon's officers were reported to be; but could any thing have possibly been more surprising, than after they had found out the strength of the lines of Torres Vedras to be so great as to deter them from venturing an attack, that they should have remained a single day, much less a whole winter in front of them, exposing their fine army to the ruinous Fabian system adopted by Lord Wellington, who by the steady and composed front he displayed, whilst the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo was going forward, and by the lesson he gave them at Busaco, must have told[Pg 233] them plainly enough what they were to expect. Surely Massena, his generals, and état-major should have come to the conclusion, either to attack, at all hazards, these lines, or that they ought instantly to have made arrangements for falling back into Spain upon their resources, which they very likely might have been able to do undisturbed by us, from the melancholy state in which Portugal then was.

Had the two armies changed positions, and I think I am fully borne out in what I am going to assert by the line of proceeding adopted by Lord Wellington at the Nivelle and at Toulouse, I have no doubt but he would have attacked Massena, and carried the lines of Torres Vedras, strong as they were represented to be. Some points in such intrenched, or fortified positions, may always be carried by concentrated attacks of brave and ably directed troops, like the British and French, when generally the whole of the defences, constructed probably at great expense and labour, must be abandoned, and at all events an attack, if even unsuccessful, could not have been so disastrous to the French as the effects of want of cover, a short allowance of unwholesome food, naturally producing diseases and causing many deaths amongst them, all of which they experienced during the winter, miserably and uselessly spent by them before the lines of Torres Vedras, and in their ultimate retreat from Portugal, when the whole of the country, north of the Tagus, was completely, imprudently, but unavoidably laid waste; thereby proclaiming to the world, that the idea of attacking[Pg 234] the Duke of Wellington there, at any future period, had been abandoned.

In the next place, and in farther illustration of the inefficiency of the French état-major, I beg to ask, was not the extension of the French left till it became weakened, and of which Lord Wellington so ably availed himself, a great error on the part of Marmont, or rather of his staff, at the battle of Salamanca? Could Marshal Soult and his état-major not have been aware of our situation before the battle Toulouse, when our pontoon bridge was unavoidably removed, or it would have been carried away by the floods in the Garonne, and by the masses of timber, &c. sent down, I conclude, by the Marshal's orders; and when part of our troops, having previously crossed, were left apparently at his mercy—and that of his whole army: and why was not advantage taken of such a favourable opportunity to attack us? For I cannot imagine, that Soult's prudence in reserving his army for the defence of the field works about Toulouse, ought to be looked upon as an excuse for his not having done so, and for what I am more inclined to attribute to his, or his staff's want of intelligence. Picton, his generals, and his division had certainly made up their minds to fight lustily on that occasion; and, having only a short time before, single handed, disposed handsomely of two French divisions at Vic Bigore, even when fighting in their own favourite manner—skirmishing on a large scale—certainly did not diminish their confidence in themselves, and in their chiefs, who I firmly believe,[Pg 235] would have liked nothing better, had the light division been only within a reasonable distance of them, than to have contended with Soult and his whole army. Every precaution was, however, taken, and preparation made for the expected attack; for we were well aware of the situation in which circumstances, that could not have been foreseen, had placed us, and that we could only look for assistance from our splendid artillery, supporting effectually our right by firing across the Garonne. Soult, his generals, and état-major, however, allowed the opportunity to escape, but in a few days after, this very confidence in himself, and in his division, was the cause of Sir Thomas Picton receiving at Toulouse a severe check—the only one instance, as well as I remember, in which the 3rd division was ever repulsed, or rather obliged to be brought back from an assault during the whole war.

I had every reason to suppose Sir Thomas Picton was aware that the passage of the canal could not be forced, and that the very point he was induced to attack, was covered by a tête du pont, and another field work which the enemy had recently constructed. I believe he was told that the passage could be easily forced; but this, as the result, and a careful examination afterwards proved was impossible. But it was most mortifying, indeed, to the 3rd division, that its last feat in arms, and after so long and brilliant a career, should have terminated in a failure, and in the loss of many gallant officers and men killed and[Pg 236] wounded, and amongst the latter Sir Thomas Brisbane, who had so often before led on his brigade to victory.

But I must give another conspicuous instance, out of many which might be adduced, in support of what I assert respecting French generals and staff; but I beg in the first place, to ask what could be more extraordinary than their evident want of knowledge of the country, and even of preparation for the battle of Vittoria? For I cannot suppose that the French Commander-in-Chief and his état-major could have been ignorant of our vicinity, or of the positions we occupied the evening before the action; or, in the second place, could they have calculated upon Lord Wellington not venturing to attack their fine army, when concentrated under so many renowned chiefs.

The Duke of Wellington had adopted an excellent plan, which ought to be followed by all commanders of armies, of never issuing his orders or instructions, for any movement or object of importance, until within a very few hours of the time at which they were to be executed, so that the enemy could not possibly know, either through spies, or by any other means, what he intended to do the following day; it was therefore towards the middle of the night of the 20th of June, 1813, that I received from an orderly dragoon, as senior staff officer in camp, for the 3rd division, the following concise and excellent instructions, or order of battle for the morrow.

[Pg 237]

"Arrangements for the movements of the Army, the 21st of June.

"Subejana de Murillos, June 20th, 1813.


"The 3rd division, followed by the 7th division, will move (marching by the left of divisions), at day break, and will proceed near the village of Anda, and thence (turning to the right) towards the village of Los Questos, on the road from Anda to Vittoria.

"On approaching Los Questos, this column will throw out detachments to the right towards Mancharez, to put itself in communication with detachments, which will be thrown out from the left of the column which moves upon the village.

"Lieut.-General the Earl of Dalhousie will have the immediate command of the column composed of the 3rd and 7th divisions.

"The baggage of these divisions will remain sufficiently in the rear of the troops, not to become an embarrassment to the column under any circumstances.

"The left column of the army (divisions moving by the left) must move from Murquia towards Vittoria. Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Graham will put himself in communication as soon as possible with the column of the 3rd and 7th divisions, at Los Questos, and these divisions will therefore throw out parties when near Los Questos, towards Murquia, to facilitate this communication.

"The movements of the two columns on the left,[Pg 238] viz. the Earl of Dalhousie's and Sir Thomas Graham's, are to be regulated from the right; and although these columns are to make such movements in advance as may be evidently necessary to follow the progress of the two columns on their right (that moving on Mancharez and Sir Rowland Hill's), they are not however to descend into the low grounds towards Vittoria on the great road, nor give up the advantage of turning the enemy's position, and the town of Vittoria by a movement to their left. This part of the instructions more particularly applies to the column under the orders of Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Graham.

"All communications intended for the Commander of the Forces, are to be sent to the column composed of the light division and the troops which follow it, which is the column which moves on Mancharez.

(Signed) "G. Murray, Q.M. General."

About the dawn of day on the 21st of June, 1813, the 3rd division moved off under its chief, Sir Thomas Picton, to perform perhaps more than the part assigned it in the splendid scenes with which we were about to treat our spectacle-loving foes. I went on with the advance, consisting of our Light Infantry companies, and the 5th battalion 60th German riflemen, all experienced troops, and well acquainted with and accustomed to their work. To my surprise, and I believe that of Sir Thomas Brisbane, and many others, we met with no opposition in passing the Zadorra, on the banks of which, as is well known, the Black Prince, in olden times, astonished his foes, not only by his own valour[Pg 239] and knightly bearing, but also by the deeds of such soldiers as I wish to bring into the ranks of our regiments, and of whom there are still abundance in Great Britain and Ireland. I must however here take the liberty to remark, that I have often since wondered, why Lord Wellington did not allude, just before the troops went into battle, to what history tells us was by that gallant prince achieved on the ground which then lay before us. Napoleon, and I think Nelson also, would have done so; but Lord Wellington, perhaps less enthusiastic, very likely considered that his army required no such incitement to perform what he looked upon as merely their duty. I believe I am not wrong, but I have always fancied this seeming want of enthusiasm, to be a kind of defect in the Duke of Wellington, for it certainly has had at all times, and in all situations, when judiciously worked upon, a most surprising influence upon the minds and hearts of mankind in general.

Whilst the troops were passing this, in a military point of view, formidable object, over some very narrow bridges, I again went on some distance, and even in front of our light troops, to ascertain, if possible, what might be before us, for by this time Lord Hill was sharply engaged considerably to our right, and we began strongly to suspect, that the French still intended to be for once patient, and to deceive us; so much so, that I every instant expected to see their masses and cannon crown the rising ground just before us, prepared[Pg 240] to attack us, whilst still embarrassed in the passage of the deep, high banked, but narrow river.

I very soon observed on the more distant heights a few videttes, whose attention seemed entirely attracted to their left, in which direction the firing had greatly increased.

Sir Thomas Picton and his generals were also soon aware of the mistake the French had evidently committed in neglecting or overlooking this essential position; Sir Thomas therefore (for I know not what had become of Lord Dalhousie and the 7th division) with his usual impetuosity, pushed his light troops, cannon and columns, rapidly for the unoccupied heights, of which he got possession without firing a shot, and before the enemy seemed to be aware of their importance; or else they had erroneously calculated, that the natural difficulties we should encounter at the Zadorra would either greatly delay, or perhaps deter us altogether from advancing in the direction we had taken. As soon, however, as they saw what we had achieved, and which threatened them with such ruinous consequences, they quickly brought forward a large body of troops of all arms, to recover what they ought never to have lost. A desperate struggle ensued, especially in a village just behind the heights, and which ought to have been guarded with the utmost care by the French, being an important point in their position; but Sir Thomas Brisbane, with his brigade, after a severe contest, and by turning their left with his right regiment,[Pg 241] had got full possession of it, and the fate of the battle was thus, I may say, in a moment decided, for their centre being forced, the wings, especially the left, had also to give way, and to my delight, I beheld at this critical moment, our old and often tried friends, the light division, coming on in our own style, upon our right, carrying all before them.

When we had repulsed the enemy, who had fought very gallantly, from the village, and were again advancing upon them in the usual manner of the 3rd division, Lord Wellington rode up to us, followed by his staff; and he knew well how to profit from what had been, at least to us, so unexpectedly accomplished.

There was much hard fighting after this, and many brilliant feats were performed by the three brigades, in following up the French, who were so hard pressed, that even before they reached Vittoria, they were unable to offer any effectual resistance to our continued and impetuous attacks.

I apprehend, as will appear by referring to the instructions from Sir George Murray, that this was not the manner in which it had been intended that the action was to have been fought; and I even fear that I am not borne out in my statements by the Gazette account of it; but I feel convinced they can be corroborated by many, and I think I owe this detail of the part it performed to the 3rd division and its chiefs. I have, however, no intention of farther detailing what occurred between us and the French during the remainder of that eventful day; yet I must observe, that[Pg 242] the loss of the 3rd division, in consequence of Sir Thomas Picton's perhaps too rapid advance, was great in officers and men; for undoubtedly he had thus drawn upon it the brunt of the battle; but my chief object, in at all alluding to it, was to shew that the French Marshal, who commanded under Joseph, and his état-major, committed great errors, especially in neglecting, or not understanding their position, and which in the end became irretrievable and ruinous to their brave army.

Towards the close of this battle, and when I thought the 3rd division had got well through its day's work, in the usual manner, and when the part of the French infantry before us were going off in hopeless and irretrievable confusion, intermixed with their baggage, their cavalry suddenly appeared before us, presenting a firm and most imposing front. Our cavalry—I think they were all light—had now got in front of us, in considerable force; it was therefore evident, that an important moment in the battle approached; and as Sir Thomas Brisbane was anxious to see how our cavalry would accomplish a charge, which we concluded must be made, I most willingly went on with him some distance before his brigade, still advancing in column. Our cavalry went on bravely to the attack, but the French did not wait to receive it: on the contrary, they advanced boldly, rapidly, and in fine order, to meet our people. The shock was severe. But I soon saw, and I believe so did my general, that it was high time for us to be off to the infantry, for I[Pg 243] must confess that the battle of Marengo flashed across my mind at the instant. We soon rejoined the brigade, when commanding officers of corps were requested to keep them well in hand, and ready, if necessary, to form squares. But the French seemed to have accomplished what they had in view; that is to say, to cover the retreat of their discomfitted infantry.

Having, in the course of this work, occasionally touched upon military tactics and arrangements, I must, in corroboration of what I ventured to say with regard to the Duke of Wellington and Massena at the lines of Torres Vedras, and in farther proof that the French were not superior to us as tacticians, here allude briefly to what occurred upon the Nivelle. Let the reader cast his eyes over a good map of the country, or rather a plan of the action, which bears that name, and which may be seen in Colonel Jones's account of the Peninsular war; and let him consider and calculate upon the apparent consequences of an attack upon a position of such strength, taken up after due examination by Soult, and covered by his directions, with strong and well planned redoubts, mutually supporting each other; and I think he will admit that the French lines upon the Nivelle, and those held by our army at Torres Vedras were not very dissimilar. It could not also have been unknown to Massena, that a very great part of the troops under Lord Wellington were untried Portuguese, destitute of military reputation; and which had only been recently placed under British officers.

[Pg 244]

It is not to be supposed, that the commander of a French army was without information, or that he was not allowed to incur the expense of employing spies, or otherwise obtaining intelligence; I cannot, therefore, imagine he was entirely ignorant of the preparations making by his adversary for his reception at Torres Vedras; and he might also have learnt that the redoubts and lines of connection in that position could not be finished by the time he might arrive before it. If, therefore, he were to advance at all into Portugal, he undoubtedly should have made his arrangements for attacking the lines of Torres Vedras the moment he could reach them; but whether what I have stated was known or not to Massena, he had probably been spoiled by too much good fortune, until it was his fate to meet Lord Wellington in the field.

But how did the Duke of Wellington act when nearly similarly situated to what Massena was before the lines of Torres Vedras?

His army was encamped in the month of November in the Pyrenees, exposed in crowded tents, to severe sufferings, from cold, rain, and snow, enough to make any men, and especially British soldiers, anxious to fight three times their numbers, or to storm all the redoubts or intrenched camps in the world in order to get out of such a situation, and some even fancied that his Lordship kept them there with that intention.

I partook along with the brigade to which I was attached, and with the rest of the 3rd division, of the comforts of that encampment in the Pyrenees. On the[Pg 245] 9th of November I was sent for by Sir Thomas Brisbane, and I think he will remember the awful kind of cavern, with the torrent rushing through it at Zugarramurdi, in which he gave me directions for bringing down the division to where it was to remain, until the hour should arrive for its advance, under Sir Charles Colville, against the lines of the Nivelle. I scrambled back to the camp, leading my horse the greater part of the way, which was an excellent climber; but I had to look well about me, for by this very path, if it deserved the name, I was to bring down, as soon as it became dark, the fighting division; every individual of which then in camp being perfectly ignorant, that the moment was at hand, when they were to resign the comforts which they had there enjoyed. At the hour fixed upon, the bugle sounded for the troops to get under arms, and in twenty-five minutes more, the usual time allowed, the right brigade, followed by the other two, commenced the descent, the whole being cautioned to look carefully, if they could in the dark, to where they placed their feet. The baggage was to remain upon the ground, and to follow by another circuitous road, when ordered, in the morning, after some hours of pretty hard work, we at last found ourselves at Zugarramurdi, through which the division passed, and the brigades, in contiguous columns, were allowed to repose upon the ground for the remainder of the night, under the canopy of heaven, and until the hour for assaulting the redoubts and entrenchments arrived. Of course the same difficult operation had been performed unknown to the enemy, by the other divisions of the army, for the third had not[Pg 246] advanced far when the cannon on our left belonging to Sir Lowry Cole's division, announced that others as well as ourselves were awake; and when day dawned, our army, to the right and left of us, was seen moving in most perfect order to make combined attacks upon the enemy's entrenchments.

I have been so far minute to show in how able a manner Lord Wellington's arrangements were invariably made for combined movements; but I have no intention of entering into a detail account of the action; and shall only say, that at night, the 3rd division, having carried the redoubts and entrenchments before them, and having accomplished, as usual, the work assigned them, found themselves beyond St. Pé; and we were able to congratulate ourselves that Lord Wellington had at last thought fit to allow us to find a way into a part of the country blessed with a more genial climate than the Pyrenees. Had Massena acted thus at Torres Vedras, there is no saying what might have been the result, for the Portuguese, as I before observed, were then young and inexperienced as soldiers, and but little to be depended upon, had the parts of the position occupied by them been assailed by the French.

It was an extraordinary occurrence in the action upon the Nivelle that a redoubt carried by our 88th regiment should have been defended by the greater part of the French 88th, the latter thus becoming prisoners to the former. And it was likewise the fate of the French 45th at Talavera to have been nearly destroyed by the fire of ours, as was ascertained by the numbers of killed and wounded left upon the ground,[Pg 247] and also by the late Major-General Guard (who then commanded our 45th), who was left amongst the wounded at Talavera when our army retreated after the action.

I believe it is an axiom in war, at least it ought to be, that no extended position—fortify it as you please—can be held for any length of time against a properly combined movement of good troops. Had not we to fall back through the Pyrenees before Soult, and did we not find ourselves unable to make any effectual stand before him till we reached the ground in front of Pampeluna? Sir Thomas Picton certainly, the previous evening, checked the French for a short time; but after a night's march we found ourselves in the excellent position selected by him, and in which, when our army was more concentrated, we were able to frustrate all Soult's efforts, great as they were.

I must not here omit remarking, that it was insinuated, and even believed by many, that if Lord Wellington had not arrived in time, followed by a part of the army at this position, Sir Thomas Picton intended to have abandoned it, and to have retired behind Pampeluna, and thereby would have removed our blockading force, and thrown it open to Soult.

I can positively say that he had no such intention, and I feel I ought to make this assertion, if it were only in justice to Sir Thomas Picton's military reputation, and I know I can be borne out in it. I had been particularly employed with the 3rd division in originally forming the blockade of Pampeluna; that is to say, in taking up with the troops the positions to be[Pg 248] occupied around it, and Sir Thomas Picton was aware that, in consequence, I was likely to be well acquainted with the various roads in the neighbourhood; he therefore sent for me on the night previous to the day upon which it was insinuated that he intended to have abandoned the position. He told me he expected to be attacked by Marshal Soult in the morning, that he was determined to stand his ground; but wished to know, if, before Lord Wellington could come to his assistance, and if such a misfortune should happen as that of his being obliged, by very superior numbers, and the unforeseen events of a battle, to fall back, if I was sufficiently acquainted with the roads around the city to enable me to undertake, under such circumstances, to conduct the troops, so as to keep them out of the range of the cannon upon the ramparts of the city. I replied, that I knew the roads sufficiently for the purpose, and was about to retire, when he repeated his determination to maintain his position, and even betrayed a kind of feeling of delight at the idea of giving Soult and his army battle, with only the few troops he could oppose to him, until the arrival of Lord Wellington.

Almost at this moment, as I learnt afterwards, an engineer officer (I don't remember his name) arrived to report himself, who had been looking for the 3rd division amongst the mountains; I think he said he had been sent to supply the place of Colonel Burgoyne, who had been taken ill, and was obliged to go to the rear. Sir Thomas, who at such a time, would have wished not to be plagued by a stranger, desired him, partly,[Pg 249] it was fancied, with the intention of getting rid of him, to go and find out the different roads leading to the rear of Pampeluna; and I have often since wondered if in this could have originated the silly story of Sir Thomas Picton's intention of abandoning the position in which the battle was fought, and in which the 3rd division performed its usual brilliant part.

I think it but fair next to mention, that the dispositions made by the French at Orthes, were not only superior to what we usually met with, but they also fought that battle with seemingly more confidence in themselves, and in their chief, than they had latterly done. For some time after the action commenced, neither the 3rd nor 4th divisions, whose movements came more particularly under my observation, were able to gain any ground to their front, or to set properly to work; indeed, it was next to impossible for the former to advance, the position before them being judiciously and most formidably occupied by a considerable part of Soult's army; and we were aware that the moment we should attempt to go forward, we would have been taken in flank by a large body of troops, of whom part held very strong ground, and part possessed a wooded ravine, which separated the 3rd from the 4th divisions. We were thus most provokingly brought to a complete stand, exposed to a heavy cannonade, and also to the fire of the infantry in our front; and the French troops will fire away in that manner, and usually with considerable effect, as long as their opponents please.

[Pg 250]

Sir Thomas Brisbane saw plainly how his brigade, the most advanced of the three, was situated; and though most anxious to push forward to assail the enemy, so well posted in his front, and to fight as the 3rd division always did, yet in this state of things, it would have been decidedly wrong to have done so. I was carefully observing what the French before us, as well as those hitherto successfully opposed to the 4th division, were about; and seeing a body of cavalry assembling behind the infantry, with which we were more particularly engaged, I pointed them out to Sir Thomas Brisbane, who took such steps as he thought necessary in case of their venturing to charge us. Impolitic as it was, with such a large force to contend with, it was evident that there was nothing for it, but to detach some companies into the ravine, to drive out the French skirmishers, who invariably took in flank the 4th division, in the several gallant attempts successively made on the narrow tongue of land, by the regiments composing it, to get forward. I conclude Lord Wellington saw how the two divisions were situated, and sent a considerable part of the light division to our support, and to clear the ravine; and to my delight, I saw Sir Andrew Bernard coming on at their head for that purpose.

He soon completely scoured out the ravine, in the style the light division were accustomed to do every thing they undertook; and it was then no longer difficult for the 3rd and 4th divisions to advance, and in a few minutes, the advantageous ground, upon which[Pg 251] the French had made so brave a stand, was in possession of the leading brigade. A chase then commenced, during which it was found very difficult to restrain the ardour of the troops, and had it been deemed advisable for our cavalry to have charged sooner than they did, the loss of the enemy must have been much greater than it was reported to be.

I have been again rather minute in detailing the part performed in this battle by the 3rd division, as I wish to attract attention to the mode of fighting invariably practised, and with so much success, by Sir Thomas Picton, who would have thought but little of any commander of a brigade or regiment who did not instantly, but in compact order, push forward upon the enemy; a mode of fighting which he knew to be most suitable to British soldiers and the least relished by their foes, who would always have preferred firing away, either skirmishing or even in line.

It was not in the power of the British armies either at Talavera or Waterloo (the actions which most resembled each other in fighting under a heavy fire,) to go forward in the manner I have mentioned against the French; and our losses were, consequently, in both these actions, very great from the enemy's fire.—Since the battle of Fontenoy, in which a long-continued steady advance of British troops, in compact order, effected such wonders, and which would have been completely successful if supported by the Dutch and the rest of the Duke of Cumberland's army, down to the present day, I cannot find that the style of fighting[Pg 252] practised in the 3rd division was ever unsuccessful; but, on the contrary, was always attended with the best results, and even with much less loss than would have been sustained in any other mode of acting: I therefore trust I may be pardoned for having endeavoured to illustrate the correctness of the opinion I entertain in this respect, not only by what I have related of the battle of Orthes, but also by the rather minute description I ventured to give of the achievements of the 3rd division at Salamanca.

But even in acting as skirmishers on a large scale, when Sir Thomas Picton's division had, at Vic Bigore, to contend with two French divisions, each at least equal in number to the 3rd, the same system of fighting was, as far as practicable, observed. Besides the 5th battalion 60th, a battalion of Portuguese caçadores and our light infantry companies, whole regiments, (and here we felt the want of knowledge of light infantry movements in all corps,) only retaining some companies in reserve and for support, were engaged as sharpshooters. They were, however, constantly pushed forward upon the French, and recommended not to throw away their fire in long shots, but rather, as much as possible, to endeavour to close with them; and if a halt was any where perceived in any part of the advancing skirmishers a staff officer was invariably sent to the point to ascertain the cause. The French, therefore, invariably gave way, and in their confused retreat they became exposed, in running from one enclosure to another, to the fire of our troops. After driving them[Pg 253] for a considerable distance before us in this style, the coming of night stopped our career, but had we stood and fired, as usual upon such occasions, this brilliant feat of the 3rd division would never have been heard of. At dark, Lord Wellington came up to Sir Thomas Brisbane's brigade, which was still warmly engaged.—He wished to know how the French, we had so long followed up, were situated; but so thickly wooded, enclosed, and covered with vineyards was the neighbourhood of Vic Bigore, near to which this splendid affair terminated, that it was impossible to give him any information about them.

A soldier of the 88th, hearing what had been said, volunteered to get up into a tree, and thereby to make himself an object to be shot at. This he accomplished with some difficulty, and being asked what he could see; replied, "Och, nothing but them wearisome vineyards, and bad luck to them, and a power of their scrimigers." Night closed the scene, the firing had ceased. The French sentinels and ours being posted not twenty yards from each other, they, as usual, thought no more of strife; but in the course of the night, the enemy silently and quietly moved off towards Tarbes. The day following we crossed the Adour at that town. Picton was again advancing against the enemy, whose right having been turned by the divisions on our left, they were marching, or rather running in great confusion along the road, which passes through a wooded height above Tarbes to Tournay. Sir Thomas Brisbane's dispositions were[Pg 254] even made to have had a dash at them; when an order, which greatly surprised us, came for the troops to halt, when without almost meeting with any resistance, we must have cut off and taken vast numbers of the fugitives, who were thus allowed to "live to fight another day." Upon receiving this order to halt from Sir Thomas Picton's aide de camp, (who was questioned in order to ascertain if he was sure he was correct in the message he delivered) I went back to find out what could possibly have occasioned it. I soon met Sir Thomas, and venturing cautiously to express my regret at such an opportunity having been allowed to escape, of intercepting so considerable a number of the enemy's troops, he replied, "That is no fault of mine; but go now, Sir, and desire your general to move on." But before I could return to the brigade, which were greatly amazed at being kept back, the last of the French were just disappearing behind a hill about half a mile off.

Colonel Napier says, in speaking of French and British soldiers, "place an attainable object of war before the French soldier, and he will make supernatural efforts to gain it, but failing, he becomes proportionally discouraged. Let some new chance be opened, some fresh stimulus applied to his ardent sensitive temper, and he will rush forward again with unbounded energy; the fear of death never checks him, he will attempt any thing."

This is a well-drawn picture of the French, yet I hope he will excuse me for saying, that I think an officer[Pg 255] of great experience, like Colonel Napier, must often have seen supernatural efforts made by French officers, both to bring on their men and to make them stand their ground, but all in vain, when they saw British troops about to close with them. Again Colonel Napier speaks of the unrelenting vigour of British infantry, and of their deafening shout, rolling over a field of battle, more full and terrible than that of any other nation, and followed by the strong and unwavering charge. All this must be fully acquiesced in, and the British soldier well merits this praise; for I do not think that Colonel Napier ever had any difficulty in getting his men to stand or follow him, either to the charge or to the assault of the most rugged and impracticable breach; on the contrary, I should suppose he must have found more difficulty in restraining them in their headlong course, with their officers, still more daring than themselves, at their head. In the comparison, therefore, drawn between French and British soldiers, I consider that Colonel Napier scarcely does the undaunted brilliant courage of the latter justice, when he only speaks of the unrelenting vigour of the British infantry. I conclude, when Colonel Napier composed this passage, he had the fields of Talavera and Waterloo before his eyes, where, certainly, great endurance of fire was necessary on the part of British troops, and where the French had full scope for displaying their best qualities as soldiers; but in the 3rd division, when it fought in Picton's style, and was led as he expected his officers to lead, he would, on all occasions,[Pg 256] have witnessed the fine qualities attributed to French soldiers most amply displayed, and even surpassed. Much, however, as I admire the undaunted courage of British soldiers in following the bravest and most noble-minded officers in the world, I cannot be blind to their imperfections, and especially to their conduct after victory, and upon other occasions, which often threatened us with the most serious consequences; and it is this makes me so anxious to have more of the good and true men of the British empire brought into our ranks, and of whom there are enough to be found to form a well conducted invincible army.

But let us imagine such troops as these, in a high state of discipline, and properly supported by our splendid heavy dragoons and artillery, charging an enemy sword in hand, in the manner I have before alluded to, and it may be readily allowed that the fate of a campaign, or even that of a kingdom, would be decided in a single battle; for the enemy's troops, thus closed with, could not well escape from the field; and we should no longer be incredulous when we read of the consequences resulting from a charge of Roman legions. It has pleased Divine Providence to form the men of the British empire for such a kind of warfare; having bestowed upon them daring hearts, and powerful arms to execute whatever may be required of them.

If ever the plan of calling out men by ballot is adopted, I would beg leave to suggest, that a certain number of battalions of the regular army, from adjoining districts, should be permanently considered a division;[Pg 257] and when a force was wanted in any part of the world, either the division, or a brigade of it, should compose the whole or a part of that force; and would not thus an esprit du corps be established in such a division, like what was found so admirably calculated for mutual support amongst the battalions and brigades of the light, 3rd, 4th, &c. divisions under the Duke of Wellington; and which induced them readily to make any effort, or any sacrifice, to aid each other in battle. And how often have I witnessed this feeling prevail, to a great extent, among the officers and soldiers of the 45th, 74th, 88th regiments, and 5th battalion, 60th, which composed the brigade to which I was so long attached as brigade-major. I can never forget one instance of this kind in particular, which occurred at the battle of Fuentes d'Onor. After a long and dreadful struggle in that village, between the British and a large body of the French Imperial Guard and other troops which supported them, the right brigade of the 3rd division was at last brought up to take the place of the fatigued regiments so long engaged, under a heavy fire, without any decided advantage being gained by either party, the French holding the lower and our troops the upper part of the village. The 88th, supported by the 45th, was ordered to charge into it and drive out the enemy. They soon did so in the usual style of the 3rd division. But I shall ever think with pleasure, of the extraordinary eagerness evinced by the 45th to advance to the help of their old friends the Rangers, who on that occasion wanted none. This feeling, however, between[Pg 258] these two corps in particular, was always most strongly marked throughout the whole war; and I have no doubt would be revived, if they ever met again in presence of an enemy.

It may, perhaps, be considered out of place, but, before closing this chapter, I must beg leave to observe that I read—as I think every one else must have done—with great interest what the Marquis of Londonderry has told us in the account he has given of his visit to Russia, of the enormous establishments of the Czar for the instruction of those intended for the staff and other branches of his military and naval services. The country ought always to feel indebted to officers who can, like his Lordship, give useful information upon such subjects; for we certainly, by some means or other, should be made acquainted with what is going on in the military and naval world. And although the grand reviews, or showing off of troops and establishments were evidently got up in order to produce strong impressions, I feel confident it must, hereafter, be found that the expense of keeping up the latter will be much greater than the advantages to be derived from them. But our army does not require such an extended and overgrown system, which is neither suited to the feelings, ideas, or the genius of the free people of the British Empire.—An absolute government, which may one day have cause to tremble at the effects of what it has produced, could alone be supposed capable of creating and carrying out a plan of such magnitude, and which must, I should fear, prove hazardous to the safety of the country[Pg 259] in which it is adopted, and also to its institutions.—I certainly would require that all gentlemen intended for commissions in our service should have had a certain military or naval education, but I would not ask where it had been acquired, provided they could pass the examinations I have already alluded to.

From our staff, at their own cost, well and probably expensively educated, we might naturally expect that officers would be selected, to be employed as consuls or otherwise, in ascertaining what might be going forward in countries likely to be, or which have already become the scenes of warfare, and about which, or the parties engaged, Great Britain might be deeply interested, yet not altogether justified in taking an active part in the contest, such as Circassia, Persia, South America, and perhaps Spain; and, above all, we might constantly have an eye upon our North American democratic neighbours, who can only be properly dealt with by a military governor-general of the whole of our North American territories, and who should be entrusted with much authority, both civil and military, so that he could act at all times with decision and promptitude.

Accomplished staff officers, such as I have in view, could give such information as might be relied upon, and would enable those, who direct the affairs of this great empire, to act judiciously and advantageously; and when these officers wished to do so, they ought to be allowed to go wherever war of any kind was carrying on, if it were only with the view of acquiring greater knowledge of their profession; for no matter what[Pg 260] might be the nature of the warfare, some things may always be learnt. But these officers should, at the same time, be strictly prohibited from meddling with, or in any way aiding, or advising either party, without permission to do so from our Government. Civilians, in general, ought to be looked upon as not calculated for employment such as that I speak of, and we had once a lesson given us in this respect, if we will only profit by it, when Sir John Moore's army was so nearly lost through the foolish presumption of our agent or minister, sent out to the Spanish government of that day.

Many think that France could not be better governed than it is at present by Louis Philip, who is universally allowed to be an able sovereign; but I have often heard the question asked, how it was, that Paris, and all France in its train, fell so easily and unaccountably into the hands of the men of July, 1830. Although I know Paris tolerably well, and a good deal of France and Frenchmen, yet the only answer, I believe, that can be given is, that it did not suit the views, prejudices, or feelings of the military, that the existing order of things should be maintained; many of them, very probably, at the time belonging to the political coteries, with which Paris in particular always abounds, and in which are broached and discussed the strangest possible doctrines and dogmas. British officers can never belong to such dangerous associations, if they even did exist in the United Kingdom.

Any tumultuous assemblage of men, if even partially armed, can at first, as was the case the other day at[Pg 261] Newport, be easily dispersed or put down, by rightly disposed and well officered regular troops. As for the barricades, of which we heard so much, they could only have led, had the troops done their duty, to the greater destruction of the city and the rioters; but as they were put up, why did an able and enlightened officer like Marshal Marmont, who commanded, send his soldiers in the manner he did into the streets of Paris, for this was quite as useless as our going headlong into those of Buenos Ayres, where some streets, and almost every house, were strongly barricaded, and yet I believe we forced them all; but probably, if he had ever heard of our exploits there, he had forgotten them. It appears strange to many, that Mont-Martre and other commanding points in and about Paris were not occupied by the Marshal in force with cannon and mortars, his communications with the country secured by his cavalry, and that he did not, without delay, bring up to the capital a sufficient number of troops to restore order. But even before their arrival, it is likely, that the peaceable and well-disposed part of the inhabitants, and especially the householders, would have found it to be their interest to declare openly against a lawless mob and their political leaders; and to have taken part with the troops opposed to them; but should this not have been the case, and it then clearly appearing, that all were leagued to resist the established government, which it is the duty of armies in all countries to uphold, the Marshal, however painful it might have been to his feelings, could have had no alternative but to[Pg 262] announce to the riotous people, that if tranquillity and obedience to the laws, and to the constituted civil authorities, were not instantly restored, Paris, with the view of punishing its lawless inhabitants, would be laid in ruins. It will no doubt be asked, if such reasoners would have consented to destroy that large, beautiful, and populous city, the seat of the arts, and where every thing magnificent is to be found? Blucher would have done this for them sometime before, for he had a great fancy to treat Paris as General Steinbock did Altona years ago, had it not been for Lord Wellington; and for this, I fear, the French people were not afterwards even grateful to him. But this question is very like one I had put to me some time ago, when I ventured to hint, that a certain determined mode of acting, would, in the end, but in another country, prove to be the most humane, viz. "Would you shoot the people—the poor misguided people of Ireland?" I answered, that as an officer, I should be obliged to do so, however reluctant I might be to adopt such a measure; but I would begin with their selfish agitators, if they would not discontinue their wicked practices, and cease holding out expectations to the people of a dismemberment of the empire, and allow the laws, whatever they may be, to be obeyed. If the laws are bad, or fancied to be bad, and if they do not please all men, without regard to difference of religion, and in other respects, upon an equality, let the Government, whose business it is, endeavour to have them altered; but as long as they stand the laws of the realm, it is the duty[Pg 263] of officers and soldiers to uphold them, and the civil authorities in the execution of them, and they have nothing more to say to the matter. Had the French acted thus, and upon such principles—for I cannot suppose that their officers had lost all influence and command over their men—and as I am convinced, British officers, if necessary, would act, we should not now have before our eyes the awful example, of an established government overturned, as was the case in 1830, and which, with what has occurred in that country for many years past, ought to be held up for ever as a lesson to the United Kingdom. I hope, however, that Great Britain will never become so humbled, as to require salvation from naval and military patriotism; but I boldly assert, and without fear of contradiction, that no where on earth, amongst men, is this virtue to be found so pure as in the hearts of the officers of our navy and army.


[1] N.B. Many of the absentees did not, as was supposed, fall into the hands of the enemy, but had gone off in search of liquor or plunder.

[Pg 264]


There is no country with which Great Britain is likely so soon to come into hostile contact as the United States of America, and for such a war we must certainly want an army such as I have in view.

It has long been the fashion, and I believe it is the object of many interested and designing men, to endeavour to have the United States of America considered as much more powerful and dangerous to Great Britain then they really are. No nation, nor body of men, be they who they may, composed of such heterogeneous materials, scattered over so vast an extent of territory, in which the laws, enacted by an often unruly legislature, are so powerless, and in many places so weakly administered, as not to be able to prevent aggressions upon an unoffending neighbour, or to afford sufficient protection to the peaceably inclined against the hand of violence, can possibly be considered powerful. I am aware that parts of the United States ought, to a certain extent, to be looked upon as exceptions, but, generally speaking, this is by no means an over-drawn picture of what is the state of society in that part of the world.

If Great Britain was only prepared to convince the[Pg 265] world of her strength in steam ships, and to send forth even a portion of them from the St. Lawrence, and from other points in our valuable North American possessions, she must in a very short time destroy, or shut up in their ports, in hopeless inactivity, all the so much boasted of Navy or traders of the United States. And it might be asked—would any other power, when they saw we were really in earnest, dare to aid them in their difficulties; and what would then become of their immense commerce, from which alone they derive their present importance? Are not the feelings and interests of the Northern, Southern and inland States directly opposed to each other; and would not the continuance of the last war, for even a short time longer, have had the effect of causing discontents and divisions amongst the several States, already independent of each other, which could never again, in all human probability, have been brought in consequence to act in unison.

But to convince even the most incredulous of this, and of the kind of spirit which was found to exist amongst the people of the States, and to point out clearly with what zeal and patriotism we were opposed in the last war in the march of our troops upon Plattsburg, I have only to lay before them some Brigade orders which were issued by Sir Thomas Brisbane at the time.

"No. 5. None of the inhabitants of the country are to be prevented from passing the advanced posts either to the front or rear, from one hour after sunrise till sunset; and they are to be permitted to drive in cattle, or any thing else they may think fit; but officers commanding[Pg 266] picquets are to be very careful in examining those who pass; and must take up, and send to the head-quarters of the Brigade (Dowy's house) such as may appear suspicious.

"No. 7. Major-General Brisbane having received instructions to advance with the troops under his command into the territory of the United States, avails himself of the opportunity, to request that commanding officers will use every exertion to maintain the strictest discipline in their corps; and he holds them responsible, that in every instance when a complaint is made to them of any injury sustained by the inhabitants, that it is inquired into, and if necessary redressed; and whatever damage is done, that it is instantly paid for and charged against those concerned, and where this cannot be ascertained to the corps in general, so that unoffending people may not be sufferers.

"In taking the necessary precautions against individuals, who may so far forget what is due to themselves and their country, as to commit acts of plunder or violence, the Major-General is at the same time fully convinced, that the troops in general are determined, that their conduct shall not bring disgrace upon the British name; he therefore calls upon them to discover those who may be guilty of acts of plunder or oppression, that they may be brought to the punishment they merit; and the soldiers must soon find that such a line of conduct will add much to their comforts; for the inhabitants of the country finding that they are properly treated and protected, will bring every article requisite into[Pg 267] the camp; for those who remain quiet in their homes are not in the smallest degree to be molested, nor is their property to be taken from them without their full consent and its being paid for; as it is not against such persons that Great Britain makes war, but against the Government whose folly and ambition have brought the miseries of war into their country, and the army and individuals in arms for its support.

"The Major-General commanding has requested the magistrates of the country, to explain to the people his object and determination, on entering the American territory; and he trusts that the conduct of the soldiers will be such as to reflect no shade of dishonour on their country."

The apparent state of indifference of the people was so great, and the effects of these orders, which were widely circulated, so evident, that we found all the houses occupied, and every thing might have led us to suppose we were still marching through Canada; and I do not remember that a shot was fired at us until we fell in with some of the United States troops as we approached Plattsburg.

Owing to a want of arrangement, and of sufficient preparation on our part, we were last war unsuccessful upon Lake Champlain, and upon its shores; and I had the mortification of seeing our fleet discomfited in Plattsburg Bay. In consequence of this, and of the advanced state of the season, and as no calculations of any kind seemed to have been made for contingencies, our fine, but feebly commanded, army had to fall back upon Canada; and[Pg 268] the extensive and important conquests, which were supposed to have been the objects of those who ordered us to advance into the States, had to be abandoned.

The Americans pretended, that, in our retreat, they hotly pursued, and occasioned us great losses; but there was no foundation whatever for what they in this respect asserted, or for what was said on this subject in their newspapers; for our only loss, I may say, consisted in some heavy shot and an old gun, taken from the Americans, and which had been left many years before in the States when General Burgoyne's expedition failed, and which the state of the roads obliged us to throw into the swamps, and in some worthless men who deserted from their corps; for, whatever might have been said to the contrary, nothing could be more unhurried or undisturbed than we were in all our movements during the retreat. I do, however, recollect, that in crossing the bridge at Champlain with the rear-guard, on our return, that a Yankee had the impudence to say, when spoken to with civility: "I guess as how you are not playing Yankee doodle now." Some of the soldiers were inclined to have thrown him into the river, but of course this was not allowed.

I was attached as Brigade-Major to the strong brigade (about 5,000 men) of the army, which, under Sir Thomas Brisbane, formed its rear-guard, and I can safely say, that although various stratagems were practised, and every thing done by him so as to induce the American commander to approach us, he never was able to succeed. I only mention this to show what grounds they[Pg 269] had for boasting. But is it not also too bad and vexatious that works written by American authors are patronized and lauded even in the United Kingdom, not so much perhaps on account of their style of composition, or literary merits, as for the subjects they contain; which are intended to extol, chiefly at the expense of our navy, fierce and lawless men, many of whom were actually British subjects? Yet who can for a moment suppose, that sending British seamen or landsmen to the other side of the Atlantic, can deprive them of their natural courage. There is, however, a degree of moral depravity existing throughout the Union, which must always prevent these extraordinary Republicans, should they even become more powerful than they are at present, from being able to cope with us in war. And in speaking of the degree of liberty enjoyed in the United States and in Great Britain, what comparison can be drawn in this respect between the two countries?—for who would prefer the tyrannical rule of a usually tumultuous Democracy to the mixed Government under which all men enjoy protection and sufficient liberty in the United Kingdoms, and all over our vast empire, without its being allowed to become licentiousness?

As for the unfinished works at Plattsburg, had not Sir George Prevost halted the troops, led by experienced and often before distinguished generals, rapidly advancing against them, they must, with their commander and all his troops, have been, I have no hesitation in saying, in twenty minutes more in our possession; but as for the idea which was foolishly entertained by some at[Pg 270] the time, of our being able, if successful in the assault of the works, to re-capture our lost ship and vessels, it was too absurd to merit a moment's consideration.

The following official document will, I expect, be read with interest, as it certainly removes much of the blame from Sir George Prevost for the attack having been made upon the American fleet by ours in an unprepared state; at least our Commodore (whether he was injudiciously urged to go forward or not I cannot tell) acted with a perfect knowledge of what he was about to attempt, and it would have been produced had the former been brought to a court-martial as intended. But the question should have been, why was the fine army, confided to Sir George Prevost, pushed forward at all into the United States, especially in the month of September, before our superiority on Lake Champlain had been established? Extract from a communication to Major-General De Rottenburg, dated Friday evening, 10 o'clock, P.M.:—

"I have this moment received from Captain Downie intelligence of his intention to weigh and proceed with the squadron, from its anchorage off Chazy, about midnight, with the expectation of rounding into the Bay of Plattsburg about the dawn of day, and with the intention of commencing an immediate attack on the enemy's ship, vessels, and gun-boats, if the anchorage they are in affords any chance of success; in consequence you are to hold the left division in readiness to execute the contemplated service at six o'clock to-morrow morning.

"The batteries directed to be completed and armed in[Pg 271] the course of the night, are to open on the enemy's position the instant the naval action has commenced. You will cause the necessary preparations to be made for the rocket service of each battery.

(Signed),  "G. Prevost,
"Commander of the Forces."

I shall pass this over without any remark, leaving it to the reader to judge for himself; but we had far too many commanders, for they were actually in each other's way. Here was Sir George Prevost himself, Baron De Rottenburg and his staff, a brilliant head-quarter staff, consisting of Adjutant and Quarter-master-general, assistants to both; Military Secretary, Aides-de-Camp, Chiefs of Engineers, Artillery, &c. &c., in short, enough to have caused confusion in an army three times our numbers, and much more so amongst the three brigades, whose experienced generals and staff wanted no help.

The moment the naval action commenced, the batteries, which had been constructed entirely under Sir Thomas Brisbane's directions, opened such a well-directed fire, that they apparently demolished all before them, and in a very short time nearly silenced that of the enemy's guns in their works. Under the protection of our artillery, the bridge over the Seranac, (the planks only of which the Americans in their retreat had been able to destroy or take up,) was repaired in a few minutes by materials we had ready for the purpose; part of the troops, under Sir Thomas Brisbane were moving down to pass by it to the assault, and the greater part were marching rapidly under General Sir Manley Power, and[Pg 272] Sir Frederick Robinson, with the intention of effectually cutting off the enemy's retreat, when the order from Sir George Prevost to halt arrived, in consequence of our fleet having been discomfited upon the Lake. It is, however, to be regretted that the works were not allowed to be carried, for it would have prevented much boasting, and would have served in some manner to counterbalance the loss of our vessels. But what I witnessed during the whole of this unfortunate and miscalculated business, convinced me that the enterprise which embraced, as we understood, many extensive and important objects, no doubt suggested from England, had been begun without almost any fixed plan, carried on in considerable ignorance of the country, and ultimately abandoned, because of an event, the probability of which occurring, from the state of the two fleets, might, in a great measure, have been calculated upon.

Any one of the three strong brigades into which our force was divided was sufficient alone for all we had hitherto undertaken, and also for the reduction of Plattsburg, if properly handled by an able and experienced officer: but the ideas of military matters entertained by the Generals and Staff we found in possession of power were very different from ours; and I merely mention this to shew, that until our Staff had acquired experience under the Duke of Wellington, they were in general very deficient, and, as a further proof of this, I must observe, that nothing could betray greater weakness and indecision than the manner in which it was proposed to move upon Plattsburg.

[Pg 273]

It was at first intended that we were to have had a large body of Indian warriors along with us in our invasion of the States; and Sir Thomas Brisbane, attended by his Staff and several other officers, had to go through all the customary ceremonies of war councils, speeches, dances, presents, feastings, drinkings, &c., but after all we only took them with us as far as the village of Champlain, and from thence, to my great delight, at the request of Sir Thomas Brisbane, they were sent back into Canada.

It was also intended that the whole army were to have moved in one column, by the road leading to Plattsburg, which crosses the Dead Creek, near to its mouth, where there is a bridge, and a ford a little lower down, where it enters the Lake, and there we knew the enemy had for some time been preparing to receive us. Sir Thomas Brisbane, who led the advance, not looking upon this plan as judicious, and being also fully aware of the difficulties which this Creek even naturally presented, sent me from Champlain, accompanied by some flank companies and Indian warriors, which altogether formed a strong reconnoitring party, to ascertain if a road fit for the march of troops and cannon, (of which we had lately heard), could not be found to our right, and by which the formidable position of the Dead Creek might be turned. I marched by what is called the Batemantown road, and very soon found that it had been made, even as far as Plattsburg, fit for any military purposes, at least, at that time of the year.

Sir Thomas Brisbane, at such an evident proof of want[Pg 274] of necessary and proper information on the part of our Staff, (for we were still strangers in the country), had almost made up his mind to allow them to take their own way and to march as they intended; but those feelings he has so often evinced for the welfare of those placed under his command, and for the good of the service; together with being convinced, that his brigade must have suffered severely in forcing the Creek, induced him to communicate in time with head-quarters on the subject, and the consequence was, that the whole arrangements were altered; his own column only marching towards the mouth of the Creek, and the other two taking the road, which, it had been ascertained, turned the enemy's position. The result was, that the Americans had to retreat upon Plattsburg without being able to offer almost any resistance; and the only loss, I may say, we did sustain was from the fire from the enemy's gun-boats stationed at the mouth of the creek, where we were obliged to ford it, as the bridge had been nearly destroyed. Sir Thomas Brisbane was anxious to have turned our field artillery against the gun-boats. But a senior general, who happened to be present, would not allow this to be done; as he said it would only the more attract the enemy's fire towards a point upon which it was already directed with right good will. He, however, at last went off, as my general had previously done with the advance towards Plattsburg, when our rocket-brigade was brought forward, and a rocket well laid by the officer commanding it, having, I believe the very first discharge, struck one gun-boat, and as we heard afterwards wounded[Pg 275] the officer commanding on board, and as it in its continued flight went close over most of the others, the whole took to their oars in an instant, and we were no more molested by them.

Up to this period the war had been carried on in a very irritating manner, and in some instances in a way which could produce no advantage to either party; for even sentinels on their posts were cautiously approached and fired at.

Sir Thomas Brisbane proposed to the American generals Izard and M'Combe, to put an end to such barbarities, and in future to carry on military operations in the manner adopted by European nations. This being readily agreed to by them, I did not hear of another instance of the kind occurring upon either side as long as the war lasted; indeed, this kind of polite intercourse between the generals was attended with the best results, not only amongst those under them, but also produced feelings of respect and offers of attention, if opportunity offered, after the war was over.

Neither during our expedition to Plattsburg, nor for some time afterwards were our affairs in the Lower Province well managed. Just before the closing in of the ice on the lake, and when a part of the United States fleet were still at Plattsburg, but, as we well knew, from good authority, completely off their guard, and full of that dangerous confidence often arising out of a victory too easily achieved, it was arranged to surprise and capture them by our gun-boats, and a number of batteaux manned by volunteers, of which there were hundreds[Pg 276] from the regiments. The attempt was intended to have been made in the night; the soldiers in the batteaux being armed with cutlasses, pistols, and with boarding pikes, of which there were plenty at Isle aux Noix; and the following letter was addressed, by order of Sir Thomas Brisbane, by me to the lieutenant of the Navy in command of the gun-boats there; who, as it may be well supposed, being delighted at an opportunity of retaliating upon the Americans, most readily agreed to the proposal contained in it.

"St. Johns, November 12, 1814.


"Major-General Brisbane has desired me to communicate the following circumstances to you, with a view to induce you to co-operate in an attack upon such of the enemy's fleet as still remain in the Bay of Plattsburg, upon which, with your assistance, it is proposed by Sir George Prevost to make the attempt.

"The enemy's force there, by the latest information, consists of only two sloops, and seven gun-boats, indifferently manned, and little or no attention is paid to the common measures of precaution. It is therefore natural to suppose, a sudden attack, or even surprise, might be attempted with every prospect of success.

"On our part we can only employ batteaux for this enterprise, manned by volunteers from the regiments, in such numbers as you would think necessary to act along with your gun boats; and the strength of your crews could be increased if you require it. Of course, the[Pg 277] whole will be under your direction, and success must depend upon secrecy, rapid preparation and action.

"Major-General Brisbane, therefore, begs you will ascertain if the report of the strength and number of vessels in Plattsburg Bay be correct, and at all events, he requests that you will lose no time in coming here to arrange matters, or should you not think such an undertaking practicable, you will be so good as to point out in what the difficulties consist. It is, however, obvious, that when affairs of this nature are once proposed, the sooner they are carried into execution the better, or else entirely laid aside."

This well arranged attack, which, if successful, would have greatly improved our situation upon the Lake the following spring, had the war lasted, was, however, put a stop to only a few hours before the departure of the expedition, by an express from the General commanding the forces, who had become apprehensive that the attempt was too hazardous.

I am induced to continue this subject for various reasons, but principally because much that occurred during the last war in North America, is at this moment becoming interesting; and useful conclusions, in both a naval and military point of view, may be drawn from what has already taken place there.

After the disappointment to our hopes of retaliating upon it, the whole of the enemy's fleet were laid up for the winter at Whitehall, at the head of Lake Champlain. It was again proposed by Sir Thomas Brisbane, and agreed to by Sir George Prevost, to destroy them by an expedition[Pg 278] of five thousand men, which were to have started suddenly under the orders of the former, to be conveyed to the point of attack, with their supplies of provisions, and combustibles for destroying the ships, &c. over the ice and snow in sledges. This also, from the excellent information we had been able to procure, held out every prospect of complete success; but the same timid councils again prevailed, and this second, but much more important expedition, when about to start, was almost similarly countermanded; and the disappointment was particularly felt by us, for several of the regiments which were to have been employed in this enterprise, formed part of the force which was not long after assembled under Sir Thomas Brisbane at Paris, and when the Duke of Wellington inspected it, he was pleased to say, that had these fine regiments (and they amounted to nearly nine thousand men) been in time for Waterloo, the Prussians would not have been wanted upon that occasion. I must also add, that most of these corps had been formed and accustomed to war under his Grace in Portugal, Spain, and the south of France; and having been found at the end of the war to be the most efficient of the army, they had been at once ordered off to North America, where, from the way in which things were managed, they had not the power of farther distinguishing themselves.

But I could, if necessary, show that at last we would have completely effected our object in destroying the American fleet at Whitehall; but in a very different manner, and which, from the share I had in the transaction,[Pg 279] and from the secrecy I thus feel imposed upon me, I do not consider myself at liberty to disclose, and which the notification of peace with the United States alone prevented. At that moment it was quite evident that the effects of the war had begun to be most seriously felt; and it was also an expensive, and as the Duke of Wellington would pronounce it to be, a useless little war for Great Britain to be so long engaged in. If we are again provoked to hostilities, which is very probable, the people of the United States should be made to feel what are the effects of a war carried on in earnest in their own country, by such a powerful empire as Great Britain; but for this our navy and army must be properly prepared.

I have for several years past given the subject of our Boundaries with the United States much consideration, and I have endeavoured to obtain, by all the means I could bring to my aid, a correct view of it; but what has been published in the "Times," of the 27th of April, and 26th of May, 1840, as communications from Mr. Waddilove to the Editor, puts the whole of that long misunderstood question, in so much clearer a light than what I had prepared for this work (though I had come nearly to the same conclusion) that I hope I shall be excused for giving them in this place.

[Pg 280]



Extract from the definitive treaty of peace and friendship between his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, signed at Paris, September, 3, 1783.

The first article recognizes the several States.

The second proceeds as follows:—

"And that all disputes which might arise in future on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared that the following are and shall be their boundaries viz.,—from the north-west angle of Nova Scotia, viz., that angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of the St. Croix to the highlands, along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the north-western-most head of the Connecticut River, thence down along the middle of that river to the 45th degree of north latitude."

"If it can be shown, as it easily may, that there existed a then known tract of country called "the Highlands," which had been in use in former official documents, and which did separate the river flowing south into the Atlantic Ocean from others flowing into the St. Lawrence and into the St. John, which emptied itself into the Bay of Fundy, not into the Atlantic Ocean,—if also the documents of the period show that it was a leading object with Great Britain to preserve to their dependencies[Pg 281] the exclusive navigation of the river St. John, and that the river St. Croix, and the line drawn north from it to the said highlands, were fixed as boundaries to the land conceded to the States, for the purpose of securing this exclusive possession,—if it can be shown that a tract of country so circumstanced was one of the concessions specially objected by Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Lord North, and Mr. Sheridan, in the debates upon the peace (wherein upon a division, the numbers were, against the Ministry 224, in favour 208), under the name Penobscot, the principal river of the tract, which, with its tributary streams did rise on the south side of these highlands, and did fall into the Atlantic Ocean—if, too, as appears from all these circumstances, the district now called Maine, was no other than the district ceded to Massachusetts, under the name Penobscot, the very objections made by these leading oppositionists afford the strongest possible proof that the claims of an additional extent now made by Maine and Massachusetts were unjust and unreasonable, and more palpably absurd and untenable, when it is considered, that with a view to obtaining a right to the navigation of the St. John, the negociators did actually endeavour to obtain the portion of country lying between the St. Croix—the St. Croix line and the St John, then first attached to the government of Nova Scotia—and that the secret articles of Congress prove it to have been a subject of debate, whether the war should be continued on account of such additional territory, (a question which was decided in the negative). The very contest about the navigation of the St. John, also is in itself a proof of[Pg 282] the unsoundness of the claim, for it would be of little value to shut out the mouth of the St. John, and the extent of its course cut off by the St. Croix, and the northern line, if, by allowing America possessions beyond the then known highlands, you had conceded a territory connecting them with the St. John; and such would be the case by allowing the extension of their settlements beyond the highlands to the Aristook. I take it this fact of itself is sufficient to prove the injustice of the claim.

"Moreover, the district so conceded, under the name Penobscot, and which is no other than the present Maine, does actually fulfil the special conditions laid down in the second article. It includes all the rivers which flow from the highlands, and fall into the Atlantic, and includes no other, and after crossing these said highlands, not one river, except the St. John, does flow south towards the Atlantic, except as a tributary stream of the St. John, through the Bay of Fundy.

"Neither can it be said that these tracts were then as little known at the conclusion of a war, in which every part had been traversed, as they have been to later Colonial Ministers, for the Government of that day met the objections made to the cession of Penobscot in this way:—One objector had stated that it ought not to have been ceded by a maritime state, on account of the wonderful supply of excellent timber for masts which it was known to afford. In opposition to which, the Minister stated, "that it was proved by the certificate of Captain Twiss, one of the ablest surveyors in the service, that there was not a tree in the tract capable of making a mast."

[Pg 283]

"And one leading member of the Opposition, condemning the neglect of Government in not making terms for the deserted loyalists, who had forfeited their property by adhering to Great Britain, put his question in these terms—"Could not all the surrenders we were to make—the surrender of New York, the surrender of Charleston, of Long Island, Staten Island, Penobscot, and Savanna, purchase security for these meritorious persons?" Now, how much stronger would have been the argument, if the cession of Penobscot had not been limited, as the British boundary line limits it, by the highlands, but had extended further, so as to entitle the States to the waters of the St. John, and enable them to cut off the communication between Canada and Nova Scotia? He adds also, that the inhabitants of these very places were armed with us in the defence of their estates, and therefore we can only attribute the rise of Maine as a State to the circumstance of Massachusetts becoming possessed of the confiscated estates of Penobscot, the boundaries of the state of Massachusetts having previously been in a direct line from the Connecticut River to the Bay of Passamaquoddy.

"That the description given in the treaty of 1783, Art. 2,—'A line drawn due north from the heads of the St. Croix to the highlands, along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean,' was a description known and acknowledged in 1783 both to American and British commanders and negotiators, is proved by the fact of that description being used not only in the act of 1774, but in the Royal proclamation of 1763.[Pg 284] And this point is confirmed by another fact—viz. the movement of a detachment of the American army under Colonel Arnold for the invasion of Canada from the side of New England, while General Montgomerie invaded it by the upper side and the lakes, in September, 1775, in not more than seven years before the preliminaries of peace; and it is also to be observed that no part of Arnold's route came near the northern ridge of highland to which the Americans lay claim, and which in fact does not divide the rivers falling into the St. Lawrence from those falling into the Atlantic Ocean, but only divides those falling into the St. Lawrence from those falling into the St. John; whereas the ridge claimed by Britain, referred to in the 14th George III., 1774, and in the Royal proclamation of 1763, does actually separate all the rivers flowing southward into the Atlantic from all the rivers which flow north and north-east, whether they fall into the St. Lawrence or into the St. John; and further, upon the north side of the ridge claimed by Britain as the bound there does not rise a single river which falls into the Atlantic, while all the rivers rising on the south of the British boundary do fall into the Atlantic. It is a long passage to copy, but the whole may give your readers a better notion of the country traversed than were I merely to transcribe the passage which proves my point. Under that passage I shall therefore place a score:—

"'On the 22d of September, 1775, Arnold embarked upon the Kennebec (one of the rivers rising on the south of the British ridge, and flowing towards the Atlantic), in 200 batteaux, and proceeded with great difficulty up that[Pg 285] river, having a rapid stream, with a rocky bottom and shores, continually interrupted by falls and carrying places, with numberless other impediments to encounter. In this passage the batteaux were frequently filled with water, or overset, in consequence of which arms, ammunition, and stores were lost to a great extent. At the numerous carrying places, besides the labour of loading and reloading, they were obliged to convey the boats on their shoulders. The great carrying place was above 12 miles across. That part of the detachment which was not employed in the batteaux marched along the banks of the river, and the boats and men being disposed in three divisions, each division encamped together every night. Nor was the march by land more eligible than the passage by water. They had thick woods, deep swamps, difficult mountains, and precipices, alternately to encounter, and were at times obliged to cut their way for miles through the thickets. The constant fatigue and labour caused many to fall sick, which added to their difficulties, and provisions became at length so scarce, that some of the men ate their dogs, and whatever else of any kind which could be converted into food.

"'Arriving at the head of the Kennebec, they sent back their sick, and one of their colonels took that opportunity of returning with his division, without the knowledge or consent of the Commander-in-Chief. By this desertion Arnold's detachment was reduced about one-third: they, however, proceeded with their usual constancy: and having crossed the Heights of Land, as a ridge that extends quite through that continent is called, and[Pg 286] from whence the waters on either side take courses directly contrary to those on the other, they at length arrived at the head of the Chaudiere, which, running through Canada, falls into the River St. Lawrence near Quebec. Their difficulties were now growing to an end, and they soon approached the inhabited parts of Canada; on the 3d of November a party, which they had pushed forward, returned with provisions, and they soon after came to a house, being the first they had beheld for 31 days, having spent the whole time in traversing a hideous wilderness, without meeting anything human.'

"Now, here you have, in the report of a campaign made by an American general eight years before the peace, viz. in 1775, and printed in an English Annual Register five years before the peace, viz. 1799, as direct a reference to the same marked distinction of rivers flowing different ways, in consequence of the peculiar nature of the country, as it is possible to desire; and you have an acknowledgment, totidem verbis, that the then known designation of such tract was no other than that used in the article of the subsequent treaty, as it had been also used in the 14th of George III. by the British Legislature and in the Royal proclamation of 1763, and upon examining any map, that of the Useful Knowledge Society or any other, it will be seen that all the rivers rising on the south side of the British boundary do fulfil the terms of the above treaty, and that all on the other, or north side, do, as the above account of Arnold's march expresses it, 'take courses directly contrary.' The rivers on the south side flow towards the Atlantic Ocean, not one on[Pg 287] the other side does flow towards it—in itself the most indisputable proof that the American claim cannot stand with those words of the article which assign to them only that tract of territory wherein the rivers flow towards and 'fall into the Atlantic Ocean.'

"I may here remark, that as the proclamation of 1763 is the earliest reference I know to these highlands so dividing the rivers, and as that proclamation proceeds from west to east, and as General Arnold found at the west end the peculiar marks required, the only really amicable, and perhaps the only certain, mode of ascertaining the bound, would be not to start on a loose cruise for highlands at the line of St. Croix, which can itself only be determined by its abutment with the specified highlands (in fact, I believe this loose and hand-over-head mode of proceeding has produced all the difficulty), but to start the search where General Arnold crossed, and run the line eastward according to the direction of the rivers, giving all the territory wherein 'the rivers fall into the Atlantic,' as by the treaty, to America, that wherein 'the rivers flow the contrary way' to Britain; for with this report of General Arnold's march seven years before under our view, it is impossible to believe that General Washington would have sanctioned a reference to so marked a distinction as these so-called 'highlands' in one sense, while he meant, in future times, the reference to be interpreted in another. Viewing the matter according to these lights, which is the only just mode of viewing it, as a case between Christians, Penobscot, the cession of which was reprobated in the British Parliament at the time[Pg 288] (and when many officers who had been employed in Canada and in the States were present in both Houses), does fulfil the terms required by the treaty—namely, it embraces all the rivers which, rising on the south of Arnold's ridge, flow towards and 'fall into the Atlantic Ocean;' whereas, neither the boundary claimed by America nor the line set out by the King of Holland as a fair compromise, acceded to by the sufferer, Britain, and refused by the gainer, America, can in any wise be said to meet.

"I know not, Sir, whether you will think these remarks, and this information, upon a question likely to terminate in a war, or a disgraceful concession of the just rights of the British nation, may be useful or acceptable to you; but, such as they are, you are welcome to them, and may use them as you please; and allow me at the same time to add, there are other parts of the history of the same period which would cast considerable light upon the present extraordinary proceedings of the British Government in regard to Canada.

"I have the honour to remain, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,

"W.J.D. Waddilove."


"My intention is now to show you, from a document already quoted, the Royal proclamation of 1763, a further confirmation that the division expressed, 'Rivers falling one way, and rivers falling directly contrary into the Atlantic,' was a distinction perfectly well understood, and that this peculiar expression being applicable to[Pg 289] "Penobscot," was the probable reason why that district was ceded in 1783, and many tribes of Indians driven from a hunting ground previously enjoyed, under the protection of the British Crown. If I recollect right, some influential member of the opponents of Lord Shelburne's peace stated in debate, that above 20 tribes, whom we were bound by previous treaties and wampum belts to protect, were driven from their homes by this unnecessary cession, for it may be here remarked that one uniform condition of all treaties with that ill-used race of men, by whomsoever made (Sir W. Johnson or others), was this—for the sole purpose of guarding themselves against the wanton aggression of the settlers, provided the tracts ceded be always appropriated to His Majesty's sole use, and that the lines be run in the presence of the British authority, and some of their own chiefs, to prevent disputes hereafter.

"The 11th clause of the proclamation, evidently with a view to this feeling on the part of the Indians, runs thus. After setting out the limits and grants, &c. in the previous part of the instrument (binding upon America, as well as upon ourselves, except where they may be specifically relieved from its effect by the express words of the treaty of 1783, since they were at the time British subjects) we read—

"'Whereas, it is just and reasonable, and essential to our interest and the security of our colonies (the States then included), that the several nations or tribes of Indians, with whom we are connected, and who live under our protection, should not be molested or disturbed[Pg 290] in the possession of such parts of our dominions and territories as, not having been ceded to, or purchased by, us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their hunting grounds; we do therefore, with the advice of our Privy Council, declare it to be our Royal will and pleasure that no governor or commander-in-chief, in any of our colonies, Quebec, &c. do presume, upon any pretence whatever, to grant warrants of survey, or pass any patents for lands beyond the bounds of their respective governments, as described in their commissions.' Now mark: 'As also that no governor or commander-in-chief of our colonies or plantations in America do presume for the present, and until our further pleasure be known, to grant warrants of survey, or pass patents, for any lands beyond the heads or sources of any of the rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the west or north-west, or upon any lands whatever, which not having been ceded to, or purchased by, us, as aforesaid, are reserved to the said Indians or any of them.' Now, will any man of common reflection say, that under such circumstances, known to all our governors and commanders-in-chief, of course also to all engaged in the internal legislation of the plantations, there could be any obscurity to admit of dispute in the reference made to this precise mark of distinction—'beyond the heads or sources of any of the rivers falling into the Atlantic?' the same mark being again referred to in the Imperial Act 14th George III., 1774, in nearly the same words, only adding 'the highlands,' &c., dividing, &c., again expressly described in the account of General Arnold's[Pg 291] march over the very country; and lastly, briefly referred to in the treaty of 1783, the very brevity and looseness of the expression being the strongest possible proof of the notoriety of such division and landmark. I confess, Sir, I cannot divine any mode of escape from the dilemma in which the sticklers for this unreasonable claim are placed—either to recede from what is palpably an unjust pretence, or to stamp Washington, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Jay as the most consummate knaves, adopting a loose phraseology to escape at a future time from the effects of their own treaty. To the latter alternative no Englishman acquainted with the history of Washington's glorious, and—except in one point, too stern an adherence to what he conceived to be justice-unblemished career, will ever be disposed to accede.

"The next point on which I engaged to remark was the probable reason which induced Lord Shelburne to cede a country which the Indians had possessed, and thereby drive so many tribes from their homes, and the tombs of their ancestors, to them a heavier blow than any other That the Indians did possess it, is proved not only by the statement in the Imperial Parliament, but also by the fact of sundry raids occasionally made by them from this tract upon the settlers of Nova Scotia, known to be at that time altogether confined to the region about Pasamaquoddy Bay, which now forms the southern part of New Brunswick.

"Now the clause which I have quoted above I conceive to afford that probable reason. The governors, &c. are[Pg 292] restricted not to grant warrants of survey on any pretence 'beyond the heads and sources of the rivers which fall into the Atlantic.' Though I believe it admits a question whether any patents were passed extending the British settlements beyond the 45th degree of north latitude, for the old geographers carry the line along that degree to the Bay of Pasamaquoddy, and bound Massachusetts on the west by New Hampshire—though the description of General Arnold's march is a traverse of a wild wilderness, wherein 'human face divine' seems never to have been seen, yet this clause most decidedly leaves a discretion in the Governor of Massachusetts, when population required it, to extend his surveys and his patents as far north as the heads of those rivers which fall into the Atlantic. The district now called Maine, then Penobscot, is exactly a tract so situated, and, whatever might have been the original intentions of the Crown as regarded the Indians within this tract, the discretion so given formed a just and proper reason, when peace was to be established, why the territory so described should be ceded to the United States, and that very cession of a country so circumstanced affords the strongest possible confirmation that 'the heads and sources of the rivers falling into the Atlantic' literally were the limits referred to in 1783, and that no just claim can be made out in the face of this evidence to a territory in which, by the confession of General Arnold's march, the rivers fall 'the contrary way.' I shall not trouble you further. A war founded on unjust aggression can never expect God's blessing upon it. A[Pg 293] calm produced by concession to unjust aggression can never end in lasting peace.

"'If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter, for he that is higher than the highest regardeth." Eccles. v. 8.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant.

W.J.D. Waddilove.

"Beacon Grange, April 28."

After Great Britain had acknowledged the independence of the several States, if the true spirit of this treaty were not to be strictly adhered to, it must have been obvious at the time, that it would be impossible for her to defend her remaining North American possessions; much less be able at any future period to make them sufficiently powerful to cope with the United States. But surely with the Treaty, and the various documents alluded to by Mr. Waddilove, in their hands, a commission, composed of able military men, sent out to that part of the world, could so well define the boundary between the two countries, as to leave no further doubts upon the minds of our Government, as to the line of conduct to be with justice pursued towards the United States and also towards our North American possessions; and they would then be enabled also to act with that firmness and decision with which these republicans should be met in all our dealings with them. The idea of umpires ought not for a moment be tolerated—the treaty and the features of the country render them quite unnecessary. Without having[Pg 294] any ambitious views, Great Britain evidently wants this disputed territory, if it were only for the security of her North American Provinces; and it might reasonably be expected that this point could be amicably arranged, if there is a sincere wish for peace, and any thing like good will towards us to be found in the United States. If therefore we are provoked to war, by simply working on both flanks of any body of troops hazarded by the States into the country alluded to, their fate may be pretty easily guessed or calculated upon; for we could have no difficulty in acting at once from Quebec, Halifax, &c.; and if hereafter emigration from the United Kingdom were duly and liberally encouraged, as it should be, into a country rightfully belonging to the British Empire, abounding in small lakes and fine rivers, we might soon begin to talk not only of our valuable but also of our powerful American colonies; especially if convicts, in place of being all sent to New Holland, were employed to make good roads to connect the countries lying between the Atlantic and the St. Lawrence. These convicts should never upon any account be allowed to become settlers.

Having so far entered upon the subject, I think I ought to proceed in what I hope may be useful; and whilst I speak from observations made upon the spot, I must take the liberty of reminding the reader that during the period occupied by "improvements" in the States; the Canadas, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, &c., though somewhat retarded by late events, have not been standing still.

[Pg 295]

The country behind the line running from Lake St. Francis, to Lake Memphremagog, ought as soon as possible to be secured from sudden incursions, by a few respectable forts, or strong redoubts; capable of affording good cover for a certain number of cavalry and infantry; situations for which, upon or close to the present frontier, can be found, so that that entrance into Lower Canada may be covered. The line mentioned being taken as a base, and Isle aux Noix, Ash Island, and the part of the frontier extending along from the La Colle river towards Lake St. Francis being judiciously protected, the Lower Province would thus be secured from the inroads of brigands from the adjoining States; and if they, or if even an army should venture forward in that direction, it would not be quite easy for them to return; especially if the redoubts I speak of, are by the labour of soldiers made strong enough to require a week's regular siege for their capture, and which might be scientifically thrown up at no great expense. They should, however, be connected with each other by military roads; the making of which, as well as constructing the redoubts, would be excellent practice for the regular troops I am so anxious to have called out; who could never be better employed, (for habits of labour are essential to them,) than in works of this kind; and I hope I have already shown, that veterans are quite unfit for the duties of our North American frontiers.

The thick, in some places, almost impassable woods and swamps, extending often for a considerable distance along the frontier line of the Lower Province, render it[Pg 296] difficult to make arrangements to oppose inroads from the States; for it is impossible to calculate upon the direction in which an enemy's force may make its appearance, and in order to watch all the roads or approaches, especially in winter, our troops must necessarily be too much scattered over the country; for owing to want of cover, they cannot be kept in sufficient bodies, but so far to the rear as to expose the advanced posts to be overpowered and cut off.

The following documents, which appear to be official, will show clearly, that I have not without good reason made the foregoing observations respecting the state of our affairs with the United States, and which call for energetic measures on our part.


"The Chair submitted the following message from the President of the United States:—


"I communicate to the Senate, in compliance with their resolution of the 12th instant, a report from the Secretary of War, containing information on the subject of that resolution.

"M. Van Buren.

"Washington, March 28."

"War Department, March 27.

"Sir,—The resolution of the Senate of the 12th inst. 'That the President of the United States be requested to communicate to the Senate, if in his judgment compatible[Pg 297] with the public interest, any information which may be in the possession of the Government, or which can be conveniently obtained, of the military and naval preparations of the British authorities on the northern frontiers of the United States, from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, designating the permanent from the temporary and field works, and particularly noting those which are within the claimed limits of the United States,' having been referred by you to this department, it was immediately referred to Major-General Scott, and other officers who have been stationed on the frontier referred to, for such information on the subject as they possessed, and could readily procure; and an examination is now in progress for such as may be contained in the files of the department. General Scott is the only officer yet heard from, and a copy of his report is herewith submitted, together with a copy of that to which he refers, made upon the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 9th instant. As soon as the other officers who have been called upon are heard from, and the examination of the files of the department is completed, any further information which may be thus acquired will be immediately laid before you.

"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"J.R. Poinsett.

"To the President of the United States."

"Head Quarters, Eastern Division, Elizabethtown, New Jersey, March 23, 1840.

"Sir,—I have received from your office, copies of two[Pg 298] resolutions, passed respectively, the 12th and 9th instant, one by the Senate, and the other by the House of Representatives; and I am asked for 'any information on the subject of both, or either of the resolutions, that may be in [my] possession.'

"In respect to the naval force recently maintained upon the American lakes by Great Britain, I have just had the honour to report to the Secretary of War, by whom the resolution of the House of Representatives (of the 9th instant) was directly referred to me.

"I now confine myself to the Senate's resolution, respecting 'military (I omit naval) preparations of the British authorities on the northern frontiers of the United States, from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, distinguishing the permanent from the temporary and field works, and particularly noting those which are within the claimed limits of the United States.'

"I will here remark, that however well my duties have made me acquainted with the greater part of the line in question, I have paid but slight attention to the forts and barracks erected by the British authorities near the borders of Maine, above Fredericton, in New Brunswick, or in Upper Canada, above Cornwall, being of the fixed opinion which need not here be developed, that all such structures would be of little or no military value to either of the parties in the event of a new war between the United States and Great Britain.

"I was last summer at the foot of Lake Superior, and neither saw nor heard of any British fort or barrack on the St. Mary's River, the outlet of that lake.

[Pg 299]

"Between Lakes Huron and Erie the British have three sets of barracks—one at Windsor, opposite to Detroit; one at Sandwich, a little lower down; and the third at Malden, 18 miles from the first; all built of sawed logs, strengthened by block-houses, loopholes, &c. Malden has been a military post, with slight defences. These have been recently strengthened. The works at Sandwich and Windsor have also, I think, been erected within the last six or eight months.

"Near the mouth of the Niagara the British have two small forts—George and Messisanga. Both existed during the last war. The latter may be termed a permanent work. Slight barracks have been erected within the last two years on the same side, near the Falls, and at Chippawa, with breast works at the latter place; but nothing, I believe, above the works first named, on the Niagara, which can be termed a fort.

"Since the commencement of the recent troubles in the Canadas, and (consequent thereupon) within our limits, Fort William Henry, at Kingston, and Fort Wellington (opposite Ogdensburg old works,) have both been strengthened within themselves, besides the addition of dependencies. These forts may be called permanent.

"On the St. Lawrence, below Prescott, and confronting our territory, I know of no other military post; 12 miles above, at Brockville, there may be temporary barracks and breastworks. I know that of late Brockville has been a military station.

[Pg 300]

"In the system of defences on the approaches to Montreal, the Isle Aux Noix, a few miles below our line, and in the outlet of Lake Champlain, stands at the head. This island contains within itself a system of permanent works of great strength. On them the British Government has, from time to time, since the peace of 1815, expended much skill and labour.

"Odletown, near our line, on the western side of Lake Champlain, has been a station for a body of Canadian militia for two years, to guard the neighbourhood from refugee incendiarism from our side. I think that barracks have been erected there for the accommodation of those troops, and also at a station, with the like object, near Alburgh, in Vermont.

"It is believed that there are no important British forts or extensive British barracks, on our borders, from Vermont to Maine.

"In respect to such structures on the disputed territory, Governor Fairfield's published letters contain fuller information than has reached me through any other channel. I have heard of no new military preparations by the British authorities on the St Croix or Pasamaquoddy Bay.

"Among such preparations, perhaps I ought not to omit the fact that Great Britain, besides numerous corps of well-organized and well instructed militia, has at this time within her North American provinces more than 20,000 of her best regular troops. The whole of those forces might be brought to the verge of our territory in a[Pg 301] few days. Two-thirds of that regular force has arrived out since the spring of 1838.

"I remain, Sir, with great respect,

"Your most obedient servant,

"Winfield Scott.

"Brigadier General R. Jones, Adjutant-General
United States Army."


"The papers on this subject submitted to Congress by the President, in compliance with a resolution of the House, show that at the close of navigation last fall, two steamers (owned or hired by the British authorities), one schooner, and a number of barges, were employed on Lake Ontario, and the river St. Lawrence, as a security against an apprehended renewal of the troubles of the preceding year; and from the annexed communication of Mr. Forsyth, there is reason to expect that even this small force, or at least a part of it, will be soon withdrawn."

"Department of State, Washington, March 13.

"The Secretary of State, to whom has been referred a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 9th instant, requesting the President to communicate to that body, 'if compatible with the public service, whether the Government of Great Britain have expressed to the Government of the United States a desire to annul the arrangements entered into between[Pg 302] the two Governments in the month of April, 1817, respecting the naval force to be maintained upon the American lakes; and that, if said arrangements be not annulled, whether there has been any violation of the same by the authorities of Great Britain,' has the honour to report to the President a copy of the only communication on file in this department on the subject to which the resolution refers. Prior to the date of that communication, the Secretary of State, in an interview invited for that purpose, called Mr. Fox's attention to the disregard by Her Majesty's colonial authorities of the conventional arrangement between the two countries, as to the extent of naval armaments upon the lakes.

"In the autumn of the past year the Secretary of State made known verbally to Mr. Fox, that the cause assigned in his note no longer existing, the President expected that the British armament upon the lakes would be placed upon the footing prescribed by the convention. Mr. Fox engaged to communicate without delay to his Government the substance of the conversation between them: and expressed his own conviction, that if the winter then ensuing passed without renewed attempts to disturb the tranquillity of the Canadas, there could be no sufficient motive for either Government maintaining a force beyond that authorized by the convention of 1817.

"All of which is respectfully submitted.

"John Forsyth.

"To the President of the United States."

[Pg 303]

The instructions which were deemed expedient to be given to Colonel Sir William Williams of the 13th Regiment, commanding Isle aux Noix and its dependencies in 1814, after we lost the superiority on Lake Champlain, will clearly show that what I have proposed should be seriously considered; and also support my opinion of the necessity of establishing the fortresses I have mentioned, in which troops could at all times be comfortably quartered; indeed, with such neighbours as the Americans, our possessions can never be safe from insult without them.

"St John's, November 9, 1814.


"I am commanded by Major-General Brisbane to transmit, for your guidance, the following instructions, which are to be acted upon as far as circumstances will permit, in case of an attack upon any of the advanced posts; not that the Major-General has reason to conclude the enemy have such an object in view; but the confusion always arising out of unexpected occurrences in time of war, must as far as possible be avoided or guarded against; and you ought also to be aware of his intentions in case of such events happening.

"1st. The enemy appearing in force in the direction of Caldwell's Manor, coming from Missisquoi Bay.

"It is not probable that the enemy would appear in that direction with any other intention, but for a demonstration, unless he came with the determination of attacking Isle aux Noix, in which case it is to be expected he will bring with him, if before the frost sets in, the means of water conveyance on the south river, or if afterwards,[Pg 304] means of transport for heavy guns on the ice. His intentions, therefore, in these respects can be easily ascertained. If the former should be his object, a force must be detached into the Manor, or the concessions, (say five companies under a field-officer) to keep him in check, and to prevent the country from being over-run and plundered; this may in a great measure be effected by the choice of favourable situations or positions, but no general affair must be permitted without the consent of the Major-General.

"Whilst the enemy might be thus manœuvring, a real attack would likely take place on the line of the La Colle and Ash Island. Such an attack is not improbable, although the enemy could have no other object in view but to beat up our cantonments, and cause the troops, in some measure, to take the field exposed to the inclemency of the season, and might be effected with only a small part of his force. The whole of the posts upon that line must be ordered to hold out till reinforcements can arrive from this place; for until then it would not be safe to detach but small parties from the garrison of Isle aux Noix. A force from L'Acadie could only be brought up in support of the bridge. La Colle Mill and its dependencies must look to Isle aux Noix alone for assistance.

"2ndly, If the enemy should come with the intention of attacking Isle aux Noix with heavy guns, a certain time is requisite for him to make his arrangements; and measures could be taken on our part to frustrate his views.

"For some time longer, it is in the enemy's power to[Pg 305] make an attack by means of his fleet, upon Ash Island and La Colle, in conjunction with a force acting in Caldwell's Manor; the necessity therefore, of keeping the guns in battery there, as long as possible, even till the frost sets in, must be obvious.

"It is not probable that the enemy might venture to pass Isle aux Noix entirely, and move down the Richlieu at once upon this place; which might perhaps be the case, if collecting a sufficient force, he should meditate the invasion of the Lower Province. Under such circumstances, the posts on the La Colle might be greatly exposed. It would then be for you to act powerfully on his line of operations; and as most likely, in such a case, your communications with the advanced posts might be attempted to be cut off, it would therefore be advisable, after destroying the road from the Mill to La Colle bridge, to withdraw the troops from the former and Ash Island (after destroying the works) to Isle aux Noix, which would place at your disposal sufficient means to annoy an invading army. Of course the Burtonville road from the bridge would be disputed to the utmost.

"3rd. The enemy appearing in force in Odletown.

"This is not likely to happen until the frost sets in; and could only have in view the occupation of the posts of the La Colle and Ash Island; objects of the first importance to us to prevent; and an attack on that side in force must distract us much more than in the direction of Caldwell's Manor, and in this case it would be reasonable to expect a diversion on the right bank of the river, or even if the enemy has sufficient force, a dash down the[Pg 306] South river upon the Isle aux Noix, which would make it hazardous to detach much from it for the support of the advance before the troops from this can arrive; yet a force could be easily, at this season, brought up to support the bridge of La Colle, which is in itself no position to be held against cannon; but the entrance of the Burtonville road is very favourable for light troops and if they are judiciously posted there, it would be next to impossible for the enemy to force a passage in that direction, and it is not very likely such an attempt would be made; the danger rests in La Colle Mill being taken, by which means we might be forced to retire back on the road to L'Acadie, whereby the troops intrusted with the defence of that entrance would be totally deprived of cover.

"Lastly. Any advance of the enemy upon us could deviate but little from what has been stated in numbers one, two, and three, with any chance of success; it must, therefore, be evident throughout the whole, that the arrival of reinforcements from the rear is the primary object; it, upon this account, becomes essential, that the Major-General should receive the earliest possible intelligence of the appearance of the enemy in any direction, and he, therefore, desires me to request, that in any instructions you may give to the officers in command of the advanced posts, sending immediate information of suspicious movements in their front may be held up to them as of the first importance.

"I am also to acquaint you, that we do not, at present, possess, at St. John's, more means than would[Pg 307] enable us to move one regiment at a time up the river Richlieu to your assistance."

No doubt, since 1814, the number of roads from the States into the Canadas have been considerably increased, which must render it still more difficult, without the redoubts I speak of, to make arrangements for the protection of the country; I hope, however, that what has been said, and what are shown to be the difficulties to be met with and overcome, together with the anxiety evinced on the part of the American Government, as to any preparations we may have made in case of a war, to which they evidently look forward, will receive timely and serious consideration, but in any future contest with the United States, the command of Lake Champlain ought instantly to be acquired; and our superiority in war steamers upon all the Lakes cannot possibly be dispensed with, if these fine and valuable provinces of the empire are to be protected from inroads, and consequent devastation; and such is my opinion of the loyalty of the people in general of the Canadas, and even of the Canadians of the French extraction in the Lower Province, if not allowed to be misled by designing men, that, I am convinced, they would readily contribute towards their own defence, rather than be brought under the democratical rule of the United States.

If the whole of our North American territories had arrived at a certain point, when an increased, educated, and intelligent population, and improved resources, had made it safe for them as one nation, to be allowed[Pg 308] entirely to manage their own affairs without any interference on the part of the mother country, and that they really desired to do so, Great Britain ought readily to comply with their wishes, yet still remaining their friend and protector, and receiving, in return, every commercial advantage; but to abandon them in their present weak and distracted state, as some men have ignorantly talked of, and even recommended, would only be throwing them into the power of our friendly neighbours, who, thus strengthened, and we proportionally weakened, might, to a certain degree, become more formidable.

I beg, however, to ask, why is Great Britain become, as it were, timid, or reluctant to declare, that no act nor pretensions on the part of the United States can give them a right to incorporate British subjects into their Union without the consent of our Government; and why is it not made known, by proclamation, or otherwise, all over the world, that British-born subjects have no right to renounce, and that they can never be looked upon as having renounced, in whatever part of the world they may think fit to reside, their allegiance to their Queen; and that if any of them are taken in arms on land, or upon the seas, fighting against their countrymen, they shall be tried and condemned as traitors, and become liable to be punished as such. It may probably be said, that in case of a war, this would render desperate many thousands of our seamen now navigating the United States' ships at high rates of wages, and would cause those in their ships of war to[Pg 309] fight with a halter about their necks. This might, perhaps, be the case at first with a few of the worthless; but let our seamen be offered the same, or even higher wages than they can receive in the ships of war of the States, or in those of any other country, and I cannot, for a moment believe, that brave men, the descendants of many of those who fought with Nelson, and our other renowned naval chiefs, will abandon their country, though it may have shown itself, perhaps, ungrateful to them or their fathers for former services.

But surely it ought to be high time for us to consider the effects produced by our now rather too long tried reciprocal system of trade with other nations, in which I have never heard, that we had been fairly met, nor do I believe we ever will be met by any of them. Let us, therefore, lay aside for the moment, the wild, and to the generality of men, incomprehensible theories, clothed in the mystical jargon of political economists; and permit me to ask any man of common sense, where reciprocity is to be found in the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and the United States? I suppose reciprocity to mean, in this instance, mutual benefits conferred and received.

A few years ago—and I am not aware of any important change having since taken place—Great Britain professed her principles as regarded reciprocity to be,—"To abolish all discriminating duties affecting the like productions of foreign countries, and in lieu thereof to establish one uniform Tariff for the whole.

[Pg 310]

"To reduce that Tariff to the lowest degree, consistent, in each particular country, with the two legitimate objects of all duties—either the collection of the revenue, or the protection absolutely requisite for the maintenance of our own internal industry.

"To abolish all discriminating duties upon the navigation of other countries, so that the products and merchandize of these nations, when imported in their own ships, shall be subject to the same rates only as when imported in British ships."

Such principles are certainly most liberal; but in what did the wisdom of those who professed them consist? certainly not in that of this world; if the lofty position of Great Britain was considered at the period when such regulations were framed, and when the then state of our commerce with other nations were taken into account. But let us see how this system has worked. Suppose we speak of cotton, (but we might take, with almost equal advantage, other articles imported into the United Kingdom), as being the chief export from the United States. It is mostly brought to us in American ships, navigated, in a great measure, by British seamen, some of whom they pretend to have naturalized; but at present we shall say no more of this. Our merchants will not of course, employ, to any extent, British ships to bring cotton from the United States, because the Americans can afford, from various causes, not counteracted by us, to convey it cheaper to them. Where then can we find reciprocity in the shipping and seamen employed in this great branch of trade? To balance this fairly, we should surely, if it were only in self-defence,[Pg 311] lay a tax upon cotton imported in American, or any other vessels, in order to compel British merchants to employ British ships and British seamen to bring it in its raw state from America, or from our East India possessions, or from any other country where we might think fit to encourage the growth of this article. It may be said that cotton, thus raised in price, would become too expensive for our manufacturers to be able to contend with foreigners in the continental and other markets; but this could not be long the case, for the American carrying trade being thus diminished, they could not afford to convey it at low prices to any country, or to pay their or rather our seamen such high wages; and are we not wisely improving the models of all new ships which are built; and consequently their rates of sailing, so that we shall soon be able to cope in this respect, with the United States ships also.

I may, however, be told that the United States can meet us in this way by laying taxes upon articles manufactured in the British dominions and imported into their Union; or, perhaps, upon the cotton itself, before it is exported to this country. Let them do so if they please, but they will not adhere very long to that plan. We can find cotton elsewhere or substitutes for most of it in flax and wool, to the great benefit of our own colonies, and the Americans would soon create for our advantage, by taxing our wares, a "pretty considerable" body of fair traders out of the present sympathizers all along their most extensive frontier. The last war did this, to my certain knowledge, to a great extent, and I even had a person connected in some manner with a[Pg 312] high civil authority of the State of New York caught and brought to me when engaged in this kind of traffic. We had, at the time I allude to, excellent information of what was going forward in the adjoining States to Canada. I was told that a military man of rank was in the habit of crossing the boundary line, generally at night, and it was supposed, judging from some of those who met him, that he came as a spy. I had him therefore taken and marched into St. John's one morning.—I was surprised however to find that he was a very gentleman-like man, both in appearance and manners. He at once acquainted me with his object in venturing so imprudently into Canada: indeed the very unpleasant situation in which he stood as a spy made this quite necessary. He was soon able to convince me by mentioning mercantile houses with which he was connected in Montreal, &c. that though in a kind of military situation, about the high authority I have alluded to, he had no intention whatever of acting the part of a spy, but had only some commercial business of importance on his hands. I had, of course, to report the circumstance of his capture, through Sir Thomas Brisbane, who was then at Montreal upon duty, for the information of Government, and in the meantime I took this gentleman-like person into my own house, he having pledged his word of honour that he would not attempt to escape.

The answer I received to my letter respecting him rather alarmed me on his account, for what I had mentioned as the reasons for his coming into the Province[Pg 313] were not deemed sufficiently satisfactory; and I saw they were more inclined to look upon him as a spy than in any other light. I therefore had to examine him again more minutely, and according to instructions sent me; when he gave references to so many respectable mercantile gentlemen as being well aware why he had come into Canada, that I at last received orders to permit him to go back to the States. But during the time I had the pleasure of his company I had also an opportunity of becoming acquainted with a highly-informed agreeable gentleman. But this, I conceive, will show clearly that the fair trade during the war, had fallen into very respectable hands; and from all I knew it was progressing in such a way as to hold out expectations of great improvement had it lasted. I have been induced to be thus minute in order to show how our manufactures are at any time, and under any circumstances, certain of finding their way into the States.

I shall most likely be told by the admirers of reciprocity, that the American ships carry back our wares in return for their raw cotton. This is not the case to any very great extent, and is chiefly done where British mercantile houses have establishments in both countries; for Jonathan will make what he can at home; and he would do much more in this way, if he did not find that he can purchase most articles cheaper ready made, than he can (owing to the great expense of labour, and of living in the States) manufacture them himself, or else he will send for what he wants to the cheapest markets, such as Hamburg, Holland, Belgium,[Pg 314] &c. where, we are informed, things are sold at lower prices than what we can afford, even with the aid of science and improved machinery, to make them for; and thus I am again at a loss to understand where reciprocity in trade, carried on with all the advantages on one side, is to be found.

I shall not enter into other branches of commerce, for such matters would not suit this work, nor allude to what is practised by other countries; but the same principles would apply equally to them as to the United States. But it may not, perhaps, be improper here to ask, if it has ever entered into the calculations of our "Squires of the lofty Towers," which we see looking proudly down upon so many parts of the country, in what manner the multitudes they have congregated, like our chiefs of old, around their Baronial castles, are to be fed in case of even a temporary stagnation of trade? But it is beneath them to think of such matters, and they wisely leave subjects of this kind to be discussed hereafter by improvident landlords, who, in consideration of temporary advantages, have granted certain leases of parts of their estates to these squires, to enable them to create cities, towns, and villages, the enormous population of which, if it is to be kept in tranquillity, must constantly require the presence of such troops as I have in view.

I am afraid it may be found out before long, that we are rather too closely connected with the United States; and are sacrificing far too much, in a national point of view, and to our serious injury, in order to maintain[Pg 315] this imprudent connexion. Has it not already thrown the greater part of the carrying trade into the hands of the Americans; and has it not been the means of seducing from Great Britain her best seamen? Let it, therefore, be made the interests of our merchants to employ our sailors at such rates of wages as they can receive in American or in any other ships. Let us meet countries fairly in commercial affairs, who will really meet us fairly, and let us look less to theories, and more to the essential object of practically promoting our maritime prosperity.

Naval and military men must hereafter be much more closely connected, than they have hitherto been, or I should not, in this work, presume to speak of them as acting together; but must not every contemplative mind foresee, that wonderful changes must soon be wrought by the power of steam, not only upon naval, but also upon military affairs.

We must, therefore, turn our thoughts to it, with the deepest interest, so as to ascertain, in time, what may be the best modes of bringing the vast resources of Great Britain, in this respect, into action; and also to the manner in which powerful armaments are to be conducted with skill and rapidity to points selected for sudden invasion, for that such must be the most prominent feature in all our future wars, will most assuredly be developed, and that too before many years have passed away.

Amongst the great and important changes to be[Pg 316] brought about in war by steam, we must look forward to its facilitating, by the certainty and rapidity of the movements of those destined to accomplish the objects in view, the protection, or destruction of much property, both public and private; also to its occasioning, for the same reasons, vast suffering to the inhabitants of the countries fixed upon, for whatever cause, to become the theatres of these awful and devastating operations. I cannot exactly compare them, and their consequences, to the unlooked for descents of the sea-kings of old, yet they must greatly, I fear, resemble them in their destructive and other effects, and they must be felt ere long all over the world. We were, as a nation, allowed by Providence, no doubt for wise purposes, to live so long in, I fear, not duly valued tranquillity and security, under the protection of our splendid navy of former days, that those who remained at home really knew nothing of war, and its attendant trials and privations, but the name. Long may this be the case, and this happy state, when compared with that of other countries, may, in all human probability, be rendered more lasting, if we will only be wise enough to take timely lessons from the past. History tells us of the rapid fall of many once powerful nations—how they fell it is not for me to relate; but Spain, her former greatness, and the causes of her present debasement, should be constantly before our eyes. We are still a great and warlike people, but I trust that we may be enabled to act with judgment, and to take,[Pg 317] at all events, such steps as will prevent any other nation from anticipating us in the use of steam for warlike purposes.

Those who have already deeply considered the subject, have come to the conclusion, that a comparatively small, but well constructed, and powerfully propelled steamer, alike overcoming wind and tide; capable of taking up and retaining a position within a certain distance of the largest sailing vessel, may be supposed able to destroy or capture her, however brave or excellent her officers and crew may be, and it is concluded, that this could probably be accomplished with but very little loss or damage, being sustained by the steamer, if judiciously manœuvred, and her commander would besides possess the great advantage, of going into action or not, as he might think most advisable. The old naval tactics, such as that of ships gaining what is termed the weather gage of each other, or any thing of that kind, in going into action, must be wholely abandoned whenever a steamer heaves in sight; for the sailing vessel is at once supposed to be, in a great measure, at her mercy.

But such reasoners also calculate upon what would happen in an engagement between two fleets, in which steam-ships of a large class would be more numerous on one side than the other; for they could at once act together, regardless of wind or weather, and thus concentrating their force, they could cut off or destroy a certain part of their opponent's fleet, before sailing vessels could possibly come to their assistance. They[Pg 318] also calculate upon this manœuvre being repeated upon the remainder of the enemy's ships, which cannot escape from these powerful steamers.

These are points, however, for seamen to decide; yet suppose a steamer, calculated to carry only a few traversing guns of the longest range for shot or shells, with what are usually termed percussion locks, to insure good practice even when the vessel is in motion, to be well managed or manœuvred by a skilful naval officer; and should he occasionally use shot heated in the furnaces for the boilers, what a formidable opponent she must prove, especially in a calm, or even in a storm, to any sailing vessel. Many officers may remember what treatment our ships of war frequently met with in parts of the Mediterranean, from even a single Spanish gun-boat, carrying perhaps but one long gun; and when the facility and rapidity of movement of a steamer are considered, there can be no comparison whatever drawn between her and a common gun-boat, even when propelled by sweeps or oars, but which become useless in a rough sea. Such matters as these can, however, be brought by calculation to something very near to certainty as to results.

I am aware that the great difficulty which presents itself at present is how to protect from shot the chimneys, paddles, and machinery of war-steamers; but if, in these times, when science is daily performing such wonders amongst us, sufficient rewards were offered for the best plans for this purpose, I have no doubt but we should soon see much accomplished; but even until[Pg 319] this may be effected, the position which can be taken up by the steamer will, it is thought, insure her being no great sufferer from the shot fired from a sailing vessel. But these, and many other points connected with steam, will be fully elucidated the very first war in which we may be seriously engaged; but in the mean time much can be immediately done, by merely making some useful experiments, whereby we may, to a considerable extent, be taught whether it be advisable or not for us to continue, at a great expense, building and equipping, at all events for what may be termed home service, the present description of sailing vessels, or whether it would not be prudent to direct more attention to war steamers, or to those ships which are propelled by both sails and steam; though I should fear that this combination of the two propelling powers must be found objectionable, as both would most likely be imperfect.

For foreign service, or for those parts of the world where the necessary supplies of fuel for steamers cannot easily be procured, the combining the two principles in a ship may be useful; but wherever perfect steamers can be available, they should decidedly have the preference. But for some time to come, causing both steamers and sailing vessels to act together for mutual assistance and support in action, especially in distant parts of the world, must obviously be desirable.

It appears to be demonstrated that a steamer, from fifteen hundred to two thousand tons burden, and upwards, possesses great proportional advantages over one of only four or five hundred, in carrying troops,[Pg 320] cargo, or fuel; and her increased power of steam, gives her also proportional superiority in forcing her way through the water, and storms or heavy seas have much less effect upon her than upon smaller vessels. A steamship of war of two thousand tons burden, well manned and armed—and she need not carry many, but they ought to be guns of long range—must possess such powers of movement, and of destruction, as cannot be easily calculated or understood; and conceive that ship to carry, independent of her crew, (which need not be anything like so numerous as that of even a large frigate,) a regiment of cavalry, or two of infantry; then suppose thirty such steam ships conveying an army of perhaps 30,000 men, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, such as I am so anxious to have called out in the manner I have proposed, and which could be carried by these irresistible steamers into almost any port having sufficient depth of water, or to any selected point, and there landed, ready to act against an unprepared, or perhaps distracted people; and how easy it would be with such ships to supply an army afterwards with every requisite; and the object in view being accomplished, or even if frustrated, with what little difficulty could the troops, and their materiel, be again received on board, and conveyed to any other point of attack, or back to our own shores.

I had written the above observations, when I saw, by accident, the following description of the Cyclops steam frigate, and from what is said of her, it may be seen what I had in view. A few of the 96-pounders will soon decide the fate of a battle.

[Pg 321]

"The Cyclops, Steam Frigate.—This magnificent vessel, the largest steam man-of-war in the world, was launched from Pembroke Dock-yard a few days ago. Her dimensions are as follow:—Length 225 feet, beam between paddles 38 feet, depth of hold 21 feet. Her tonnage is about 1,300, being 200 tons larger than the Gorgon, launched from the same slip about eighteen months since. Her equipment, as a man-of-war, will be the same in all respects as a frigate, having a complete gun, or main-deck, as well as an upper or quarter-deck. On the main-deck she will carry eighteen long 36-pounders, and on the upper deck four 48-pounders, and two 96-pounders on swivels, carrying a ball of ten inches diameter, and sweeping round the horizon 240 degrees. The Cyclops, like the vessel already referred to, will be commanded by a post-captain, these two being the only steamers taking frigate's rank. Her crew will consist of 210 men, 20 engineers and stokers, and a lieutenant's party of marines, who will have charge of the guns, all of which move upon slides and fixed pivots, thereby taking a much wider range than the ordinary carriages can give. She will be schooner-rigged, but her foremast will be of the same scantling and height as that of a 36-gun frigate. Her draught of water, with all on board, including six months' provisions, completely armed, and with twenty days' fuel, will be fifteen feet. This quantity of fuel (400 tons) will be carried in the engine-room, but there is a space in the fore and after holds for ten days more coal, making, in all, sufficient fuel[Pg 322] for a thirty days' run. She has an orlop deck below the gun-deck, of dimensions so magnificent that there is room to stow with comfort eight hundred troops and their officers; so that, taking her all in all, the Cyclops may be considered the most powerful vessel in her Majesty's service. The Cyclops has been built in six months, under the immediate inspection of Mr. W. Eyde, master-builder, of Pembroke-yard, from drawings and plans prepared by his brother, Mr. John Eyde, the able assistant of Sir W. Symonds, the inspector of the navy, upon whose principle—namely, the combining of the sailing and steaming properties—this vessel has been constructed. The Cyclops will be docked in Sheerness Dock-yard on the 30th instant, and, after remaining there for a few days, will proceed to the manufactory of Messrs. Seaward, at Millwall, Poplar, to receive her engines, which will be of 320 horsepower, on the principle which, in the case of the Gorgon, has proved so successful that the Lords of the Admiralty have given orders for five more pairs of engines upon the same plan, for as many frigates. Half-a-dozen such steamers would do three times as much work as the same number of line-of-battle ships. Twelve years ago Lord Cochrane maintained, that a few well-appointed steamers would suffice to keep in check opposing fleets in the Mediterranean; and if we may judge from appearances, a short time only will elapse before the experiment is tried."

Suppose also that each of these powerful steamers had assigned to her to take in tow, when necessary, a sailing vessel, conveying either additional troops,[Pg 323] horses, coals, provisions, forage, &c. &c., how much more formidable such an armament would become.

In combined naval and military operations, I should conclude that the usual mode of proceeding would be to secure the point of debarkation, or any other considered more suitable, so as to admit of the army being again received on board the ships with as little difficulty and loss as possible; for we may well suppose that the exasperated and suffering inhabitants would do every thing in their power to destroy and annoy the invaders. Field entrenchments, but on as confined a scale as possible, must be thrown up with skill and rapidity, in situations to favour the re-embarking of the army, with all that belongs to it; and how essential it must then be, that soldiers should be as much accustomed to the use of the pickaxe and shovel as to their arms; in short, it will become indispensable that they should have habits of working, like the Roman soldiers of old.

Let us consider the consequences of such a descent. The country to a considerable extent must be instantly over-run by an army perfect in all respects, and amply supplied independent of the invaded country. Should the destruction of the power of an adversary in steam be alone the object, gunpowder and other means we can readily command, would speedily accomplish this. Dock-yards, building-yards, coal pits, mines, machinery, railways, constructed at enormous expense, and all public and private works of vast value—in a few days, and before any force sufficient for their protection could[Pg 324] be assembled, might be laid in ruins, or so destroyed, as to render the amount of mischief done incalculable. But these are matters which demand instant and due consideration; and the country should be prepared to meet the expense which must be incurred, if it is only to ensure our exemption from such mortifications and misfortunes. Fortifications can afford a country but little protection against such calamities; for to a superiority in steam ships we can alone look for this, and to that Omnipotent Being who can influence the judgments and views of those who, by Him, are permitted to direct the affairs of this mighty empire.

It is obvious, that in our future wars, we must require not only an efficient steam navy and a fine army, but also that the latter should be in the highest state of discipline, and be led by able officers. Such conduct as that of which our troops were guilty at Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, and on many other occasions, if attempted in these enterprises, to which we must look forward as of frequent occurrence, would most certainly lead to total ruin: sobriety, good conduct, and the strictest obedience to orders cannot then be dispensed with; and the country I hope will be convinced by what has been adduced, that we could not possibly expect to find these necessary qualities in a British army unless raised, organized, and officered in the manner I have ventured to propose. In short, we want an army, similar in point of discipline, though differently enforced, to that which Charles the 12th of Sweden led to constant victory, until the fatal battle of Pultowa. And to our army of reserve I would[Pg 325] hold up, as an example, the brave and patriotic behaviour of the Swedish militia, which under General Steinbock, during the absence of Charles at Bender, defeated at Helsingborg, though almost entirely composed of raw recruits, unclothed and badly armed, a regular Danish army that dared to invade their country, and of which, as its rash and extraordinary king was absent, they expected to have made an easy conquest.

But what a contrast to our troops, or indeed to those of any other country, must a victorious Swedish army have been; as we find in the account given of them by the famous Comte de Saxe, who tells us, that the Swedes always kept their ranks and that after the battle of Gadebesck was gained, the first line of these brave troops, with the enemy dead at their feet, did not even dare to stoop down to strip them—such was the discipline established in their regiments—until prayers had been offered up on the field of battle.

It has, as a matter of course, been proposed that men regularly brought up to the sea, should be exempted from serving in our armies; but this can answer no wise purpose, so long as it is in their power to enter the service even of our enemies, or rather of those who may soon become so. A captain of the navy, in one of his works, has lately given us a very melancholy account of the desertion of their country by British seamen; and has also, I believe, assigned the true causes of such defection; but it would be giving up as hopeless and unavailing, every good feeling implanted in the heart of man towards his country, if no exertions are made to recall[Pg 326] to their allegiance these brave, thoughtless, but warm-hearted wanderers.

This may not now be easily accomplished, but something ought notwithstanding to be attempted, or else our navy should be rendered independent of the merchant service for supplies of sailors; and the changes which steam is producing in seamanship, must make this the less difficult to be effected, as seamen for steamers can be much sooner formed than those intended for sailing vessels; and allow me to ask, why might not bodies of seamen be raised, so as to become crews for ships of war, for a certain number of years service; and ought there not to be held out to them even superior advantages, as to pension, &c. to what has been spoken of for soldiers; for a navy is of much more importance to Great Britain than an army; and why might not seamen and their officers of all ranks be transferred bodily from ship to ship, as might be found desirable or necessary, without obstinately adhering to the old injurious plan of paying all off, when the ships in which they have served are put, for whatever cause, out of commission; and why might not such a plan render it seldom necessary to have recourse to impressment, which ought never, however, to be altogether abandoned. There might surely be for the navy, as well as for the army, a fixed peace establishment, on a proper and enlarged scale; and in case of a war, if additional crews are wanted for ships of a larger class about to be commissioned, those which until then had been serving in the smaller rates, could be augmented to the required[Pg 327] establishments in both officers and men, and new crews for the smaller rates, if still to be employed, could be easily raised by impressment or bounty; but seamen taken by the former, ought invariably to be discharged as soon as their places can be supplied by volunteers; but most of them, if the advantages I have just mentioned are held out to them, will have no wish to leave their ships and comrades, or the officers they have served under; and having had a good foundation of seamen (if I may use the expression) to build upon, excellent crews, increased in numbers, would in a very short time be available for ships of even the largest class.

Although a soldier, I have been much at sea, and I have frequently heard and remarked, that the very best sailors were those trained, especially from boyhood, in our ships of war.

At first, seamen might be taken wherever they could be found, to man our ships; but if a system of this kind were adopted—and of course many points connected with it would require to be well weighed—there could not be a doubt but our ships would soon be very superiorly manned by perfectly trained seamen, who could use cannon, mortars, &c. with proper effect; and if they were only treated with kindness, which I have no doubt they would be, and paid fairly and liberally, the navy would have a most decided advantage over our merchant service, and men would gladly enter the former in preference to the latter.

A considerable proportion of the crews for the several classes of ships, should even at the commencement[Pg 328] of the system be boys; and it might naturally be expected, that they would not only grow up in a complete knowledge of their duties as sailors, but also become, like soldiers, strongly attached to their officers, in whom they could have confidence, and from whom they were not, under any circumstances, to be separated. Of course, such permanent seamen would require occasionally, and especially after long voyages, to be allowed to visit their families and friends; leave of absence from their ships, ought, whenever it was possible, to be liberally granted to them; and such men, when on shore, would know how to conduct themselves with propriety; for on board, I should conclude that due attention was paid to their religious and common education.

But I must not forget that there is one serious objection to this plan being adopted, however advantageous it might be to the navy, not on account of its being suggested by a soldier, but it would do away with much patronage, which those in power do not like to relinquish.

Much has been said of the hardships experienced by mates, and the class of petty officers of the navy in general; but this is a subject into which I cannot, and ought not, to enter. But let us look a little into other matters, and try to comprehend what interest it takes, even to have one's son made a midshipman—then to get a captain to take him with him for the three years he may be afloat—then another captain must be found to take him for three years more under his wing, or[Pg 329] else we must have excellent interest indeed, if we can contrive to get him forward without nursing captains; and all this time we have been obliged to allow him sufficient for his messing, and to enable him to appear dressed like an officer and a gentleman. In some ships this cannot be done under sixty pounds a year. Then he probably comes home to us a stout light-hearted fellow, who has already passed his examinations for a lieutenancy, and would give the world to be made one; but to effect this (for any services he may have performed are of no importance) takes a vast deal of interest. This at last accomplished; again patronage is required to get him afloat for some years longer. But although now an experienced officer, what interest it must take to have him made a commander. And then how much more to get him appointed to a ship. In short, nothing but patronage or interest from beginning to end will answer, or ever did answer in our navy; and the reader need not therefore be surprised at my feeling next to hopeless, that all this will ever be overturned, to suit what will no doubt, be held up to the world as the effusions of a madman. Be this, however, as it may, (and I leave it to the good sense of the country to settle the matter with patrons,) a captain now commanding one of our frigates, in a conversation I had with him on subjects of this kind, mentioned, that he calculated it would cost him about £1,200., over and above his pay, &c. to keep his table, and to meet other unavoidable expenses, and that too, with strict attention to economy,[Pg 330] for the three years he calculated upon being actively employed; and I am aware that it took a good deal of interest on his part, to get the ship he now commands.

Our navy, I believe, has but little, if any, fixed system for its guidance. Every captain of a ship carrying on its duties or discipline, and managing almost everything according to his own views, or as taught by experience. Ought this to be permitted, and should not certain regulations be established to prevent his running into extremes, even in zeal for the credit of his ship, in appearance, discipline, or even in points which in themselves may be good, if not carried so far as to become from their frivolity vexatious to those under his command, and which I have seen occasion much punishment, which might have been better avoided. In short, ought a captain not to be restrained by established system, almost in a similar manner to that by which I propose to prevent the injurious effects of whim or caprice in commanding officers of regiments.

I am aware that I must look forward to every possible objection being thrown in the way of what I have presumed to suggest for the benefit of both our navy and army; and I fully expect some will say that all this is very well, but what do you intend to do with the numbers of retired officers, now on the lists of both services? In the first place, to expect me to answer every objection is not a little unreasonable; and in the next, I am convinced it cannot be anticipated, that one-tenth of such ancients can ever again be called into active service, I therefore suppose the country must[Pg 331] continue, under any circumstances, to furnish the pittance now doled out to them, as long as most of them shall live; but even to balance this continued charge upon the country, and which cannot be avoided, have I not, amongst other items, shown that we can call out our army, and keep it up hereafter in a much more efficient state than it ever was, without any expense in the shape of bounty? Now the bounty for at least 100,000 men, taking the army in all its branches, at a low establishment, amounts to something; yet we shall not take this into account, but let us say (whilst I have no intention of recapitulating all the modes I have mentioned, by which savings can be effected), that we want annually 20,000 recruits, according to our present system, to keep it up to its peace establishment, in which calculation I consider that I am borne out by the returns of the number of men raised for Her Majesty's service in Great Britain and Ireland. Then suppose that each of these recruits stands the country in only five pounds (but in time of war it could not be done for much more) a-head for bounty, &c. we should thus save something considerable; let this sum be therefore allowed to go annually towards providing for retired officers, who it may be apprehended will continue a burden upon the country for a few years longer. But alas! climate, wounds, &c. under the effects of which many of these poor but gallant fellows are suffering, will not admit of our having very long an opportunity of evincing our gratitude to them for past services.

Colonel Pasley, one of our ablest and most scientific[Pg 332] officers, I believe, about the year 1807, wrote a most useful work, calling the attention of the country to a plan he proposed for carrying the war, which had even then been of unusually long duration, into the north of Europe, where landing an army, it was, as he suggested, to have proceeded gradually, as joined by the troops which could be assembled in the countries that lay between the point selected and France, till Napoleon could be at last assailed upon his own ground. His work produced a considerable sensation at the time, but Spain and Portugal, very opportunely, presented themselves to us, and in which the very game recommended by Colonel Pasley was successfully played. I hope, therefore, I may be allowed to observe, that it is much to be regretted, it has not struck Colonel Pasley, that a work coming from him, elucidating some of the subjects I have reluctantly ventured to touch upon, especially those connected with Russia, and a new boundary line for our North American territories, would be well received by statesmen, military men, and the country in general; all of whom must allow that an efficient and highly disciplined army and navy are now wanted by Great Britain, and that no time should be lost in acquiring them. If these essential objects were once attained, would it not be wiser for us to look more to our own interests, and with a view to securing our internal tranquillity and national industry, than to what we have so little to say to; and would it not be better, if we did not allow ourselves to be led away and entangled in intricate Russian, Austrian, and Turkish[Pg 333] policy? This ought certainly to be carefully watched by us; but it should never be permitted so to embarrass us, as to prevent our being able at all times to direct our attention and powerful means to objects of much more importance to us as a great maritime empire, possessing the finest and most valuable colonies in the world. It is also to be hoped that the brave people of France and Great Britain have at length seen the madness of having wasted centuries in unceasing rivalry and jealousy, and likewise the folly of tearing each other to pieces, to the delight of countries which would glory in seeing both so humbled as to suit their own boundless ambitious views. What is Constantinople, and even all Turkey, Egypt, and such countries, to us, farther than our commercial relations with them are concerned, in comparison to Great Britain retaining her superiority upon the ocean, and which pre-eminence was acquired, in former wars, at the cost of so much blood and treasure, and which enabled her to extend her enlightening influence, religious and commercial blessings all over the world. Let Austria and other states, which must immediately feel the effects of Russian acquisitions of territory from the Turkish dominions, take measures to guard against the consequences to arise out of such acquirements, especially as the aspect of the times most clearly indicates that the very storms, we are taught to look for, are now gathering in that quarter, and the awful effects attendant upon their bursting upon the world cannot probably by any human means be prevented from ever reaching[Pg 334] us. Ought not we, therefore, if possible, to be prepared? Should not Great Britain at all times look with a jealous eye from her vast Eastern Empire towards Russia, so as to be ready for such events as may happen? Should not the question be asked—what has Russia, not a maritime nation, in view, in forming and keeping up such fleets as we are told she now possesses in the Baltic and in the Black Sea? For with the numerous and well-trained armies at her command, she can have nothing to apprehend from her neighbours, nor from us. Encroachments upon other nations can therefore be her only object. If Russia will not regard our remonstrances as to her unnecessary, and to other nations dangerous naval preparations for war, the safety and honour of Great Britain require, that such diversions should be made, as must compel her to look to her own already enormous acquisitions from her weaker neighbours. For instance, a little assistance from us would soon enable Circassia, and other countries to the south of Russia, to give ample employment to her overgrown armies. Poland, if fully assured of aid, from France especially (for France is as much interested in Russia being kept in check as we are), could be easily roused at the same time to assert her freedom, and to revenge her wrongs. It could not be very difficult to form, under the powerful protection of Great Britain, a coalition of the Northern States, whose frontiers are now bounded by Russia, and which only exist as kingdoms through Russian sufferance, with the view of insuring their independence. Wars thus created,[Pg 335] through her ambition, by exhausting her resources, would effectually put an end to her power of subjugating other nations; and if the standard of a war arising out of opinions, which such measures would most likely produce, was once unfurled in that extensive empire, in which the lofty ideas of a proud, turbulent and wealthy nobility would to a certainty come into contact with the hitherto suppressed feelings of millions of enslaved serfs, there is no possibility of calculating in what such a war might terminate, for there is no middle class in Russia which could act as a check to both.

A few of the steam expeditions, which were before alluded to, would quickly settle such questions, and curtail the deliberations of diplomatists, and convince the world—that it is both dangerous and impolitic to rouse Great Britain, or to give her cause of alarm about the superiority of her navy upon the ocean. "Ships, colonies and commerce," ought to be inscribed upon the banner of Britain, and our chief efforts and views, should at all times be directed to these, to us as a nation, important objects, whilst at the same time every possible encouragement should be given to our own agriculture; for we must never depend upon the continent of Europe, or upon any other part of the world, for bread—if we are ever obliged to do so, we must no more talk or even think of war.

I do not, like some men, look upon history to be as worthless as an old almanack, for by it we are taught many useful lessons; and whatever their opinions may be of history, popery, or even of prophecy, I avow myself[Pg 336] to be one of those who attach some importance to what is handed down to us, especially in Scripture. Yet, without almost touching upon such subjects, we may find, that a great maritime power will seemingly soon be required, to act a most prominent part in the world, when events will undoubtedly occur to command the attention and excite the fears of mankind in general. As to what power may be intended to perform this conspicuous part, it would be most presumptuous and even impious to conjecture; and such is the rapid fall and rise of nations, that all calculations in this respect must be as vain as unprofitable.

The grand object which ought never for a moment to be lost sight of, is to have Great Britain ready for coming events. Let her vast resources be, as far as necessary, called forth in time. Let the attention of Government be wisely directed to providing such a number of steamers of all classes, as to render competition on the part of other countries hopeless; and why might not engagements be entered into with wealthy companies and individuals, so as to induce them to employ, in mercantile and other pursuits, steam vessels of such a construction, that they could, in cases of emergency, be instantly fitted up and armed with guns of long range for war; for very few, of those now in use, can be made efficient in this respect. To accomplish this could not be attended with any great expense to the country, especially if advantages, as to exemption of vessels so constructed from various charges, to which all are now liable, are held out to[Pg 337] the owners; and this would make it unnecessary at once to provide such a number of war-steamers as might otherwise be requisite; and thus Government could, at any moment, know where to find ships of all classes fit for immediate service, on board of which, crews, such as I have ventured to speak of, could be employed with every advantage to the country. Lastly, let our army be also perfectly organized, and in all respects prepared for a new and more rapid mode of warfare; and, under Providence, we may not only be still the most powerful of maritime nations, but also the means of promoting the tranquillity and happiness of the world in general.